Dems falling into line on tax deal?

posted at 9:30 am on December 9, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party may well have gone into revolt this week over the tax deal Barack Obama cut with the GOP, but the rebellion on Capitol Hill seems to be subsiding.  More Democrats in both chambers of Congress have decided to throw their support to the deal, publicly as well as privately, even including some progressives.  Harry Reid signaled victory for the White House by putting the bill on this week’s agenda, perhaps as soon as today:

A wave of new Democratic support Wednesday signaled that President Barack Obama’s deal to renew the Bush tax cuts would make it through Congress, as long as most Republicans lined up behind it as expected.

With Democrats in both chambers still angry about parts of the package, the administration scrambled to allay concerns and build momentum for the unusual deal with congressional Republicans reached this week. By the end of the day, the measure looked increasingly likely to pass, as Democrats stepped forward one by one to back it.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that he hopes to begin consideration of the bill as early as Thursday — a sign that the measure will receive a filibuster-proof majority.

And in the House, high-decibel liberal complaints were countered by a silent minority of Blue Dogs, New Democrats and even a handful of veteran liberals who said outright that they would vote for the bill or hinted strongly in private that they were leaning in that direction.

Progressives carry more weight in the House than the Senate, mainly because of the number of vulnerable members in the upper chamber looking pessimistically at their chances in 2012.  They could possibly convince Nancy Pelosi to keep the bill off of the floor, but that looks unlikely now.  Politico reports that progressives in the House have worked their way through the five stages of grief and now accept that they will have to vote on the deal, and that it will likely pass.

Obama dispatched Joe Biden to Capitol Hill to smooth as many ruffled feathers as possible, but as The Hill and Andrew Malcolm note, also to deliver another message:

As usual, transparent Joe’s meetings were closed. But there was reportedly much back-slapping, hand-waving (see photo above) and elbow-cupping by the man who was a senator before most House members ever thought of tinting the gray out of their hair.

In a two-hour session with departing SpeakerNancy Pelosi’s flustered flock, Biden delivered the firm news from the boss of them all: “It’s up or down,” he told them[.]

The word after was that it was an “honest” discussion, which generally means that the team got told bluntly what the White House expects of them:

Vice President Biden told House Democrats on Wednesday that the tax agreement the White House struck with Republicans was essentially final, forcing the divided caucus to decide whether to press its fight for changes in the package.

“It’s up or down,” Biden told the caucus in a closed-door meeting, according to Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.).

“So far as the administration is concerned, it’s take it or leave it,” Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), one of the most vocal critics of the tax deal, told The Hill after the meeting. “I would say [Biden] was pretty specific about that.”

That doesn’t mean the mischief is over:

“There remain very serious reservations on the House side, and there’s still a serious question about whether this package can pass in the form it’s in now,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who had been the chief House Democratic negotiator on the tax talks before the White House cut its own deal with Republicans.

“Many members of the caucus are still very concerned — as am I,” added Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.). “Right now, it’s very unsettled in the caucus.”

Van Hollen is one of the reasons why Obama had to cut its own deal with the GOP.  On November 18th, the White House leaked yesterday, Obama’s meeting with Congressional Democratic leadership went so badly that Obama realized that nothing would get done before the end of the year.  If Van Hollen and his team could have found the nerve to actually work with the GOP, Obama wouldn’t have had to be in this position.

It seems, though, that the momentum has pushed past Van Hollen, Pelosi, and the cadre of progressive authoritarians that have run the lower chamber for the last four years.  Perhaps the rest of the Democratic caucus might take a lesson from this and find new leadership.


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Of course they’ll fall in line. They know if this fails to pass, we’re looking at a massive tax increase for everyone come January 1. And the political fallout for that will be squarely on the Dems.

Doughboy on December 9, 2010 at 9:34 AM

So democrats get an extension of unemployment benefits, a 35% increase in the death tax … and the Republicans get status quo on the tax rate.

Yet democrats are upset?

I think the GOP should have held out.

darwin on December 9, 2010 at 9:36 AM

They have to carry this guy, or else their own influence suffers as a party. They’ll go along because their power is at stake.

JeffWeimer on December 9, 2010 at 9:41 AM

Give the Serfs their tax cut…….. their about to get OBAMACARE…….we’ll make it up (insert evil Pelosi laugh here)!!

PappyD61 on December 9, 2010 at 9:47 AM

So democrats get an extension of unemployment benefits, a 35% increase in the death tax … and the Republicans get status quo on the tax rate.

Yet democrats are upset?

I think the GOP should have held out.

darwin on December 9, 2010 at 9:36 AM

right; that’s where I am, too.

james23 on December 9, 2010 at 9:49 AM

plus, we get more spending that we have to borrow for.
some deal.

james23 on December 9, 2010 at 9:50 AM

Politico reports that progressives in the House have worked their way through the five stages of grief and now accept that they will have to vote on the deal, and that it will likely pass.

Savannah Guthrie : “I think “most of us” [Democrats and the media] have looked at this as “stages of grief” over the past few days and the tax bill will pass.” (paraphrased)

“That doesn’t mean the mischief is over”

AP Story on Fox News Site:

Passage of Obama’s plan seems more assured in the Senate, where numerous Democrats have agreed that the president had little choice in making the compromises with Republicans. Still, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he and colleagues are considering possible changes, and action could come within days.

Changes designed to ease some Democrats’ concerns might include a provision for bonds to help state and local governments pay for construction projects, tax breaks for wind power and clean-energy subsidies, lawmakers said.

Translation: Pork the bill to death!

