"The Republicans don’t have a gun to our head like they did earlier this year"

Reid’s party is more willing to accept the consequences of a deadlock this time than Republicans, several of whom have already vowed to attempt to repeal $500 billion in automatic cuts to the defense department.

“Sequestration is worse for Republicans, you don’t see Democrats talking about trying to reverse it,” said a senior Democratic aide. “The Republicans don’t have a gun to our head like they did earlier this year.”

A senior GOP aide scoffed at the notion of a Reid advantage as “untethered from reality,” but a shift can be observed in Reid’s rhetoric…

If Republicans refuse to give enough ground on taxes this round, Democrats believe they will have a stronger hand at the end of 2012, when the top tax bracket is scheduled to revert to 39.6 percent. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates it would cost nearly $4.4 trillion to extend the Bush rates and Alternative Minimum Tax relief from 2013 through 2022, not counting the additional cost of servicing the debt.

Simply mustering 40 votes to block an extension would give Democrats four times the tax revenue they’ve requested.