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The Senate is meeting today to hold a couple of "fake filibuster" votes on extending...or not extending....tax cuts passed in 2001. These 2001 tax cuts were designed by Republicans to expire January, 2011. They were designed to expire by Republicans because Republicans did not have enough votes in the 2001 Senate to break a real filibuster.
There's irony in there somewhere.
Democrats do not have the 60 votes necesssary to bring their preferred tax bill to the floor of the Senate for a real vote. Republicans, who have set new records in filibustering this Congress will not permit a real vote without first breaking their filibuster.
You see, it takes 60 percent of the Senate to agree on something...or forgetaboutit. It only takes 50% + 1 in the House to pass a bill, we elect our president every four years by majority vote as it's reflected in the electoral college tally (2000 being the exception).....but in the Senate, when Republicans are in the minority, it takes a 60% majority to pass anything.
That fact is why many Americans have been disappointed with Congress over the last couple years. The "majority" Democrats only had 60 Senate votes for a 6 month window from June 2009-December 2009......when they passed health reform. Nowhere in the Constitution is the Senate compelled to make 60% the threshold for basic legislation.....Senators of both sides have simply made that one up themselves.
Anyway, there are two votes scheduled (subject to change at any sign of yet another GOP hiss fit) in the Senate today. Those two votes have been scheduled for their theatrical value......"fake filibusters"......because the vote count is foreordained by the obstructionists.
Harry Reid says one of the votes will be on extending the tax cutting rates of 2001 for the first $250K of yearly income. The second "fake filibuster" will be on extending tax cutting rates of 2001 for the first $1 million of income.....Chuckie Schumer's unilateral bipartisanship effort.
The Senate Republicans, the ink not quite dry on their ransom note, will vote as one to filibuster both of Reid's bills. Republicans have made it clear that unless millionaires or better get tax cuts...nobody does.
Reid and the Democrats have scheduled this political performance to highlight who Republicans really represent. It's basically a waste of time because Republicans have no shame when it comes to shilling for the top 2%.....and the "wired Republican" DC media will portray Democrats, no matter what they decide, in a poor light. The top 2% is the GOP's only constituency, as George W. Bush famously reminded America when he called gathered millionaires and billionaires "my base." Today's Republican Party is post-embarrassment...on the contrary, the modern GOP is oh-so-proud of the fact that they were elected to Congress to do the bidding of the top 2%.
So, nothing will be solved today in the Senate.
Obama and the Senate Democrats will then have a choice. They can say the hell with it and just allow the 2001 tax cuts.....which have contributed the most to our deficit problem....to expire without any new vote. I have been recommmending that route for quite awhile. The expiration of the tax cuts is the only sensible, adult decision....especially from those who say they are oh-so-frightfully-worried about deficits and debt.....you know, they say they are....worried.
Or....Obama and the Democrats can capitulate to those who represent only the top 2%. That is the most likely scenario here. 2 year tax cut extensions for the Republican base, permanent tax cuts for those Republicans do not represent....in return for GOP agreement to extend unemployment insurance, a vote on the START Treaty and a couple of smaller tax issues.
Honestly, I doubt the current GOP will go for that deal either.