The Dems in Congress have been fretting mightily about whether to extend the Bush tax cuts for everyone, or only for the middle-class, as President Obama clearly favors. This issue has done a splendid job of dividing the Democratic caucus, with leaders like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi unable to rein in vulnerable Dems like Melissa Bean who favor keeping the tax cuts in place for even higher-earning families (I reject the blanket characterization of every family who makes over $250,000 a year as "rich," but that appears to be an easy position to attack). Even our own perennial 10th District Democratic candidate Dan Seals has now come out in favor of extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone, at least for the short term (GOP opponent Bob Dold has been consistent that he supports such an extension).
Now it appears clear that the Dems don't have the guts to bring this up for a vote. I have heard many arguments about how forcing a vote on this issue could cut both ways. For example, a pre-election vote to call the GOP bluff and force them to vote down extending tax cuts for everyone would increase the weight of the Dems' "party of NO" argument, but apparently they have decided that doing so would cause more harm than good. It's harder to make that argument stick, I guess, when many Dems like Bean and Seals don't seem to be willing to anger a portion of their target electorate by following the Dems' tried-and-true 'soak the rich' strategy.
So, it now seems that we're going to have a very important lame-duck session in November, which may help Mark Kirk make his case that, due to the daffy special election for the U.S. Senate that has been mandated, Kirk's victory would give the GOP a crucial extra vote in the Senate to shore up an expected filibuster of anything less than a full tax-cut extension. The potential importance of this particular lame-duck Congress has been discussed for months now, as there were other important lame-duck session issues brewing exclusive of the tax-cut issue, since if the Dems get plastered as expected in November, this will be their last, best chance to cram through legislation like the hated card-check bill and other travesties.
We'll see if Kirk can make the case to Illinois voters, especially some conservatives who have been cool to Kirk, that his presence in the Senate at this crucial time should seal the deal for those who are looking to put a hard stop on the Dems' ambitious and harmful lame-duck agenda.