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Labor big: White House, Dem leaders seriously mulling middle class tax cut vote

By Greg Sargent

This is encouraging: One of the most powerful labor leaders in the country just said that he's in direct talks with the White House and Dem leaders about throwing down the gauntlet and holding a vote just on extending the middle class tax cuts -- and that all parties involved are seriously considering it.

AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka told reporters moments ago on a conference call that he's been aggressively lobbying the White House and Dem Congressional leaders to hold such a vote. Liberals are pushing for this course of action -- rather than a fake "compromise" on extending all the Bush tax cuts temporarily -- because it would represent a genuinely confrontational approach, forcing Republicans to choose between supporting Obama's tax cut plan and opposing a tax cut for the middle class.

Asked if he had been discussing this vote with the White House and Dem leaders and whether he'd received indications it's a real possibility, Trumka said "Yes" to both.

"We've made our intensions clear," Trumka said. "We've talked to them. No one that I'm aware of has said it's not good strategy."

"We're going to push them," Trumka continued. "We will fight for it."

Trumka added that continuing the tax cuts for high end earners, even temporarily, is a non-starter.

"It's absolutely insane that in these tough economic times, some people want to continue the George Bush tax giveaway for millionaires," Trumka continued. "It doesn't create jobs. It's bad policy and it's bad for the economy."

Trumka, in a formulation that just might stick, labeled an extension of the high-end cuts "Tarp Two."

"Instead of bailing out the banks, we're bailing out the people at the helm," Trumka said.

While it's still very possible that this debate will go the way of the public option -- liberals and labor make a strong case; Dem leaders nod in agreement; the idea quietly disappears -- there do seem to be serious discussions about this possibility. At a minimum there's heavy pressure on Dems to do this, and it's clear that anything short of this approach will be labeled a big cave.

UPDATE, 1:19 p.m.: Adam Green of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, who has been pushing hard for this vote, emails that a fight over the tax cuts would be a good way to re-inspire the voters who supported Obama in 2008:

"If Democrats dared Republicans to vote no on middle-class tax cuts, it would be very bold and could re-inspire millions of former Obama voters who were losing hope. But, it's very important that Democrats make clear that if Republicans kill the tax cuts, there will be no second vote -- instead, Democrats would go on a huge messaging offense that ends John Boehner's honeymoon by painting Republicans as representing only the wealthy."

UPDATE, 2:08 p.m.: We now have one Dem Senator who's willing to publicly endorse this idea.

By Greg Sargent  | November 16, 2010; 11:42 AM ET
Categories:  House Dems, Labor, Senate Dems, taxes  
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Next: Rahm: I never believed in bipartisanship


Gawd. How may times do we have to go through this? Just say you're going to pussy out on an issue and be done with it. This is like being dumped by the same girl three times.

Posted by: klautsack | November 16, 2010 11:46 AM | Report abuse

"Trumka, in a formulation that just might stick, labeled an extension of the high-end cuts "Tarp Two."

Haven't we already had a TARP II?

Posted by: sbj3 | November 16, 2010 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Labor should shut up - they're not helpful.

Cut a deal - temporarily extend all the tax cuts in exchange for extended unemployment benefits.

Posted by: sold2u | November 16, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

I'll believe it when I see it.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 16, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse


Did you even look up to see if Clinton's Temporary Surcharge didn't EXPIRE ???

Because I think it did expire.

That means that you are harping about the top rate going from 35% to 36%. OK, we will concede that. You can have 36%.

I think you might be wrong about what the tax code says.



You recently made a rule against repeating oneself.

You even banned someone for this horrible offense against humanity.

You have repeated yourself numerous times on this issue - YOU MUST therefore BAN YOURSELF.


Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

WOULDN'T it be great if all criminals in the country could just go to Court, say they didn't hire a lawyer, and just walk out of the proceedings???


The democrats are protecting Rangel and it is a complete disgrace to every democrat in the country.

Get him out of office.

Throw him in jail where he belongs.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

C'mon sold ... dontcha think that both of these issues are worth fighting for separately?

Posted by: pragmaticagain | November 16, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"This is like being dumped by the same girl three times."

Heh, heh, The Offspring did a song called Self Esteem, Obama fans should consider its applicability...

