(Bush tax cut story updated for Nancy Pelosi comments, Capitol Hill debate)WASHINGTON D.C. ( TheStreet) -- The political battle for the hearts and minds of Main Street reached new levels in Washington D.C. this week. The Senate voted on Tuesday to extend unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans after a contentious battle in which Republicans refused to sign on for the extension without cutting fat from federal spending to keep the deficit from growing larger. While seemingly contradictory on the surface, the battle over unemployment benefits for struggling Americans has been linked to the battle over extending the Bush tax cuts that benefit upper income tax brackets, commonly referred to as Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, which are set to expire at the end of 2010. How can politics over giving minimal support to the jobless be tied up with making the rich richer? It's not just politics, but economics also, and it actually makes perfect sense, and it's all come to a head in Washington. It's ultimately tax, economic and political triage. President Obama and the Democrats want to protect tax cuts for the middle and lower class, while trying to eliminate the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest. President Barack Obama and the majority of Democrats back want to keep the tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 in place for those making less than $200,000, and for families earning $250,000 or less. From a basic economic perspective, it's a question of adding at least $1 trillion to the deficit, or creating a trillion dollar tax hike. Which shock to the economy do you want? In the current "unusually uncertain" economic climate, as described by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, the debate over the Bush taxes is also a debate about the need for economic stimulus to keep the recovery going. A recent article in the New York Times detailed the decline in consumer spending among the affluent, and supporters of extending the Bush tax cuts have gravitated to this finding: if the tax cuts are not extended, the dire consumer spending pattern among the affluent will continue to be weak, holding the economy back. Kent Conrad,(D-N.D.) a fiscal conservative among Democrats, and a key player on the Senate budget committee, recently said he would support extending all of the Bush tax cuts. He told a recent press gathering outside the Senate, "The general rule of thumb would be you'd not want to do tax changes, tax increases for as long as until the recovery is on more solid ground." Conrad is not alone among fiscally conservative Senate Democrats, joined by Evan Bayh (D- Ind.) and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who also want an extension of all the Bush tax cuts. Their position was not heard by House of Representatives leader Nancy Pelosi, who said on Thursday that she is sticking to her guns of supporting the middle class tax cuts while eliminating the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Pelosi said on Thursday that the tax cuts at the high end have increased the deficit enormously.