I don’t mean this to sound snarky and this isn’t a rhetorical question; I’m genuinely interested in understanding the back-up strategy. When I posed this question yesterday to some Capitol Hill aides I know, they said they’d recommit to fighting even harder for the original Obama tax plan — permanent breaks for those under $250k, Clinton-era top rates for those above $250k. If/when this week’s compromise goes down, Republicans, they said, would likely cave and accept the Democratic approach. They’d be out of options — it’d be a choice between the Dem plan and higher taxes for everyone. Dems would regain the leverage they lost before the midterms.
And that could work. The plan came seven votes shy of 60 the other day, but when push comes to shove, maybe those seven additional votes would come together, and Dems would win this fight over taxes.
But what then? How would extended unemployment benefits pass for the millions of jobless Americans who need them? What happens to the economic stimulus? What’s the strategy for getting quick approval for an expanded earned-income tax credit and the continuation of a college-tuition tax credit? With almost no time left on the clock, after winning the fight on tax policy, is the plan to simply punt on New START ratification, DADT repeal, the DREAM Act, food safety, and health care for Ground Zero workers, hoping for the best in the next Congress?
I understand very well what opponents on the left want to do to the tax deal, and why. I’m less clear on what happens next.
Nice to know I’m not the only person who see’s Obama’s plan as a clear win for the jobless. Not many people seem to care — except the unemployed, of course. “Oh, we’ll take that up in January.”
January? They really have no idea how close to the edge people are living.
UPDATE: David Dayen’s response.