Some of the Senate Democrats running for reelection are torn because they don’t know if they can afford to back Barack Obama’s new plan to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000. Obama had originally favored letting the Bush tax cuts completely expire, but he decided to cut his losses and extend them to a part of the private sector.
This places Democrats in jeopardy; their constituents may be small business owners who make over $250,000 a year and would be furious if the tax cuts are rescinded. As a result, some Democrats and independents, including Jim Webb (D-VA) and Joseph Lieberman, who is aligned with Democrats, say they will vote against Obama.
There are others who are straddling the fence: Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill, avoiding commitment to one side or the other, said carefully, “I fully support extending tax cuts for middle class families making less than $250,000.” West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin was also circumspect about the issue: “I’ve very much committed to the big deal,” he said, but didn’t say which way he would vote.
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “For some reason (Obama’s) advisors think it helps him to take more money away from small already-struggling business owners in this country and spend it on more government.”
But Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he was confident Obama would get the votes: “Ninety-eight percent of the American people will get a tax cut. My senators are going to be doing just fine.”
The bill may pass in the Senate, but it will die in the House because Republicans have control there. Thus the vote the Senators take is essentially meaningless except for one thing: no Senate Democrat wants to cross his ruthless president if he thinks that Obama will be reelected. The vote is, in actuality, a measure of how Democrats measure Obama’s reelection chances.