The White House is apparently open to a temporary extension of the Bush tax cuts "for the wealthy." The Washington Post is reporting:
the White House is losing hope that Congress will approve its plan to raise taxes on the nation's wealthiest families and is increasingly focusing on a new strategy that would preserve tax breaks for both the wealthy and the middle class. According to people familiar with talks at the White House and among senior Democrats on Capitol Hill, breaking apart the Bush administration tax cuts is now being discussed as a more realistic goal. That strategy calls for permanent extension of cuts that benefit families earning less than $250,000 a year, and temporary extension of cuts on income above that amount.
The move would "decouple" the two sets of provisions, Democrats said, and focus the debate when tax cuts for the rich expired next year or the year after. Republicans would be forced to defend carve-outs for a tiny minority populated by millionaires, an unpopular position that would be difficult to advance without the cover of a broad-based tax cut for everyone, aides in both parties said.
Pandering to affluent voters you say? No way. Not one single White House official is quoted, on background or otherwise, backing temporary cuts. And the White House's semi-secret rationale for contemplating such a move is said to be a cunning plan to set up another tax cut debate, with the parties in exactly the same roles they are in today, just before the president is up for re-election.
Yesterday morning, two prominent Democratic senators offered contrasting takes on the potential tax deal. DSCC chair Robert Menendez, clearly most concerned with deflecting blame for the Dems' likely Senate massacre on his watch, said, "I certainly believe that there may be some opportunity for a temporary approval of some of these cuts." On the other hand, Dick Durbin, presumably looking for President Obama's support in a leadership fight with Chuck Schumer, blamed those tax rates for "the greatest deficits in our history" and "massive unemployment.”
Whose idea was it to shoot down a compromise on tax cuts this summer? I am willing to bet it was not Rahm Emanuel's idea to delay the inevitable until after the tax cut debate was used to paint Democrats as Mondale liberals. Who is Obama listening to? Gibbs?