Democrats Spin Their Votes for Cliff Deal
Though many pundits and the media are heavily focused on the weaknesses of the Republican Party, Democrat legislators also felt the need to defend their votes, whether for or against the “fiscal cliff” deal.
Only one member of Connecticut’s Democrat delegation voted against the “fiscal cliff” package, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who said she rejected the bill because it failed to raise taxes on families earning between $250,000 and $450,000.
Similarly, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said, “If you make $250,000 a year, you’re not middle class. You’re in the top 2% of income earners in America…No deal is better than a bad deal, and this looks like a very bad deal the way this is shaping up.”
Emphasizing what they had to give up in order to vote in favor of the cliff deal, many Democrats expressed frustration that the package allowed for higher exemptions on the estate tax than they had hoped.
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) referred to the cliff agreement as a “sweetheart giveaway to the wealthiest 7,200 estates in the country.”
Other Democrat lawmakers, however, defended their votes in favor of the package with statements that seemed to distance themselves from the process, as well as deny the responsibility they, other members of Congress, and the president had for many months, knowing full well the “cliff” was approaching.
“This is an ugly package, but it’s the right thing to do for the economy,” said Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT), who will be sworn in as Connecticut’s junior Senator on Thursday. “This is a tough vote, but we got elected to make tough votes.”
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) announced that Vice President Biden, who negotiated the fiscal cliff deal in place of President Obama, changed his mind to vote in favor of it.
“He was extremely persuasive talking about this, [saying it] was as good as you could get given the time constraints,” said Courtney, who also seemed impressed that Biden “did a good job” blocking Medicare cuts to doctors’ reimbursements.
What Courtney failed to mention, however, is that the $30 billion to maintain the “Doc Fix” will be covered by cutting other health care programs. In addition, the “Doc Fix” is separate from the $716 billion in cuts to Medicare that were made to fund ObamaCare.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said of his vote in favor of the cliff deal, “I’m frustrated and unhappy that we couldn’t reach a better solution much sooner, but this deal is better than no deal at all.”
For certain, liberal Democrats will be looking to get more of what they believe they missed in this cliff package. A Democrat familiar with the negotiations told the Washington Post that the president will be following up this deal, when the deficit reduction talks begin, with attempts to gain additional revenues from households making at least $250,000 by limiting their tax deductions.