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Top pollster to Dems: Hold a vote on middle class tax cuts!

If House Dems hold a highly-charged vote on whether to extend the middle class tax cuts, it will go a long way towards exciting the lackluster Democratic base, by proving to rank and file Dems that the party is willing to actively fight Republicans on their behalf, a top Dem pollster told me in an interview.

The pollster, Stan Greenberg, made news this week by presenting the Dem caucus with data showing that the debate over the Bush tax cuts is a winner in general. But in our interview, he focused specifically on whether Dems should stage a vote on extending the middle class tax cuts -- something Dem leaders may not do, because moderates are balking -- and suggested doing so could help solve some of their worst political problems.

"A vote will make this issue real, and bring out the clarity of the Democrats' position," Greenberg told me. "This is an election that's being profoundly shaped by who's engaged. Republicans are engaged. They are turning out in large numbers."

"You have got to give Democrats reasons to vote," Greenberg continued. "Things have to be at stake for Democrats to vote. This is an opportunity to make politics relevant to these voters."

Some Dem leaders have suggested that if Republicans block such a vote in the Senate a clear enough contrast between the parties will have been drawn, making a House vote unnecessary. But Greenberg dismissed this argument, saying that Dems should hold the vote to prevent the issue from fading from the headlines.

"If this gets blocked in the Senate without a visible filibuster, and if the House does not vote, this issue goes away," Greenberg said. "This issue is only real if you hold a vote."

Greenberg added that a vote would convince the base that "finally, Democrats are really fighting." He added: "Taking this to a vote sends a very clear signal that we're serious about this issue, and that we're taking it to the Repubicans."

Listening, Dems?

By Greg Sargent  |  September 16, 2010; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  2010 elections , House Dems , House GOPers  
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Next: Cornyn: GOP's stance on social issues alienating independents


As I predicted: John Kevorkian Boehner has now flip flopped on his position, that he would vote for a bill that cut taxes for the middle class only. He now is insisting on a straight up or down vote on Borrowing Four Trillion Dollars to cut taxes for Fat Cats, who did not create any jobs with their Bush Tax Cuts.

Boehner went on to say, when asked if he would still vote for tax cuts for the middle class, that he would not answer that hypothetical.

The would be next Speaker of the House, will not say where he stands on rescuing our Middle Class, but he does want to add Four Trillion Dollars to our national debt, in order to Pamper his party's Fat Cat pets.

Yes indeed. It does appear that John Kevorkian Boehner really has learned his lesson, and has become a Deficit Hawk. What better way to prove that is what he has become, than to insist on adding Four Trillion Dollars to our national debt, in order to rescue The Haves.

Posted by: Liam-still | September 16, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

We need a vote period. This is from the JEC based on census data. Anyone arguing to extend the Bush Tax Cuts for the top income brackets needs to figure out a way to argue against fact based income data, and I don't think they can.


The report, entitled "Income Inequality and the Great Recession," finds that middle class incomes, which had grown at a healthy pace during the Clinton Administration, declined under President Bush and never regained their highs reached before the 2001 recession. After President Bush’s eight years in office, middle class families had seen their annual incomes fall by more than $2,600.

Stagnant incomes led to an increased demand for credit, with the household debt-to-income ratio growing dramatically from 2001-2007. The unsustainable spending sparked the housing bubble, and subsequent collapse, and ultimately helped to trigger the Great Recession.

The JEC report also found:

* In the past three decades, the share of income going to the wealthiest 10 percent of households has increased significantly, from 34.6 percent in 1980 to 48.2 percent in 2008.

* Annual income for middle class Americans – those in the middle income quintile – increased by more than $6,700 during the Clinton Administration. During the eight years of the Bush Administration, this middle quintile saw their annual incomes fall by more than $2,600.

* Americans across all five income quintiles saw income gains during the Clinton Administration, while, by contrast, incomes fell for each quintile during the Bush Administration.

