As the New York Times describes it, Senate Democrats have hatched a plan to let all the Bush tax cuts officially expire on January 1, and then quickly vote to reinstate them only on income less than $250,000.
Because then — voila — Republicans would technically be released from their anti-tax pledges:
Virtually every Republican in Congress has taken the pledge, pushed by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, never to vote for a tax increase — a pledge both parties see as a serious impediment to a tax compromise. But if tax rates snap back to the levels of the Clinton presidency on Jan. 1, any legislation to reinstate some of those tax cuts — but not all of them — would be considered a tax cut.
This sounds to me like Chief Justice John Roberts’s roundabout way of finding the individual mandate constitutional through its enforcement mechanism, rather than the mandate itself.
It’s a clever gambit.
Maybe too clever.
I doubt Norquist will give Republicans his blessing in such a case. And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell shows no inclination of budging, calling Democrats’ plan to increase taxes on the wealthy an “ideological crusade.”
In the meantime, I’ll remain fleetingly hopeful that Congress can resolve this before January.