Hold the damn votes

HOLD THE DAMN VOTES…. In light of the talk about nationalizing the midterm elections, maybe it’s time to consider doing just that — and making tax policy the center of the debate.

Republicans continue to make their demands clear. This morning, the party continued with its campaign to demand one up-or-down vote giving the GOP everything it wants — the lower rates for the middle class that Democrats are demanding, and the breaks for the wealthy that Republicans are fighting for. The GOP fears that Democrats will either only bring middle-class breaks to the floor, or worse, that Dems might split the effort in two, with one vote for the middle class and another for the rich.

Greg Sargent sees this as an ideal fight for the congressional majority, especially in a cycle where national issues are dominating.

[T]he best way for Dems to nationalize the elections right now is for Congress to hold a vote on whether to extend the middle class tax cuts. If Dems did this, it would reinforce the national strategy that Dems already have in place: Making the case that a vote for the GOP is a vote to return to the Bush policies that ran the economy into the ground. […]

[H]olding a vote on whether to extend the middle class tax cuts would dramatize the contrast between the national parties even more cleanly, forcing lawmakers to go on record choosing between Obama tax policy and Bush tax policy. Put simply, there is no better way of driving home the Dems’ core message than to hold this vote.

If there’s a flaw in Greg’s reasoning, I don’t see it. With Democrats already positioning themselves as champions of the middle class, and hoping to characterize Republicans as toadies for millionaires and corporate lobbyists, I continue to see this as a no-brainer.

Christina Bellantoni, meanwhile, reports that Senate Dems seem to have a plan in mind, which includes having the debate before the election. The gist of it is, Dems would bring middle-class cuts to the floor, perhaps as early as next week. If Republicans hold it hostage, Dems rejoice at the chance to use this as a campaign cudgel. If Republicans allow it to proceed, the GOP will fight to add an amendment to extend breaks to the wealthy. It would need 19 Dems to break ranks and get to 60 votes, which seems unlikely.

There’s really nothing for Dems to be afraid of here. Just hold the damn votes.