A not-so-warm reception

A NOT-SO-WARM RECEPTION…. It seemed at least plausible to me that we’d see some Kabuki theater when it came to congressional Democrats’ reaction to the tax plan agreement. Perhaps they’d feign outrage, knowing that if Dems publicly expressed strong support, Republicans would automatically balk at the deal. After all, we’ve seen this before — if Democrats approve of a proposal, the GOP assumes there’s something wrong with it.

At this point, however, I think it’s fair it’s fair to say the Dems’ outrage is genuine.

President Obama on Tuesday faced an uprising among angry Democrats who strongly opposed his deal with Republicans on tax cuts, opening a public rift that could prevent the White House from ending the year with a fresh dose of stimulus for the economy. […]

[Senate Democrats] were furious that Obama capitulated to Republicans over the main provisions – an array of individual tax breaks signed by President George W. Bush nearly 10 years ago that have remained controversial.

Vice President Biden, who helped negotiate the accord, received a stony response when he pitched the package to Senate Democrats at a private luncheon Tuesday.

Interestingly enough, the indignation was pretty widespread ideologically. One of the most conservative members of the caucus, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, ripped the agreement, as did one of the most liberal, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, who vowed to do everything possible to kill the deal.

A New York Times report noted a rough head-count, and said only “about a dozen” Senate Dems have voiced support for the package, while “about 30” are firmly opposed, leaving “16 or so undecided.”

And that’s just the Senate. The outrage among House Democrats was at least as intense yesterday, if not more so.

What of Republicans? Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters yesterday that the “vast majority” of his caucus would support the deal, but it’s worth noting that some high-profile, right-wing leaders were as incensed yesterday as liberals.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), for example, announced his opposition on a far-right radio show, and the Club for Growth, influential in GOP circles, denounced the agreement for being too progressive.

As for the larger legislative dynamic, the prospects for quick passage, clearing time for the remaining issues of the lame-duck session, are effectively zero. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he considers the tax deal “only a framework,” and expects members to “do some more work on it.” The plan is to push the debate well into next week — which is presumably the final week of the entire Congress.

As for what happens if opponents of the deal are successful, that’s far less clear, and we’ll talk more about that later this morning.