Republicans and the Tax Deal

| Tue Dec. 14, 2010 1:08 PM EST

Hmmm. Last week I wrote a post suggesting that, in the end, Republicans would get scared off by their tea party wing and leave it up to Democrats to pass the Obama tax deal. So I proposed a pool: how many Republicans will actually end up voting in favor? I figured 30 in the House and five in the Senate.

But I never published the post. Republican support at the time seemed so strong and so widespread that I figured I was wrong. This time, Lucy wasn't going to pull away the football. Republicans really did lust after those tax cuts for the rich so much that they couldn't not vote for them.

But maybe I should have had the courage of my convictions. I see that Mitt Romney denounced the deal today, and Ezra Klein notes that Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and the Tea Party Patriots are also opposed. His conclusion: "I'd bet there are plenty of elected Republicans looking to bail. What they need is an excuse. If the House Democrats manage to make any real changes to the deal, they'll have one — and so will John Boehner and Mitch McConnell." Added to that, there's the dawning realization that the stimulus from the tax deal might be just big enough to all but guarantee Barack Obama a second term in the White House.

So we'll see. The cloture vote did pass 83-15 yesterday, so signs of a revolt are pretty muted right now. And maybe I'm overestimating Republican cynicism — though that's pretty damn hard to do these days. But an awful lot of them would probably like to see the bill pass, just not with their vote attached to it. In the end, I still wouldn't be surprised to see it get just barely enough votes to make up for a few Democratic defections. Maybe ten votes in the Senate instead of five, but no one should be shocked if it's nothing higher than that.

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