The Tax Deal and the Next Few Days

After a key test vote in the Senate Monday, House Dems will probably end their revolt

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Despite outcry from some liberals and conservatives--and an eight-hour speech by Sen. Bernie Sanders--the Senate will likely pass the tax deal forged between President Obama and congressional Republican leaders, with an important test vote to be held Monday, according to The Washington Post. Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and hammering out details on allowing amendments to the bill, which will determine how fast it can be passed, the Post's Shailagh Murray reports.

Democrats are most angry about the part of the compromise that lessens the estate tax, exempting estates worth as much as $10 million. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called that measure "a bridge too far," and Rep. Chris Van Hollen said it was "the choking point." Here's some comment from the web on what's happening and how things are likely to play out in the next day or so:

  • A Little Bit of Pork Helps the Medicine Go Down  "Just days after House Democrats held a nonbinding voice vote to document their opposition to the bill in its current form, the tepid appraisals marked real progress," Time's Alex Altman reports. " In part, the thaw may be due to a set of sweeteners added to the deal's original framework to attract support from recalcitrant members. The reworked package, released Thursday night, extends two expiring renewable-energy provisions from the stimulus: a tax credit of 45 cents per gallon for ethanol opposed by environmentalists but welcomed in farm states, and a Treasury grant of up to 30% for companies working on projects involving solar, wind and geothermal energy."
  • Hints That Dems Might Be Moving  "If House Democrats intended to scuttle the agreement, call the GOP's bluff, allow rates to go up, and then take their case to the public, Van Hollen's message yesterday [about the estate modification being "the choking point"] probably would have been quite different," muses The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen, who adds that he doesn't "want to read too much into that." He also adds that there's some interesting role reversal here: "Of course, in nearly every instance, getting bills through the Senate is infinitely more difficult than the process in the House--but in this case, it's reversed. The Senate has long been considered the easier sell on the agreement, while House passage has remained in doubt."
  • 'The Real Challenge Will Be in the House,' asserts National Journal's Dan Friedman, noting that the package is expected to pass in the Senate. "House Democrats are mostly opposed to that package right now and the White House is working very hard to line up the votes for that."
  • Pelosi's Calculations  Naftali Bendavid reports at The Wall Street Journal on Pelosi's tricky predicament: "She leads a group of House Democrats furious at Mr. Obama's tax deal with Republicans, which some view as a capitulation. But as a party leader, she'd have a hard time allowing the deal to fail, which would deliver a major blow to Mr. Obama's presidency." So what's the upshot?
In the midst of these cross-pressures, Ms. Pelosi has adopted a careful strategy: She's not quashing the Democratic rebellion, but she's not leading it, either. At an angry meeting of House Democrats Thursday, Ms. Pelosi said little, according to participants, though she did periodically assure members that she hadn't signed onto the tax deal.
  • Don't Forget the Rebellious Republicans, The National Review's Robert Costa writes. Bill Clinton noted that many Republicans think "Democrats got more out of this than Republicans did." Costa observes that
Clinton's comments hint at growing discontent on the right over the deal. ... While a broad swath of the GOP has backed the compromise, conservative lawmakers appear to be proceeding uneasily: Most are unhappy with aspects of the deal, but only a few are willing to completely shun it. ...  In one sense, Obama already has won a minor victory: By splitting conservatives, he created a confusing Rorschach test for the GOP. Some see swindle, others a compromise, others a win. Quite the political dance, and positively Clintonian.
  • Much More Tax Fighting to Come, The Guardian's Michael Tomasky reminds readers, pointing to the fact that this is a tax cut extension, rather than a permanent policy. "People, especially liberals, need to remember that even if or when this deal passes, the tax fight is a long way from over. Obama and the Democrats have a mulligan here, a 2012 do-over. Sanders and simpatico colleagues like Sherrod Brown can lead a progressive charge to strengthen the no-upper-bracket-cuts position when all this comes up again. Two years will pass quickly enough."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.