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I am stunned to learn that Congressional Democrats have decided not to hold a vote before the elections on extending the tax cuts that are due to expire at the end of this year.

Let me see if I've got this straight:  the Democrats in Congress are deciding not to vote to extend tax cuts for every single American voter (on annual income up to $250,000), which polls show is a broadly popular move, because they are scared that Republicans will call them names for failing to give additional tax cuts for the 2% at the very top on whatever income they make above $250,000??

That is utterly idiotic.  As Chris Hayes of The Nation just said to Keith Olbermann on Countdown, this is one of those rare opportunities when what is good policy (it's the right thing to do) lines up with what is good politics (it's popular) and they both overlap with what the party stands for (ordinary citizens vs. the wealthy).  It's a rare political trifecta for the Dems!  As Keith O. said, this sort of thing comes along maybe once every forty years or so.  The last one may have been Medicare in the early 1960's, and that has been deeply popular ever since.
If the Dems won the vote they would have done a very popular thing right before an election, over Republican opposition.  In politics, that is known as a "good thing."
And even if they lost the vote, they would have established the principle that they tried to give every American a tax cut -- and that the Republicans blocked them from doing it!
It would put Republicans clearly on record as favoring the super-wealthy over all of the rest of us.
It would also highlight Republican obstructionism.
And it would highlight Republican hypocrisy over the deficit, as well, since what the Rs propose will add $700 billion directly to the deficit to fund additional tax cuts for the very wealthy (on income over their first $250k) at a time when the Rs oppose nearly everything -- even extended unemployment benefits in the midst of the worst economic crisis in our lifetimes -- with high-pitched shrieks and crocodile tears about the deficit and its effect on our grandchildren.  The total cost of the tax cut extensions the Rs propose is nearly $4 trillion:  way more than the cost of the stimulus, the bank bailout, the auto bailout, and health care reform combined.
And John Boehner had already let the cat out of the bag:  the Rs were nervous as hell and ready to cave, if the Dems would just push the issue.

Democratic staffers may say that they needn't hold a vote because they have already "established the message," but they are either spinning or deluded.  Almost no voters pay attention to what politicians and their aides spout off in D.C. about politics, and those few voters who do follow the daily partisan tug-of-war don't put much stock in it.  Voters only pay attention to what politicians do, not what they say.  Holding a vote would have gotten articles on the front page of every newspaper and at the top of every newscast in the country with the headlines:  "Dems fight for middle-class tax cut extensions, GOP manuvers to protect the rich."

I wonder how much of this is simple Democratic spinelessness and incompetence and unreasoning fear of even saying the word "taxes," and how much is actually cynical spinning and butt-covering while acting to protect the interests of rich and well-connected members and their staffers and lobbyist buddies.
In either case, I find it deeply disappointing.

We've already got one party that looks out for the interests of the rich at the expense of all of the rest of us:  the GOP.
Why bother having a second?

Man, I hope that the Congressional Democrats reconsider this decision.

Originally posted to twcollier on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 08:03 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I think Reid and Pelosi (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Want to do what they can to have a majority in the House.  Theremis no majority without the Democrats holding seats in conservative districts and states.  

      By not voting in extending the tax cuts, Democrats can take whatever position is best for themintheir district.  So if only under $250k is the way to go in a district, the rep can take that position.  If keeping current tax rates are the way to go, the democrat can take that position.

      Once a vote is taken, to position of the vote locks the House or Senate member to whatever Democrats do.

      The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

      by nextstep on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 10:21:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Reconsidering just makes it look political. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Samer, corvo, bigchin

    And, heaven forbid that politicians look political.

  •  Almost as if the want to lose. n/t (6+ / 0-)

    "History is a tragedy, not a melodrama." - I.F.Stone

    by bigchin on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 08:11:44 PM PDT

  •  Tax cut extensions (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am certainly confused about this decision. I agree that many Washington staff have no clue about what is happening out in the districts. Does someone have an explanation that makes sense?

    •  simple explanation (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rick, kurt, Sharon Wraight, KingCranky, jfromga

      The millionaire politicians calling the shots in the Democratic party want their tax cuts too, so they are postponing the vote until after the election so they can vote in a tax cuts for their rich friends without immediately facing the voters there after.  

      When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

      by Thought Crime on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 08:21:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Parallels with Fenty in DC (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twcollier, kurt, Sharon Wraight

      He was also clueless..

      How Adrian Fenty lost his reelection bid for D.C. mayor

      By Nikita Stewart and Paul Schwartzman
      Washington Post Staff Writers
      Thursday, September 16, 2010; 12:10 AM

      As the 2010 Democratic primary campaign arrived, the mayor's instinct told him that his accomplishments would far outweigh complaints that he seemed aloof and uncaring. Overhauling the school system  meant something, he told loyalists. Building swimming pools and soccer fields affected people's lives. His handpicked police chief was popular across the city. When it was time to vote, the mayor was confident, the substance of his administration's work would trump all.

