Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.*., is expressing concern about letting Bush's tax cuts expire, despite the fact that Democrats have been salivating about the prospect of doing away with them since they were passed:
"The general rule of thumb would be you'd not want to do tax changes, tax increases ... until the recovery is on more solid ground," Senator Kent Conrad said in an interview with reporters outside the Senate chambers, adding he did not believe the recovery has come yet.
Conrad's comments are sympathetic with Republican arguments against raising taxes amid a fledgling economic recovery. They frame a debate gaining steam over whether stimulus to bolster the economy's recovery, or deficit reduction, should be the top policy priority.
Other Democrats are still sensitive to budget worries.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, another fiscally conservative Democrat, earlier this month questioned whether the country could afford to extend the tax cuts for the wealthier groups, citing the yawning budget deficit.
The tax cuts have been in place since they were passed in 2001 and 2003. The idea that they should only be seen as temporary tax cuts after being in place for nearly ten years, probably won't go over to well with voters used tp paying lower rates. And as Conrad says, there's the danger of raising taxes in the midst of a serious economic downturn. Democrats also want to argue that this is the fiscally responsible thing to do given the deficit woes, but again, that's a very hard sell given the spending binge Democrats have been on.
I would expect more Democrats to start sending signals that they're concerned keeping taxes low. Letting Bush's tax cuts expire looks like a political loser.
UPDATE: I see that it's not just Kent Conrad The Hill is reporting "Democrats are considering a plan to delay tax hikes on the wealthy for two years because the economic recovery is slow and they fear getting crushed in November’s election."
*I originally misidentified the state Conrad represents