O, Christmas Tree! O, Taxing Tree!

Ernest Istook /

The tax bill (still being drafted in secret) is becoming a lobbyist’s dream, just in time for Christmas. The Democrat opposition to President Obama’s compromise has increased the negotiating power of every Representative and Senator, especially the Democrats.

The vote by the House Democrat Caucus to denounce the unwritten bill “in its current form” is a negotiating ploy; it gives them leverage to bargain for sugar plum pork.

Now they’re the ones holding the bill hostage.

The ultimate bill will likely have more ornaments than the official 67-foot Capitol Christmas Tree that Speaker Nancy Pelosi lit up earlier this week. But it’s not nearly as brightly-lit, since nobody’s provided the public with a copy of the proposed text of the legislation.

And with martial law already declared in the House—enabling bills to rush through on short notice—few will have a chance to read and understand the bill before a vote occurs.

What will be added to buy more votes? Ethanol subsidies? Online poker (run only by the politically-favored)? Renewal energy credits for wind and solar? Special interest tax breaks that are more obscure? Maybe things on the spending side rather than the tax credit side?

Santa Claus should be jealous over how quickly Congress can now stuff their favorite stockings.

The final product may blur the lines between Democrats and Republicans, as it gives equal gifts to both the naughty and the nice. And the more decorations that are hung on the Christmas-treed bill, the more conservatives who may fall off the bandwagon. After all, the job-boosting benefits of temporary tax help won’t be nearly as strong as permanent extensions of the Bush tax cuts.

It remains important and urgent not to increase anybody’s taxes, but the way this is unfolding may increase the national disdain for the way Washington works — if that’s possible.  Happy Holidays it ain’t.