      How Fenty came to squander that success and the goodwill that catapulted him to office is the story of a mayor who misread an electorate he was sure he knew better than anyone, who ignored advisers' early warnings that key constituencies were abandoning him, who shut out confidantes who told him what he did not want to hear and who began to listen only when the race was all but lost.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 08:34:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Let's hope if the new mayor fires (0+ / 0-)

        Michelle Rhee that there is an equal reaction on the national level and Obama fires Arne Duncan.

        In fact, I heard that the backlash from Rhee's heavy-handed teacher firings is one reason that Fenty lost.

        "The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is like the difference between lightning and the lightning bug." -- Mark Twain

        by Brooke In Seattle on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 09:46:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  why is this stunning? (7+ / 0-)

    This is par for the course, and just you wait, they will only be able to pass it after the election by including the tax cuts for the rich.  Hell, if I was a betting man I'd lay odds that they decided to wait until after the election so they could pass the cuts for the rich with fewer repercussions.

    This is who and what the Dems are now.  They are for the rich and ordinary Americans can go hang.  The bailouts should have taught you that.

    When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

    by Thought Crime on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 08:18:33 PM PDT

    •  Again, as I've pointed out elsewhere, the problem (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      twcollier, kurt, jan4insight

      is not ALL Dems.

      It's the Conservadems/Blue Dogs. There are just enough to f*** things up royally on pretty much every issue.

      We don't want our country back, we want our country FORWARD. --Eclectablog

      by Samer on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 08:25:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The bailouts made sense (4+ / 0-)

      Even though the financial bailout helped rich bankers and moneymen who got us into the mess, the fact is that it had to be done.  We were right on the verge of a second Great Depression, and the financial bailout (the TARP bill and the Federal Reserve's various moves) did restore stability to the national and global financial system and avert a complete economic meltdown.

      The auto bailout saved many thousands of jobs -- blue-collar jobs for working men and women -- and avoided the sudden collapse of an important domestic industry at the height of the economic crisis.

      Both bailouts made sense, at least from a policy standpoint, even if they were politically unpopular.

      This makes no sense to me.  Putting off this vote is not politically smart, and extending the tax cuts on income under $250k is sound policy.

      •  Nationalizing the investment banks was an option (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rick, kurt

        and it made a hell of a lot more sense then just handing a blank check for $700 billion to the same greedy bastards who had just driven the global economy into a ditch for their own profit.

        As for the "auto bailout", that was a completely different animal.  There was oversight, and accountability.  That was not a bailout, it was a rescue, and yes it was well done.

        But simply handing a blank check to Wall St. was always a bad idea.  A Bad idea, unless you where on Wall St.'s side from the beginning.  

        When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

        by Thought Crime on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 09:15:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Look at your individual Rep. (0+ / 0-)

      Don't just say "the Dems", because most of the caucus was for holding the vote. What killed it seemed to be opposition from some Blue Dogs. Look where your Rep stands on this issue before passing judgment.

      •  Blue Dogs? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt, KingCranky

        Blue Dogs who get funding from the DCCC.  Blue Dogs who were given committee seats (and thus power) by the Speaker.  Blue Dogs who the leadership have been tolerating for years.  

        This is not just "The Blue Dogs", this is the Party which shelters and supports them.  

        This. Is. The. Dems.

        When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

        by Thought Crime on Thu Sep 23, 2010 at 09:11:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  why? (0+ / 0-)

    They take polls every minute. They live by polls.

  •  Heh (0+ / 0-)

    Man, I hope that the Congressional Democrats reconsider this decision.

    That would require them to have considered it in the first place.

    They didn't think about it. They just shat their pants and decided to hell with it.

  •  Most Reps up for Reelection were against holding (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt, JeffW

    the vote, so they thought it wouldn't benefit them.

    Liberal lawmakers in both chambers had pressed their leaders to schedule a vote on legislation that would make permanent the tax cuts for families earning below $250,000 but allow the rates for families above that threshold to rise. Families in the top brackets would see their income tax rates rise from 33 and 35 percent to 36 and 39.6 percent, respectively.

    Centrists and Democrats facing tough reelections, however, balked at voting for any tax increases. Republicans have argued for an extension of all of the current tax rates, which became law during the Bush administration.

    Sen. Evan Bayh, a centrist Democrat from Indiana, said the divisions in his party emerged in stark contrast during the lunchtime meeting.

    “A majority of opinion was probably for having a vote, but for a majority of people who were running, maybe not,” he said.

    My instinct based on looking at polls is that it would have been popular, but Reps running for reelection didn't seem to want it, and wouldn't they know the condition of their district better than us? Or alternately, if they were against the measure and would have voted against it anyway, it wouldn't have helped us in November.

