WASHINGTON -- If Obama and House Democrats were at pains to extend an olive branch to Republicans after the midterm elections, that is no longer the case with regard to tax cuts. That was the message at the closed-door meeting held Monday night by members of the House Democratic Caucus.
With the Bush tax cuts set to expire at the end of the month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will schedule a vote "this week" to extend tax cuts for the middle-class alone, her colleague Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told reporters Monday.
Democratic operatives just were as emphatic about what will be left out of the proposed legislation.
"Since the Republicans have been not terribly interested in negotiating on this, it will not include anything the Republicans are seeking," a source who was in the room told HuffPost late Monday night. "That was the way it was described in the meeting."
Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are reaching their own "fragile conclusions" about whether to stage a vote for middle-class earners alone, setting up a dramatic battle in the final weeks of the 111th Congress.
House Democrats intend to put forward a bill that fulfills the platform the president campaigned on, the source tells HuffPost. It would include a permanent extension of tax cuts for married couples earning up to $250,000 and for single people making up to $200,000. It would also make the president's childcare tax credit and the earned-income tax credit permanent.
"The president has always said that he's willing to talk about it to the Republicans," said HuffPost's source of the tax cut package. "And Republicans haven't engaged in any meaningful conversations, as usual."
Back in September House Minority Leader John Boehner said he would vote for Obama's plan to extend tax cuts only for middle-class Americans and not the wealthy -- if that were the only plan on the table. And Van Hollen told reporters Monday that Republicans would have at least one more chance to offer an amendment expanding the tax cuts to include wealthier Americans.
But some Democratic operatives see little reason to compromise.
"I remember that the president invited [Republicans] over two weeks ago, and they were too busy to come over to see the president," said HuffPost's source, in reference to a dinner invitation extended to Republican leaders earlier this month. "Has that changed since then?"
While House Democrats can't reasonably expect to get Obama's tax cut legislation past the Senate, they could use it it to draw a contrast with House Republicans, as well as appease progressive members of the caucus, HuffPost's Sam Stein reports.
GOP leaders have argued that any tax hikes during a recession could further damage an already faltering economy.
Democrats, meanwhile, say extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would only add to the ballooning budget deficit.
But the main hurdle, of course, will be getting anything past the Senate.
"If the Senate ends up thinking just this once that it's this or nothing -- which is how they usually present things to the House -- it's possible it will get passed that way," said HuffPost's source. "If it's December 31 and this is the only show in town, this is the show they'll go and see."