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Window of Opportunity


We on this list have on several occasions had discussions as to whether the Democrats ever had the votes in the 111th Congress to pass a tax increase.

If my research is accurate from July 7, 2009 to August 25, 2009, and September 25, 2009 to February 4, 2010, the US Senate had only 40 (39 at one point) Republican Party Members. To establish a filibuster 41 votes are required. During that period the Republicans by themselves apparently could not muster a filibuster to block a Democratic Party attempt to raise taxes.

During the same period The US House had over 250 Democratic Party members - more than enough to pass a tax increase if so inclined.

It would seem that there was at least a four month window of opportunity during the 111th Congress to pass a tax increase (any version favored by Democrats) if the party leadership could have held their respective caucus to the task. Does anybody know what happened?


Carol Bowen 1 year, 7 months ago

The rhetoric we are hearing gives us very little information. My main concern, given that one or the other will win the election, is that 100% obstruction is planned by the radical conservatives. They will win seats in the House and may gain a couple in the Senate. The president has very little influence. Congress could make more trouble than they are doing now.

Our current congress is holding the Post Office hostage because of the 75 year pay ahead into the pension plan. Even a 50 year pay ahead is silly. I'll bet congress has staged a cash flow for its own desires. The budget should be in place by October 1, the beginning of the fiscal year.

Congress is also sitting on the USDA's budget for disaster relief. Go figure. They are hng up on food stamps.

P.S. Moderate, I agree. The convention was mostly white men just as it was last time.


George Lippencott 1 year, 7 months ago

Are we missing the boat because of ignorance or duplicity? The issue I posted addressed raising taxes on the upper half of the middle class $69 to $120K. If you demand 23% of GDP for the government than you must raise taxes on those people. The mathematics are simple. We can not continue to spend $1 trillion a year more than we take in. Taxing the rich barely dents that. Taking from those who make $90K and giving it to those who make $25 K is what this is all about. Until the Democratic Party clarifies intent it would be stupid for those in the upper half of the middle class to vote for Mr. Obama.

JAFS, I would simply like to point out that over the last generation plus we have had two Democratic presidents and two Republican presidents. During the same period the Congress has been all of one party or all of the other or mostly split. I really do not know how anybody can blame one party entirely. It would seem to me that they are in it together or somebody was asleep at the switch. You are certainly entitled to your views but ….!


Trumbull 1 year, 7 months ago

."How many "middle class" folks make upward of $250,000?"

People like Joe the Plumber. I still remember that whole dishonest episode. Next thing the R's will make it look like a Wal Mart cashier makes 250k.

And the proposed increase (3% only on income > 250k) is very small to begin with. We are talking $3,000 more in taxes if you cleard 350k per year.


grammaddy 1 year, 7 months ago

Obama wants to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 annually. Romney says that's another kick in the gut for the middle class.How many "middle class" folks make upward of $250,000? I agree that govt. spending should be curbed, but cutting the safety net for the poor is not a good idea in this economy. Any country who spends more on defense than they spend on education or health care is in serious trouble. Why should the defense budget be nearly 1/2of the entire budget...unless we end up going to war in all those places McCain mentioned at the convention last night.


jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

But, looking back over the last 40 years or so, it seems clear that the policies of the R party aren't good for the average person.

They are the policies that have resulted in the shrinking middle class and stagnant wages/net worth for that group.

They are the policies that resulted in a near meltdown of the financial system.

To blame Obama and the D because they didn't fix it quickly enough, and with significant R opposition seems funny to me. They're not perfect, of course, but they're better than the other choices, at least for me.

And, to say "I'm frustrated by the shrinking middle class and the loss of net worth in that group, and so I'll vote for the guys with the policies that created those" doesn't make sense to me either.

Nobody ever seems to want spending that benefits them to be cut, and virtually all government spending benefits somebody - that's why we have trouble cutting spending, in my view. Older folks don't want their SS/Medicare benefits cut, towns that have a lot of defense contracts don't want defense spending cut, etc.

Meanwhile, few people want their taxes raised. Young people don't want to pay into SS/Medicare if they think it won't be around for them, rich people don't want to pay more taxes, etc.

Given that the obvious common sense plan would be to both raise taxes and cut spending (long term fiscal solvency and sustainability), how will we ever do that?


jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

Politics is a very frustrating and unsatisfying arena, in my experience, for many reasons.

Neither of the major parties, or minor ones, for that matter, accurately reflect my own values and ideas.

Politicians on both sides routinely "spin" - read "lie" - for political gain, many in politics are unduly influenced by money and corporate interests, and many get seduced by the desire for power. Neither side has clean hands in these regards.

So, we're faced with a choice between flawed imperfect people and parties - it's not satisfying, but that's the reality of it.

If politics didn't affect so many people in so many ways, I'd probably just ignore it.


camper 1 year, 7 months ago

"Maybe I am not better than that. I am tired of the distortion in the current political arguments. I hear Mr. Obama loud and clear about taxing the rich but I know as he knows his own party does not support that."

