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The political debate over extending Bush-era tax cuts is currently divided between three sides: President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, who want to permanently extend the cuts for the bottom 98 percent of wage-earners but let the cuts for people making over $250,000 expire; congressional Republicans who want to permanently extend cuts for everyone; and House Minority Leader John Boehner, who suggests he could support the Democratic position. If the parties do not reach a compromise, all of the cuts will expire at the end of September. The politics of this three-way battle are just about as intense as you'd expect. Here's the ongoing battle and what it means.

  • GOP Thrilled for Any Debate About Spending   The Washington Post's Greg Sargent writes, "Multiple polls show strong majority support for ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich. But even as Dems are preparing to go to the mat over just that issue, Republicans seem to relish the looming fight at least as much -- perhaps more so -- than some Dems do. ... Republicans are gambling that any argument about taxes -- details aside -- feeds the larger story they're trying to tell, about a Democratic majority that has gone off the rails with spending and government overreach, with nothing to show for it."

  • Boehner Cleverly Mixes Messages  The Hill's John Feehery writes, "John Boehner, the House minority leader, mixed his message on the tax battle on purpose this weekend. I, for one, think it was a pretty clever move." True, Boehner got himself in trouble with Republicans for suggesting he might consider an Obama proposal. "But he also made it awfully hard for Robert Gibbs and all of the other political hacks down at the White House to make Boehner the target they wanted him to be. Now Democrats are going to have to somehow bring to life an attack against Mitch McConnell, who is even harder to make fun of than John Boehner."
  • Why House Will Never Vote on This   Liberal blogger Digby sighs, "the glee over Boehner speaking out of turn is wildly overblown. If they decide not to hold a vote in the House, his comments give cover to those GOP candidates in districts where extending the cuts is unpopular and the rest of them 'holding the line' gives cover to those in conservative districts who want to extend them. And holding a vote will expose all those cowardly deficit Blue Dogs who run yipping into the corner with their tails between their legs whenever they are faced with any right wing opposition at all, so I doubt very much we'd see one."
  • Dems' Terrible Strategy  The Washington Post's Ezra Klein balks at the new Democratic plan to rebrand the extended Bush tax cuts as "Obama's middle class tax cuts." He writes, "Democrats have known about the expiration of these cuts for 10 years now. If they wanted to create their own middle-class tax cut to replace Bush's expiring program and make sure they got the credit from the voters, they could've done that. If they wanted to begin calling them something different, they could have started the process last year. Instead, we've now been talking about the Bush tax cuts for months and the big plan is to suddenly change how Democrats refer to them in press releases? Again: Sigh. And putting the lack of planning aside, it won't stick because it's not true."
  • How Obama Can Win  Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall says that if Obama does this right he can "push policies that generate more [economic] demand ... find a footing to galvanize Democrats for the next seven weeks ... [and] sow dissension in Republican ranks." Obama should do this by pushing for a vote on the tax cuts before the election. "He should further say that the tax cuts only for incomes over $250,000 is where the two parties disagree and that they should make the election a referendum on those cuts." Extending the cuts for the wealthy is unpopular and will turn people against Republicans, he says.

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