* The increase in marginal tax rates for the wealthiest one percent of households during the Clinton Administration did not lower these households’ income. Real income of the top 1 percent grew at an average annual rate of 10.3 percent during the Clinton years.

* From 1948 to 2005, incomes for Americans in the 60th percentile grew at an average of 2.5 percent under Democratic Presidents, compared to an average growth rate of just 1.1 percent under Republicans.

Posted by: lmsinca | September 16, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I was thinking about taxes a bit more last night... The real kicker is not just taxes or the deficit or the debt...

It is the insane amount of INTEREST we have to pay each year on our debt.

If the GOP has their way and taxes remain at the current Bush levels -- for the wealthy included -- the INTEREST PAYMENTS ALONE would exceed $950B over the next 10 years.

That's more than $950 BILLION that taxpayers would have to spend just to service the Federal Debt.

$950B in taxpayer SPENDING -- and we know how much Americans love govt spending -- $950B in spending with NOTHING AT ALL to show for it.

Reduce the debt. Reduce the INTEREST payments. That will enable us to save even more money, pay the debt down even more, and will vastly improve the financial outlook of the country.

But no, the GOP loves them some TRILLION DOLLAR INTEREST PAYMENTS. They love making the middle class pay money with no beneficial return just so that the rich can have their way, again.

If it weren't for the INTEREST PAYMENTS then yes, nobody would really care about the debt...

...but NOBODY likes paying interest payments.

NOBODY wants to have a high credit card balance because you wind up paying interest payments on top of your payments for purchases. It is basic Econ 101 we're talking here. It is also simple common sense.

This issue cannot be lost in the shuffle while we are having this debate.




Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 16, 2010 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, your paragraph structure and random CAPS looks strikingly familiar tooo...hrmm...wait a minute...OH NOEZ!

You have morphed into the anti-SaveTheRainforest! :P

In all serious though. Republicans were successful. Trickle down poverty was successful.

It's time for a change.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 16, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

The dems want the President to keep his word. Why would he not let the tax cuts for the top 2% expire. The President is starting to inspire the base, and voters who voted for him for change. There are many first-time voters disillusioned and wondering why? He needs to end the Tax cuts for the rich as every economist said. We are a middle class country that will be gone in generations to come. President Obama has to stay steadfast on this one

Posted by: ShelleyMendias | September 16, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

yes, but that's simply ignoring the dozens of Dems who just don't want to cast that vote because they think their constituents will be highly susceptible to the Republican argument that it's tantamount to a "tax hike" during a fragile recovery. They're cowards, but... they're not necessarily wrong about their own districts and states. The national polling on the issue I'm sure doesn't map very well onto red-leaning districts. Or does Greenberg have state polling to bolster his argument?

here's my congressional strategy:
Bring up the under-250,000-only cuts in the Senate first. Vote down all the stripping amendments, invoke cloture, and MAKE THEM visibly filibuster. It's apparently impossible to threaten Nelson, Lieberman, Conrad, etc., but lean on them and Snowe and Collins HARD.
At the same time, schedule the same vote in the House. DURING the Senate filibuster. Lean on the Blue Dogs HARD, reminding them that it pretty clear they'll be getting A LOT of what they want in the new year.

That kind of high-stakes theater will probably goose public opinion even more towards the Dem side.

So-called moderate Senate Dems WANT a diminished majority. Blue Dog Dems are already on the chopping block. The incentives are all wrong for these votes. But I still think they're necessary.

Posted by: andrewlong | September 16, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

"nearly 50% of the interest payments are now leaving the country, which is different from past years when interest was paid to U.S. citizens holding the public debt. Interest expenses are projected to grow dramatically as the U.S. debt increases and interest rates rise from very low levels in 2009 to more typical historical levels. CBO estimates that nearly half of the debt increases over the 2009-2019 period will be due to interest"


Now explain to me again why Republicans want to add $700 BILLION to the debt by giving tax cuts to the rich?

