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White House acknowledges vote on middle class tax cuts may be dead -- squarely blames GOP

The White House is now acknowledging that the Congressional vote on the middle class tax cuts is unlikely to happen before the elections, effectively moving on to the next phase of this debate, now that Congressional Dems had already pretty much decided the vote was dead.

But the White House wasted no time in pouncing on the GOP for making it impossible, signaling that they will use the GOP's opposition to the vote -- and Obama's support for extending the middle class tax cuts -- as a weapon to pound Republicans from now until election day.

White House spokesperson Jen Psaki emails me a statement:

"If Republicans in Congress think that pledging to continue holding middle class tax cuts hostage in order to borrow 700 billion for tax breaks to the millionaires and billionaires at a time of record deficits is the way to connect with working American families they are more out of touch than we thought.

"The President would sign a bill tomorrow that would extend the tax cuts for the middle class to avoid saddling them with a crippling tax hike, but unfortunately Republicans in Congress have made it clear they would rather stall and obstruct instead of giving working families the assistance they need. The American people will be reminded of that every day."

That's basically saying that the bill Obama wants -- extending the middle class tax cuts -- will not be passed by Congress before the election. Republicans were likely to filibuster the bill in the Senate, but that didn't preclude Dems from at least trying in the Senate, and especially in the House, where it very well could have passed.

My understanding is that the White House signaled to the Dem Congressional leadership that they wanted this vote as a good political move in advance of the midterms. But the White House was reluctant to push for this publicly, because Obama advisers wanted to let Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid set the agenda, and public pressure might have backfired. At any rate, now that Dem leaders have apparently concluded it's a No Go, there's no percentage in taking a stand that could embarrass them.

Instead, as the above statement signals, the White House will use the failure to vote on the middle class tax cuts as a cudgel against the GOP, contrasting it with Obama's hard push for extending them.

At any rate, it apparently is all but certain that it won't happen. The die has been cast.

UPDATE, 2:54 p.m.: To be clear, Congressional Dem leaders were the ones who made the decision here, and the White House is basically acknowledging their decision. I've edited the above to clarify.

By Greg Sargent  | September 23, 2010; 2:40 PM ET
Categories:  2010 elections, House Dems, House GOPers, Senate Dems, Senate Republicans  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Dear Dems: Grow a pair (part 973)
Next: Liberal blogger directly confronts David Axelrod, accuses White House of "hippie punching"


Hey Greg - you often make the point that journalists/media shouldn't pull this "he said/she said" crap and should instead point out a lie when they see a lie.

When the White House squarely blames the GOP for not taking this vote - they are lying. You should reiterate this point that you had previously been making. It's emphatically *not* the GOP that stopped this vote.

Posted by: sbj3 | September 23, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

weak kneed Dems

Posted by: maritza1 | September 23, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Greg obviously knows nothing about economics except that the government should punish success. Oh, and that the government should be bigger bigger bigger.

I would say that this turn of events is a blessing in disguise for Obama and the Democrats since it saves them from their job-killing selves, but they have made their intentions clear enough that voters will still know who the job killers are.

November is getting close. I can't wait to see you domestic enemies of America crushed, driven before us and to hear the lamentation of your women (and your Maddows).

Posted by: RecriminyCricket | September 23, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse


Could it be that Obama didn't have enough democratic votes for his position?

"Rep. John Adler (D-NJ) has been rounding up signatures on a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, urging her to extend more than just the upper-income Bush tax cuts, passed in 2001. In addition, Adler and his crew want to extend the 15 percent rate on capital gains and dividend taxes, created by the 2003 Bush tax cuts. Other media outlets have since picked up on the story, and now Adler's effort is gaining steam. A source sent over a list of 44 Democrats who have signed on to the letter."


Yea, a lie is a lie.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 23, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

sbj3, this must be the first Plum Line column you've ever read, right?

Posted by: DDAWD | September 23, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Blue Dog Dems, for once again ensuring that the Republicans get their way.

