Extending the Bush Tax Cuts (Senate, 4 December 2010)

Below are plots (using DW-NOMINATE scores) of the separate roll call votes in the Senate to extend the Bush tax cuts only for incomes below $250,000 (sponsored by Baucus (D-MT)) and a second measure to extend the cuts for those with incomes below $1 million (sponsored by Schumer (D-NY). Only Senators with DW-NOMINATE scores are shown in the display below. Though largely symbolic votes intended to give Democrats political cover on tax cuts (these roll-calls took place just days before the announcement of a deal between President Obama and Congressional Republicans to extend all of the Bush tax cuts), these votes remain illustrative of the political landscape in the Senate, particularly a schism among Democrats over taxation.

The tokens signify the political party of the Senator and the color red is used to indicate a “Yea” vote and the color blue is used to indicate a “Nay” vote. The NOMINATE model of voting choice performs very well. On the “Yea” (left) side of the cutting line there are two “Nays” and no “Yeas” on the “Nay” (right) side of the cutting line. The result is only two classification errors — Senators Webb (D-VA) (who opposes ending any of the Bush tax cuts) and Feingold (D-WI) (who supports allowing all of the Bush tax cuts to expire).

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Below is the vote to extend the Bush tax cuts only for incomes below $1 million. There were four classification errors on this roll call, all on the “Yea” side of the cutting line. The classifications errors were Senators Durbin (D-IL), Harkin (D-IA), Rockefeller (D-WV), and Feingold (D-WI), who are among the most liberal members of the Senate and felt that $1 million remained too high an income threshold for an extension of the Bush tax cuts.

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