Democrats will send Congress into recess without taking any action to cancel the tax hikes that will come at the end of the year, putting off the debate until after the midterm elections. They want to put the blame on Republicans for supposedly blocking the debate in an attempt to force Democrats to agree to an extension of all current tax rates, rather than letting the highest income brackets get hit with a tax increase. Jim Manley, Harry Reid’s spokesman, provides the spin:
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced the decision in a statement that blamed Republicans for holding up tax cuts for the middle class in order to prevent a tax hike on wealthier taxpayers.
“Democrats will not allow families in Nevada and across the country to suffer or be held hostage by Republicans who would rather give tax giveaways to millionaires and corporations that ship jobs overseas,” said Jim Manley, the spokesman for Reid.
“We will come back in November and stay in session as long as it takes to get this done.”
There’s just one teensy problem with this spin, which is that it’s patently ridiculous. In the House, Nancy Pelosi has a 77-seat majority which can pass just about anything they want when they have consensus. Democrats do not have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, but a tax bill would get considered under reconciliation — the same process Reid used to shove ObamaCare down the throats of Americans. In fact, reconciliation would be much more legitimate to use for this issue.
So if it’s not Republican obstructionism, which it most certainly isn’t, then what’s the problem? The Hill reports it more accurately:
A rift between centrist and liberal Democrats in both chambers of Congress has derailed plans for House and Senate votes on extending tax cuts before the election.
It isn’t that Republicans are obstructing the process; it’s that centrists in Pelosi’s caucus can read the writing on the wall in their districts. They don’t want to go back home and explain any kind of tax hike, not even a class-warfare explanation about soaking the rich, in a recessionary environment. Their Republican opponents would use such a vote to (accurately) paint them as tax-and-spend Democrats no different than the deeply unpopular Pelosi, and many of them would have to look for a new job.
Senator Dianne Feinstein puts it more succinctly:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), an influential voice within the Democratic Conference, warned that if Democrats voted to allow taxes to increase on wealthy families, it would give their opponents political ammunition.
“My own view is that it should not be done before an election, it should be done after the election,” said Feinstein.
Yes, because accountability is such a burden. If the policy works, then debate it honestly before the election, and let voters decide which party and candidates got it right. It’s precisely because they don’t want accountability for this decision that Pelosi and Reid have put it off. It’s not obstructionism; it’s political pusillanimity.