Senate Test Vote 

Posted: 10:13 am Sunday, December 12th, 2010

By Jamie Dupree

The Tax Deal fight moves into a higher gear today, as the Senate is scheduled to takes the first test vote on the Obama-GOP tax agreement, which could pave the way for full Senate approval in coming days.

The vote today is on cloture – to limit debate – on the underlying tax plan that was formally unveiled last Thursday night by Senate leaders.

There will be some opposition, but all signs point to a combination of Republicans and Democrats coming together to push this plan towards a final vote by late this week.

“Despite some concerns, I also believe Americans can’t afford tax increases,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). “I support, and plan to vote for, passage of the tax package.”

On Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) ran down the littany of more liberal complaints to this bill, as he held forth on the Senate floor for over eight and a half hours, a sort of mini-filibuster.

“I’m not here to set any great records or to make a spectacle. I am simply here today to take as long as I can to explain to the American people the fact that we have got to do a lot better than this agreement provides,” Sanders said.

He spoke mostly to an empty chamber, as only a couple of Democrats stopped by during the day to help him, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), both of whom have expressed reservations about the Obama-GOP deal.

For those wondering, the last time we had a real filibuster was back in 1992, when Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-NY) held forth for 15 hours and 14 minutes on the Senate floor, protesting the move of a Smith-Corona typewriter plan to Mexico.

Just about the time that Sanders finally left the Senate floor, the Congressional Budget Office made public its cost estimate of the plan, reporting it will raise the federal deficit by $857 billion over the next ten years.

So, think about that number – $857 billion.  That means there is more money involved in this plan than the controversial Economic Stimulus Law of 2009.

Yep, bigger than the Obama Stimulus.  And all of it just being added to the deficit.

So far, we aren’t hearing much widespread opposition to this plan, other than from liberals and some conservative GOP Republicans, like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), who last week told supporters that he wants a permanent extension of all of the current tax rates.

DeMint also slammed the series of “tax extender” provisions included in the bill, which include a break for “motorsports entertainment complexes.”

In other words, a tax credit for NASCAR race tracks.

I guess DeMint forgot what he did in 2007, when he sponsored S. 557, “a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make permanent the depreciation classification of motorsports entertainment complexes.”

I know, I know.  Details, details.

This tax deal will take a step forward today.  For those who like inside stuff about the Congress, the vote will begin at 3pm, but you won’t see a final result until close to 6pm.  Why?

Well, Senate Democrats will hold the vote open to allow Senators to fly back into town for at least two and a half hours.  That should be fun to explain my editors.