Dems set to ratchet up pressure with another payroll tax cut vote

For Senate Democrats, the most important vote on the payroll tax cut extension last night may not have been the one on the Dem proposal, but the one on the GOP proposal. When a majority of Republicans voted against the GOP plan — which would have been funded by spending cuts — that signaled that many Senate Republicans seem to oppose any payroll tax cut extension, not just taxing the rich to pay for it.

With this in mind, Senate Democrats have decided to increase the pressure on Republicans on the issue by holding yet another vote on the extension next week, a senior Senate Democratic aide says.

“There will definitely be another payroll tax cut vote next week,” the aide says.

Senate Democrats are willing to discuss alternate ways to pay for the extension. They are considering offering Republicans a range of possibilities, from sticking with the millionaire surtax as is, to adjusting it and finding more money elsewhere, such as in raising certain fees that might attract more Republican support.

The idea here is that by voting against their own proposal, Republicans may have further boxed in those GOP Senators who eventually want to vote Yes on the extension. Before, they could vote No on the Dem plan and excuse it by saying the GOP had an alternative. Earlier this week, Mitch McConnell suggested that a majority of Republicans would back that alternative. Now that this didn’t happen, Dems are hoping, it will be harder for Republicans to explain any continued opposition and will weaken their position when talks over the next version begin.

“By showing that they couldn’t even keep their own caucus together on their own proposal, they have frittered away their leverage in negotiations,” the Dem aide says.

Now, Dems are hoping that those GOPers who want to find a way to back the extension will feel even more pressure to do so when a modified version is voted on next week. Stay tuned.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.

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