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Republicans Filibuster Dem Tax Cut Plan, Compromise Now Imminent

December 4, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

Even as details leak out about a deal in the works between President Obama and both parties in Congress to temporarily extend all of the Bush tax cuts, the Senate was in session Saturday to hold votes on two Democratic proposals on how to deal with the issue. Needless to say, they both failed. But the roll call results tell us a good deal about where the debate over taxes and, more generally, the deficit stands, so let’s have a look.

The first vote was on the plan preferred by Obama and most Democrats. It would have permanently extended the tax cuts for everyone on income earned up to $200,000, or $250,000 for couples (extending the tax cuts for all income for 98% of Americans). It also would have extended unemployment benefits for one year, scaled back the alternative minimum tax for two years, and extended dozens of other tax provisions from the stimulus bill and elsewhere. Full details here.

The first plan failed to overcome a Republican filibuster by a vote of 53-36. Sixty votes are needed to break a filibuster under current Senate rules. Every single Republican that voted (11 abstained), voted against it. Four Democrats joined the Republicans in voting no, they are Sen. Russ Feingold [D, WI], Sen. Joe Manchin [D, WV], Sen. Ben Nelson [D, NE] and Sen. Jim Webb [D, VA]. Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman [CT] also voted no.

The second vote was on essentially the same plan, except that it raised the income cut-off receiving the tax cuts to $1 million (extending the tax cuts for all of income for more than 99% of Americans). It’s important to note that both these plans would cut taxes for everyone. Even if you earn above $250,000 or $1,000,000, as it were, you would receive the tax cuts on all income up to that cut-off point. Anything above that would go back to being taxed at the higher pre-2001 rate.

The second plan failed as well, this time on a 53-37 vote. All Republicans still voted no, and four Democrats, plus Lieberman, still voted no as well. However, a few Dems flipped. Machin, Webb and Nelson all decided that the million-dollar cut-off was the right compromise and voted yes, but Sen. Richard Durbin [D, IL], Sen. Thomas Harkin [D, IA] and Sen. Jay Rockefeller [D, WV] objected because they thought the $1 million limit was too high.

At the end of the day, nothing got done besides getting senators down on the record — except the 11 Republicans who abstained — and solidifying, as Politico’s headline reads, that it’s now all or nothing on the Bush tax cuts. They either get extend for all levels of income, or they expire for everybody.

Nobody really expects the Democrats to let them expire at this point. If they did, the first thing Republicans would do when they took over the House in January would be to pass a permanent extension of the tax cuts for all income levels. With the 5 seats the Democrats are losing in the Senate, they probably wouldn’t have the 40 votes they would need to stop the bill from being sent to Obama. Obama could veto it, of course, but then he’d be the one taking the final action that would cause all Americans’ paychecks to go down because of increased federal withholdings. That’s not the position he wants to be in as 2012 approaches.

Plus, if the Democrats agree to do a temporary extension now, they have a bit of leverage to use with Republicans so they can pass an unemployment benefits extension and some of the other targeted middle-class and small-business tax cuts that were in the bills voted on today. As I’ve noted in the past, the irony here is that everyone in Congress is supposedly concerned about the deficit, yet the most likely compromise on this seems to be to put all the pet deficit-increasing tax cuts and spending items together into one bill and pass it based on the fact that it’s got a little bit for a lot of people. There will be objections from the left and the right, but when all is said and done, there will be a deal that pulls together 60+ votes from both sides of the aisles, and adds about $500 billion to the federal deficit each year it’s in effect.

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  • BenjaWiz 12/05/2010 3:13am

    “The irony here is that everyone in Congress is supposedly concerned about the deficit.” sure they are what a joke that printing press will keep going until we all go bust and then America will be worse of then it is now how foolish this is giving Multi-Millionaires and Billionaires tax cuts what a big waste more debt to add to our already $13.8 Trillion dollar deficit.

  • BenjaWiz 12/05/2010 3:18am

    I’m only in favor of cuts for middle America because it will get spent and put back into the economy where as history has proven Multi-Millionaires and Billionaires will just save it and not spend plus they don’t even need it just more waste as they already pay little to no taxes anyway.

  • BenjaWiz 12/05/2010 3:24am

    These Multi-Millionaires and Billionaires have very good accountants that make sure there clients pay little or no taxes because they using existing loopholes in laws that allow these folks in higher income brackets to keep more of there own money while the little guy, i.e. “middle America” gets the short end of the stick.

  • comments11660 12/05/2010 5:23am

    I wonder what our Congressman will be thinking about when they sit down to their huge warm Christmas dinners in their warm houses with their families and presents all around. Will they be thinking about the millions of Americans they may have put out of their houses into homeless shelters?!!! I am disgusted with this Congress this holiday season for letting the unemployment benefits expire during this holiday season! Merry Christmas Congress Merry Christmas Senate oh and Happy Hanukkah too! I will be thinking about how disgusting this Congress is while Americans suffer!

