Meet the Few, the Proud, the Republican Defectors on Taxes

Coverage of the fiscal cliff fight suffers from a common problem: Dyscalculia. Every Republican bolting from orthodoxy and saying he’s open to a vote for something is treated like a crack in a dam. It’s not at all clear that the bolters have that much power.

First, here’s the guide I use to judge the deal-ish nature of a Republican: The roll call on the 2011 debt limit compromise. A total of 174 Republicans voted for the final bill, many of whom had pledged not to increase the debt limit. In the Senate, 28 of 47 Republicans voted for it.

The “just pass a deal now that increases top rates” caucus: Tom Cole (OK), Mike Simpson (ID), Bob Dold (IL), Mary Bono Mack (CA). All of them voted for the 2011 deal. And in the House, that’s basically it.

The “pass a comprehensive plan that raises top rates” caucus: Lindsey Graham (SC), Bob Corker (TN). Corker voted for the deal; Graham did not.

And… hurm, I expected this to be a longer list, but that’s about as many Republicans as have actually emerged and said they’re willing to deal. According to Republicans, there’s a far larger group of members angry at the White House’s dealing thus far, such as the leak of the 28-minute phone call between Obama and Boehner that resolved nothing. Cole, the dealmaker, is among the members irritated at the White House’s opening offer for a long-term deal. It’s in the interest of Democrats to pretend that the other side is cracking, but that really hasn’t happened yet.