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GOP Leadership Splits As Bailout Tax Passes House

Here’s something interesting. In the bill to tax bonuses paid to employees of bailed-out companies at 90%, which (to my quixotic dismay) just passed the House 328-93, the two most important Republicans split their votes, with Eric Cantor voting for the measure and John Boehner against it.

The progression of the votes in the Republican conference was also interesting: the first 30 or so GOP votes that came in were all nay votes, and then the yeas started gaining ground, such that the final tally among Republicans was nearly an even split, 85 in favor and 87 against.

This feels like a failed attempt to whip votes by Boehner, as the GOP found itself wedged between corporatist and populist pressures. We may look in more depth later at which Republicans wound up on which side, as my hunch is that this vote provides some insight as to the competing factions within the party.

Six Democrats, meanwhile, voted against the bill: Melissa Bean, Larry Kissell, Michael McMahon, Walt Minnick, Harry Mitchell, and Vic Snyder. Bean and Minnick are Blue Dogs — the others are not — although Mitchell and Snyder are fairly conservative.

EDIT: As a commenter points out, the bill was also rewritten to apply only to persons making $250,000 a year or more (it also applies only to bonuses received after December 31, 2008). From my point of view, this weakens, rather than strengthens, the moral force of the bill: if the idea is that this is intrinsically dirty money, obtained under illegitimate premises, then why is anyone entitled to it? When we confiscate drug profits, do we make an exception for dealers below the poverty line? But, alas, you’re all probably tired of hearing from me on this one.

Nate Silver founded and was the editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.