Democrats will get their vote after all in the House on a Senate-passed tax cut plan, Speaker John Boehner confirmed yesterday. The move means that by next week, both chambers of Congress will not only have passed their own version of a plan dealing with the Bush tax cuts, but they’ll have rejected the other chamber’s version.
Boehner said the House would vote on the Democratic bill alongside a measure that would extend the entire slate of George W. Bush-era tax rates.
“If our Democrat colleagues want to offer the president’s plan or the Senate Democrat plan, we’re more than happy to give them the vote,” Boehner said during his weekly Capitol press conference.
Democrats immediately took Boehner up on his offer, introducing the Senate-passed bill. This diffuses what has become a talking point from the White House and the House Democrats, that House Republicans were the only ones in America standing in the way of a tax cut for everyone on the first $250,000 of their income. Democrats will get their vote.
And it will fail. House Republicans will pass a one-year extension of all the Bush tax cuts, the same bill that failed in the Senate. Each side will have their own tax plan progress through one chamber. And then it comes down to the election. I agree that, if Obama wins the election, there will be pressure on the House to comply and pass the Senate-passed bill in the lame duck session. And if Romney wins, there will similarly be pressure on the Senate to pass the one-year extension. I don’t know if that really changes anything we didn’t know before this week, but the election will decide the tax issue.
What is new is a tidbit that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said yesterday at her weekly press conference:
Q: Madam Leader, given the vote yesterday, do you expect to lose many, if any, Democrats when the Republicans bring up their bill to extend all tax cuts?
Leader Pelosi: Well, you would have to ask them about that, as I have said to you before, but we’re very confident about the Democrats supporting the President’s proposal. It is, again, the right thing to do on the basis of fairness, which is an important value in our country. It’s the right thing to do, the President’s proposal is, when it comes to reducing the deficit. It’s the right thing to do when it comes to having an approach to the sequester – the money from $250,000 [and above, or] a million dollars that [some have discussed]… the President is suggesting that we stop at $250,000 [and above], that money will be almost enough to avoid the sequestration all together.
Emphasis mine. Now that’s a new idea, though it’s been bouncing around. The savings on the high-end Bush tax cuts, around $850 billion over 10 years, used to plug the sequester, which is around $1.2 trillion over 10 years. It doesn’t line up perfectly, but it’s pretty close. If Democrats escape the fiscal cliff with the payroll tax cut expiring and a little mop-up work on the sequester, that would be about as successful as you could hope for.