Newt Gingrich supports the tax deal
Unlike five senators, Rep. Mike Pence (R.-Ind.) and a few 2012 contenders, Newt Gingrich has come out in favor of the tax deal. In fact, he put out a video expressing his support, and specifically pointing to the benefits of extending the Bush tax cuts and the payroll tax cut. (He also has come out in opposition to START and in favor of filibustering the omnibus spending bill.)
I asked a Republican insider who favors the deal why there is a split between the bulk of Republican lawmakers (some of whom may well want to run in 2012) and Pence. His take:
Part of Rep. Pence's opposition is tactical. He thinks the GOP could get a better deal. How? And is he willing to accept the potential turmoil in the markets as Republicans negotiate with the Democrats. Now, that's uncertainty. There's nothing stopping the House GOP from pushing permanent tax cuts when they take control next month. Pence could take the lead. Sure, something would be difficult to get through a Democratic Senate, but then it becomes a campaign issue for 2012. Pence prefers playing to online activists instead of dealing with the realities of the political situation."
Pence's spokesman defended his boss's position earlier today and objected to the notion that Pence was "whipping" the vote. Nevertheless, by appearing on TV, on the House floor and at a caucus lunch, Pence obviously is advocating that Republican hold out for a better deal. That continues to baffle Republican leaders. A senior advisor asked rhetorically "how the deal would get better post-January 1." Others in the House and Senate leadership expressed puzzlement as to how enough votes could be rounded up for an alternative deal, unless Congress was willing to allow taxes to rise for the next month or so and re-fight the battle in 2011.
For now, Democrats are scrambling to get votes to pass the bill. But if it fails, Republicans might then get to test Pence's premise -- namely, that objecting to a tax agreement supported by the vast majority of voters, which would prevent a mammoth tax increase, is good policy and good politics.
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