Now, everybody knows what's going on here. Republicans have been clear for months that their long term goal is to make sure all of these rates are extended permanently. But that means they don't want to have a fight in two or three years in which they side with the wealthiest two percent of the country against the Democrats. That's a losing fight, and terrible politics.
But they can't really come out and say that. If you ask a Republican member about this "decoupling" idea, the most common response you'll get is that it's a recipe for future tax increases. The implication is clear -- but good luck getting a more candid explanation.