Harry Reid Tries To Box GOP In On Tax Cuts Vote

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November 18, 2010 12:20 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he’s willing to do “whatever it takes” to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, up to and including allowing a vote on extending all the cuts, not just those on incomes below $250,000.

Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill this afternoon after a Democratic caucus meeting that focused on the Bush tax cuts — which will expire in January unless something is done in the lame duck session — Reid said that he’s willing to allow a vote on Republican Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to extend all the cuts in exchange for many votes on dealing with the upper-income cuts while letting the middle class cuts continue.

Such a bargain would put Republicans in the politically tricky position of having to filibuster middle class tax cuts, or abandon their goal of permanent tax cuts for wealthy Americans.

“We want an opportunity and — and we mean plural — to vote once, twice, whatever it takes to show the American people that we support the middle class,” Reid said. He said there could be “multiple variations” on how to proceed on the cuts for wealthier Americans.Reid suggested that he’ll take multiple shots at getting the middle class cuts extended, and could be open to a temporary extension. Republicans want all the cuts set in stone, which Reid said would cost “$4 trillion” in deficit spending while Congress is scrambling to find ways to bring the federal budget into some semblance of balance.

“We have to be very, very careful extending things indefinitely because we have to focus on what the economy may be in the future,” Reid said.

Earlier today, House Democratic Majority Leader (for a couple more weeks anyway) Steny Hoyer said the House will vote on extending only the middle class cuts.

Reid said Democrats will caucus again tomorrow to talk about tax cuts, perhaps in the hopes of finding a united plan.

Update: Team McConnell thinks Reid’s presser was kind of strange.

“It’s a very strange way of doing business,” a spokesperson told TPM.

“If the point there is to show that neither one has 60 and then work on a compromise,” the spokesperson said, referring to number of votes required to break a filibuster in the Senate, “why not start there?”

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