A tax cut deal looks all but certain now, so this is mostly just an intellectual exercise. But on the off chance that the deal gets derailed, and the Bush tax cut expire...what then?
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Broadly speaking, there are two possible outcomes if that happens: the Dems win, or the Dems lose, and everyone decides the should've just caved in December. Both start at the same place: The tax cuts expire on January 1, touching off a huge spin war between the parties. Republicans call it the largest tax hike in history, point, perhaps, to sinking stock prices, hammer away relentlessly in a way that only Republicans know how to do. Democrats continue their current approach, argue that Republicans have held tax cuts hostage until millionaires get a bonus tax cut, point to this past weekend's votes as proof, and so on.
Messaging will be a huge part of it. But bigger (and, of course, related) will be the maneuvering on Capitol Hill. I envision two basic tracks.