  • corey 12/05/2010 6:52am

    Conservative, Unregulated Capitalism = “Profits before People”

    “We the People” = “We the People”

  • phantomfaery 12/05/2010 9:00am

    I completely agree, comments11660! I find it absolutely appalling that they are not extending unemployment, when the holidays are right around the corner. Happy holidays those of the unemployed masses, here are your eviction and foreclosure notices, your inability to put food on the table and the opportunity to try and explain to your children why you can’t have a Christmas! While millions of Americans are suffering, Congress gets to sit in their warm cozy homes with their families and have a wonderful holiday? How the hell can they sleep at night?! It disgusts me! I hope and I pray that they pass the extension this week, because I know my boyfriend and I are already crunching numbers to see if we can even afford to pay the rent in January. I’m sure there are people out there far worse off than we are, too. :(

  • beenblue 12/05/2010 10:57am

    Americans don`t like taxes and every politician knows it`s political suicide to even mention raising taxes. Remember G.H.W Bush and “read my lips” WHOOPS one term, or his son who starts two illegal wars that are unfunded, and sends rebates from the surplus that Clinton left behind, while stating that the American public was over taxed. The poor and middle class got a few hundred bucks from the rebates, while once again the rich made off with the lions share, and did not trickle down, or create jobs in middle America. The rich in this country don`t shop at Ross, or Wall mart or Sears, nor do they eat at diners, and cafes on main street. So what`s the point of excusing them from participating in the burdens of recovery, their wealth won`t be affected in any major way. I`m reminded of J.F.Ks speech “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country.” Oh ya that`s right he was a Democrat, the Republican motto is the “What`s in it for me” point of view.

  • beenblue 12/05/2010 12:51pm

    Well my point is , why is it that the poor and middle class carry all the burdens of a growing, or declining nation, and the rich reap all the rewards, in any condition. Is justice for only those who can afford it?. Or is it that life imitates art, as in George Orwell`s Animal Farm " Some animals are more equal than others." The only people made to feel the inequality of this, are the people who give or gave their all for their country when asked. I know this is not new in American history, slave labor built this country, and laid its railroads for the robber barons, there was internment camps, and Jim Crow (separate but equal) and the Gov`t backed union busters, and these had champions who brought these injustices to light, and often paid the cost with their lives to ensure justice and equality for all who call themselves American citizens. So what is this unequal burden, other than a miscarriage of justice, and a fleecing of the American public, also known as the Republican Agenda.

  • Hopeful2010 12/05/2010 1:07pm

    If there is likely to be a compromise with extending the unemployment benefit to those currently in tiers 1-4 then I would like to think that there could be more thought put toward the 99ers since it is known that the unemployment is predicted to be high through the end of this year. The unfortunate timing of our layoffs is not our fault and seems fair to extend the weeks or add an additional tier. Since the Republicans are considering the unemployment extensions now that the tax cuts will be extended across the board (temporarily) maybe the Democrats can think about offsetting the cost for a tier five. In my mind, this would be a total compromise for everyone and help all of those who are unable to find jobs. Please consider using unused stimulus money for a tier five since the extensions for the current tiers are likely to be approved without offset.

  • craines 12/05/2010 3:15pm

    99er’s need to be included in this, we have went through our entire savings and 401 K’s there nothing left. Were still looking for work and waiting for things to turn a corner. It’s not happening.

    99er’s need to be represented in this extension…it wont be long and there will be millions more of us, in just a matter of months the numbers are going to climb and then they’ll be trying to do something and they will be dealing with a republican controlled Congress and the democrat’s will not have any leverage w/out the bush tax cuts.

    The 99er’s need help now.


  • tomjw 12/06/2010 9:18am

    what a country,where the rich hold the masses of middle class and poor hostage so they can fatten heir bank accounts!why do we even have these polititions.oh ,so they can pass laws to increase their own bottom line.and when one of them commits a crime,as in the case of RANGLE,of new york,they give him a talking to!!if your average person did what he did ,they would be put on trial and suffer the outcome of a jury of his this justice by his peers,to be repremanded in front of this hypocritical body of millionaires.some justice america provides if you have money and power!!!do away with congress and lets start a fairer system of government!!!!

  • Lin 12/06/2010 11:07am

    It’s sad when 98% of the population has to suffer for the greedy 2% at the top. This crisis has made it clear to see who has control of the country. This is true CHICKEN SHIT. But, I didn’t say that even though I said it. Hypocrites!

  • beenblue 12/06/2010 5:12pm

    Necessity never made a good bargain, especially while the population is held hostage to fear. The victims of this power move by the elite few who are in complete control of the meltdown are using double speak. The word DEFICIT is repeated over and over, yet the people using it want to give the wealthy further tax breaks to increase their wealth. The old proverb " to the hungry even the bitter is sweet" apply`s to the general population in any crises. The people of power are using the Gov`t as a tool to further their agenda, and if this sounds crazy , well why is it that you can`t get your head around your Gov`t, and how it`s acting !! This is psychological terror on the population, also known as ( Psy Opps ) your so busy trying to survive, and deal with your anxiety, you can`t understand the overall operation being played out, your not crazy, the sociopaths in power are.

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