Rovin on December 9, 2010 at 9:51 AM

Of course they are falling in line today. Obama managed to sign the Pigford II bill with very little publicity. What a scam. Always watch what the other hand is doing.

jakev on December 9, 2010 at 9:51 AM

The republicans held all the cards. Refuse any additional spending all keep the tax rates the same. The Demorats had no where to run or hide and if they allowed the tax rates to increase would have been damaged beyond help. The rates could have easily been scale back after a few months of people noticing their payroll checks got smaller. Instead, they bent over and took it like the squishies they are. I almost hate every one of them. This counry is doomed regardless of the party in charge. We are Bankrupt yet the deficit spending continues. Beans – Rice – Lead

trs on December 9, 2010 at 9:52 AM

Just think, this is merely the warm up act for the battle royale coming in 2011. The House better hire a floor sweeper to keep up with all the tufts of hair being pulled out by the libs.

Security may want to keep a few straitjackets on hand too.

GnuBreed on December 9, 2010 at 9:54 AM

So is Tony “Wiener” Weiner still throwing a full blown hissy fit over this tax cut thing or did someone finally put the whiney little turd in his place?

pilamaye on December 9, 2010 at 9:54 AM

All but the dimmest progressive can figure out that, rant and rail at Obama as much as they want, the Democratic coalition dies horrific deaths all across the country in 2012 if Obama is thrown out of office by his own party and African-American voter turnout in key states and congressional districts drops by a third or more of what it was in 2008.

They have no place else to go except to support Obama and hope he and they can at least go into hunker-down mode and protect the things Harry and Nancy passed over the last two years. What’s potentially frustrating for Republicans is the deal is likely to help Obama and marginal Dems in the run up to 2012 by increasing the odds of an economic recovery (it’s true the deal lasts only two years, but if Obama balked at hiking taxes now, he’s not going to give into the far left wing of his party and agree to hike them during the 2012 campaign, so the cuts are safe until 2015 at the earliest).

jon1979 on December 9, 2010 at 9:59 AM

O/T: And it’s a big one

Look who’s sitting in the chair in the HOUSE this morning. Whoo hoooo, it’s Nancy! Be very nervous.

Rovin on December 9, 2010 at 10:04 AM

Whoops, my bad, she’s gone already. Must have had more important business at hand.

Rovin on December 9, 2010 at 10:06 AM

WaPo’s Milbank called Nancy&Co. The lame duck that roared!

cartooner on December 9, 2010 at 10:10 AM

So democrats get an extension of unemployment benefits, a 35% increase in the death tax … and the Republicans get status quo on the tax rate.

Yet democrats are upset?

I think the GOP should have held out.

darwin on December 9, 2010 at 9:36 AM

For what? Since the tax rates would go up on January 1 if Congress did nothing, getting an extension of the Bush tax cuts was THE most urgent measure to pass in the lame-duck session if Obama agrees to it.

There are plenty of other issues the GOP could bring up next year (when they will have a House majority and 47 Senators who can sustain filibusters). De-funding ObamaCare, oversight hearings in the House, de-funding agencies that are over-regulating, there’s no shortage of things to do. The GOP should do them NEXT year, when they will have a stronger negotiating position.

Obama’s proposal is the perfect rope to hang himself with, politically. If it passes, it would take the tax-cut issue off the table NOW, but the fact that it expires at the end of 2012 BRINGS THE ISSUE BACK in the 2012 campaign, with Obama having to defend future tax INCREASES. For information on the success of that strategy, see Mondale, Walter F., circa 1984.

Let’s take this proposal now, and fight the other battles with a stronger army next year.

Steve Z on December 9, 2010 at 10:12 AM

It seems, though, that the momentum has pushed past Van Hollen, Pelosi, and the cadre of progressive authoritarians that have run the lower chamber for the last four years.

Yeah, the same group that wouldn’t know “bipartisanship” if it walked up and bit them on the ass now find themselves largely irrelevant.

Which, when you come down to it, is what all the wailing is about.

GarandFan on December 9, 2010 at 10:16 AM

They just want to get off taxes so that they can get on to the social changes they want, like the Dream Amnesty and DADT! Why else would they cave so readily?

Vntnrse on December 9, 2010 at 10:28 AM

What surprises me the most about this current popcorn event is the number of true socialists that have come out of the woodwork among people I know.
Good grief, we need more than to crush the liberals, we need true education.
The liberal/progresssive infiltration in the education system has worked. I have to admit to being more than just a little frightened.

ORconservative on December 9, 2010 at 10:32 AM

When I read ‘Dems falling’ I see ‘heads chopped.’

Reality sucks.

Inanemergencydial on December 9, 2010 at 10:42 AM

The left just hates that Americans will get to keep more of what they’ve earned. They had big plans for all that money.

UltimateBob on December 9, 2010 at 10:58 AM

When do they finally recess so I can have a vacation?

txhsmom on December 9, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Falling into line: Being told get it done, so we’ll be able to shove every bad piece of legislation through congress in the next 2 weeks…

phreshone on December 9, 2010 at 11:11 AM

Of course they’ll fall in line. They know if this fails to pass, we’re looking at a massive tax increase for everyone come January 1. And the political fallout for that will be squarely on the Dems.

Doughboy on December 9, 2010 at 9:34 AM

Not necessarily, the democratics in the old media will do all that they can to blame it on those evil Republicans. Whether they would win that argument or not is debatable.

slickwillie2001 on December 9, 2010 at 11:26 AM

Spoke too soon!

Ted Torgerson on December 9, 2010 at 11:56 AM

Dems caucus voted to table the bill…

anikol on December 9, 2010 at 12:00 PM

I guess the dems in the House said,”Pound sand!”.

belad on December 9, 2010 at 1:13 PM

Well it is Christmas. Don’t they want a Christmas tree and one last go at all the pork they can grab?

flataffect on December 9, 2010 at 10:03 PM