Before passing the state fiscal aid bill, Democrats actually gave Jim DeMint two votes on tax rates. He wanted to add massively to the deficit – literally trillions of dollars – by freezing in place the tax rates on individuals and “small businesses” that we have now, and which make us one of the most lightly-taxed industrialized nations on the planet. And look at this: Democrats rejected the measure entirely. On both votes, only Ben Nelson crossed the aisle to vote with all Republicans, including Collins and Snowe.

Now, perhaps on a bill dealing with the tax code, the numbers would be different. But here you have a vote on making all of Bush’s tax cuts permanent, and Evan Bayh voted no. Kent Conrad voted no. Blanche Lincoln voted no. Joe Lieberman voted no. Mary Landrieu voted no.

Republicans have no traction whatsoever for making the tax cuts permanent. Either the rates for the middle class will be extended, or all of the cuts will expire, at which point Democrats will probably try to pass their own “Obama tax cuts” on the middle class. Maybe he’ll try a payroll tax holiday, or something like the tax cuts in the stimulus and the HIRE Act.

The point is, those are the choices. If you can’t get more than 42 votes, you don’t have a tenable position. The tax cuts for the wealthy are toast.

CORRECTION: I must have misread the chart. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) actually did vote yes to extend all the tax rates, on both votes. George Voinovich (R-OH), noted deficit hawk, voted no. So flip those two.