DeMint Will Vote Against Cloture on Tax Deal, But Does It Matter?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 8 2010 10:01 AM

DeMint Will Vote Against Cloture on Tax Deal, But Does It Matter?

At some point between a scrum on the Hill yesterday and his call-in to Hugh Hewitt's radio show , Jim DeMint decided to oppose the tax deal* and to vote against cloture. I am seeing this reported as "DEMINT TO FILIBUSTER DEAL." But what else is he saying?

HH: Do you think a left-right coalition exists in either the Senate or the House to defeat the deal?

JD: Well, I was kind of holding my fire to let the liberals blast this thing first. I have a feeling that, I don’t know if it’s pretense or whatever, but a lot of the liberals are upset that the President is not raising taxes on upper income and small businesses. So I was going to try to see if the liberals might go after it first. But it does appear to me that there are going to be problems on the left and the right with this bill.
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Jim DeMint lives to shift the debate further to the right. He's putting down a stake here, but it's not a big one. He's not whipping conservatives to join him. He's waiting to see if there will be enough left-wing votes to create an anti-deal bloc. So when he warns that Democrats will sweeten the deal to liberal members of the House by adding more progressive tax breaks, he acknowledges that Democrats may come around -- they did on health care, remember -- and there are not enough Republicans yet to make the deal go down.

*I originally wrote "health care." Sorry for the time travel.

Bottom line: DeMint's cloture threat cancels out only one of the Democratic votes for the plan -- Lieberman, Nelson, etc.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.