Just to mop this up, last night around midnight, the House of Representatives gave final passage to the tax cut bill. The final roll call vote on the “Airport and Airway Extension Act,” the name of the shell bill used as a vehicle to move the legislation, was 277-148. Democrats wound up supporting the bill 139-112, and Republicans supported 138-36.
Earlier in the evening, on the only amendment voted on, the House rejected a change to the estate tax which would have lowered the exemption from $5 million to $3.5 million, and increased the rate from 35% to 45%. The final tally was 194-233, with one member, Dan Lipinski, voting “Present.” Supposedly this hill to die on allowed House members upset with the bill to vent their frustration. 60 Democrats voted against the measure and it never really had a chance.
Because no changes were made from the Senate version of the bill, then, it goes to the President for his signature, which should happen presently. President Obama is scheduled to make a statement after signing this afternoon.
I’ve already talked about my concerns with the policy. John Boehner’s statement backs up those concerns by showing that this legislation, while passed and signed, really isn’t complete yet, in his mind:
“Stopping all the tax hikes is a good first step in our efforts to reduce the uncertainty family-owned small businesses are facing, but much more needs to be done, including cutting spending, permanently eliminating the threat of job-killing tax hikes, and repealing the job-killing health care law,” Boehner, House speaker-designate, said in a prepared statement.
This is one step along the road to the Norquistian dream of endless low taxes, starving the government of revenue, and the necessary reaction to that of cutting services. And as you’ll see in my next post, the Republicans will get a chance at that much earlier than expected.
On the politics of the deal, John Conyers effectively articulated the frustrations that a good portion of the liberal base is going to have with this bill.
Last week, I stated that this tax compromise was a fight for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party. Democrats have always stood for the workers, the disenfranchised, and those who are denied the opportunity to compete for the blessings of the American Dream because of their race, creed, religion, or class. I fear that passage of this bill tonight will tarnish this proud legacy of our party and cause the 98 percent of Americans without estates or astronomical personal wealth to question which party will fight for them. If this bill passes, each and every member of this body should look themselves in the mirror and consider what we have lost in the name of compromise. I encourage my colleagues to reject this flawed bill.”
You’re finally starting to see this play out in the President’s approval ratings. Caving on tax cuts is not just one more disappointment. The fundamental story that Democrats have told over the past decade was that the Iraq war was wrong, and that the Bush tax cuts hurt the economy. President Obama famously called tax cuts “the Holy Grail” for Republicans in a press conference a couple weeks ago, but he discounted how important this issue is to the people who voted for him. They may forgive, but it’s not likely to be something that they forget.