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Biden Lobbying for Tax Cut Deal; Mark Udall Comes Out Against It

Joe Biden visited his colleagues in Congress today, trying to drum up support for the tax cut framework announced by President Obama last night. I’m not thinking he was too successful. For instance, Carrie Budoff Brown reports that Mark Udall has offered his opposition to the deal. Mark Udall. Not a hard-charger along the lines of Bernie Sanders or Jerry Nadler. That suggests mainstream Democratic opposition, and I’m not yet convinced that the coalition of conservaDems and Republicans who can stomach the unpaid-for unemployment extension will have enough numbers to pass this thing. Yes, they’ll get the Joe Liebermans of the world, but will that be enough?

It took Nancy Pelosi almost a full day to come out with this statement:

“The tax proposal announced by the President clearly presents the differences between Democrats and Republicans. Any provision must be judged by two criteria: does it create jobs to grow our economy and does it add to the deficit?

“The Democratic provisions will create jobs and help 155 million workers through tax cuts for the middle class, helping working families who are struggling and growing the economy.

“The Republican demands would provide tax cuts to the millionaires and billionaires, fail to create jobs and increase the deficit. And to add insult to injury, the Republican estate tax proposal would help only 39,000 of America’s richest families, while adding about $25 billion more to the deficit.

“Republicans have held the middle class hostage for provisions that benefit only the wealthiest 3 percent, do not create jobs, and add tens of billions of dollars to the deficit.

“We will continue discussions with the President and our Caucus in the days ahead. Democratic priorities remain clear: to provide a tax cut for working families, to promote policies that produce jobs and economic growth, and to assist millions of our fellow Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own.”

I’m going to call that less than an endorsement.

There’s a difference between this and the bailout, which used a threat of crisis to funnel money to the big banks. In this case, people have a very good understanding of tax rates, and can easily pick winners and losers. The “threat of crisis” is a 4.6% marginal tax increase for most Americans. That’s hard to turn into something existential, although it would hurt the economy somewhat. With unemployment insurance you can make a better case.

I’m not yet convinced this gets done. In the meantime, if I were the Senate I’d go ahead and try to ratify new START while this all gets worked out.

UPDATE: Daily Kos just came out in opposition to the deal, after their members opposed it 3-1.

UPDATE II: The President has called a 2:20 press conference, seemingly responding to the resistance from Democrats.

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David Dayen

David Dayen