Murray is using [her newfound] influence to argue Democrats should not forget the tactical advantage they could gain in January, after the deadline for the fiscal cliff has passed. Starting with a speech at the Brookings Institution in July and continuing in a series of interviews last week, Murray, in typically non-bombastic fashion, has argued that Democrats shouldn't take a bad deal in December when their political leverage will only increase in the new year.

That's because next month, tax cuts first enacted under President George W. Bush will expire for everybody. Murray reasons that might make it easier to get Republicans to agree to reinstate the cuts only for the middle class and let the nation's wealthiest 2 percent pay more toward the reducing the debt, as Democrats desire.

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