Wall Street Journal opinion columnist Kimberly Strassel has a column entitled "Why Democrats Can't Win On Taxes," purporting to show that the awesome power of (massively unpopular) tax cuts for the rich has put the Democrats into a political bind. Oddly, in the course of running down the party's alternatives in an attempt to prove her point, she winds up with this final option:
The Democrats' best shot is procedural, to somehow allow only one vote—on extending rates for just the "middle class"—and dare Republicans to vote against it. Democrats might then peel off GOP support and provide themselves cover this fall. If the majority senses fear—like what emanated from Minority Leader John Boehner this past weekend when he suggested he wouldn't take that dare—it'll take this shot.
Right! That's what you do -- hold a vote on the extremely popular proposal to extend tax cuts for income under $250,000. I highly doubt Republicans are going to want to vote that down. If they do, it's the best possible election frame for Democrats. Which is to say, the Democrats can win on taxes. Strassel continues this scenario by observing, "If Mr. Obama has such a winner tax position, it isn't clear why his leaders are ducking tax bills and his members are running for cover." I'll answer that: moderate Democrats really like tax cuts for the rich, because they and their most influential supports are rich. That doesn't mean their hand is weak.
Now, you can also hold another, subsequent vote on tax cuts exclusively for income over $250,000 if the Blue Dogs so desire. That's fine. The only way Republicans win is if the two issues are combined.