The views expressed in any article published in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Joseph Foster or Bob Lupoli.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Democrats? Tax Plan Deal?

Joe: glad to hear your book "Destruction of America" is still on track. I'm a little angry with American politics today. Please see the article from today, below, regarding the tax deal, I say big deal! In return for this deal unemployment benefits are extended - greatly and so the cost will be very expensive in that the U.S. Gov., wil pay more and more money for extended unemployment. Imagine being 58 like some of my friends and acquantances, would you work to break even? Imagine wanting a break for a few years from being a highly paid executive, unemployment compensation might be something you might like and even maybe need for an extended period of time. Passing a simple bill for extending the current tax code or current tax breaks, crazy... since when is $250,000 wealthy? Well to do, doing fine, whatever, but wealthy - as in you'll never have to work for the rest of your life... make it a million at least. -Bob

Barack Obama's tax plan could squeak by with GOP helpBy CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN & JAKE SHERMAN | 12/7/10 6:55 PM EST Updated: 12/8/10 1:18 AM EST
Don’t be fooled by all the shouting. President Barack Obama’s tax-cut deal likely will squeak through the Senate, according to congressional aides, propelled by a coalition of Republicans, moderate Democrats and members won over by last-minute tax sweeteners.  The House, however, is more difficult to call – but there is a path to success there as well, and it likely includes wooing some wavering members by adding a few more specialized tax breaks, aides said.  House Republicans expect nearly all of their 179 members on board and could make up a roughly 40-vote shortfall with the help of Blue Dog fiscal conservatives in the Democratic party.

House Democrats, clearly miffed, say if Obama wants the bill, he’s got to find the votes, which isn’t assured.  “Making the case for this falls on the shoulders of the administration, not House leaders,” said one House Democratic aide. “The White House cut this deal so they gotta defend it.” House Democrats planned to huddle in the basement of the Capitol on Tuesday night to hear the caucus’s concerns, which range from the two-year extension of tax cuts for the wealthy, to the estate tax provisions, to the way the deal went down. The White House is expected to send a Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday to talk members through the plan, several House aides say.  Still, some Blue Dogs could break from the bill, as could moderate Democrats and even some recently defeated Democrats who accuse the GOP of hypocrisy – for attacking the high price tag the health care and stimulus bills but signing on to this $900 billion or so plan.

New Democrats, the pro-business wing led by New York Rep. Joe Crowley, signaled openness to the bill, but only if bonus depreciation and research and development tax credits are included in the final product. Progressives on Tuesday held their ground, expressing increasing frustration with Obama. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said the president went from "zero to compromise in 3.5 seconds." California Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a leading progressive, expressed strong opposition to the deal. "I'm not whipping against it, but I don't like it," she said.  "I don't think that the president should count on Democratic votes to get this deal passed," Weiner told reporters after leaving a closed-door meeting Tuesday night.

House Republicans think the majority of their conference will be behind the plan if it gets to the floor. Even the most conservative budget hawks, like Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, are supporting the compromise, which has been criticized by groups like the Club for Growth calling it “bad policy, bad politics, and a bad deal for the American people” based on the estate tax provision and other debt-incurring spending.  House Democrats are skeptical, though, that Republicans will vote for the bill, and theorize that some may try to hold out for a better deal, but the GOP denies that’s the case.  In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters the votes weren’t there for the president’s package – right now. But three senior Senate Democratic aides conceded that Reid would ultimately find enough Democrats to break a filibuster, if they are able to add a few more tax proposals targeted as the middle class and as long as Republicans continue to stand behind the deal.

'The White House cut this deal so they gotta defend it,' said one Democratic aide. “I think we’re going to have to do some more work,” said Reid, who is expected to propose changes to the package based on conversations with his members. Republicans aides expect as many as 39 GOP senators to support the deal, although the number could dip lower depending how the package is received by voters.  They expect several defections from the right flank of their party. Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) have expressed concern about extending the jobless benefits without paying for them. Retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), as the first Republican to wage this fight earlier this year, could also go against the deal.

Republicans will also need to watch their deficit hawks, who came to Washington promising to rein in federal spending only to vote for a bill that costs about as much as the derided 2009 stimulus bill. Republicans argue that tax cuts are different – it’s about returning taxpayer money. But already, Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio) has said the country can’t afford an extension of the Bush tax cuts without paying for them.

A package of additional tax proposals could win over the last batch of Democratic senators, a senior aide said Tuesday. “I think there is a certain amount of surprise – and even shock in the caucus,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.). “A few people were able to speak [at the lunch with Biden], not a lot.. … But there’s a lot of surprise – it’s a big, surprising package.“We have no (cost estimate), we have nothing in writing – we have a list of this, and this and this,” she said. “Will this be a good package for the future, will it work, or will we do something that reduces revenues by $1 trillion and doesn’t work and we are stuck with it?”
Manu Raju and Scott Wong contributed to this story.

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