Dems Vote Privately to Reject Tax Cut Plan (updated)

Jeff Alworth

As Kari noted earlier, a lot of Congressional Democrats were really down on the Obama-GOP plan to extend tax cuts. Turns out it was a whole lot:

At a private meeting of the Democratic caucus this morning, members overwhelmingly rejected the idea that the plan is inviolable by passing a resolution agreeing not to bring up the tax package without changing it first. However, the White House and Republicans insist that the plan is in stone -- and any changes would likely prompt a GOP backlash.

After the meeting, though, members and aides stressed that future steps are unclear, and were unable to say that the White House plan won't pass the House untouched.

It seems this lame duck session is anything but lame. Get ready for some fascinating politics.

[Update from Kari:] It seems that the Democratic caucus was led in its effort to reject the Obama/GOP plan by our very own Congressman Peter DeFazio. From the AP:

By voice vote in a closed caucus meeting, Democrats passed a resolution saying the tax package should not come to the House floor for consideration as written, even though no formal House bill has been drafted. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., introduced the resolution.

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    In other words, symbolic posturing, which is just DeFazio's style.

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    They are against it? Good. Let's see it. When it comes to a vote, vote no, or use that 'oh so evil' filibuster if you have to. If you are as against this bill as you say, then kill it. $10 says that they'll speak on the evils of the bill, but it'll pass anyway.

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    From the Register-Guard:

    "DeFazio, in a telephone interview with The Register- Guard, said he was just trying to help the president keep his campaign promise of ending tax cuts on those whose income exceeds $250,000.

    “It’s incredibly expensive; it’s $1 trillion of forgone income on the premise of rebuilding the economy and putting people back to work,” said DeFazio, who represents Oregon’s 4th District, which includes Eugene-Springfield.

    DeFazio scoffed at the threat from Republicans that they would block the extension of unemployment benefits if the Bush tax cuts weren’t extended for two years. “They’re going to cut off unemployment benefits before Christmas? That’s a big bluff. If you are going to cut off benefits, hey, make my day. We’ll savage you,” he said."

    I love my representative.

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      DeFazio thinks the Repugs wouldn't kick the unemployed to the curb?? They would relish it!! In the GOP world view people without money and power are entirely expendable,... throw-aways.

      DeFazio and the House Dems are going to become entirely irrelevant in about two weeks. They either become players in this tax deal now or let Boehner work his own deal in January.

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      I think Peter got a little carried away there. I'm sure he really didn't mean to say that he would like to have people lose their unemployment benefits so that Democrats could score political points against Republican.

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        Why not, because Republicans actually DO want people to lose their unemployment benefits. Or should we not take the GOP leadership in both the House and the Senate at their word and actions?

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    Obama and the Dems could say to the Rescumlicans: Now or later, we control the WH and the Senate. Here's a bill extending tax cuts for the bottom 98%, extending unemployment for a year, and pumping the estate tax back up...all of which are supported by a majority of the American people and all of which will be stimulative for the economy. If your willing to screw the economy and raise taxes on 98% of Americans in order to make the rich richer, go for it and let's see how that works out for ya.

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    In case you haven't notice, President Obama (with the support of President Clinton) has reached a deal with the Republicans to support a bill that extends unemployment benefits, cuts the payroll tax and prevents everyone's taxes from going up on January 1.

    Do you really think voters voters are not to going to blame House Democrats if they block this?

    I believe DeFazio's position is principled, completely sincere and consistent with his previous positions, but politically misguided. If the Senate passes the compromise, the lame duck House leadership will be the fall guys if it they kill it, not the Republicans.

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    Not so fast...

    It looks like the Dems in the House might get some help with improving this "deal," from some Senators, led by our own Jeff Merkley (and, as unlikely as this sounds, Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu).

