When Rep. Nancy Pelosi told Speaker John Boehner that House Democrats would support the extension of the Bush tax cuts for "middle class" Americans earning between $250,000 and $1 million a year it was, as Bill Clinton used to say, a big deal.
In defining "middle class" as folks earning up to $999,999 a year, Pelosi was sending a signal to the country (and particularly to independent voters and suburbanites in swing districts) that House Democrats would not be obstructionists in the forthcoming negotiations to solve the country's fiscal mess.
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But here's something else to keep in mind as Congress plods toward its year-end showdown. Without the votes of House Democrats, a grand bargain on taxes and spending isn't likely to become law.
The Republican caucus is divided, with a sizable conservative faction that views debt caused by federal spending as the direst threat to the nation, with tax hikes a close second. To pass the big tax and spending measures, like those that the House will face at the end of the year, Boehner has relied on a bipartisan majority.
Pelosi has been working as the speaker's whip.