Everybody pretty much knows what's going on with the Bush tax cuts, and have since before the election, when the Democrats punted on doing something decisive about it because they were convinced they'd already set the matter up as a "winning issue" for the midterm elections. As you know, that worked out like gangbusters for them! So, now, facing the issue in the lame duck session, the GOP wants to extend all the Bush era tax cuts "permanently," while the Democrats hope that the GOP will "compromise" on "decoupling" the tax cuts for the middle class from the tax cuts on upper income earners. But the GOP won't compromise on that, and so the Democrats will probably end up caving.
Of course, as we are somewhere in the middle of the fourth act of this tragedy, we look to Maine, where typically, one of the state's two Senators pop up to inject themselves into the storyline, momentarily transfixing everyone, only to eventually fade away again. Cue the entrance, stage right!
In response to questions from TPM, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) said she hasn't reached any conclusions about whether she might support such a compromise, but did acknowledge that she has no objection to the idea of a permanent tax cut for middle-class Americans.
"I don't know. I'm not prepared to say that at this point, frankly. I'd like to see all the tax rates extended for the time being, the next two or three years at the minimum probably, given where we are today," Snowe said.
Pressed, though, Snowe acknowledged that she has no objection to extending some of the tax cuts permanently.
"I don't have any objections obviously," she admitted. "I'd like to consider the totality... I don't want to comment on something I haven't seen."
Exciting times, as Olympia Snowe finally gets around to "consider the totality" of the matter at hand, which everyone else has been considering for many, many months. But this is the way your Senate works, with Snowe or her colleague Susan Collins showing up late in the game to strut and fret across the stage before evenutally signifying nothing. This is how it worked with "Don't Ask Don't Tell," this is how it worked with health care reform, this is how it works when the uniqueness of your "centrist" position allows you to do what you love doing:
cut vital deals and craft shrewd policy steal an inordinate amount of the media spotlight for yourself.
"More than anything else it's critical that an accord is reached on this issue. It's timely, it's urgent, it's imperative for the economy," Snowe said.
Oh well thanks, genius. Please take your time, we'll wait.