Democrats were opposed to both rounds of Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 and have spent a decade blasting them as reckless policy that represented nothing but a giveaway to the wealthy. Yet even though these tax cuts were scheduled to expire after 2010, they were extended an additional two years. And now, they could still preserve 80 percent of them. If 80 percent of the cuts were made permanent, it would forever enshrine the “Bush tax cuts” as major middle class tax relief. Viewed narrowly, allowing rates to go up on those earning more than $250,000 would be a defeat for Republicans. But viewed in a broader context, the fact that a Democratic president coming off of a reelection still has to embrace 80 percent of the dreaded “Bush tax cuts” on the grounds that they’re good for the middle class, could be seen as a victory.
If the nation goes over the cliff, the most likely outcome is the worst of both worlds for Republicans.