Will The ConservaDems Vote With The GOP Or With The Democrats When Push Comes To Shove On The Grand Bargain?
I have to admit that I was a little surprised when I saw that so many of the very worst Blue Dogs in Congress had signed Pelosi's discharge petition Tuesday. The petition would force a straight-up vote of the House floor to renew tax breaks for everyone's first $250,000 in income. The GOP is balking because it doesn't renew the Bush tax cuts on income above $250,000. But most Blue Dogs signed on, on day one-- the 8 Blue Dogs who were defeated for reelection or forced to resign: Dan Boren (OK), Mike Ross (AR), Health Shuler (NC), Larry Kissell (NC), Tim Holden (PA), Ben Chandler (KY), Jason Altmire (PA), Leonard Boswell (IA); and the 11 Blue Dogs in safe Democratic seats: Henry Cuellar (TX), Mike Thompson (CA), Jim Costa (CA), Mike Michaud (ME), Sanford Bishop (GA), Loretta Sanchez (CA), Kurt Schrader (OR), David Scott (GA), Jim Cooper (TN), Collin Peterson (MN) and Adam Schiff (CA). On top of that, the Democrats who haven't joined the Blue Dogs but always vote with them-- like Mark Critz (PA), Dan Lipinski (IL), Ron Barber (AZ), Bill Owens (NY), Kathy Hochul (NY)-- have also signed. But where are the super-cowardly and most craven Blue Dogs who always seem on the verge of jumping the fence and switching parties or always figuring the reelection calculus in every equation? Blue Dogs who haven't signed the discharge petition: John Barrow (GA), Joe Donnelly (IN), Jim Matheson (UT), and Mike McIntyre (NC). What's up with that? Alexander Bolton at The Hill explains why the Senate ConservaDems are laying low in the Grand Bargain debate. Short answer: typical Blue Dog careerist cowardice, of course. They're certainly not endorsing Obama's $1.6 trillion tax increase on the wealthy. Over in the Senate, though, Mark Pryor (AR) isn't waiting to hear from a talking snake.
Keep in mind one Senate Democrat-- Ben Nelson (NE) of course-- and two House Dems-- defeated Blue Dog Ben Chandler (KY) and reactionary Rob Andrews (NJ) have signed Grover Norquist's pledge... yes, the pledge even Republicans are running away from. And this week, Nancy Pelosi replaced progressive stalwart George Miller as co-chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee with New Jersey's most right-wing Democrat, Grover's pal Rob Andrews (who is also New Jersey's most corrupt Democrat, currently under active investigation by the House Ethics Committee for misusing campaign funds). Pelosi, who lately seems to be losing her grip on reality, said that putting Andrews on the committee will "reflect the diversity, energy, bold ideas, and creative thinking of all House Democrats." Oy, God.
“What I’m doing on all of those fiscal cliff-type issues is just waiting to see what package we put together,” said Sen. Mark Pryor (D), who faces reelection in Republican-leaning Arkansas in 2014.
Pryor said he wanted to see more detail in Boehner’s plan.
“Just sort of general and vague statements about what he might support at some point-- doesn’t really move the ball very far down the road,” Pryor said of Boehner’s plan. He said he also wanted to know more about Obama’s blueprint before passing judgment.
Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, whose anti-tax pledge is a significant obstacle to a deficit-reduction deal, has rested his hopes on Democratic centrists facing reelection balking at a major tax increase.
“Our hostages are the 20 Democrats up in ’14. We’ll send them either piece by piece or one at a time over to the White House to negotiate,” Norquist told The Hill in an interview earlier this year.
Democrats running for reelection in swing- and Republican-leaning states know they will be pummeled by millions of dollars’ worth of attack ads from third-party groups for any votes they cast to raise taxes.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), who faces voters in 2014, declined to endorse the substance of the plan Secretary Timothy Geithner circulated on Capitol Hill last week.
“I don’t know if that ratio is going to end up being final,” he said of Obama’s call for a 2-to-1 ratio of tax increases to spending cuts.
Sen. Mary Landrieu, another Democrat up for reelection in a red state, Louisiana, said Boehner’s offer “is better than no proposal.”
“I know that Speaker Boehner is really trying, so any proposal is better than no proposal,” she said.
Senate Democrats face as difficult an electoral map in 2014 as they did in 2012. It took weeks for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to persuade Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) to take the job as chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Senate Democrats have to defend 20 seats, while Republicans have only 13 up for reelection.
Obama’s negotiating position, however, has been helped by an emerging consensus among Democratic centrists that income tax rates on the wealthy must be increased in order to reach a deal.
Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) said he thinks the rates for the top brackets will have to increase.
“I think so, but I’ll keep my powder dry. It’s between the president and Mr. Boehner,” he said.
Johnson faces a tough race in 2014, likely against former Gov. Mike Rounds (R).
Sen. Mark Begich (D), who is running for reelection in Alaska, another red state, agreed that a final deal to avoid the fiscal cliff will have to raise income tax rates on the nation’s wealthiest families.