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The old Mammoth Cave:

The new Mammoth Cave:

“White House negotiators and congressional Republicans have the outlines of a deal to extend the Bush-era tax cuts and federal unemployment benefits, which would end a partisan stalemate on Capitol Hill. Under the prospective deal, all the Bush tax cuts would be extended for two years and unemployment benefits would be extended for one, according to congressional sources.”

But the extension of unemployment benefits comes with a caveat:

“Senior Senate Republican aides said that an extension of all the income tax cuts was a foregone conclusion, but that a deal on jobless aid was possible if Democrats agreed to cover the cost.”

So Democrats agree to extend the tax cuts for 2 years in exchange for an extension of unemployment benefits–provided the unemployment extension is paid for. No mention of paying for the tax cuts. What great negotiators those Democrats are, huh?

This comes a day after the House Dems take what they admit was a “symbolic” vote on only extending tax cuts for those making under $250,000 (a vote Senate Democrats are expected to take today) so as to make Republicans go on the record as being protectors of the rich—a month after the mid-term elections. A vote they refused to take before the election.

With strategery like that it’s hard to understand why they lost 60+ seats in the House.

There are some Democratic dissenters:

“I am opposed to extending any tax breaks for anybody over $250,000, period. That’s where I am,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). “I would hope that the president would stand firm on what he campaigned on in Iowa.”

Hold on to that hope, Tom. Personally, I’m hoping to get a pony for Christmas. I think we have equal chances of having those hopes fulfilled.

What E.J. Dionne said:

“…every signal out of the White House is that it is prepared to cave in to Republican demands for a temporary extension of all of the Bush tax cuts, including those for millionaires…What we are witnessing here is the political power that comes from the Republican Party’s single-minded focus on high-end tax cuts and the strategic incoherence of a Democratic Party that is confused and divided — and not getting much help from its president.

Obama seems to have decided that showing how conciliatory he can be is more important than making clear where he stands. The administration’s strategy is rooted in a fear of what the Republicans are willing to do, which only strengthens the GOP’s bargaining position.”