There’s a lot of chatter about Senator Patty Murray’s big speech today, in which she is claiming that Dems hold the leverage in the coming “fiscal cliff” talks over the Bush tax cuts, and that they will let all the tax cuts expire if necessary, in order to force the GOP’s hand. …

It won’t be lost on rank and file Dems and Dem candidates that Murray is the chair of the DSCC; she’s signaling that she thinks this battle makes for good politics in down-ticket races. The idea here is to separate the debate over the middle class tax cuts from the debate over the high end ones; if the latter debate can be isolated, it’s a tougher position for Republicans. Dems, of course, failed to accomplish this in 2010; they threatened to hold a vote just on extending the middle class cuts, but ultimately punted it until after the elections. While it remains to be seen whether Dems will stick to their hard line this time, there are signs that they are genuinely convinced they hold the upper hand.