"I wrote her off for the tenth time today
And practice all the things I would say
But she came over
I lost my nerve
I took her back and made her dessert
Now I know I'm being used
That's okay man cause I like the abuse
I know she's playing with me
That's okay cause I got no self esteem

We make plans to go out at night
I wait till 2 then I turn out the light
All this rejection's got me so low
If she keeps it up I just might tell her so

When she's saying that she wants only me
Then I wonder why she sleeps with my friends
When she's saying that I'm like a disease
Then I wonder how much more I can spend
Well I guess I should stick up for myself
But I really think it's better this way
The more you suffer
The more it shows you really care
Right? Yeah yeah yeah

Now I'll relate this little bit
That happens more than I'd like to admit
Late at night she knocks on my door
Drunk again and looking to score
Now I know I should say no
But that's kind of hard when she's ready to go
I may be dumb
But I'm not a dweeb
I'm just a sucker with no self esteem."

Posted by: shrink2 | November 16, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Rangel is guilty on 11 House ethics rules.

Why were the democrats protecting him all this time ???

It is a disgrace to Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the House.

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Why just extend the middle class tax cuts? Why not extend them, the Obama tax breaks, and sweeten the pot with another $1000 in walking around money cut off the taxes of folks who make under $100k? Why just extend the Bush tax cuts? Why not replace them with the butt-kicking Obama tax cuts? How hard an argument is that to make. "Look, you guys struggling to feed your kids and keep a roof over your head, I want to lower your taxes. I don't want to just keep them where they are, I want you guys to have another $1000 or more in your pocket next year. You guys making $250k or more? I want you to pay 1% more than you are right now, to help us defend the country, take care of the elderly, and pay down our debt. If you make $500k, I want you to pay 1% more. If you make $1 million, another 1%."

I mean, it's not rocket science. The vast majority of people in the country make less than $100k a year. They also vote.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | November 16, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

The Economy is bad enough, the nation doesn't need to pay for the liberal agenda on top of it.

That is what these foolish liberals do not understand.

Unions? They give campaign contributions to democrats - then they have SECRET contract negotiations with those SAME DEMOCRATS (protected by attorney-client priviledge.)

AND these are the people that GREG SARGENT should have a say on what the tax rates are???

You all must be completely INSANE.


Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

What chew talkin' 'bout (Kevin) Willis?

That makes entirely too much sense.

Posted by: klautsack | November 16, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

OT - It seems like just yesterday I was predicting that the "earmark ban" would be broken in short order by Republicans. I suggested they would rename "earmarks" and continue the practice. Actually, it was just yesterday!

Guess what?

"Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) hates earmarks. Despises them. On her website, she calls the earmark system 'little more than a political favor factory at taxpayer expense.' But when it comes to her own district, she's in favor of a little earmark 'redefinition.' Because what is an earmark, after all?

"'Advocating for transportation projects for one's district in my mind does not equate to an earmark,' Bachmann told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune yesterday.

"'I don't believe that building roads and bridges and interchanges should be considered an earmark,' Bachmann continued.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 16, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Bachmann also said she would consider a "compromise" on the Bush tax cuts by temporarily extending them for two years as long as they're not linked to the extension of unemployment benefits. Now that's a really big surprise.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 16, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Imsinca - What Bachman is really saying is that she has no idea what an earmark is.

She's spent years demonizing something she doesn't even know the definition of! I think that makes her the intellectual leader of the Tea Party, or at least it's mascot.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 16, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Willis

You are just being used by the democrats

Posted by: RedTeaRevolution | November 16, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I still have my doubts about the ultimate success of this approach. If the House holds a vote on permanently extending just the middle class tax cuts and it passes, wouldn't Senate Republicans be able to just run out the clock and wait for the GOP-controlled House to introduce their own permanent extension of all of the Bush tax cuts in January?

Would the potential political damage sustained by Republicans for holding out for a month and a half be enough to pressure them into not filibustering during the lame duck session? I suppose that the immediate result of payroll tax increases for everybody would make Republicans look pretty bad, but I'm wondering if they're betting that Obama and Democrats will ultimately look worse if they veto/vote down/filibuster the House GOP extension of all the Bush tax cuts...


Posted by: billy_burdett | November 16, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

HansSolo, yeah I've been making fun of Bachmann for two years now. Don't forget those ag subsidies also. One of my all time favorites though was during the health care debate she decided those mini-health clinics on school campuses were abortion mills.

Posted by: lmsinca | November 16, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Imsinca - It's crazy, isn't it? They are angry about something they don't have any understanding of. I thought ignorance was supposed to be bliss; it appears that it has the opposite effect on Tea Baggers.

Of course they could deal with their anger issues by educating themselves on the issues, but I guess being angry (and a victim) is easier.

Posted by: HansSolo | November 16, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking divide the tax cut extension into two bills--one preserving the cuts for the middle class and another for the wealthy. The cut-off line doesn't have to be $250,000, though that's handy. How can the Republicans object to this? Hell, maybe both bills will pass both houses, and then we'll see if Obama has the guts to veto the upper class one.

