Coming off a big win as Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chair, Washington's own Senator Patty Murray flexed her muscles on ABC's This Week this morning, making it absolutely clear to Republicans that if they refuse to raise taxes on the wealthy, Dems would allow all of the Bush tax cuts expire:
"[T]o solve this problem, the wealthiest Americans have to pay their fair share too," she said. "If the Republicans will not agree with that, we will reach a point at the end of this year where all the tax cuts expire and we'll start over next year, and whatever we do will be a tax cut for whatever package we put together. That may be the way to get past this."
GOPers would be wrong to think she's bluffing. President Obama pretty much said the same thing earlier this week, and it's a sentiment that's been building for some time. Even Congressman Adam Smith, who has a reputation as a consensus-building moderate, told the SECB earlier this year that he was done with caving on the Bush tax cuts, and that he would prefer to see them all expire rather than extend them on the wealthy.
And it's great politics. Once the Bush tax cuts expire, Dems get to campaign hard on cutting taxes on the middle class, while House Republicans get to explain to voters why they'll block any bill that doesn't also give the wealthy a cut.
God I hope these post-election Dems are willing to play the game as hard as they're talking it.