Now, as in 1993, a bill that is viewed as a tax increase by many lawmakers would also be seen as a tax increase by the CBO. It could therefore be freely considered under reconciliation rules, enabling it to be passed by the Senate with only 51 votes instead of the 60 normally needed to limit debate on a measure.
The procedural hurdles are separate, however, from the political hurdles. The prospect of passing a tax increase through reconciliation does not seem to have factored into the thinking of Democrats who helped write the compromise tax package. To even consider the maneuver, Democrats would first need to gain control of the House, where Republicans currently hold a 33 seat advantage.
For now, Democrats are focused on raising additional revenue by scaling back tax breaks and using the money to partially replace across-the-board discretionary spending cuts scheduled to take effect on March 1.
Republicans have vowed to resist any more tax increases. They argue that the appropriate level of tax revenue has been settled and that only alternative spending reductions are an appropriate way to turn off the sequester.
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