Posted by: mthand111 | November 16, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know that I have been advocating precisely this for months now. It is the only policy that makes sense.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | November 16, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Imsinca, speaking of Bachmann, she wants a "redefinition" of "earmarks." LOL

From TPM:

"Advocating for transportation projects for one's district in my mind does not equate to an earmark," Bachmann told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune yesterday.

"I don't believe that building roads and bridges and interchanges should be considered an earmark," Bachmann continued. "There's a big difference between funding a tea pot museum and a bridge over a vital waterway."

Posted by: suekzoo1 | November 16, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

@suekzoo - You're kidding. I just spent sometime driving a highway from and to nowhere. A four lane highway starts a few miles outside of a W. Virginia town and ends in the countryside about 20 miles later. Thank you Robert C. Byrd.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | November 16, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

All, this is pretty fascinating: Rahm says in an interview that he argued AGAINST Obama seeking bipartisan support for health reform:

Posted by: Greg Sargent | November 16, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

A four lane highway starts a few miles outside of a W. Virginia town and ends in the countryside about 20 miles later. Thank you Robert C. Byrd.

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade

I remember encountering such a highway somewhere near Elkins, WV. Early evening, not another car on the road.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | November 16, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Mr Trumka is an absolute expert on what it takes to create jobs, right?

One of the interesting things about the labor force in America is the fact that some states can have a fundamentally different set of rules for union behavior. We have states that have "right to work" laws and states that don't.

In the right to work states unions are far less powerful. therefore some of the behavior of Americans can rightly be attributed to the laws in a given state.

And what have we seen? Well, among other things we've seen a migration of people, and jobs, to right to work states. This is from a CATO study:
"Indeed, an important untold story is the rapid growth of population
living in right-to-work states relative to states refusing to grant
workers the right to reject unionization. In 1970, 28.5 percent of
Americans lived in right-to-work states; by 2008, the proportion had
risen to nearly 40 percent (to over 121 million)"

Yeah, but what about the jobs?

This is from the American Spectator:
"Oakland County Sherriff Mike Bouchard, who is running for the Republican nomination for governor, called for making Michigan a right to work State in a press release and commercial Wednesday. He pointed out that average right to work states have an 8 percent unemployment rate, compared with Michigan's rate of 13.8 percent.

Attorney General Mike Cox, who is also seeking the GOP nomination for governor, indicated support for right to work in a Tuesday Gubernatorial debate. "Fourteen right-to-work states have passed us by," in per-capita personal income, he said. "That's where our children are going." He ought to know. As he noted, his oldest daughter moved to right-to-work Tennessee. "

There is no reason to believe a word Mr Trumka says about job creation. The private sector share of employees in unions has slipped steadily for years. And Now the union bosses seem to be engaged in a bet the ranch strategy. They spent heavily on Democrats, and now need a return on their investment. This is a test. Can the unions bosses pull the strings on the white house? If so, what does that say about Mr Obama, and the Democrats in general?

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 16, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

skipsailing28 -

Okay, you compare Michigan and Tennessee. But what about Minnesota versus Georgia? Or Vermont versus Alabama? Or New York versus Florida? I don't think it's as simple as "right to work". I think this is a rust-belt versus new economy thing. Michigan is mired in the twilight of the American automobile industry. A demise which was arguably equally due to management and labor intransigence.

Posted by: klautsack | November 16, 2010 1:31 PM | Report abuse

so go ahead and find some data. Once you find it share it. I did some work, so if you want to prove me wrong, do some of your own.

As a matter of fact, the CATO study looked at a variety of reasons for internal migration, such as income tax levels and determined that the right to work laws have a statistically significant impact on it.

further, where are the factories being built? Kia, whose ads proclaim "proudly built in America" built their factory in Georgia. Wow, look at that, a right to work state.

NCR, born and raised in Dayton Ohio is now in, guess where, Georgia!

Toyota just opened a factory in, gasp!, Mississippi.

the fact is Mr Trumka knows nothing about creating jobs. he knows quite a bit though about strong arming politicians to whom his unions have contributed mightily.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | November 16, 2010 1:45 PM | Report abuse

George Bush tax giveaway for millionaires? Because with the new math, a couple making $250,000 a year is now a "millionaire" couple. Even more asinine is the fact Trumka is calling it "Tarp Two". Hey moron, letting people keep more of the money THEY EARN is not the same as bailing them out. Calling it "Tarp Two" is indicative of the "thinking" on the left: the money you earn actually belongs to the government, and you should feel priviliged we let you keep as much of it as we do.