    Senator Sanders' passionate, factually laser-focused and articulate dissertation today has shifted the focus--you really CAN'T justify the Bush tax giveaways as good policy, so, why not try to improve them? Worst case, we swallow this bitter pill because the GOP "won"--but if we don't at least fight for what we know is right, why should anyone believe we will next time?

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      Right . . . they're going to improve the bill by extending ethanol subsidies. Earl is working to make sure it also includes solar and wind tax credits. Landrieu wants tax credits for industries in her state, too.

      But since these people are all Democrats, by definition their changes improve the bill.

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        Actually, Jack, while I support the renewable energy credits (but deplore the agri-biz ethanol giveaways), our Senator's letter was very specific about the changes they are talking about:

        Specifically, we propose to amend the package to restore tax rates on income over $1 million per year to the Clinton-era rates, and to dedicate the resulting revenues to shoring up the Social Security trust fund... Improving Social Security’s finances is, in our opinion, a more important national priority than directing tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer money to a relative handful of families.

        We have grave misgivings about the recent tax agreement. We hope that the Senate can improve on it. We look forward to working with you to ensure a vote on our amendment to strengthen Social Security in lieu of bonus tax cuts for people who are doing quite well.

        And, despite (or maybe because of?) the obvious sanity of their proposal, I don't expect many Republicans to support it. They seem quite intent on holding the economic health of the nation hostage so their very wealth friends can get just that much more wealthy, just as they have for the last 10 years.

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          But, Jay, you don't expect Merkley's proposal to pass, do you? There is nothing there to draw any more votes than they got last time they failed to pass the partial tax cut extension in the Senate.

          I think the most likely scenario is that the Obama/GOP compromise, with the additional energy tax credits, will pass the Senate and that the House will then swallow hard and pass it, too.

          I happen to think that's a good result, but whether you like it or not, I think the politics ultimately make that the likely result.

          If nothing happens this Congress, the next one will pass a similar bill, probably with either less stimulus or off-setting spending cuts. Maybe Obama's veto pen gets him back to the same deal he has now, but I don't see what the House Democrats gain in any event.

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            You call it correctly, Jack. A few tweeks but the House is not going to change anything substantive in this deal. And they know if they don't deal now, they are out of it entirely. Elections have consequences. And their decision not to act before the election has consequences. The Senate bill will pass and it will be passed before Christmas, or it will be passed again in January with the new Congress.

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            I expect the fact that Merkley and his colleagues in the Senate, as well as those in the House, are pushing back, trying to make the deal better for America. I support whatever improvements they can make. Worst case scenario is we end up right here, but after some have stood up and fought. Which is a heck of a lot better than shrugging your shoulders and going, "Oh, well."

            And WAY better than anything we're seeing from the GOP.

            Bill, I'm disappointed you don't see any value in Democrats fighting for Democratic principles and for the 98% of Americans who won't benefit from a tax cut on incomes over $250K. "Elections have consequences." Yes. And so do bought and paid for Supreme Court (in)justices who enable anonymous donors to flood elections with unlimted cash to pay for unlimited lies. We already are seeing the lobbyists take plumb jobs in the offices of newly-elected tea baggers; when Joe Six-Pack wakes up and realizes that "Obama is a Socialist Muslim" isn't a policy plan for rebooting the American economy, those who duped him will be in for a rude surprise. If you ask me, the more Democrats can do to highlight the real issues and who is really working for whom, the better.

            Thank you Senator Sanders. Thank you Senator Merkley.

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    Let the whole thing go down in flames. The Bush tax cuts were wrong when fighting two wars and they are unaffordable now. As professional legislators lard more pork into this bill it becomes less and less about a 'stimulus' and more about passing more pork.

    The payroll tax holiday is a farce. Why punch another hole in the sinking ship that is social security?

    Why, why why continue corn ethanol subsidies? At $6 billion a year this is a fool's errand that raises food prices worldwide, raises the debt and does absolutely nothing to impact the holy grail - lowing our carbon footprint.

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