You are the reason I now hang up on any call from DNC, the DCCC or any other organization that might spend a dime of my money to get one of you spineless "boo dogs" re-elected.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | September 23, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Wouldn't it be a lot better to say "I voted for tax cuts for everyone (on their first 250,000$ of income) and my opponent voted against them? Instead the Dems are going to say "I promise if you vote for me I'll do what I didn't do before the election?"

This is beyond stupid, politically.

Posted by: Bullsmith1 | September 23, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I really don't see why the dems didn't choose this issue to stage a public filibuster fight over the issue.

They could have turned it into a real "we're fighting for the middle class" media circus. I'm annoyed now.

Posted by: lcrider1 | September 23, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

"It's emphatically *not* the GOP that stopped this vote."

I have to say that I pretty much agree with sbj on this, although, in all fairness, most of the blue dogs are de facto members of the GOP.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | September 23, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

It appears that there is a majority in Congress FOR EXTENDING TO EVERYONE the continuation of the Bush tax cuts.


NOT dividing the nation - not pitting American against American - EVERYONE

Obama has found a new group to discriminate against - a group which is overwhelmingly white (is that an accident?)


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 23, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

If not a single GOP senator was going to vote for cloture, how is it anyone but the republicans that blocked this vote?

Posted by: cmccauley60 | September 23, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Republicans didn't do this. Democrats did.

I can't wait for that next call from the DCCC or DSC begging for cash. My response is gonna be: "You guys don't need my money to help you lose; you've figured out how to do that all by yourselves. Besides, I'm gonna need that cash after the Republicans take over and run the economy even further into the ground."

I'll still vote, but I'm not going to be throwing any of my money into that rathole.

Posted by: JennOfArk | September 23, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

The real problem is the GOP obstructionism and the conservadms/Blue Dogs's unwillingness to stand up to it or disagree with it.

We need a coalition to let all of them expire. Serves the bunch of them right.

Folks, we can't afford these tax cuts. We can't. They will likely take it out of your Social Security down the road.

Posted by: Mimikatz | September 23, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse

@cmc: "If not a single GOP senator was going to vote for cloture."

There's an old saying in sports: "That's why they play the game."

Anything is possible, anything can happen. No one knows for sure what the vote tally would have been, but you can bet your sweet bippy that it would have been a bipartisan filibuster.

Posted by: sbj3 | September 23, 2010 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Obama "talking" about what they may have done will have the same impact as putting the Rs feet to the fire. Hey Dems, here's a tip: If you're going to engage in class warfare, at lease have the balls to shoot the gun when the target is in sight.

Posted by: bzod9999 | September 23, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse


I wholeheartedly agree. The only donations I now make are to specific candidates I know to be real Democrats.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | September 23, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I love comments about "class warfare" IF the incredible shift in wealth from the middle class to the top 2% over the past 30+ years has not been "class warfare"

Don't worry though righties your guys won.
Yes we've had that class war and the wealthiest amongst us have totally routed the middle class. FACTS don't lie!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 23, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

I love comments about "class warfare" IF the incredible shift in wealth from the middle class to the top 2% over the past 30+ years has not been "class warfare"

Don't worry though righties your guys won.
Yes we've had that class war and the wealthiest amongst us have totally routed the middle class. FACTS don't lie!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 23, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

you can bet your sweet bippy that it would have been a bipartisan filibuster.

Posted by: sbj3 |
"Give me a 'D'!"
"Give me an 'I'!"
"Give me an 'N'!"
"Give me an 'O'!"

"What's that spell?"
"What's that spell?"
"What's that spell?"

"Ben Nelson!"
"Ben Nelson!"
"Ben Nelson!"

Posted by: bearclaw1 | September 23, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

"you can bet your sweet bippy that it would have been a bipartisan filibuster."

Ya know, sbj, you may well be right but since they didn't "play the game," we'll never know for sure. I can't even imagine which Democrat would have filibustered a tax cut on the first $250K of income but I know that every member of the GOP would have filibustered. Why is that sbj? Why would the GOP have unanimously blocked a vote on a tax cut on the first $250K of income?

