I’m confused. First he told Hugh Hewitt this:
HH: I’ve got some quick questions for you. The first is if the deal reached between the President and the Republican leadership yesterday makes it to the floor of the Senate in substantially the same form, will you vote for cloture to allow a final vote on it? And would you vote for it on that final vote if it cleared cloture?
HH: On both counts?
JD: On both counts. I’m glad the President recognizes that tax increases hurt the economy. I mean, I guess that’s progress. But frankly, Hugh, most of us who ran this election said we were not going to vote for anything that increased the deficit. This does. It raises taxes, it raises the death tax. I don’t think we needed to negotiate that aspect of this thing away. I don’t think we need to extend unemployment any further without paying for it, and without making some modifications such as turning it into a loan at some point. It then encourages people to go back to work. So there’s a lot of problems with it. I mean, and frankly, the biggest problem I have, Hugh, is we 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.
Pretty cut and dried. So Jennifer Rubin at WaPo went ahead and wrote a post criticizing him for threatening to filibuster over an estate tax hike when that’s the only way to get a Democratic president to approve the income tax rate extensions. To which DeMint’s office responded thusly:
Senator Jim DeMint’s staff pushed back hard on my post earlier today, insisting DeMint is not really threatening to filibuster the bipartisan tax deal. Spokesman Wesley Denton emailed me, “Senator DeMint has simply stated he does not support the deal as currently structured as it includes huge new deficit spending and death tax hikes. Americans just voted in a historic election for Washington to stop the deficit spending that is mortgaging our children’s future.” He also defended DeMint’s position on the death tax, arguing that “there is no question that raising the death tax from its current rate of zero to 35 percent is a large tax hike that will hurt family farms and small businesses and could destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs.” The bottom line seems to be that DeMint will be “open to a temporary extension of all current tax rates without new deficit spending,” but he won’t give up pushing for the Bush tax rates to become permanent.
I’m not sure where that leaves us. If some sort of deal is struck to “pay for the cuts” by trimming spending, will that be good enough to earn DeMint’s vote on cloture or will the estate tax hike still force him to vote no? Remember, it’s the estate tax, not the income tax provisions, that had House Democrats freaking out this morning, so there’s no room for compromise there. Fiscal cons like DeMint want the rate lower and/or gone, progressives want it much higher. If the estate tax is a dealbreaker, then DeMint’s only non-filibuster option is to vote yes on cloture but no on the bill itself. Dave Weigel spoke to his office, though, and they allegedly said he won’t do that. Either he is going to filibuster or else he’s voting for the bill on the merits, estate tax hike and all. Sounds like he’s still making up his mind, although that wouldn’t explain why he said what he said to Hewitt.
As I have no video of JD discussing this subject, kindly enjoy this delightful clip of Lawrence “Scary Larry” O’Donnell getting in Alan Grayson’s face for opposing the deal. There are no rooting interests here, my friends. Just savor the bloodsport. Click the image to watch.