Women senators agree: If women were in charge, there'd be a fiscal cliff deal by now

Via Mediaite, this is worth watching if only to see McCaskill mouth a bit of ancient biological determinism that would have set the left off on a two-day screech bender had she been a Republican man. I think the clip’s worst sin is how cloying it is: Diane Sawyer decided to bring the women of the Senate together to talk about capital-w Women, so naturally some self-serving CW about capital-w Women must get said. Thank you, Susan Collins, for handling the easy lay-up. I’d like to hear more from her and McC about why compromise is a virtue in itself (especially since the fiscal cliff is a product of bipartisan compromise) and how standing firm because you’re committed to your economic beliefs is really just a form of male pigheadedness. Don’t you hate how men refuse to ask for directions when they’re lost? And how they whine when you ask them to concede on billions of new taxes on small businesses?

Speaking of compromise, Keith Hennessey’s got a bipartisan plan in mind in case all else fails. It’s not one he likes and it’s not one he wants to see the House pass, but it might get the GOP a bit more leverage at the table with O:

I think option C is S. 3412, a bill passed by the Senate in July. The short description is that this bill “extends the middle class tax relief for one year and allows tax cuts for the rich to expire.” More precisely, here is what the bill does (Joint Tax table is here):

It extends for one year all current income tax rates for incomes < $200K (single) and <$250K (married); For one year it keeps the capital gains rate at 15% for the same incomes as above; For one year it (explicitly) raises the capital gains and dividends rates to 20% for incomes >$200K/$250K;
It extends for one year other provisions of current law, important and not-so-important: marriage penalty relief and the child credit, education tax relief, and a handful of smaller provisions; and
It patches the AMT for 2012…

I detest S. 3412 and do not want it to become law. But I fear that Congressional Republicans are so afraid of being blamed for a no-bill scenario that they will agree to support a hypothetical Obama-Boehner deal that is even worse. They should not do that. They must not do that.

In other words, the GOP would give in on tax hikes on the rich — a prospect that Republicans generally and even some prominent tea partiers seem increasingly resigned to — but it’d be for just one year, thus limiting the economic damage done and buying time for deliberations over tax reform. And because 3412 passed the Senate entirely with Democratic votes, theoretically Obama would have no choice but to sign it if it passed the House now. It’s already “the Democratic plan.” But then, the point here isn’t to get Obama to sign it; it’s to pressure him to make further concessions by threatening him with a short-term bill pre-approved by Democrats that would deny him a debt-ceiling hike, permanent tax hikes on the rich, new stimulus spending, and lots of other goodies he’s looking for in a “grand bargain.” It’s a play for a bit more leverage in negotiations. Just one question for Hennessey: Why does he think O would fear vetoing a Democratic bill now when it was passed months before the election? If Boehner passed it, Obama dismiss it by insisting that voters changed the game in November and granted him a mandate on liberal budgetary priorities, such that the Democratic Senate would also surely reject 3412 if it came before them again now. (Reid would give him plenty of cover on that.) Maybe it’s worth the House passing the bill anyway just because it’d put Obama on the defensive in explaining why he prefers going over the cliff to signing a Democratic bill, but I put nothing past the media when it comes to shaping public opinion against Republicans. Obama’s done an expert job of framing the entire deficit reduction debate as an argument over tax hikes on the rich and little else. If he rejected 3412 because it doesn’t make those tax hikes permanent, what’s Boehner’s move then?

I’ll leave you with Philip Klein on why the “no surrender” option isn’t much of an option either. Exit quotation: “What happens [after we go over the cliff] when Harry Reid holds a vote on a bill that lowers rates on the middle class? Will Republican senators vote against it? If so, their challengers can run ads attacking them for voting against a massive middle-class tax cut. What does that do to the brand? And when, in all likelihood, such a bill passes with near-unanimous support in the Senate, what does it do to the House GOP’s low-tax brand if their members resist, bottle up or vote against the same tax cut?”