Do they LIKE giving money to foreign countries with nothing to show for it?

Get this:

We pay more in monthly INTEREST PAYMENTS than we pay for the Department of Labor and the EPA COMBINED.

We pay more in interest payments -- with ZERO to show for it -- than Labor and EPA COMBINED.

Tell me again:

Why does the GOP want to add over $700B to the debt?

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 16, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for my STRF style formatting. I know, not good, hehe. I should use that preview button more often :)

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 16, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of poverty and even with the extension of unemployment benefits, cobra insurance coverage, and the other safety net programs, working and middle class families are still falling behind.

It's unbelievable to me that we've had to fight for every bit of assistance during this recession against an entrenched Republican party and then they turn around and think extending tax cuts for the folks making above $250k is a terrific idea for American families because "it will create jobs". Really?


"Today's news is sobering, showing that 2009 was a year with increased poverty and rising numbers of uninsured Americans," said Rebecca Blank, the Commerce Department's undersecretary for economic affairs. "There is one primary reason for the fact that poverty did not rise and median income did not fall as much as the rise in the unemployment rate would suggest: government assistance that moderated the effect of the recession on American families. Among the elderly, poverty actually fell, largely because of increased Social Security payments. Among working adults, expanded receipt of unemployment insurance helped cushion the affects of lost hours and jobs."

"The steady erosion of employer-sponsored insurance in the 2000s became a landslide in 2009 when the unemployment rate took its largest one-year jump on record," said Elise Gould, an economist with the progressive Economic Policy Institute, in a statement. "6.6 million fewer Americans had job-based health insurance last year than in 2008. Public insurance and critical provisions in the Recovery Act mitigated the damage, to an extent -- the number of uninsured Americans rose by only about two thirds that amount, or 4.3 million."

Posted by: lmsinca | September 16, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse


Don't look now, but at least 31 DEMOCRATS are on the record favoring extension of Bush tax cuts for the rich!


Posted by: JakeD2 | September 16, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Dems are acting like they're most worried that if they hold this vote people on the right will not vote for them. It's assbackwards; as Greg says (and Greenberg), this is for the base, and it's the right thing to do.

They MUST stop wringing their hands about what the GOP and its voters will say.

Posted by: BGinCHI | September 16, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Republican Trickle Down Poverty has been so successful, poverty is now on the rise again in the U.S. according to the Census.

And Republicans want to continue the trickle down poverty economic disaster that got us here.

Now that's just grand now isn't it?

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 16, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

100 Years of Interest Payments on Debt (1900 - 2014)

Thank you Reagan, thank you Bush, for giving away record levels of money JUST on interest payments on the national debt.

It's ridiculous how irresponsible the GOP is with OUR freaking money.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 16, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Something that gets lost in all the politics is that extending the tax cuts for middle-class families while allowing the cuts to expire for the wealthy is also better POLICY than extending them all.

The rich won't spend that money, middle/lower class people will.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | September 16, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

The real problem the Dems have is they WANT to extend the Bush tax cuts for the Rich and pay for it by cutting Social Security for the elderly. At least that's the only explanation I can find for the way they've behaved. If they wanted to either A) represent those who elected them or B) help out the average American then raising taxes on the rich would be obvious, just like forcing the Republicans to vote against tax cuts for everyone else would be obvious. The reason they don't do it is because they're bought and paid for by the corporate elite to continue to shift all of America's wealth into the fewest hands possible. At least that's how they're acting. The whole idea that they would hand out massive new tax cuts to the rich at this time is preposterous. It's also more likely than not to happen, as far as I can tell. Clearly it's the preferred postion of most in Congress, despite being politically unpopular and fiscally stupid position to hold. If they were accountable to the voters, they'd never consider it. But they don't work for the voters. That much is clear. The only thing the Democrats are left saying is "Hey, we're not bat-manure crazy like the Republicans, we're just dishonest, spineless and greedy."


