How Republicans Could Clobber Democrats on the Bush Tax Cuts

I've made my position on the Bush tax cuts pretty clear: extend the law for a year, and use that time to reform the tax system. Ezra Klein agrees with the second part, but not the first, writing:

I don't see any reason to believe that extending them will make comprehensive tax reform more, rather than less, likely.

Defensible statement. But I don't see any reason to believe that the Democrats have 60 votes to raise taxes in 2010. Four Democratic senators have already defected. More could follow. A press aid told me Sen. Landrieu is undecided. This has September meltdown written all over it.

Democrats could play a game of chicken, as Jon Chait has suggested, by splitting up the tax cuts into two bills and making it look like the Republicans are holding up the main bill -- tax cuts for Average Joes -- by trying to protect the wealthy. But you already know what Republicans would say in return:

"Sadly, Democrats have returned to the tired, old politics of cynicism and division. They want to raise taxes on the small businesses that drive this economy. But that's not all. They're also willing to risk a $3 trillion tax increase on EVERY American just to make a political point. That's not change we can believe in. That's change we can't afford. Remember this: the Republican Party is the only party fighting for tax cuts for every American. See you all in November!"

Is there any reason to believe that some version of that quote won't appear in every major newspaper in every key town on every day in October?


For more on the Bush tax cuts, read this Flashcard.