The Tax Cut Vote: Obama’s Remaining Prestige Hangs In The Balance

For agreeing to a temporary extension of all the Bush tax cuts, President Obama is now facing a full-fledged revolt within his party. The responses from congressional Democrats have ranged from chilly to angry to threatening.

One asked, “Could we have a little fight before we cave? Why go right to surrender?” Another accused Mr. Obama of saying, “let ‘em eat cake.” Another called the compromise “an absolute disaster” and “an insult.” Another complained, “we got screwed.”

Liberals outside Congress are even more bitter. MoveOn.org demanded Democrats not “capitulate to the GOP on this terrible deal.” Some have talked of primary challenges to Mr. Obama.

It won’t be easy for Mr. Obama to push the compromise through Congress. Nancy Pelosi doesn’t see where the votes will come in the House. Harry Reid’s spokesman says simply that the majority leader “plans on discussing it with his caucus.”

Despite all this, Mr. Obama should actually find a sizable constituency for his plan among Democrats. By my count, roughly 50 House Democrats have already signaled that they may sign on to a compromise like the one announced this week.

In a man-bites-dog moment in September, 31 Democrats signed a letter telling Ms. Pelosi that now was not the time to raise any American’s taxes. It was smart politics. As a new poll from American Crossroads (a group with which I’m associated) has found, Americans believe—by a 4-to-1 margin—that raising taxes in a recession will hurt growth, and that tax rates should stay where they are so employers start hiring again.

On Dec. 2, another 12 House Democrats broke from their leadership by opposing the rule under which Ms. Pelosi’s tax measure—which would have let the cuts lapse for Americans in the top brackets—was going to be taken up. Doing so suggested that they wanted the House to consider a GOP substitute measure extending all the Bush tax cuts.

Read more from Karl Rove at WSJ

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