Posted by: Bullsmith1 | September 16, 2010 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"Don't look now, but at least 31 DEMOCRATS are on the record favoring extension of Bush tax cuts for the rich!"

That happened BEFORE Obama's news conference yesterday afternoon in which he called for an immediate vote on the middle class tax cuts. Please direct us to any Democrats who have registered opposition to the Obama Middle Class Tax Cuts since Obama called for the vote yesterday. We'll be waiting.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 16, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

The real problem the Dems have is they WANT to extend the Bush tax cuts for the Rich and pay for it by cutting Social Security for the elderly.
Do you have any evidence for this?

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 16, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

It's important to characterize these not jsut as "tax cuts for the rich" but as "tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans, whose average income is over $1,000,000."

The Blue Dogs shouldn't worry about how their vote is characterized; they should get out there and characterize it themselves for what it is--borrowing money from foreigners, which our children will have to pay back, in order to give millionaires tax cuts that are twice the size of the INCOME of the average person. They are the ones conceding the ground because they are so cowardly. How many people are there in South Dakota with million dollar incomes? Salt Lake City? C'mon. Make the case. "We can't afford to add to the deficit to give more money to people who already have plenty of money. They aren't the ones who were hurt by the recession, they are the ones who have been doing very well.

The case is there if they want to make it.

Posted by: Mimikatz | September 16, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I like the idea of heightening the drama on the vote. How about scheduling it over the weekend, around 10 pm so we can all watch it on CSpan?

Hold the Vote!

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 16, 2010 1:03 PM | Report abuse


I have never seen you complain about Ethan's formatting

so we have to say you were lying all along - your objections were based on content - not formatting.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 16, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse


This just in:

Senate Passes Small-Business Aid Bill, 61-38

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 16, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

its called messaging and framing, something Ds are just not skilled at.
Hold the vote timed precisely to wrap up at the beginning of the evening news and then repeat the message ad nausea precisely the way the GOP would. That is the way you do it. Have Katie Couric have the lead story for the Friday evening news break away for a live final vote count and then pray that there are enough votes for its passage. Sunday on the evening news after the last NFL game with a large audience would also work for heavens sakes no, think larger viewing audience then CSPAN though.

Posted by: leichtman1 | September 16, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

think larger viewing audience then CSPAN though.

Posted by: leichtman1 | September 16, 2010 1:09 PM

You're right. I just don't watch TV so what do I know.

Posted by: 12BarBlues | September 16, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Aren't C-SPAN ratings beating Katie Couric?

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 16, 2010 1:15 PM | Report abuse

P.S. to wbgonne:

Rep. Jim Matheson is STILL on the record for extending the Bush tax cuts, from this interview conducted with him AFTER Obama's call for a vote.

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 16, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Holding a vote on this issue is going to do about as much good as changing the logo of the democrats.

Why doesn't Obama change the logo?

OH, Obama did do that - maybe that will work - up against the vast difference between what Obama promised in 2008 and what Obama has done.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 16, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

WOW Another democratic Congresswoman apparently engaging in illegal activities

This incident should spark a resignation - this is the problem with RANGEL - the fact that he is hanging on, is encouraging others who are in trouble to hang on too.

WHY can't the parties clean house?

House Member Eleanor Holmes Norton should resign immediately.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 16, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Just a necessary reminder on how we got where we are now. Irving Kristol (Bill's daddy) on the economic expertise of the modern movement leaders (and lack of concern about it)...

"Among the core social scientists around The Public Interest there were no economists.... This explains my own rather cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems. The task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority - so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government..."

Not convinced? Go look at the graph Yglesias put up in this post...

