Must. Hit. Head. On. Wall. Boy, they're nothing if not predictable, huh? This is the sort of thing that happens when the Democrats don't have a coherent value system.
Now, I can actually understand the instinct to punt, because allowing the tax cuts for the wealthiest to lapse would bring down the focused wrath of the Republicans before the mid-term elections. And yes, it makes it more difficult for Democrats from wealthier districts. But honestly, are they so incapable of explaining to the public how this adds $700 billion to the deficit that's badly needed elsewhere?
Must Democrats fall into the fetal position every time the GOP makes a feint?
WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress are poised to play a leading role this month in thwarting their party's effort to raise income tax rates on the wealthy.
Tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003 expire at the end of this year. President Barack Obama and Democratic congressional leaders have been eager to extend the breaks for individuals who earn less than $200,000 annually and joint filers who make less than $250,000. Those who earn more would pay higher, pre-2001 rates starting next year.
However, a small but growing number of moderate Democrats are balking at boosting taxes on the rich. Many face electorates that recoil at the mention of any tax increase. Some represent areas that are loaded with wealthier taxpayers. Further, some incumbent senators who don't face voters this fall are reluctant to increase taxes on anyone while the economy remains sluggish.
Without their support, the push to raise rates on the rich probably will fail.
"The economy is very weak right now. Raising taxes will lower consumer demand at a time when we want people putting more money into the economy," said Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who isn't seeking re-election.
Democratic leaders still vow a big effort this month to boost the top tax brackets, now 33 and 35 percent, back to 36 and 39.6 percent, the rates that were in effect in the 1990s. Both House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who faces a tough re-election fight, want a vote before the election Nov. 2.
"We still expect to have a bill on the (Senate) floor at some point in September," Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. "Whether Republicans will allow us to pass anything is a whole other story."
As Big Tent Democrat points out, it does present a great opportunity for progressive Democrats in Congress:
So what Evan Bayh, Kent Conrad, Ben Nelson and Gerald Connolly are saying is that they will OPPOSE TAX CUTS FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS unless there are also tax cuts for the rich. Well, if that's what they want to do - OPPOSE TAX CUTS FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS, more power to them. But progressives and the President do not have to play along with them. Put it to a vote and let Evan Bayh, Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad and Gerald Connolly explain that they OPPOSED TAX CUTS FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS because their rich friends did not get a tax cut too.