Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

December 13, 2010

SENATE MOVES CLOSER TO APPROVING TAX DEAL.... The Senate's goal today was reaching 60 votes on the tax deal struck by the White House and congressional Republicans. That turned out to be fairly easy.

The Senate on Monday advanced the tax-cut package agreed to between President Obama and congressional Republicans, virtually assuring that the Senate will approve the bill on Tuesday and send it to the House ,where Democrats are threatening to make changes to a provision granting a generous tax exemption to wealthy estates.

The vote in the Senate was not finished, but shortly after 4 p.m. the tally showed more than 60 senators agreeing to end debate, cut off any filibuster and move to a vote on passage.

The vote was 61 to 7, with a whole lot of senators still returning from their home states this afternoon. The leadership agreed, without GOP opposition, to hold the vote open to allow members more time to reach the floor.

The only Republican to oppose the measure, at least so far, is Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.). Everyone else is from the Democratic caucus, including Vermont's Bernie Sanders (I).

Rumor has it that final passage will come early on Wednesday.

Of course, as we discussed this morning, the Senate was always going to be the easier chamber on this agreement, and House Democratic leaders continue to demand changes. I've heard some fascinating rumors this afternoon on how the lower chamber intends to proceed, but before I could write anything up, Greg Sargent beat me to it.

Here's the challenge for House Dem leaders right now, as I understand it: Come up with a way for Dem members to vent their disapproval of the deal, so they don't feel too stiffarmed and marginalized by the process, without it resulting in changes significant enough to cause Republicans to walk away. The deal is expected to clear the House with a combination of strong GOP support and some backing among moderate Dems. Tweaking the bill in a way that drives away Republicans could imperil its survival.

The result could be a situation in which Dems hold a vote on amendments to the bill that are likely to fail. House Dems are particularly angry about the deal's estate tax provision; Dem leaders could hold a vote amending that provision, allowing Dem members to register disapproval. But the amendment would likely be opposed by almost all Republicans and some moderate Dems. So it would likely lose.

I heard the exact same thing. The House could vote on the deal as-is, and at the same time, Dems who want to make their voices heard could save face -- pushing principled amendments that reflect the kinds of changes they'd like to see, even if they'd come up short.

I also heard that as far as House Dems are concerned, they feel as if they've already delivered a message loud and clear to the White House -- the party's rank and file expect more hardball and fewer concessions from the president going forward. They feel as if their response over the last week, even if it comes up short on killing the agreement, has been ferocious enough to stick in the president's memory for next time.

Steve Benen 4:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (15)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Am I missing something or isn't the House supposed to initiate tax law? Wasn't that the problem with the Food Safety bill?

Posted by: Shantyhag on December 13, 2010 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

"They feel as if their response over the last week, even if it comes up short on killing the agreement, has been ferocious enough to stick in the president's memory for next time."

and blah, blah, blah...

Posted by: stevio on December 13, 2010 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

" isn't the House supposed to initiate tax law" - no, that is old school. Nowdays, the GOP tells the President what they want, he decides it's in the best interest to agree, then they tell Congress to pass it. Failing to pass it means no other bills or laws can ever be considered again....until Sarah Palin is president. At that point, the GOP will tell her what they want, and she'll decide its in the best interest and they will tell Congress to pass it, etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: T2 on December 13, 2010 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'll feel more comfortable about this if Obama can convincingly affirm, widely, that he is determined to keep the "temporary" parts of this deal temporary! Otherwise, we're screwed in many ways ... And I think D-Congressfolks must continue to pressure for improvements, please support them.

