Democrats and the Tax Bill

| Tue Nov. 9, 2010 3:13 PM EST

Steve Benen is tired of Republicans acting as if they're in the majority already. In particular, they're refusing to consider a permanent extension of middle-class tax cuts along with a temporary extension of tax cuts for the wealthy:

Cantor and other Republicans are barking orders, declaring proposals dead, as if they were in the majority. So perhaps now would be a good time to point a minor detail: Bush-era tax rates expire at the end of the year, and between now and then, there's a large Democratic majority in both chambers.

....It seems to me Democrats can get out of their defensive crouch and tell the GOP what's going to happen — there will be a vote on a tax-cut package, and it will feature a permanent cut in middle-class tax rates, and a temporary extension of rates for the wealthy. They can either vote for it or against it. If Senate Republicans refuse to allow the chamber to consider the package, they will have killed the only opportunity available to keep Bush-era tax rates alive, and will be responsible for bringing back Clinton-era rates for everyone.

Well, yes, Democrats could do this. If they weren't idiots, anyway. But they were idiots before the election, and as near as I can tell they're still idiots now. Plus, they still don't have 60 votes in the Senate, and Republicans can still chew up several weeks of calendar time obstructing a tax bill and cackling into their beers while Democrats scurry around haplessly pleading for a vote or two. And they will.

At this point, I think their best bet is to skip the tax bill entirely and focus on other things. Allow the Bush tax cuts to expire completely and let the 112th Congress deal with it. With no election in the offing and the Blue Dogs nearly wiped out, Democrats can be the obstructionists this time around. After all, tax cuts for the rich aren't very popular, gridlock isn't very popular, and Republicans aren't very popular. If nothing passes, they'll get the blame. So why make things easy for them?