Will the Professional Left Triangulate?

by Katrina Trinko

Nancy Pelosi doesn’t like the White House tax compromise, tweeting “GOP provisions in tax proposal help only wealthiest 3%, don’t create jobs & add tens of billions to deficit.” Seventy-four percent of contributors to Obama’s presidential campaign are “deeply opposed” to compromising with the Republicans and extending tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more, according to a SurveyUSA/Washington Post poll. And Jennifer Rubin reported that Harry Reid came back from the White House last night looking like “someone shot his dog.”

Is this temporary disappointment or a signal that there may not be the votes to pass the compromise?

Today may be the critical turning point. Joe Biden was shipped to the Hill to have lunch with senate Democrats and persuade them to support the deal. It’s likely to be an uphill task. Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) slammed the compromise, saying, “Senate Republicans have successfully used the fragile economic security of our middle class and the hardship of millions of jobless Americans as bargaining chips to secure tax breaks for the very wealthiest among us.” Sen. Mark Udall (D., Colorado) has also come out against the legislation. And Senate Democrats are also under intense pressure from some liberal activists not to buckle: one 10,000-member group, who successfully shut down two phone lines in the White House yesterday, plans to target Senate Democrats now.

House Democrats may be even trickier to win over. “There was no consensus or agreement reached by the House leadership,” said House majority leader Steny Hoyer this morning, adding that many House Democrats felt “giving tax cuts to high-income Americans is not appropriate.” DCCC chairman Chris Van Hollen also spoke negatively about the plan on Bloomberg Television this morning. “House Democrats have not signed off on this deal,” he said “I will meet with our caucus later today to discuss it. I have some serious reservations about parts of this deal. I understand the importance of getting to an understanding, but there are certain elements that I think will cause a great concern to members of our caucus.” Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.) also announced his disapproval, saying “I can tell you with certainty that legislative blackmail of this kind by the Republicans will be vehemently opposed by many, if not most, Democrats.”

Jake Tapper outlines some of the arguments the White House plans to make to furious Democrats: that letting taxes increase on the middle class or failing to extend unemployment benefits to score a political point would be cheap, that congressional Democrats failed to hold a vote on their preferred version of the tax cuts, and that making a deal with the new GOP-dominated House and less heavily Democrat Senate in January would have resulted in an even worse deal for the Democrats. If those arguments fail to win Democrats over today and tomorrow, President Obama will have a difficult time rounding up the votes the compromise needs.