Republicans spent the weekend blocking two measures from Senate Democrats to continue the Bush-era tax cuts for only the lower income brackets, and now they’re in the position to cut a deal with the White House that temporarily extends the cuts across all income levels. In return, they’ll probably extend unemployment benefits that have already begun to expire.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. General anger in Congress after the nasty debate means it won’t be fun to muster the votes to pass this deal, though the White House expects progress by midweek. Republicans haven’t settled on whether or not the unemployment extension should pay for itself in spending cuts, and frustrated Democrats won’t be in the mood to watch the GOP drag its heels on their key concession. “I can tell you, without unemployment benefits being extended, personally, this is a nonstarter,” said Senate Democratic Whip Richard Durbin of Illinois.
Negotiations Sunday were focused on the time frame of the tax cuts; administration officials say the extension could be one, two, or, least likely, three years. Since Republicans are angling for the longest period possible, let’s just go ahead and pencil in another tax fight and the ensuing partisan stalemate for 2013 now.