Two key obstacles emerged Tuesday night to the passage of President Obama’s tax cut compromise with the GOP. This time they come from the right: The influential anti-tax group Club for Growth and conservative kingmaker Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) both came out in opposition to the agreement, threatening the breadth of Republican support for the plan.
“This is bad policy, bad politics, and a bad deal for the American people,” said Club President Chris Chocola in a statement. “The plan would resurrect the Death Tax, grow government, blow a hole in the deficit with unpaid-for spending, and do so without providing the permanent relief and security our economy needs to finally start hiring and growing again.”
“Instead, Congress should pass a permanent extension of current rates, including a permanent repeal of the death tax, and drop all new spending,” Chocola said. “A month ago, the American people repudiated Washington big government. It’s time for both parties to finally hear that message and act on it.”
DeMint formally announced his opposition on the Hugh Hewitt radio show.
Asked whether he’d support the legislation, and oppose a filibuster to it, DeMint answered, simply, “no” to both questions. “It raises taxes, it raises the death tax. I don’t think we needed to negotiate that aspect of this thing away,” DeMint said. “I don’t think we need to extend unemployment any further without paying for it, and without making some modifications such as turning it into a loan at some point.” DeMint, who’s holding out for a permanent extension of the Bush tax cuts, wouldn’t say how much support he has, but hinted it could be substantial: “I think there’s going to be a lot of fallout on the Republican side, and I suspect even on the Democrat side,” he said.
Here’s why this matters: Both the Club and DeMint are hugely influential among Republicans, particularly conservatives. And it’s quickly becoming clear that this plan is going to have to pass with very significant Republican support. If Republican support for this plan bleeds down too far, the whole plan would be scuttled, and it would be back to the drawing board, with the Bush tax cuts scheduled to expire in just over three weeks.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.