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Why Democrats are hesitant to vote on Obama's tax plan

President Obama urged Congress immediately to pass his plan to extend some of the Bush tax cuts. But Senate Democrats are taking their time, hoping to score political points. 

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 Republicans expressed their shock that the Senate majority leader would block a vote on a plan that the president himself wanted passed as soon as possible (because they, after all, are always so eager to please the president). They also savaged Senator Reid's solution: The two tax plans would come up for a vote as bills of their own – at some point before the summer recess. 

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Republicans already had their bill written, by Sens. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Orrin Hatch of Utah. But who knows what the Democrats would put into their proposal, suggested Senate minority leader McConnell.

“If the president has a proposal, we’ll be happy to send an intern down to the White House to pick it up. But we can’t vote on a speech,” McConnell said Thursday. “And, frankly, we can’t continue like this. It’s long past time Democrats at the White House and in the Senate took the lives and challenges of working Americans as seriously as they take politics.”

The politics of the bill are quite clear. It's not about passing the bill, it's about scoring political points.

It won't have the 60 votes needed to overcome a Senate filibuster. Several vulnerable Democratic senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Jon Tester of Montana – all gave lukewarm reactions to the president’s plan, and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) of Connecticut, who caucuses with Democrats, said he would vote against it. 

But Democratic leaders appeared confident at a press conference Thursday that they would have at least 51 votes for the president’s measure – a symbolic statement that would show Democrats in general are on board. Trying to add to this impression, Senate Finance Chairman Kent Conrad (D) of North Dakota said Tuesday that the “vast majority” of the caucus is “comfortable” with the president’s plan. 

And, it goes without saying, many will be comfortable talking about it – a lot – during the next two weeks. 

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