This post originally appeared on Booman Tribune
We've seen the first pre-emptive cave-in on the Republican
side in the entire Obama administration:
The House Republican leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, said on Sunday that he was prepared to vote in favor of legislation that would let the Bush-era tax cuts expire for the wealthiest Americans if Democrats insisted on continuing the lower rates only for families earning less than $250,000 a year.
It's actually a kind of double cave-in, in that Boehner is actually pledging to vote for
Obama's bill to strip tax cuts from the rich. It's a definite deviation from the Party of No Strategy, but it doesn't end the debate. With several Democratic senators indicating that they don't want to raise taxes on anybody
in the current economic environment, we could still face a problem preventing an amendment from passing that keeps the tax cuts for people making more than a quarter of a million dollars a year. We could also have a problem overcoming a filibuster of a bill that doesn't extend those tax cuts for the wealthy. Boehner seems to be hoping that his new strategy causes internecine fighting on the left.
At least five Senate Democrats have already voiced public support for continuing the lower tax breaks at all income levels, at least temporarily. That suggests that Democrats could come up short of the 60 votes that they would need to overcome procedural obstacles for a bill that would allow the cuts to expire for the wealthy.Mr. Boehner, in the interview, said he agreed with those Democrats and suggested he was content to let them fight the Democratic leadership and the White House.
In other words, the Republicans want to avoid giving the impression that they are holding up tax cuts for 97% of the people just to preserve $100,000/year tax breaks for millionaires, and they're hoping a few Democrats will help out the rich on their own.
Of course, this strategy only works if the Senate Republicans actually allow a vote. That means, they'd have to prevail on an amendment prior to cloture, or those tax cuts for the rich are going away.
Nevertheless, this strategy eases pressure on the Democrats because they know they can pass what the president wants if they just hold together. This is the reverse of the situation we've faced most of the last two years, where the Republicans have known they could defeat or water down legislation the president wants simply by holding together.
If the Democrats fail to do so and buck the president, they'll have a hard time blaming the Republicans for it. Because, as I said, this strategy of avoiding the appearance of hijacking 97% of the people's tax cuts won't work if they actually hijack them with a filibuster. So, assuming that a filibuster can be overcome, the Dems will prevail on the substance unless they choose not to.