Congressional Republicans have promised to block all legislation until Democrats roll over on extending the Bush tax cuts. All 42 Republican Senators signed the ransom note, sent to Majority Leader Harry Reid, and House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell echoed the threat.
"The move put Democrats in a vise and sharply heightened tensions on Capitol Hill, where administration officials and senior lawmakers from both the House and Senate opened the first round of talks in hopes of reaching an accord on the expiring tax cuts, " The New York Times' David M. Herszenhorn reports. "Officials reported no progress in those talks, and the Senate Republicans’ threat suggested they had little appetite for compromise. ... If Congress does not act by the end of the year, the lower rates expire for everyone, an outcome neither side wants." The showdown comes just as Senate Democrats thought they had enough votes to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell.
- More GOP 'Dickishness', Andrew Sullivan writes at The Atlantic. "What we've observed these past two years is a political party that knows nothing but scorched earth tactics, cannot begin to see any merits in the other party's arguments, refuses to compromise one inch on anything, and has sought from the very beginning to do nothing but destroy the Obama presidency." The GOP offers no message, only obstructionism, Sullivan writes. "This is not conservatism, properly understood, a disposition that respects the institutions and traditions of government, that can give as well as take, that seeks the national interest before partisan concerns, and that respects both the other branches of government and seeks to work with them. These people are not conservatives in this core civilized sense; they are partisan vandals."
- And It Will Only Continue, Thanks to Democrats' Spinelessness, John Cole agrees at Balloon Juice. "They’ve paid not price, the media is wholly uninterested in calling them on it, and the corporate powers that decide these things are thrilled. The Republicans were just rewarded with a massive victory in the midterms, and our President, as much as I love him, seems intent on avoiding conflict to the point of being a one-term punchline. Not to go all Eeyore on you, but I’ve about abandoned all hope with the news the Democrats are going to cave on taxes."
- Dems Can Get Something for Their Compromise, Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown explains, is "namely votes on other key bills that they want to move before Congress adjourns, such as the START Treaty and unemployment insurance. Many progressive Democrats view the tax-cut fight as a key post-election test for their party and the White House, but a sense of unease mounted on both sides of the Capitol."
- Or Maybe They Can't, Michael O'Brien reports for The Hill. McConnell said that Congress must do "first things first, and see what kind of time is left. "Asked whether that meant the Senate would have time to tackle all the other issues, like repealing 'Don't ask, don't tell,' passing the DREAM Act or extending unemployment benefits, McConnell said: 'No, I don't think so.'"
- Read Between the Lines, Steve Benen writes at The Washington Monthly. "Also note the unstated truth behind the threat -- Republicans will block literally everything until they're satisfied, at which point, they'll try to block literally everything anyway."
- You Reap What You Sow, Susan Duclos says at Wake Up America. "The Democratically controlled Congress have shoved massive legislation down the throats of Americans which each and every single poll conducted conducted at the time, showed the American people DID NOT WANT (Obamacare as one example), but Democrats went right ahead and bribed, wheeled, dealed, twisted the arms of their own party members forcing them off the November 2, 2010 cliff, head first, without a parachute and then tried to call those betrayals against the American people, 'achievements'. ... Americans got damn tired of Democrats ignoring them and pushing their own agenda through by hook and by crook."
- Disband Congress, Taylor Marsh writes. "Republicans plan to block everything the Democrats want to do, so just quit all the posturing and make Congress a museum."
- Might Not Change That Much, The Atlantic's Chris Good says. "But it may not be as much of a drag on legislative action as it sounds. Democrats won't seek a deal on the Defense bill until at least Friday (at issue is how many amendments will be considered), so it would seem that Congress doesn't have anything to work on between now and next Monday anyway, except for the unemployment benefits...which, significantly, are already expiring for the unemployed. The bargaining ploy: If Democrats want the unemployment extension, DADT, and New START before the end of the year, they're going to have to cut a deal. The obvious trade seems to be a temporary Bush-tax-cut extension in exchange for these other items, which Republicans can block if they want to. There's probably enough time to overcome GOP procedural resistance and extend unemployment insurance benefits (overcoming GOP objections would take a few days), but DADT and New START wouldn't happen."
- One Bright Spot, Jonathon M. Seidl notes at The Blaze, is that "Democrats responded to the threat by setting a tax vote for Thursday. But not before considering pulling a procedural fast one on Republicans. ... According to Politico, Democrats may lump extending unemployment insurance into that vote."