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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Middle-Class Tax Cut: The No-Brainer

For all I know, by now House Democrats may have already made the informal decision whether or not to force a vote on extension of middle-class tax cuts and expiration of high-end tax cuts.
I understand that if the votes aren’t there, they aren’t there. But it will be extraordinarily disappointing if they decide against forcing the vote on grounds that it will make some of their Members “uncomfortable.”
This is clearly the last opportunity prior to November 2 for congressional Democrats to make an impression on voters, not only about their own priorities, but about what sort of policies we can expect if Republicans gain control of the House. The GOP has been able to disguise or draw attention away from their own agenda throughout this midterm election cyle. Making them vote against tax relief unless the bulk of it goes to upper-income Americans exposes their hypocrisy on taxes and on federal budget deficits at the same moment. And this strategy also happens to be very popular, as TDS Co-Editor Stan Greenberg is expected to personally explain to the House Caucus later today.
There are few true no-brainers is the complicated business of politics, but this may qualify. Having cynically enacted tax cuts scheduled to expire at a date certain in the future in order to disguise their impact on the deficit, Republicans are in no position to label that expiration a “tax hike,” particularly since millionaires will benefit like everyone else from the portion of their income that falls into the lower brackets.
No matter what happens in November, Democrats are going to have to begin forcing comparisons of the two parties and what they stand for going into the presidential cycle of 2012, lest that election become another “referendum” whereby Democrats assume total responsibility for an economic and fiscal situation they largely inherited. This tax vote is the perfect opportunity to begin that process.

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