    Instead, there's this:

    Instead of tackling tax rates, Senate Democrats plan to vote on legislation that would penalize companies that ship jobs overseas.

    The bill, crafted by Durbin and Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), would end tax breaks for companies that move production overseas. That provision would raise just under $18 billion to reward companies that move offshore jobs back to the U.S.

    The legislation would lower payroll taxes for companies that hire domestic employees to replace overseas workers.

    This sounds like a good idea and a popular issue. Perhaps we should be highlighting it?

    •  I take your point (4+ / 0-)

      That those running for re-election generally deserve some latitude to run their race as they see fit.  But this is an issue that has nationwide, and long-term, political implications as well as important policy considerations.
      We do need to begin to rein in the deficit when and where we can.  I agree that we need to extend the tax cuts on income up to $250,000, to help maintain the momentum of the modest economic recovery.  But extending it on income above $250k does little to do that while tacking hundreds of billions onto the deficit, unnecessarily.

      The Rs are going to scream about the deficit every chance they get for the next two years, and beyond.  If they take over either or both chambers they will be even louder and more relentless about that.  They even filibustered an extension of unemployment benefits in the midst of a terrible recession, for god's sakes, crying about the expense to the deficit that was a fraction of what the tax cuts for the rich will cost.  And there will be more unemployment benefit extensions, and they will again justify failing to extend those benefits by pointing to the deficit.
      Forcing this vote would make them look foolish, and hypocritical.  
      Instead, the Ds are foregoing that very powerful argument.

  •  It would obviously be to our political advantage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to bring up a stand-alone tax-cuts bill for the middle class now (while allowing all of the Bush tax-cuts to expire as scheduled Dec 31st 2010), if republicans actually block the middle class tax-cuts bill (while being on record supporting the extension of tax-cuts for the rich), we could go to the midterms saying "Republicans fight like hell for tax-cuts for the rich, then fight like hell to block tax-cuts for the middle class". I’ve been saying this for a month. The fact that democrats won’t do something this astonishing ($$$$$).
    I still have one last glimmer of hope (naiveté warning). It’s actually better for us (politically, for the midterms) if republicans block a middle class tax-cuts bill, than for them to vote for it and have it pass. If democrats offer up the middle class tax-cuts bill now and republicans block it, republicans would have to endure criticism from all of the lefty talkers all the way up to election day, the threat of which would incline republicans to go ahead and vote for it and let it pass (than to get pounded with "Republicans fight like hell for tax-cuts for the rich, then fight like hell to block tax-cuts for the middle class" all the way until the election). But if the middle class tax-cuts bill is offered up on the last day before recess, republicans might get caught off guard and block it, choosing the "tax-cuts should be extended for everybody/taxes shouldn’t be raised on job-creators during a recession" approach, which they might think will work, but won’t work very well up against the "Republicans fight like hell for tax-cuts for the rich, then fight like hell to block tax-cuts for the middle class". And democrats would have to say that they’re not going to take up the tax-cuts issues in this session of congress to make this work. Like I said, I issued a naiveté warning, but I’m still holding out thinking it may be better timing if they wait until the last day before recess to offer up the middle class tax-cuts bill (hoping republicans will block it).


  •  Well people.. (0+ / 0-)

     I sent both the DNC and Harry Reid's Campaign that I for one just don't know if I can still keep supporting a party that basically caves in all the time to the Republicans. Damn why couldn't the Democrats have had a couterpart to the Tea party this year.

  •  I think they did the right thing (0+ / 0-)

    Better to let them all expire than take a chance on tax cuts only being extended for the rich.

    "Too big to fail" is not too big to jail.

    by Angela Quattrano on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 01:01:12 AM PDT

    •  Poliltically, that was not likely (0+ / 0-)

      I don't think it was ever likely that the tax cuts would be extended only for the rich.  I don't think even the Republicans will do that -- they'll extend them for everybody, including the rich.
      The Dems have missed a golden opportunity here to do the right thing by starting to bring the deficit back down, which would have been a popular thing that would have helped them politically in several different ways.
      Instead, they have chosen to do nothing -- and that won't make their re-elections any easier.  I think they are heading for a major wipeout in November.

      I wish it weren't so, but I'm afraid this may have been the last chance to avoid Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell.
      Get ready for endless subpoenas and investigations of bogus administration "scandals," and lots of bills designed just to provoke a presidential veto.

      •  I really think that "doing the right thing" (0+ / 0-)

        here involves finding a way to give money directly to those most desperately in need, which are those living in poverty, both the working poor and those who are unemployed by any definition. Tax cuts are inherently less effective a stimulus than giving money to the poor.

        "Too big to fail" is not too big to jail.

        by Angela Quattrano on Fri Sep 24, 2010 at 07:12:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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