Posted by: cmccauley60 | September 23, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

1.) What facts are you referring to rukidding7?
2.) Also, if my phrasing was clumsy, would you prefer "please avoid incessant demagoging of a subset of your constituents at every turn, and then not have the balls to follow through on punitive measures against them"?
3.) Aside from missing a chance to stick it to the fat-cat Wall Streeters who are killing this country, isn't some of your anger misplaced? The Dems wimped out, as they often do, when it came time for a hard vote that might impact their re-elections. (To be fair, the Rs do this all the time too. Term limits anyone?)

Posted by: bzod9999 | September 23, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

The WH is providing cover for the Blue Dogs. Yet it's these BDs who, in their districts, are running as fast as they can from this administration. So where is the payoff here for Obama?

"Mama, those big bad GOP fellas threw sand in my face!" Yeah, sure, that will really energize your base.

Posted by: filmnoia | September 23, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

According to Adler - there appears to be enough votes in Congress for a tax cut for EVERYONE

Is it Obama who is REFUSING to compromise?

IS it Obama who is REFUSING to be bipartisan????


Again, Obama has been CAUGHT violating his own campaign pledges.



What is REALLY holding BACK the economy in the GREAT OBAMA STAGNATION ?

Appears to be Obama himself.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 23, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

As much as it is beating a dead horse, there is one person to blame. That's right, Rahm Emanuel!! Thanks to his recruiting Blue Dogs instead of trying to recruit real Democrats.

Posted by: Calvin_Jones_and_the_13th_Apostle | September 23, 2010 3:40 PM | Report abuse



And Obama can actually SHARE the credit with the REPUBLICANS.

That would be BIPARTISAN.

It appears that Obama is unable to be bipartisan, unable to compromise - Obama should WORK WITH THE REPUBLICANS.

The problem is Obama always wants to get a few Republican votes - then claim that the Republicans didn't help him - and he doesn't want to work with the Republican leadership.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 23, 2010 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Personally I'm kind of glad they didn't have the vote. If played right could it have been a win for the Ds? Sure. What are the chances that the Ds would have played it right? Small. If the Ds had played it right would the press have reported on it or would they have repeated whatever press release the GOP issued? The press would have passed on, word for word, whatever the GOP told them to.

A couple of other things:

1) "...crippling tax hike..." Hyperbolic nonsense. There was nothing about the tax code under Clinton that was "crippling."

2) Blaming the failure of Congress to take this vote on the Republicans is f'ing stupid. Have I mentioned how bad the Ds are at messaging?

Keep in mind that we are NOT talking about policy as much as using the vote for political purposes. If they want the policy they can do it under reconciliation in the lame duck session.

Posted by: nisleib | September 23, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Obama always seems to want the Republicans to work with him -

And then Obama wants to run wild, claiming he got a "victory" and he wants to bang it over the heads of the Republicans.

Does that help Obama the next time he wants the Republicans to work with him?

It is ridiculous. A few times the Republicans went to the White House for a meeting, and it seemed as though Obama was criticizing them in the media before they even walked out of the driveway.

It is a joke.

Compromise and bipartisanship requires HEAVY LIFTING - AND HARD WORK - AND BUILDING TRUST

These are things that Obama refuses to do - refuses to be a part of .

It is surprising.


The economy will be taken care of - and everyone will be treated EQUALLY.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 23, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I simply do not understand why we should borrow trillions of dollars from China in order to give it to millionaires whose income has already increased 8% in the last year.

Posted by: johntx | September 23, 2010 3:52 PM | Report abuse


It will help the economy - and get this whole issue off the table.

It is funny - the way this thing has played out - could be the worst possible world for Obama - meaning Obama and the democrats could be hit with 30 second ads stating they want a $700 Billion TAX INCREASE.

And then, after the election, Obama may still have to agree to the Adler plan.

So the LOGICAL thing to do NOW would be to agree to the ADLER plan, take the credit and go to the election.

Instead, Obama takes the 30 ads -



Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 23, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

johntx at 3:52 PM

The flaw in your logic is that somehow you believe the tax money is not the money of the citizens - you think the tax money is the government's.

