They expect several defections from the right flank of their party. Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) have expressed concern about extending the jobless benefits without paying for them. Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), as the first Republican to wage this fight earlier this year, could also go against the deal…
Still, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) emerged upbeat from the party’s Tuesday luncheon. McConnell has been very successful at keeping in line, and his central role in the talks only boosts his incentive to produce a strong showing.
“I’m very hopeful and optimistic that the large majority of members of the Republican conference will find this proposal worth supporting and I’m hopeful that Democratic leaders will be able to convince their members as well that this is the way to go forward, the right thing to do under these circumstances,” McConnell said.
“The agreement is essentially final,” McConnell added.
In addition to the 10 Democrats I named in this afternoon’s post, it sounds like Bill Nelson, Tom Carper, Evan Bayh and even Chris Coons are also willing to vote yes. Assuming DeMint, Coburn, and Bunning all vote no, that still leaves Reid needing fewer than 10 more Democrats to push the deal through. Between the impending deadline when the old rates will go into effect and pressure from Biden to spare the White House the humiliation of seeing the deal collapse, they’ll find the votes.
DeMint lists several problems he has with the deal, but the big one is the fact that the cuts are temporary. Quote: “[W]e don’t need a temporary economy, which means we don’t need a temporary tax rate. A permanent extension of our current tax rates would allow businesses to plan five and ten years in advance, and that’s how you build an economy.” How are you going to get the Democrats to agree to a permanent extension of all the Bush tax cuts? The left is ready to commit seppuku over a two-year extension; if Obama tried to push something permanent, anger would be such that even Blue Dogs in the Senate would walk away for fear of being primaried. And Obama himself would have a full-scale revolt on his hands among the left instead of the whining and idle primary fantasies they’re indulging in now. It’s one thing to push permanent cuts when you have a Republican president and congressional majority (although, as recent history shows, even then it’s not easy), but with a liberal in the White House and a 58-42 spread in the Senate? C’mon. Exit question: Can Pelosi deliver for Obama among House Democrats? The AP sounds skeptical.