Senate Democrats today blocked a vote on President Obama's own tax plan.
On Monday President Obama called on Congress to pass an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for middle-income earners while letting rates on wealthier Americans rise at the end of the year.
"My message to Congress is this," Obama said Monday, "Pass a bill extending the tax cuts for the middle class. I will sign it tomorrow. Pass it next week, I'll sign it next week. "
So today senate Republican leadership offered hold a vote in the Senate today on the president's plan.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked for consent from all senators on the senate floor this morning to set up two votes today in the U.S. Senate: one on the president's proposal and another on the Republican's alternative plan that would extend all of the current tax rates - including those for wealthy Americans - for one year and charge the Senate Finance Committee with coming up with a proposal within that year for pro-growth tax reform.
"My recommendation is we give the president what he asked for," McConnell said.
The political maneuver was used to demonstrate there likely are not the votes among Democrats to pass the president's plan. That was a point underscored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., when he objected moments later to the Republicans request to hold the vote.
Reid said the vote on the president's plan would "divert attention" to what the Senate is working on today - a small business jobs bill.
"We try to legislate here the program of the Republicans in the Senate has been to divert and deny and obstruct, " Reid said, "I asked the presiding officer when we started what are we doing here today? We're on a small business jobs bill. A pretty simple piece of legislation but extremely important."
A Democratic leadership aide said a vote will ultimately come on the president's proposal to extend the Bush tax cuts for those making less than $250,000 during the current work period. But but they believe first the Senate should pass the small business tax cut bill. They characterize the Republicans move today as a "thinly disguised filibuster" to use as an excuse to oppose a small business tax cut Republicans are "afraid" to oppose on substance.
"We're certainly not filibustering," McConnell countered, "we enjoy discussing our differences of opinion on the tax issue. There couldn't be anything more important to the American people. If we're going to get this economy going again. And certainly trying to set up two votes number one on what the president is asking for and number two on what republicans think is a better alternative could not in my view meet the definition of filibuster."
Republicans are in essence calling the president's bluff that there is support in the Democratic Senate for his plan.
"It's mind-boggling to me, Senate democratic leadership turned down an opportunity to vote on President Obama's tax increase bill," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah said, "it tells us that the president's tax increase plan is not just an economic disaster, it's a political loser. And they know it. It tells us in spite of the big talking from the president's Chicago reelection campaign about evil Republicans who want to extend all of the 2001 and 2003 tax relief, vulnerable members of the Senate's Democratic conference do not want to be anywhere near the president's tax increase alternative."
The Congressional Democratic leadership will head to the White House today at 2:15 pm to meet with President Obama.