It is absolutely amazing that there are people out there who think letting people keep more of the money they earn is the same as a taxpayer-funded bailout.

The best part about the elections? The fact "organized labor" will have almost no influence in Washington.

Posted by: Bob65 | November 16, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

"Trumka added that continuing the tax cuts for high end earners, even temporarily, is a non-starter."

Someone please, please, tell me when the f*uck someone diead and made Richard Trumka king? A non-starter? As if that fat thug has any say over what is and isn't a "non-starter". Who and the heck elected Richard Trumka as the arbiter of American tax policy?

Private sector unions represent barely over 5% of the workforce. Someone needs to tell Trumka where he can cram it.

Another classic quote:
"'s very important that Democrats make clear that if Republicans kill the tax cuts, there will be no second vote..."

Yeah, get back to me when the minority party in the House has the ability to block another vote. And I would LOVE to see the vulnerable Dems in the Senate vote to allow one of the largest tax increases in history in the midst of a terrible economy.

Posted by: Bob65 | November 16, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Trumka would have like to save all of his life and invest wisely in order to have enough money for retirement and then see it eaten up by taxes.

This does not just affect those making over $250,000. I live off of dividends from money invested since I was in high school. My dividend income is not taxed now because it does not meet the minimum; however, it would be taxed at 15% should the Bush tax cuts not be extended.

Wake up! The ones "for the rich" are the ones passed in 2003. If they don't pass those again, every bit of dividends are going to be taxed at your income tax rates (15, 28 or 39.6 percent) and capital gains - any profit on sale of home, investments, gold, furniture, antiques, etc. - all taxable at 5% more than they are now.

Don't be fooled about "the rich" moniker. They just want to hoodwink us and then take our -- OUR -- money.

Posted by: auntpittypat | November 16, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

can't believe the number of people who are still taken in by this class warfare horse s***

can't believe the grandstanding a-holes in the dim party can't take the big hint that they received the week before last

Posted by: standard_guy | November 16, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Great idea but it's a month too late. If they had held a vote on middle-class tax cuts before the election, nothing would have better shown the difference in who the two parties were for. It could have recaptured and changed the narrative of the election for the Democrats. Now, the political battle has been lost, but the future of our economy and the middle class is still at stake.

Posted by: mylesgordon | November 16, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats have no stomach for a anything resembling a fight. None of them They are afraid of their own shadows. They have disgraced the party of Franklin Roosevelt. I see no up side here. A pox on both their houses.
Dismayed and stunned Yellow dog Democrat.

Posted by: m_richert | November 16, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

If your unemployed you can still make a good amount of money online; here's how:

After becoming unemployed myself, I looked for other ways to make money;
that is how I found this information, so check it out.

Posted by: quisqueyo1 | November 16, 2010 8:06 PM | Report abuse

The Democrats will cave. I don't know why. They will chicken out. It's so simple -- Dems just need to quit being such sissies. Piss off the GOP and smile about it!

Posted by: pdurand | November 16, 2010 8:11 PM | Report abuse

So much for bi-partisanship. Why is Odumbo even meeting with Republicans if he and the Dems will just do what they want to do?

We just had two years of ramming bills thru Congress no one read!

You will make the Republicans day by NOT giving a tax break to ,uh, Billionaires, families of four making ,say, $300,000.

Maybe Nancy, Harry, or Barry can explain how you become a billionaire or even a millionaire when your family earns LESS than a million a year. Guess these families pay NO taxes or have NO expenses.

Posted by: beecheery | November 16, 2010 8:37 PM | Report abuse

Best news yet. Hope that more Dems will sign up and get this thing done - a separate vote on cutting taxes for people who are the majority of Americans and who need it badly, the middle class. The Democratic Party has to take this opportunity in the lame-duck session to get in this vote.

If the GOP balks, then all those people who voted for them this past election will have at least a glimmer of who the GOP really supports - the billionaires and the richest people in the country who made bundles during Bush years. And maybe there will be buyers remorse - maybe these voters who always manage to vote against themselves and their best interests will wake up.

A separate vote will also allow the WH to let the tax cuts expire on 31 Dec., if this middle-class tax cut doesn't pass. Letting the tax cuts expires really makes fiscal sense because the U.S. does need the revenue and cannot afford to go deeper in debt just to "compromise" with the GOP. The argument against this is that it would be bad to in-effect raise taxes in a recession, but these tax cuts were originally set to expire. Does it make sense to "borrow" in order give the tax cuts? I think not. Let the pain begin - for all, if necessary, but the deficit will be lowered - at least one positive in a bad situation all around.

Posted by: robinx | November 16, 2010 9:11 PM | Report abuse

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