"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday rejected a Republican request to vote on President Obama’s income tax plan amid defections within his caucus on tax policy," Alexander Bolton of The Hill newspaper reported just before 10:30 a.m. today. "Reid appeared exasperated by the Republican request to vote on extending the Bush-era tax rates when Democrats would prefer to focus this week on a small-business tax package estimated to create 1 million jobs," Bolton added.
You may recall that on Monday, President Obama renewed his call to extend the Bush tax cuts for every income bracket except that covering income earners making $250,000/year and more, blasting a "stalemate" in Washington and urging Congress to "come together and get this done" without delay because (emphasis mine):
....That’s what compromise is all about. Let’s not hold the vast majority of Americans and our entire economy hostage while we debate the merits of another tax cut for the wealthy. We can have that debate. (Applause.) We can have that debate, but let's not hold up working on the thing that we already agree on.
So my message to Congress is this: Pass a bill extending the tax cuts for the middle class; I will sign it tomorrow. Pass it next week; I’ll sign it next week. Pass it next -- well, you get the idea. (Laughter.)
Today Senate Republicans sought to get the ball rolling in the Senate on that very issue, but Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) balked. Seeking to cover Reid's rear, liberal Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent insisted that "Yes, the Senate will vote on Obama's tax cut extension," but those rascally Republicans insisted on (gasp) having a vote for both Obama's plan and the Republican plan to extend tax cuts for ALL tax brackets (emphasis mine):
Here’s what happened. Mitch McConnell asked for two votes, one on the GOP’s plan to extend all the tax cuts, including for income over $250,000, and another on Obama’s plan to extend the tax cuts on income just under $250,000. Reid objected. So what actually happened is that Reid didn’t want to hold a vote on both the GOP plan and Obama’s proposal.
There will, in fact, be a vote on Obama’s plan, a Reid spokesman confirms.
“There will absolutely be a vote on President Obama’s tax plan this work period,” Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson emails.
Wouldn't it be "compromise" to allow votes on both the president's and Republicans' plans rather than insist that only the president's plan is acceptable to bring up for a vote?
At any rate, Reid intransigence betrays the fact that he's afraid of a Democratic defection which could torpedo President Obama's insistent plans for excluding "the rich" from a one-year tax cut extension. As Bolton reported, there are several Democrats who are skittish about rejecting a tax cut extension for high-income earners, given the political realities facing them in the November election (emphasis mine):
At least seven Democratic senators have declined to rule out supporting a temporary extension of the Bush-era income tax rates.
Several Senate Democrats running for reelection and Democratic Senate candidates have balked at Obama’s proposal to extend income tax rates only for families earning below $250,000.
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and North Dakota Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp have said the threshold should be $1 million. Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D), who is running for the Senate, prefers setting it at $500,000.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has also said she would not rule out extending all of the Bush tax rates temporarily.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) told NJ Today that he disagrees with Obama’s plan to allow tax rates to increase for families earning over $250,000.
“I mean in New Jersey, if you’re a police sergeant and a schoolteacher husband and wife, $250,000 is not quite the level. So I’d like to raise the level as I’ve advocated for in the past,” he said. “But I think that after we raise the level, keeping it for that middle class universe is what’s important.”
It remains to be seen how the network evening newscasts and tomorrow's network morning shows deal with this development, but I'm not holding my breath for the media to scrutinize Sen. Reid for dawdling on the issue of extending tax cuts for the American middle class.