Busting the Filibuster: The Democrats should call the GOP's bluff

The Democrats are still letting the minority Republicans control the U.S. Senate.

In two votes this week, a majority of senators -- 53 -- voted to advance the Democratic agenda on revenue. The first would have let expire the so-called Bush tax cuts for individuals with incomes above $200,000 (and for couples filing jointly and earning more than $250,000 a year). The second, even though, ridiculously, it would have extended the middle class tax cuts to those making up to $1 million a year, also fell 7 votes short of 60. Because neither bill achieved the magic number needed to stop a filibuster should there be one, they were considered unpassable.

Apparently, the Senate leadership never even considered forcing the GOP to put up or shut up. Would the Republicans really bring their thermoses and sleeping bags into the upper chamber to fight for tax breaks for the super-rich and against tax relief for the middle class? Maybe. But even if they did, it's hard to envision how it could hurt the Democrats. Anymore than it is hard to see how the Democratic Party would suffer if Pres. Obama were to announce today that he will veto any tax bill that includes extending the giveaways to the rich.

In a better world, the Senate would adopt the House bill providing tax cuts for middle and working class Americans, filibuster be damned.

(Update: Sam Stein thinks "that the president is not only done ceding any more policy turf to the GOP with respect to tax cut negotiations but willing to let rates expire if Republican don't temper their demands" (Obama Tells Dems He'll Oppose Tax Cut Deal Without Unemployment Benefits, Other Relief -- Huffington Post 2010-12-04). Let's hope the president does get tough finally, but I'm glad not to have any money riding on it.)

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