It’s probably no accident that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) brought up Rep. Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) name on the floor this morning in a speech about Republicans willing to compromise on the Bush-era tax cut extensions — even though Scott has said he still won’t vote for the Dems’ plan.
Scott is an early favorite to replace retiring Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), one of the most conservative members of the upper chamber, either in an appointment by Gov. Nikki Haley or in the 2014 election. DeMint has reportedly let Haley know that he wants Scott, who has refused to challenge Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in 2014, to be his replacement.
“Reasonable Republicans are asking their House leadership to allow a vote on the Senate-passed legislation. What was once a trickle has become a flood,” Reid said.
“Last week, Republican Rep. Tom Cole said it was time to give middle-class families certainty their taxes won’t go up by $2,200 on January 1. Then Rep. Tim Scott, also a Republican, admitted the Senate’s middle-class tax cut would surely pass the House – since it will take only 26 moderate, Republican votes to ensure passage.”
Scott told CNN that he believed the Democrats’ plan to extend tax cuts on only the middle class would pass the House, but he would oppose it. The inclusion in Reid’s speech suggests that the majority leader may be trying to sully Scott’s name among conservatives.
“Conservative opinion makers piled on,” Reid continued. “Columnist David Brooks, of the New York Times, wrote: ‘Republicans have to realize that they are going to cave on tax rates.’ Then on Tuesday the Senior Senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe, urged House Republican leaders to end the suspense for middle-class taxpayers.”
“It seemed every practical Republican left in Washington was suddenly willing to say out loud what we’ve known for weeks: the only remaining option is for the House to pass the Senate bill,” he said.
Reid proceeded to laud “dyed-in-the-wool conservative” Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) for acquiescing to tax hikes on the wealthy.
“I know we have to raise revenue,” Coburn told MSNBC yesterday. “I don’t really care which way we do it. Actually, I would rather see rates go up than do it the other way, because it gives us a greater chance to reform the tax code and broaden the base in the future.”
“I’ve been saying for weeks that the only people who aren’t on board are Republicans in Congress. But now even they are crying out for compromise,” Reid concluded. “I only hope Speaker Boehner is listening.”