Bush tax cuts: Could liberal Democrats block Obama's compromise?
Democrats have the votes to block the president's compromise with Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts. But many might have to accept that with Republicans set to gain more power in Congress next year, this is the best deal they're likely to get.
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A filibuster threat would mean the administration would have to muster 60 Senate votes to get any economic compromise to pass. To reach that magic number in this lame duck session, Obama would have to attract 18 Democrats, assuming that all 42 current GOP Senators vote “aye.”
“That’s a lot of Democrats, many of whom are very much on the record as opposing an extension for those over $250,000,” writes former Capitol Hill economic staffer Pete Davis on D.C.’s popular “Capital Gains and Games” economic blog.
As the partisan split now stands in the House, 39 Democrats would have to hold their noses and vote for the tax cut extension, along with all 178 Republicans, if such a compromise were to pass.
At heart the basic complaint of liberals is that Obama has surrendered to the Republicans on a core item without making a concerted case to the nation about how extension of tax cuts for the wealthy is wrong, and too expensive.
“Obama has seemingly surrendered his once-considerable abilities to act, decide or think,” wrote New York Times columnist Frank Rich in a piece on Sunday. Mr. Rich further compared the president to a hostage suffering from mistaken Stockholm Syndrome sympathy for his captors.
In this view, the tax cut/unemployment insurance compromise is only the latest Obama betrayal. The administration did not fight to include a government-run public option health plan in the recent health-care reform bill, complain many liberals. Obama’s recent proposal to freeze federal worker salaries saves little money and is simply a sop to deficit hawks, liberals add.
GOP gains ensure that any deal made after the lame-duck session will be worse. It’s better to strike now, in the view of moderates.
“You know, the president has to deal with reality. The reality is there are not the votes to limit the tax cuts to those with less than $250,000 of income a year,” said Sen. Kent Conrad (D) of North Dakota in a Monday broadcast interview on MSNBC.