Tax Deal Advances 

Posted: 8:59 pm Monday, December 13th, 2010

By Jamie Dupree

The Grand Bargain that is the Obama-GOP tax deal took a big step forward on Monday, as the Senate voted 83 to 15 to shut off debate on the agreement struck just one week ago by President Obama.

It was a big bipartisan endorsement of the plan, which has created a lot of dissenting noises among more liberal Democrats, especially in the House.

“I recognize that folks on both sides of the political spectrum are unhappy with certain parts of the package, and I understand those concerns,” said President Obama, during a short appearance in the White House Briefing Room on Tuesday evening.  

“But that’s the nature of compromise — sacrificing something that each of us cares about to move forward on what matters to all of us,” he added.

As the President urged the House to move quickly on the deal, top Republicans added their voice as well, trying to isolate House Democratic Leaders, some of whom have vowed to change the deal and send it back to the Senate.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats need to move without any “political games or partisan changes” to the bill’s details.

“If the House Democratic Leadership decides to make partisan changes, they will ensure that every American taxpayer will see a job-killing tax hike on January 1st,” said McConnell.

The ‘No’ votes in the Senate were an interesting slice of both parties.  Five Republicans voted against the procedural motion to move forward, Coburn (OK), DeMint (SC), Ensign (NV), Sessions (AL) and Voinovich (OH).

Also voting ‘No’ was Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who was joined by nine Democrats – Bingamann (NM), Feingold (WI), Leahy (VT), Udall (CO), Levin (MI), Lautenberg (NJ), Gillibrand (NY), Brown (OH) and Hagan (NC).

“We’ve heard all kinds of arguments for extending tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and we’ve been told this bill represents the best deal we could get in order to bring further tax relief to middle-class Americans,” said Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado.  

“Those arguments are based on political pragmatism, not a truthful or objectively measured analysis of the actual impact on our budget deficit.”

Only two states had both of their Senators vote ‘No’ – Ohio and Vermont.

No votes are scheduled for Tuesday, which leads me to believe that Senate leaders will make a concerted push to set up final votes on Wednesday if possible, which would send the bill to the House.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made clear on Monday that the Senate will likely be in session this coming weekend, as lawmakers try to finish up work for the year before Christmas.

Top House Democrats made clear again on Monday that they are looking at possible changes in the details of the agreement on estate taxes at a minimum.

Obviously, any changes could complicate this deal – it will be interesting to see if the White House publicly weighs in against any move like that.

Still, House Democrats are getting jammed here, as there will be considerable political momentum – in both parties – for the deal, once the Senate approves it later this week.

No matter their reservations, that kind of momentum will be difficult to resist, especially with President Obama on board.