Despite the fact that just about all extant polling indicates that the American people are solidly on board with the idea that the Bush tax cuts for the middle class should be extended, while simultaneously rolling them back on the wealthy, Senate Democrats decided that they were going to punt the vote on the matter until after the election. Huh? What? Aren't the Democrats running for office this year? And can they not read opinion polls?
Oh, but this is super-duper strategy afoot, well beyond the grasp of us normals. According to a "senior Democratic aide" -- who went unnamed lest we all start clamoring to press our flesh upon the body of this political genius, to absorb his wisdom -- Democrats, by not voting on something that everyone wants, actually scored a massive checkmate-yahtzee-touchdown against the GOP:
The aide said it's already a winning message without a vote since Obama and Democrats have framed the debate as the Republicans being for the rich and Democrats wanting to help the middle class. Others have made similar arguments, but several lawmakers have said they think a vote is the only way to score a political victory. The senior aide doesn't think so.
"We have a winning message now, why muddy it up with a failed vote, because, of course, Republicans are going to block everything," the aide said.
You hear that, GOP? By obstructing the passage of the tax cut plan using only the power of your stern glances, y'all actually got your rims rocked! DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING, DID YOU?
Well, as it turns out, the reality was quite different. As Greg Sargent reports today, Democratic Congressional leaders were actually pushing -- and pushing hard -- to vote on the tax cuts:
Here's a depressing postscript to yesterday's decision by Senate Dems to postpone the vote on extending the middle class tax cuts: The most politically savvy Senators, the ones who are most involved in the politics of holding the Senate, wanted the vote and urged colleagues to go for it, all to no avail.
Several sources tell me that Chuck Schumer was among the Senators pushing for the vote, on the grounds that it would have been good politics for Dems overall, and Politico reports that Robert Menendez wanted the vote, too. Menendez, of course, is the chair of the DSCC, and Schumer is the former DSCC chair -- and remains heavily involved in plotting political strategy.
So, the "politically savvy" Democrats wanted the vote pretty badly. Meanwhile, Sargent talks to a slightly more honest unnamed Senate aide of his own:
According to a very plugged in Senate aide, Senators debating the issue were very aware that the polling was on their side. Yet, paradoxically, this ended up tipping the balance against holding the vote. Senate Dems felt they were alreadly winning on the issue, and in the end they thought a vote risked upsetting a dynamic that was already playing in their favor.
"People felt like, Why rock the boat on a good situation?" the aide tells me. "People weren't sure how how having a vote would effect that dynamic. We would have lost Democrats on certain aspects of the vote. Who knows if the media would cover that as Democrats being splintered? In a way the good polling gave people faith that we dont need to do anything on the issue because we're already winning."
So, let's get it straight. The American people broadly support the Democrats' plans for these tax cuts. But if the Democrats were to hold a vote on them, members of their own caucus, who are either too stupid or too scared to know what to do, would not vote for it. The media would report this, and it would expose that it was actually Democrats who blocked the passage. But if you don't hold a vote, you can blame the GOP instead, even though they technically didn't do anything. So now, the voters who support this tax cut plan will go to the polls in November uncertain of what's going to happen to middle class tax relief.
Which all seems pretty stupid, to me. But what do I know? I hear that Democrats "don't need to do anything on the issue because they're already winning."