With a few notable exceptions, thus far into Barack Obama's presidency, Democrats have remained supportive of the new president's legislative agenda, including the stimulus and SCHIP. But now, that cohesiveness may be beginning to unravel as some House Democrats appear to be balking at following the party line any longer, at least on economic issues.
A Monday article in CQ Politics describes a "quiet revolt" that is spreading among some House Democrats in reaction to Obama's push for greater spending. The piece focuses on the pressure the 49 Congressional Democrats from districts that voted for McCain in the 2008 presidential election are feeling as a result of the stimulus bill and Obama's proposed budget. These Democrats may begin to vote increasingly against the more progressive elements of Obama's agenda because they fear being voted out of office in the 2010 mid-term elections. As evidence of this trend, the article points to the 20 House Democrats who voted against the discretionary 2009 spending package.
The piece quoted one such Democrat, Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, as saying, "My job is not to be a rubber stamp for the president or Democratic leadership, but to be a voice for the people that elected me." Another Arizona Democrat, Harry E. Mitchell, said of Obama's plan to let the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy expire, "
I don't agree with the administration about letting all those tax cuts expire for upper-income families."
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer seems to recognize that he may have a growing problem on his hands. He told CQ, "We have a very diverse party, with diverse opinions. We're working on it."