CHINA - the thing to do is ADD a provision stating that exports have to equal imports - and have an auction for the rights to import into the US.

That will balance the trade.

In international trade economics, the trade balances are supposed to balance themselves, but they haven't - that is why a new provision has to be made to do just that.

GOVERNMENT SPENDING - the government spending should be cut to more closely match revenues

If you have a problem with the government spending - look at the stimulus - filled with democratic pet projects.

The federal budget, state budgets, and local budgets are ALREADY CRAMMED with democratic programs which go and go and go - and spend and spend and spend.

We don't need all of that.

Yes, we all agree - stop the borrowing.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 23, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

All, check this out, Axelrod and a liberal blogger come to blows:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | September 23, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

@bzod9999 Here are the facts you requested related to who won the class war in our nation.

"Americans have the highest income inequality in the rich world and over the past 20–30 years Americans have also experienced the greatest increase in income inequality among rich nations. The more detailed the data we can use to observe this change, the more skewed the change appears to be... the majority of large gains are indeed at the top of the distribution."

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2007, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 34.6% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 50.5%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 85%, leaving only 15% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers).

While CEO pay is indeed down from its pre-crisis highs in 2007, it’s still double what it was in the 1990s, and eight times the level in the 1950s.

"Meanwhile, American workers are taking home less in real weekly wages than they did in the 1970s. So much for the idea that the financial crisis would somehow even things up by wiping out a good chunk of the paper wealth of the plutocrats. Indeed, stock prices have surged so much since last year that many CEOs, who receive a good chunk of their pay in equity, are wealthier than ever before."

Does ANYBODY really believe that CEO's are now TWICE AS PRODUCTIVE as they were just ten years ago. Does ANYONE truly believe that American workers who earn LESS than they did in the 70's have become LESS PRODUCTIVE. Or could that possibly be a result of heavy campaign contributions to tilt the pendulum totally towards the wealthy.

Perhaps you enjoy seeing the wealthy get even wealthier...last year the top 25 hedge fund managers made at least ONE BILLION dollars apiece. Does ANYBODY REALLY believe these paper pushers contribute that much to our economy?

There are literally people in this nation working multiple jobs...yet because they aren't smart like the hedge fund hogs..they don't even qualify for Health Care Insurance. Work 60 hours a week and still no health care? ONLY in the "greatest nation" on earth!!!!

Posted by: rukidding7 | September 23, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse


YOU are trying to make an enemy out of the rich.

WHY? do you NEED to have an enemy?

do you NEED someone to hate?

Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 23, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for source-posting. I'll try to have a full read and then dig up some recent counter-studies to those I've come across when I get home. In the interim, do you have a tax rate in mind, and an income threshold, at which you'd be satisfied that the "rich" were paying their "fair" share? Asking without sarcasm, though it may read that way. Thanks again.

Posted by: bzod9999 | September 23, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

To President Obama, members of Congress and all cheerleaders for more government:

The U.S. Post Service was established in 1775.
You have had 234 years to get it right and it is broke.
Social Security was established in 1935.
You have had 74 years to get it right and it is broke.
Fannie Mae was established in 1938.
You have had 71 years to get it right and it is broke.
War on Poverty started in 1964.
You have had 45 years to get it right;
Billions are confiscated each year
and transferred to "the poor" and they only want more.
Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965.
You have had 44 years to get it right and they are broke.
Freddie Mac was established in 1970.
You have had 39 years to get it right and it is broke.
The Department of Energy was created in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. It has ballooned to 16,000 employees with a budget of $24
billion a year and we import more oil than ever before.
You had 32 years to get it right and have failed.
You have a responsibility to control our borders yet at least 12 million have entered illegally since 1986. That constitutes failure.
You have failed in every "government service" you have shoved down our throats
while spending the country into bankruptcy.
And you want Americans to believe you can be trusted with a government-run health care system?? Expect IRS style service by arrogant, unaccountable bureaucrats who will not give a damn.
Yet you wonder about the rise of the TEA party? Ruling class, disconnected elitists without a clue!

Posted by: illogicbuster | September 23, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

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