Though the deal to avoid the “fiscal cliff” passed with overwhelming Democratic support, there were those in both the House and the Senate who were disappointed with the legislation that Congress ultimately pushed through.
In the House, 172 Democrats voted for the bill, with 16 who opposed it. Of the 16, nine lean more liberal, including Rep. Peter DeFazio, Ore., who explained:
While the Senate plan included an extension of unemployment insurance that will save benefits for over 29,000 Oregonians and an essential ‘doc-fix’ that will continue payments to doctors who treat Medicare patients, this ‘deal’ hinders our ability to deal meaningfully with the deficit and burgeoning debt and puts in jeopardy Social Security and Medicare in the coming confrontation over the debt limit.
Jim Moran, Va., also more liberal, argued that the bill just paves the way for three more showdowns over the budget:
Unfortunately the bill before us today is wholly inadequate. It leaves our country with three more “fiscal cliffs” to negotiate over the next three months. There’s no clarity as to how we preserve the full faith and credit of the U.S. by raising the statutory debt limit, the economically devastating sequester is delayed two months but remains in full effect, and there’s no direction as to how we will fund the government for the remainder of the year when the continuing resolution runs out in March.
Of the more conservative House Dems who voted against the bill, Jim Cooper, Tenn., said his opposition was because the deal offered “No real spending cuts. No real deficit reduction. No acknowledgement of America’s out-of-control national debt.”
Mike McIntyre, N.C., took similar issue with the bill. “1) It will add almost $4 trillion to the nation’s debt; 2) It delays spending cuts; and 3) It does not provide for comprehensive tax reform that can help our small businesses create jobs,” McIntyre said in a statement.
The other Democrats to vote against the bill were Reps. Xavier Becerra, Calif., Earl Blumenauer, Ore., Rose DeLauro, Conn., Jim McDermott, Wash., Brad Miller, N.C., Bobby Scott, Va., Pete Visclosky, Ind., John Barrow, Ga., Jim Matheson, Utah, Collin Peterson, Minn., Kurt Schrader, Ore., and Adam Smith, Wash.
On the Senate side, the opposition came from three Democrats, each of whom cited different reasons for their opposition.
Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa, said he was angry that the bill raised the threshold for tax cut extensions to $450,000 per household. ”I’m disappointed to say that in my opinion, this legislation that we’re about to vote on falls short,” Harkin said. ”First, it doesn’t address the number-one priority: creating good middle-class jobs now. Unemployment remains way too high. This bill should include direct assistance on job creation measures.”
Sen. Michael Bennet, Colo., chalked up his opposition to the bill’s not addressing the deficit. “This proposal does not meet that standard and does not put in place a real process to reduce the debt down the road,” he said in a statement.
And Sen. Tom Carper, Del., explained that “When push came to shove, we walked away from entitlement and meaningful tax reform, at least for now. Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to President Obama, is fond of saying, ‘Never waste a good crisis.’ I’m afraid that we’ve just wasted a doozie at a time when our President’s bargaining power was at its zenith.”