Rep. Levin: Fate of Bush tax cuts unknown

The Senate is expected to move first on the issue, but Levin said even that was not certain. 

"It's preferable that the Senate act first because we've seen that if they can't act first they won't act second because the Republicans block it and don't provide the 60 votes," he said, adding, "I think we'll have to wait and see." 

Last month, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) was expected to introduce legislation that extended the Bush tax cuts for the middle class and alternative minimum tax relief. It was also expected to fix the estate tax and modify the tax increase on dividends. 

The bill never materialized, as Senate Democratic leaders chose to delay a vote on the issue until after the election. 

Levin said a fix for the estate tax is essential before the end of the year, as well as the other outstanding tax issues, and blamed Republicans for obstructing progress on this front. 

"For Republicans to use their votes to essentially stalemate action, I think has led to a lot of turbulence," he said. "They talk about uncertainty, they are creating the uncertainty."

Levin said he hopes after the election Republicans will be more supportive of Democratic initiatives. 

"The blockade by Republicans in the Senate, I just hope it weakens, and I have faith it will," he said. 

If pre-election predictions prove to be accurate, Senate Republicans will gain seats and likely be emboldened to resist more.  

Some predict Republicans will win the Senate races in Illinois and West Virginia. If correct, new members could be sworn in immediately following the elections because the current term for those seats ends after Nov. 2., and not in January.

This means Senate Democrats will have less of a majority in the lame-duck and will likely have a harder time getting the sixty votes needed to pass legislation that extends the middle-class tax cuts while allowing tax breaks for the wealthy to expire on schedule at the end of the year. 

The predicament could force liberal leaders to either capitulate and extend all the tax cuts or allow them all to expire.