It is mighty difficulty to get 57 out of 57 Democratic senators to agree with President Obama. I'd say he has 90-95% of his party to vote with him. This is our democratic system we work with. This is why some are proposing that the filibuster rule should be eliminated. It sure can gridlock things.

Glad you feel better. Good blog.


camper 1 year, 7 months ago

"I am going to give the resident lefties the benefit of the doubt and assume ignorance rather than duplicity"

You are displaying bad logic by using an ad hominem by using the term "resident lefties". You use this insulting term to broadly characterize. This is done so often and is the lowest common denominator form of argument. You insinuate that everything is mutually exclusive, and one cannot hold both liberal and conservative philosophy. It is much easier and dumber to just classify into either or sets.

You are better than this.


camper 1 year, 7 months ago

Here is what happened to the best of my knowledge....and research.

1) Since 2008, President Obama campaigned on and expressed his desire to let the Bush tax cuts for those earning more than $250k desire. He also included it in his 2009 budget proposal. 2) Nearly all (if not all) Republican senators vowed to filibuster in 2009 and again in December 2010. While there may have been only 39 or 40 Republican senators during much of this time period, it would have taken only 2 of the 57 Democratic senators to reach the filibuster requirement of 41 (3/5 ths clause).
3) In this regard, the Republicans had virtual filibuster power. And though there was a minority of Democrats who balked at Obama's plan, this does not represent a case of not holding his caucus at task considering the Republicans vow. 4) If anything these few dissenting indicate a more willingness to vote on there own view rather than in a partisan way.


George Lippencott 1 year, 7 months ago

I am going to give the resident lefties the benefit of the doubt and assume ignorance rather than duplicity

  1. The tax cut extension occurred at the end of 2010 when the Republicans had the votes to filibuster.
  2. The tax cut non-extension could have occurred at any time during the period when the Republicans lacked the votes to filibuster it (see above)
  3. Raising taxes does not require any reference to “Bush” Tax cuts" (which I have already pointed out were tax increases for the middle class). The Congress can do just about anything anytime it can muster the votes to do it
  4. The Republicans have been elected on a platform to not raise taxes so how can anyone blame them for not wanting to allow the current tax system to go back to a higher tax regime for their constituents

I believe the real problem was touched on above. Mr. Obama does not have the full support of his party to raise taxes on the rich. Too many Democratic office holders owe their office to donations from the rich elites.

That leads to the question on the floor about condemning and raising taxes on the rich (Buffet Tax or “Bush” tax). Why make it such an Issue when we do not have the Democratic votes. It apparently is really all about politics and stoking the stupid part of the Democratic Party base that does not understand how Washington works.

I wonder how many additional Democrats we need to elect to Congress to support an equitable tax on the rich (where they pay more as a percentage of their total incomes than people who make less than a tenth of what they do.

It would seem that all the lefties care about is increased government largess for their constituents so they can stay in power. Taxing the already overtaxed upper half of the middle class is just fine. The old “ham sandwich” has progressed to food stamps but the intent remains the same.

Exactly who has the moral high ground on this issue.


jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, from just a little research, it appears that my original sense was right, and that R vowed to block his plan.

A compromise was reached that he'd let the tax cuts continue, if the R let unemployment benefits be extended.

So, that seems to be what happened.

My guess is that they weren't discussing the tax cuts at the very beginning of 2010, and by the time they got around to it, the D didn't have the votes to overcome a filibuster. So after February, it was too late.


jafs 1 year, 7 months ago

I thought the question had to do with the Bush tax cuts, and letting them expire on the rich, but not the middle and lower classes?

As far as I know, the Bush tax cuts weren't set to expire in 2009-10, right?

It was claimed that Obama "had the votes" to do that, but chose not to.


Fossick 1 year, 7 months ago

Nothing happened. Because we are not a European-style parliamentary democracy, the Dems cannot demand that their members vote a certain way any more than the GOP can. Of course, that does not excuse them for responsibility for what happened (or didn't happen) while they were in charge.

Just as the GOP gets responsibility for everything that passed 2001-2006* - especially NCLB, PATRIOT, and Medicare D - the Dems get tagged for everything that happened in the first 2 years of Obama's term, or everything that didn't happen.

It's only fair. But it's also what's so funny about the current occupant of the Oval Office simultaneously a) complaining that the GOP blocked him, and b) asking for 4 more years to save us all. If he's so weak that a super-minority GOP could so snooker him, for what possible reason should he be elected again?

Don't get me wrong, better him than Romney, but I'd rather see him playing golf than saving the world, all things considered. And Joe Biden should be Vice President forever.

  • Dear God, was I ever happy to see them get a baby-seal thrashing in 2006.

jhawkinsf 1 year, 7 months ago

"Does anybody know what happened?"

I suspect you do.


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