One of the quirks that makes a tax vote harder for House Republicans than it might ordinarily be is the difference, because of the scheduled expiration of the Bush tax cuts, between current law and current policy. The "Plan B" to extend the income tax cuts permanently to everyone making less than $1 million a year — the plan Speaker Boehner had proposed but pulled last night for lack of support — is a tax cut of about $4 trillion over ten years compared to current law (under which the rates expire and go up for everyone at year-end), but it's a tax increase of about $1 trillion over ten years compared to current policy (the rates that apply in 2012).
You can look at this as a behavioral economics point — "anchoring" — or as a political point, in respect of, say, Grover Norquist's pledge. But the Republicans could take the same vote on January 2 that they were scheduled to take last night before it was postponed, and the same legislation in January might seem more like a $4 trillion tax cut, while last night it might seem more like a $1 trillion tax increase.
Meanwhile, on the same issue, regarding whether the Boehner Plan B is "great" or "terrible," a friend writes, "Re the $1 mm issue, I'd go with the 'terrible' angle in that it punishes people who are productive (granted, this is a narrow definition of "productive" given that I'd argue that kindergarten teacher for example adds more value than many people making more than $1 mm/year…I'd argue the same for some people in the arts, etc. etc. some writers and poets…and the majority of doctors. In other words, I have issues with being 'productive' equated with earnings.) But with that said, if one makes $1 mm/year, you are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. Isn't that enough?:)
One other point: The Democrats control the White House and the Senate. It will be something if everyone's taxes go up on January 1 and the press and the public blame the Republicans rather than President Obama and Majority Leader Reid. There's plenty of blame to go around, and I'm not saying that none of it should rest on the Republicans. But the Democrats are the ones insisting on tax increases, right? Maybe it might dawn on some people when they get their first paycheck of 2013 with more money withheld for taxes (that's assuming the paycheck withholding people can get their acts together to change the schedules by then) that if they didn't want their taxes to go up, they shouldn't have voted for President Obama and a Democratic Senate?