Posted by: Neil B on December 13, 2010 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

Am I missing something or isn't the House supposed to initiate tax law? Wasn't that the problem with the Food Safety bill?
Posted by: Shantyhag on December 13, 2010

Apparently, if a Senate Bill is referenced to the number of an existing House bill it becomes OK. With the food safety bill, I gather, someone didn't notice that it technically qualified as a tax bill- a perhaps forgivable oversight.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on December 13, 2010 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

What is it with all the talk about temporary vs permanent on this tax bill? Since when have tax rates ever not been subject to adjustment? Likewise with the estate tax. Aren't all such rates simply temporary until another Congress down the road decides to change them again, either up or down? Am I missing something here? No really, I'd like to know. Because unless I am, than most of the sturm und drang about this tax deal is a tempest in a teapot, done for political theater. Like a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Posted by: President Lindsay on December 13, 2010 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK
I also heard that as far as House Dems are concerned, they feel as if they've already delivered a message loud and clear to the White House -- the party's rank and file expect more hardball and fewer concessions from the president going forward. They feel as if their response over the last week, even if it comes up short on killing the agreement, has been ferocious enough to stick in the president's memory for next time.

Isn't this pretty much exactly the same thing they said when they balked at handling this mess before the election? We don't actually need to do anything because our empty chest thumping made the point just as effectively as actually doing something would have, and without all that horrible, horrible extra risk we think happens if you actually do something substantive.

Posted by: Another Steve on December 13, 2010 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

Neil B, you said:

"I'll feel more comfortable about this if Obama can convincingly affirm, widely, that he is determined to keep the "temporary" parts of this deal temporary!"

Not likely. It expires way too close to election time, no?

Let's see, make the same choices on Afghanistan as Bush, help Wall Street the same as Bush, give the millionaires 16 or so times more support than we middle class folks. . . same as Bush (and try to say it will help the economy, which is Bush BS; we've been living under it for 9 years).

Being Bi-Partisan is STUPID considering that no matter what he does the G.O.P (Greedy Oligarch Party) will ALWAYS consider Obama to be Commie Godzilla, rampaging across the country, scorching the American way of life with his radioactive Socialist breath.

Yes, Obama has done quite a bit of good in his term so far. . . but it is all FAR overshadowed by his habit of appeasing the Right on the stuff that matters most.

Oh, look 13 months of unemployment pay. . . compared to YEARS of giving more cash to the people who already don't spend the cash they have. What a joke.

Reminds me of the old joke about the Puppet on the Left and the Puppet on the Right being controlled by the same Puppeteer.

Posted by: Mitch on December 13, 2010 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Come up with a way for Dem members to vent their disapproval of the deal, so they don't feel too stiffarmed and marginalized by the process, without it resulting in changes significant enough to cause Republicans to walk away.

from the Harper Romance novel,

"Republicans are from Mars, Democrats are pussies"

Posted by: Trollop on December 13, 2010 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

@President Lindsay - temporary refers to set end points. The Bush Tax Cuts are temporary, and if no action were taken would expire soon.

If they were permanent, then the Republicans wouldn't be so scared of them going away in the short term because it would take action to get rid of them rather than to hold on to them.

Posted by: David on December 13, 2010 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

I called my Senators again this morning, and they were both among the few who voted "NO" on cloture. Now I can call and thank them, and remind them why they shouldn't (in my opinion) vote for the final bill, assuming it comes up.

Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall, you rule!

Posted by: zandru on December 13, 2010 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

History will show that a cabal of crooks got away with trillions of dollars during the early decade of the 21st centurry.

Why this vast amount of wealth was stolen isn't clear.

But it was real, and they really did get away with murder.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on December 13, 2010 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Whew! You have to love their priorities. Close a deal one week, vote the next. It would be nice if there were such concern for, I dunno, DADT; START; judicial nominees; a budget; facing up to the Afghan quagmire.

But, nah - why focus on that stuff when there are tax breaks to be had!

Posted by: bigutah on December 13, 2010 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

What Another Steve Said. Congressional Dems had 4 years to get ready for this fight and they couldn't even be bothered to fight it when it might have done themselves, let alone the country, some good.

Mike

Posted by: MBunge on December 13, 2010 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

Another Steve, excellent point. The other Steve fails to mention that the Dems will be in the minority in about two weeks. Let's see how effective the "phantom hardball" strategy at the White House works now.

Dems had the ball and fumbled badly.

Posted by: CT Voter on December 14, 2010 at 7:56 AM | PERMALINK
Post a comment









Remember personal info?










 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly