White House senior adviser David Axelrod predicted on Monday that Congressional Republicans will ultimately "blink" in the tax cut debate as the deadline approaches for all rates to rise to Clinton-era levels.
Speaking shortly after an appearance at a Google/Politico conference on the midterm elections, Axelrod said, as he has for weeks, that he is confident President Obama's tax cut package, which would raise rates only for the wealthiest two percent, will be enacted into law.
But the senior strategist acknowledged that it would likely take a bit of 11th hour drama for it to happen. Axelrod said he agrees with the assessment offered by Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) on Sunday that it would take the specter of the Bush tax cuts expiring across the board (as they will do on December 31, 2010) to nudge a few moderate Republicans to buckle.
"Yeah. I think they will blink when their constituents tell them enough is enough, let's move on a tax cut for 98 percent of the American people, in fact 100 percent, everyone will get it up to $250,000 dollars," Axelrod told the Huffington Post. "They just want to give a special premium to millionaires and billionaires and we can't afford the $700 billion to do that."
Acknowledging that a vote isn't coming before Election Day, Axelrod's outlook for the tax cut debate suggests that both he and congressional Democrats are prepping for high-stakes, high drama political brinksmanship during the lame duck session. To date, the White House has refused to budge from its position that extending the rates for the rich would be wasteful and bust the federal budget. Not a single Republican lawmaker, meanwhile, has stated his or her willingness to vote for the president's package -- setting up a situation in which both sides end up working a small number of moderate Republicans in hopes that they either change or stay the course respectively.
"I think they are going to continue to hold these tax cuts hostage at least until the election," said Axelrod. "I hope that is not the case. The middle class shouldn't be living with this uncertainty but they seem intent on borrowing another 700 billion dollars for the tax cuts for the wealthy."