I'm taking a break from the Opening Bell this morning to write a letter to the Democratic Party.
The House on Thursday passed a bill that would extend the Bush-era tax cuts only to the middle class, a mostly symbolic measure that nonetheless allows Democrats to draw a contrast with Republicans on the issue.
The bill passed by a 234-to-188 vote, with 20 Democrats bucking their party to oppose the measure and three Republicans voting in favor. The proposal would extend the Bush-era tax cuts only to individuals earning $200,000 or less per year and families earning $250,000 or less.
The bill stands little chance of passing in the Senate, where Republican leaders have vowed a filibuster.
"Regardless of what the majority forces House Republicans to do, it's not going to go anywhere," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Wednesday night. "We are going to extend the current tax rates; we're not going to raise taxes on anybody. The only thing we're discussing now is just how long that extension will be."
OK, now here's where the tricky part comes in. You guys have the GOP right where you want them. If they want to filibuster, you need to say, "Go ahead." And once they do, you blanket the airwaves and repeat, non-stop, the following message: "The House has already voted to keep taxes low for 98% of Americans. Senate Democrats are eager to pass this extension as well because the last thing we want to do is raise taxes on 98% of the country in this economy. But the Republicans won't give us an up-or-down vote. They would rather see everyone's taxes go up if it means that Paris Hilton and LeBron James might not be able to buy their ninth houses."
Or even more simply: "The GOP is holding your tax cuts hostage because they want Paris Hilton to be able to afford another pool."
Guys, this is a layup. I'm begging, begging, begging you to not eff this up. The GOP will eventually cave on this as they don't want to be responsible for everyone's taxes increasing in January. This is your chance to make these guys eat a giant crap sandwich and come out of it on top. Please, please, please do the right thing. Demand an up or down vote on the middle class tax cut extension.
That is all.
UPDATE: Just after I typed up this post last night, I came across this:
The White House isn’t overly impressed with Nancy Pelosi’s rapid passage of a measure permanently extending tax cuts only for middle-class earners – or by reports that a deal with the GOP on the cuts is imminent.
In a statement seemingly intended to douse the entire Hill in cold water, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs faintly praised Democrats’ passage of the extension for families making $250,000: “The President continues to believe that extending middle class tax cuts is the most important thing we can do for our economy right now and he applauds the House for passing a permanent extension.”
He quickly added: “But, because Republicans have made it clear that they won’t pass a middle class extension without also extending tax cuts for the wealthy, the President has asked Director Lew and Secretary Geithner to work with Congress to find a way forward. Those discussions started just yesterday and are continuing this afternoon.”
Hill Democrats were unimpressed and said Gibbs’s statement only served to reinforce their fear that the administration had already given up the idea of challenging the GOP to vote for the middle-class cuts – or let all of them expire by the end of the year.
But if a deal is really in the offing, Gibbs warned that it would come later rather than sooner.
That does it. Obama needs to face a strong primary challenger. And no, I don't care if it costs the Democrats the White House in 2012. Obama had a golden opportunity to have an actual victory -- the first he's had since he killed that fly back in 2009 -- and he's flushing it down the crapper. We cannot have this guy representing us anymore. He is too weak to lead.