From David Waldman at Today in Congress, seems to be the only one pointing out that there were two other bills on the agenda for the Saturday Tax Cut Showdown in the Senate. One was to extend all the tax cuts permanently and the other was to extend them for two years. What happened to those two bills? This is what happened, the Republicans manipulated the Senate rules to make the Democrats look bad and the White House just tags along.
In the Senate, courtesy of the Office of the Majority Leader:
By unanimous consent, at 10:30am Saturday, December 4, the Senate will proceed to vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the Reid motion to concur with the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R.4853, with the Baucus amendment #4727 [link] (tax cut extension for those making up to $250,000, plus several additional items such as UI extension, AMT relief, estate tax, 1099 repeal, making work pay credit, and others).
If cloture is not invoked, the Senate would immediately proceed to vote on the motion to invoke cloture on the Schumer amendment #4728 [link] (tax cut extension for those making up to $1 million, plus several additional items such as UI extension, AMT relief, estate tax, 1099 repeal, making work pay credit, and others).
The time from 8:30am until 10:30am will be equally divided and controlled between the Leaders or their designees.
So what ever happened to the supposed deal for having four votes rather than two? Well, apparently that deal — which would have included two Republican amendments that would have offered the choice of either a temporary or a permanent extension of all the cuts — fell apart when a Republican objected to it at the last minute, leaving a surprised and embarrassed Mitch McConnell at the table empty-handed.
Why would a Republican object to a deal offering the minority an equal number of amendments on the bill, each aimed at doing exactly what they supposedly wanted? Because someone in the Republican Conference thinks both of the Democratic amendments will fail on their cloture votes, and Dems will be embarrassed by their inability to settle this situation, and then House Republicans will be free to write the extension bill they way they want it come January. And they’ll make the extension retroactive to January 1, and look like heroes.
Why would a Republican make a surprise objection at the last minute and embarrass Mitch McConnell like that? Because Mitch McConnell hasn’t been the Republican Leader for at least the last year. Jim DeMint is the real Senate Minority Leader, and he plays harder ball than McConnell does. He just showed Mitch who’s boss by pulling the rug out from under him, and reminded Republicans that the source of their power is not their ability to use procedure to leverage deals, but their ability to leverage procedure to prevent any from being made while Democrats control the White House and Congress.
It’s time to stop trying to understand Republicans in terms of figuring out what they want and trying to find middle ground. If “what they want” were even really of interest to Republicans at this point, then they’d have been over the moon at having a legitimate shot at passing an amendment to make all the tax cuts permanent today. But they walked away from that (as they walked away from a legitimate shot at passing both 1099 repeal and a $39 billion stimulus rescission earlier this week, totally abandoning their “tax cuts don’t have to be paid for” rhetoric in the process) because “what they want” at this point is for Democrats to be seen losing as often as possible, on as many things as possible.
Waldman repeated this several times today on Twitter:
I can’t repeat this enough: Senate GOP was offered a vote to extend all cuts permanently and still said no.
His explanation of why they did this:
Why would GOP oppose their own plan for permanent extensions? It might pass, and people might think Dems helped. And they can’t have that.
The Republicans along with his Tea Party allies and a few Blue Dogs have 98% of the country held hostage and will most likely continue to do so for the next two years.