Congressional Democrats were hoping to push forward with the Obama administration's plan to extend Bush-era tax cuts on those making under $250,000 a year, but the proposal has reportedly been shelved until at least after elections. The internal debate raging among Democrats is summed up by one congressional aide who was quoted by Talking Points Memo saying, "We have a winning message now, why muddy it up with a failed vote, because, of course, Republicans are going to block everything." Needless to say, pundits don't agree, with many predicting poor results for a Democratic "team that refuses to take the field."
House and Senate Democrats 'Shelve' Tax Cuts Talking Points Memo reports that "with House Democratic leaders still insisting that they will follow the Senate's lead, it seems more and more likely that they too will drop the tax cut issue until after the election. Pelosi's effort to wrangle her caucus into voting on middle-income tax cuts before the election appears not have dislodged conservative and politically vulnerable Democrats who either wanted to extend all the Bush tax cuts, including for high-income earners, or to avoid any kind of risky vote s close to the elections."
- Instead, They Decide on 'Political Suicide' writes Jonathan Chait who's unimpressed by the Democrats "Curl Up In A Fetal Position" strategy on taxes before the election. He explains: "Moderate Democrats worry that passing a tax cut for income under $250,000 would be portrayed as a tax hike, because it allows rates to rise on income over $250,000. As I've noted several times, that could be solved by holding a separate vote. But the moderate Democrats' solution is not to hold a vote on any tax cuts. In other words, they're worried that failing to vote on a tax cut for the rich will be portrayed as a tax hike on the middle class. Answer: decide not to vote on a tax hike for the middle class either."
- Dems Don't Want to Do the 'Smart Thing' which would be "to hold a vote on Obama's proposed middle-class tax breaks -- before, you know, the election -- and dare Republicans to reject it," insist Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly. "Holding a vote gets everyone on the record; allows Dems to boast of their votes on middle-class tax cuts; and offers Dems a campaign cudgel to use against Republicans who hold those cuts hostage."
- 'I'm Close to Thinking Let 'em lose, Serves 'em Right' argues a frustrated Michael Tomasky at The Guardian, who predicts this result: "Everyone watching this debate understands that a vote after the elections is guaranteed to extend all the cuts and really embarrass Obama, because he's going to be put in a position of vetoing cuts for the middle class or signing a bill including all cuts, and he's obviously going to have to do the latter. It's short-sighted. It's selfish. It's weak. It's pathetic. And it's all too typical."
- Might as Well Say 'Democrats Inch Closer to Lighting Themselves on Fire' opines The Daily Kos's Jed Lewison. "If it's true, not only does it increase the likelihood that Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy will forever be joined at the hip with tax cuts for the middle-class (otherwise known as the hostage bait), but it also will likely lead to bigger Democratic losses this fall. After all, who in their right mind would want to cheer for a team that refuses to take the field?"
- There Still Is Time for a Vote reports Russell Berman at The Hill. "House aides emphasized that the situation remains fluid. Any vote would most likely occur next week, which will likely be the last week the House is in session before the election," he writes. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pushed for the House to act before the midterms, but Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, "wants the House to wait for the Senate to act first, according to Democratic aides."
- What Democrats May Do Instead Huffington Post reporter Ryan Grim, who called the Democrats decision "foreseeable," details what the party will do before the midterms: "Democrats, instead of focusing on tax cuts, said the aides, will address legislation to limit corporate spending in the election process, expand job creation and close loopholes for companies that ship jobs offshore. "