Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Which Pink Unicorns to Watch During Debates on the Fiscal Cliff

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, made the shocking revelation today on NPR's Morning Edition that pink unicorns do not exist and neither does a potential sequestration deal that would significantly raise taxes.  As the author of the "no new taxes" pledge that, in the 112th Congress, all but 6 Republican members of the House and 7 members of the Senate signed, his views carry some weight.  Although many in D.C. believe that tax increases on at least some portion of the population must be included in any fiscal cliff deal, there's been no wave of defections, as of yet, from Norquist's pledge.

This matters because it means that the partisan impasse that has plagued Congress over the last few years will continue for the next few weeks.  Remember, the members of the 112th Congress are still the ones calling the shots, not the newly elected 113th.

Let's look at the raw numbers for efforts to pass a deal:
  • 218 votes are need for any deal to pass the Hous
  • The Republicans hold 242 seats for the remainder of 112th (far more than needed)
  • Of those 242, 236 have signed the "no new taxes" pledge (again, more than needed to support passage of a deal)
  • 51 votes are needed for a deal to pass the Senate floor (or in the case of a filibuster, 60)
  • The Democrats hold 53 of those seats (including the Independents) for the remainder of the 112th
  • Of the 47 Republicans in the Senate, 40 have signed the pledge (i.e., 1 vote shy of the votes needed to break a filibuster)
It may seem like too much math, but these numbers, along with the tax pledge and the President's strong message that any deal must include tax increases on the wealthiest of Americans, lay out some interesting scenarios.  They seem to suggest that everything could boil down to the decisions of a few key Republicans in the House and Senate -- those who did not sign the tax pledge.

So who are these about to be inundated legislators?  According to the Americans for Tax Reform site, they are:

NY-24 Richard Hanna
GA-07 Rob Woodall
PA-19 Todd Russell Platts
VA-01 Rob Wittman
VA-10 Frank Wolf
KS-03 Kevin Yoder

IN-Sen Richard Lugar
IA-Sen Charles Grassley
ME- Sen Olympia Snowe
ME- Sen Susan Collins
MS-Sen Thad Cochran
WY- Sen John Barrasso
ND-Sen John Hoeven

And remember, again (I promise it will be the last time I mention it), even though some of these people will be leaving, they are still sitting members and will be part of the upcoming negotiations.

It's going to be hot and heavy in the next few weeks -- particularly in these offices.  I feel sorry for the staff.

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