As expected, the Senate voted against the proposal for a massive tax increase on upper-income taxpayers on Saturday. An even more naked example of class warfare, proposing to raise taxes only on those with incomes of a million dollars or more, also failed.
Here is how some major news outlets reported the vote:
CNN: “Democratic procedure votes on extending Bush tax cuts fail in Senate.”
Washington Post: “Senate blocks legislation to extend Bush-era tax cuts.”
New York Times: “Senate rejects President’s plan on tax breaks.”
CBS News: “GOP Senators reject tax cuts for middle class.”
LA Times: “GOP holds firm against Democrats’ tax cut plan.”
You get the idea. My favorite is the L.A. Times, which deserves a modicum of credit for not even pretending to be an objective newspaper. Democrats’ tax cut plan? Sure, whatever.
Curiously, but commendably, MSNBC has one of the most balanced headlines, “Obama eyes tax deal – with jobless extensions,” a reasonably accurate description of the situation between the President and Congress.
The entire point of the Democrats’ time-wasting political games – at the end of a Congress in which they shamefully failed to pin down tax rates or pass a budget next year – was to engineer precisely this type of headline.
The usual suspects immediately began reading class-warfare rhetoric out of their little red hymn books. “It makes no sense to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage to permanent tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans, especially when those high-income tax cuts would cost an additional $700 billion that we don’t have, and would add to our deficit,” whined the President.
Democrats have been field-testing “hostage” rhetoric all week. At a press conference on Friday, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) wondered, “Do you allow yourself to be held hostage and get something done for the sake of getting something done, when in fact it might be perverse in its ultimate results? It’s almost like the question of do you negotiate with terrorists.”
Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who occasionally tries to pretend she is a “moderate,” abandoned all such pretenses, in the odd belief that the Tea Party movement just needs a little more class-warfare rhetoric to get behind economy-killing tax increases. “All those people out there in the Tea Party that are angry about the economics of Washington, they really need to look at this,” she said, referring to the GOP’s successful blockage of Democrat tax hikes. “They need to pull back the curtain and realize that you’ve got a Republican party that’s not worried about the people in the Tea Party. They’re worried about people that can’t decide which home to go to over the Christmas holidays.” She means brie-eating, champagne-swilling Evil Rich choosing between mansions for the Yuletide season, not unemployed families impoverished by Obamanomics trying to decide which relative is most likely to have money for firewood.
Will this nonsense work for the Democrats? It used to. With the clock ticking on the lame-duck session of Congress, and a sympathetic media ready to cover front pages with Socialist Realist icons of Obama and the Party as noble champions of the workers, conditions are ripe for Republicans to fold their cards… but they don’t seem to be folding. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell made a strong public announcement that no tax increases will be permitted. He said today’s vote “was an affront to the millions of Americans who are struggling to find work and a clear signal that Democrats in Congress still haven’t got the message from the November elections.”
Newly elected Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), who just escaped from the rusty gears of the corrupt Chicago political machine to take his seat, backed McConnell’s play. Fox News quotes him as saying, “The current leaders of Congress should not move forward with plans that were just rejected by the American people. These leaders should not raise taxes and risk another recession. Instead, Congress should reduce spending and prevent another tax hike on American taxpayers.”
A growing number of liberals, from lunatic-fringe bloggers to lunatic economist Paul Krugman, seem resigned to Republican victory in this contest. “It’s hard to escape the impression that Republicans have taken Mr. Obama’s measure – that they’re calling his bluff in the belief that he can be counted on to fold,” Krugman wrote in the New York Times last week. “And it’s also hard to escape the impression that they’re right.”
Also writing in the Times, Frank Rich pitches in with some more “terrorist” rhetoric: “President Obama has seemingly been held hostage by Republican captors surrendering his once-considerable abilities to act, decide, and think.” Rich isn’t much of a writer, but he can read Democrat talking-points memos with the best of them.
If class warfare rhetoric fails under these high-pressure conditions, the Democrats are in deep trouble. After all, they don’t have anything else.