Huh. Seems there was a series of private negotiations going on at the same time the public ones were underway last week: Biden and G.O.P. Leader Helped Hammer Out Bipartisan Tax Accord
The meeting was one of a number of direct conversations over the next few days between Mr. Biden and Mr. McConnell, the Senate Republican leader and a Senate colleague of Mr. Biden’s for nearly 25 years, that ultimately led to the agreement reached Monday. It was a bipartisan bargain that — in a startling departure from the past two years in the capital — ended with Republicans praising it and Democrats claiming they were blindsided and undercut.
Read the whole thing; it’s very interesting.
On another note: Tax Package Will Aid Nearly All, Especially Highest Earners
[…] the tax benefits will flow most heavily to the highest earners, just as the original cuts did when they were passed in 2001 and 2003. At least a quarter of the tax savings will go to the wealthiest 1 percent of the population.
However, it’s important to ask the corollary: what happens if this doesn’t pass. If this doesn’t pass, and all the tax cuts simply expire, that means the tax rate for the lowest payers goes up 50% while the tax rate for the highest payers goes up 14%. And doing so without the other goodies Obama got in there (although I still question the payroll tax increase which seems to be a swipe at making Social Security go insolvent later). Unfortunately the real deal — extend the tax cuts for everyone below $250K and let the rates revert for those above — was defeated in the Senate on Saturday, with all Republicans and four Democratics voting it down (including Russ Feingold: what the hell, Russ?) so that ended that. (And was probably why Obama was so pissy in his speech today.)
Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator (Independent) has threatened to filibuster the current deal (clip is not captioned — transcript here):
He told reporters hours after Vice President Joe Biden pitched the plan to extend the Bush-era tax rates that he will do anything possible to defeat it, including a one-man filibuster.