As Matt says:
"The presence of a major ideological movement in the United States of America dedicated to the dual propositions that taxes must never go up, and that government expenditures don’t need to relate to government revenue in any real way as long as the Republican Party is in charge simply makes it almost impossible for the country to be governed in a responsible manner. If we had a different political system, it’s possible that such an ideological movement would marginalize itself, lose elections, and the other guys would run the show responsibly. Maybe. You could at least imagine it happening. But in our system even a defeated minority gets a ton of influence over policy and becoming completely dogmatic and irrational actually enhances that level of influence."

Posted by: bernielatham | September 16, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Wow. So O'Donnell thinks scientists are breading humans with mice and there are mice with fully functional human brains.

At least Greene is no longer the craziest person out there. He just got out-crazied!

O’DONNELL: … these groups admitted that the report that said, “Hey, yay, we cloned a monkey. Now we’re using this to start cloning humans.” We have to keep…

O’REILLY: Let them admit anything they want. But they won’t do that here in the United States unless all craziness is going on.

O’DONNELL: They are — they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains. So they’re already into this experiment.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 16, 2010 1:35 PM | Report abuse

"P.S. to wbgonne:

Rep. Jim Matheson is STILL on the record for extending the Bush tax cuts, from this interview conducted with him AFTER Obama's call for a vote.

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 16, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse"

That's a paid link and I ain't payin. What did Matheson say and when did he say it?

Posted by: wbgonne | September 16, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

That's great news on the small business lending bill passed.

You figure Republicans would go along with this paid for bill but they only vote on bill that are unfunded.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 16, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains."

This is the GOP candidate for United States Senator. Has this country gone insane or what? No wonder the GOP loves them some Crazy White Women.

Posted by: wbgonne | September 16, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Good find, mike. Mind you, as enjoined by scripture, she would tell the nazis about the kids and grandmas down under the floorboards.

One wonders what else Rove's research on the lady turned up that he found reason not to mention.

And on Rove, we'll note that even he is now scared of the creature he was so formative in creating (from cloned mouse brains, perhaps).

Posted by: bernielatham | September 16, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

It's a good think O'Donnell is sticking to Fox. Imagine if she went onto CNN what she would say.


Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 16, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

How could anyone vote for someone like her whom can differentiate what fantasy and what's reality.

Vote O'Donnell - Because Things Aren't Weird Enough Already!!!

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 16, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

"American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains."


She SAID that? OMG.

Lunatic Alert!!! (It's now a daily phenomenon.)

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 16, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

She's just helping feed the narrative that Tea-party candidates are insane.

Heck, the Dems don't even have to try and highlight this any longer.

They are bringing this on themselves with their own words.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | September 16, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

All, check this out, John Cornyn admits GOP's stance on social issues is driving away independents:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 16, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Has anybody here heard if there are any debates scheduled between Coons and O'Donnell.

Of course now that O'Donnell is getting advice from the biggest coward in American Politics today...Sister Sarah...she'll probably avoid EVERYBODY.except as The cowardly grizzly advised the R stooges on Faux news. Why should the Delaware electorate be entitled to information on the person they are voting on for a U.S. Senate seat?

The cowardice on the right and in particular within the tea party movement is stunning. They realize they are not intelligent, and informed enough to hold a simply press conference much less face a real debate.

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 16, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse


Are you sure you weren't watching "Pinky and the Brain"?

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 16, 2010 2:13 PM | Report abuse

More dog and pony charades from the left. You will fool a few people but most are on to your game.

Leftist hacks pimping lies has outlived its effectiveness.

Posted by: Cryos | September 16, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Democrats are corporate-owned (just a bit less than the Republicans) and I challenge them to not fub this up. The Daily Show was absolutely right...the Dems will find a way to screw up.

Unfortunately, that leaves the Republicans in power. I'm anticipating the new Nazi party, er... the Tea Party (with corporate sponsorship...just like the Nazi Party) to become the new darlings of the bought and paid for media. Just wait.

Unless the Dems edge away from the right-wing, they leave us no option other than to go for the authentic "right-wingers", the Republicans.

Posted by: rjmmcelroy | September 17, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

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