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Monday, December 03, 2012

‘You don’t take a hostage you aren’t willing to shoot’

ABC News:

Republicans are seriously considering a Doomsday Plan if fiscal cliff talks collapse entirely.  It’s quite simple:  House Republicans would allow a vote on extending the Bush middle class tax cuts (the bill passed in August by the Senate) and offer the President nothing more:  no extension of the debt ceiling, nothing on unemployment, nothing on closing loopholes.  Congress would recess for the holidays and the president would face a big battle early in the year over the debt ceiling.

Two senior Republican elected officials tell me this doomsday plan is becoming the most likely scenario.  A top GOP House  leadership aide confirms the plan is under consideration, but says Speaker Boehner has made no decision on whether to pursue it.

Under one variation of this Doomsday Plan, House Republicans would allow a vote on extending only the middle class tax cuts and Republicans, to express disapproval at the failure to extend all tax cuts, would vote “present” on the bill, allowing it to pass entirely on Democratic votes.

By doing this, Republicans avoid taking blame for tax increases on 98 percent of income tax payers.  As one senior Republican in Congress told me, “You don’t take a hostage you aren’t willing to shoot.”  Republicans aren’t willing to kill the middle class tax cuts, even if extending them alone will make it harder to later extend tax cuts on the wealthy.

So a Republican — although unnamed — is finally willing to admit that the party’s been taking political hostages. Meanwhile, the White House says it’s willing to go over the fiscal cliff if need be, because Republicans will take the blame for it.

But wasn’t there a time when Republicans thought voting “present” was the height of political cowardice?

Why yes there was

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