Inching Toward a Tax Cut Deal

Senate and House Democratic leaders went to the White House for a 3:30pm meeting with President Obama over what to do with the expiring Bush-era tax cuts, this as the broad outlines of a deal appear to be coming together from presidential negotiations with Congressional Republican leaders.

The tax cuts, under the deal, would be extended for two years, and unemployment insurance benefits would be extended for 13 months, as first reported by The Daily Caller. But not so fast. It is unclear if there is an offset for that $56-billion extension.

One senior Democratic official said he would be highly skeptical that Republicans would go for that level of deficit spending.

Democrats also continue to say that any temporary extension of the estate tax (which, right now, has expired and is at zero, poised to jump to 55% for estates worth more than $1 million) must be higher than a bipartisan proposal that would set the threshold for taxes at $5 million at a 35% rate.

One senior Democratic leadership aide called that "a real stinker."

Lots of caution from all over the Capitol as to reports that Republicans and the White House have reached a deal on everything.

Democratic buy-in seems to be a very large question mark looming over any agreement, hence the afternoon meeting with Obama and Vice President Biden, as they try to sell the components of a compromise.

Until then, no deal is set, particularly not when reports start crossing of an accord and the spokesmen for both Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House GOP Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, are standing in a hallway with quizzical looks and no knowledge of a deal as they talk to this reporter. Joining the trio shortly after -- the three spokesmen for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, none of whom know of any agreement having been reached.

Everyone was there to learn something. No one appears to have learned anything, at least not yet.  But it was one of those rare moments when partisanship played no role in some hearty laughs shared.