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Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:23 AM

Why a Handful of Progressive Lawmakers Opposed the Deal by John Nichols

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/02-1

Most progressives in the U.S. Senate and House voted in favor of the "Fiscal Cliff" deal worked out between Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. They did this despite the fact that the agreement compromised on what was supposed to be a hard-and-fast principle: that tax rates on Americans making $250,000 or more must go up to at least the rates that were in place when Bill Clinton was president. Instead, the deal only ends Bush-era tax cuts on those with incomes above $400,000. That rate, thoughtful progressives argue, "does not generate the revenue necessary for the country to meet its needs for everything from education for our children, to job training, to other critical supports for the middle class."

True, there will be some restoration of tax fairness -- not to mention an extension of unemployment benefits and a delay in across-the-board cuts proposed as part of the so-called "sequester" scheme. That was enough for most congressional progressives, from Senators Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, to Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota, and Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, in the House. They voiced their concerns but ultimately voted "yes." Many, like Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, did so with considearble concern. “Although it does not do as much as I want, this bill does ensure that the wealthy will be contributing more as we work to bring our deficits under control. I far prefer that choice to further cuts to education, law enforcement, and investments in the infrastructure our economy depends on," Merkley said of the measure. “But let’s be clear: this deal carries great risks as well. This deal sets up more cliffs in the near future, including the expiring debt ceiling and the sequestration, pre-planned cuts to programs essential to working families. And as before, there will be some who use these cliffs to launch renewed attacks on Medicare and Social Security. We cannot let those attacks succeed."

For a handful of progressives, however, the risks were too great to secure their support.

A few House stalwarts refused to go along with the 257-167 vote on New Year's Day. Among the objectors were Congressman Jim McDermott, D-Washington, and Congressman Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat who has a history of breaking with his party's leadership when he deels it has compromised on tax fairness, economic justice and infrastructure investment. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who chaired the party's platform drafting committee in 2004, said she voted "no" because the bill did not do enough to benefit working families. “I was hopeful that we would be voting on legislation that prioritized working families and the middle class over the wealthiest Americans in taking a balanced approach to the challenges we face as a nation," she explained. "However, the bill before the House of Representatives tonight is not that."

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Arrow 18 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why a Handful of Progressive Lawmakers Opposed the Deal by John Nichols (Original post)
xchrom Jan 2013 OP
kenfrequed Jan 2013 #1
stopbush Jan 2013 #2
mother earth Jan 2013 #6
BumRushDaShow Jan 2013 #10
kenfrequed Jan 2013 #13
OnionPatch Jan 2013 #15
mother earth Jan 2013 #16
stopbush Jan 2013 #17
BumRushDaShow Jan 2013 #8
kenfrequed Jan 2013 #11
Chathamization Jan 2013 #12
mother earth Jan 2013 #3
leftstreet Jan 2013 #4
ROBROX Jan 2013 #5
mother earth Jan 2013 #7
xtraxritical Jan 2013 #9
ProSense Jan 2013 #14
LineNew Reply ^
Wilms Jan 2013 #18

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:17 AM

1. Add to this...

If I am not mistaken (and I am... frequently) this sort of enshrines the portions of the Bush tax cuts for anyone making up to 400 K as permanent and also makes permanent the estate tax reductions.

This wasn't much of a compromise as the Republicans have made permanent their tax gains and we only have temporary fixes on programs that progressives support.

The unsustainable tax cuts are sill there and they are a huge part of the reason we had a deficit in the first place so practically it was not much of a solution.


The Republicans have set us up to have another huge debate about raising the debt limit in a couple of months where they will again use that to try to force us to cut social services... again.


The Republicans will continue to use this as an excuse to try to raise the retirement age with their usual shock doctrine bull.


Yes, the cliff sucked but in many ways it was better than the deal that was reached.


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Response to kenfrequed (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:40 AM

2. It depends on what you mean by "permanent."

Nothing in this legislation makes the bush rates any more "permanent" than were the Clinton rates.

What the legislation does do is make the bush rates the baseline for any future change to the tax rates. The legislation changes the bush rates from being temporary rates with a sunset clause that requires the rates to be extended and reauthorized every couple of years and makes them operative as a baseline.

Congress can at any time decide to raise or lower rates on those making over $250,000, or over $100,000, for that matter. Nothing in this legislation makes the bush rates permanent or unalterable in the future.

"Permanent" as used in this case is a spin word that makes Rs look good. The truth is, there's nothing permanent here, beyond the fact that it will now take action by Congress to raise the bush rates in the future, whereas going over the cliff would have taken us back to the Clinton rates without Congress needing to do anything.

This isn't just a semantic argument. In fact, it would be more accurate to call these the "tax rates for the foreseeable future," as opposed to being "permanent" rates.

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Response to stopbush (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:47 AM

6. Hell, no tax law is truly permanent, so we are celebrating the temporary nature of the cave-in?

Clinton rates are a far cry of what the rates were in the 50's, remember? The days when you could actually raise a family and feed them with one breadwinner in the family? Can't do that today with two...

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Response to mother earth (Reply #6)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:03 AM

10. The so-called "cave-in" is because of the rethug House

which is there because Democrats refused to vote in 2010 and the teabaggers got in.

It boggles the mind why people on DU are willing to tell the unemployed to go fuck themselves and let their benefits get cut.

No teabagger House would vote for what the Democrats really wanted, so DUers wanted nothing instead. The turnout in offyear elections needs to be like 2008 & 2012 in order to take back both the states and the Congress - and without the Max Baucus & Joe LIEberman wing, who scuttled many of the progressive initiatives by threatening to filibuster their own party.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:34 AM

13. Actually...

A lot of the republican win was because of Tom Delay style redistricting. This has also allowed them to hold onto power longer than they should.

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Response to kenfrequed (Reply #13)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 12:57 PM

15. My thoughts too. However

Turnout of Dems in 2010 was dismal. Progressives can't affect change if they sit out midterms.

So we've just identified two areas that MUST be addressed. Gerrymandering and midterm turnout. I hope the Dems have plans to do something substantial about both.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:01 PM

16. Oh please, I'm one of the unemployed. As far as elections go, the vote is still up for grabs &

until there is election reform and campaign reform, the whole system is absolutely rigged.
Just sayin, wishing it were otherwise, and we sure as hell keep hoping it is otherwise.

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Response to BumRushDaShow (Reply #10)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:04 PM

17. If I might be selfish, I'm extremely happy the unemployment benefits were extended,

because I just qualified for the 2nd round of Fed extended benefits and was in danger of losing them.

If we had gone over the cliff and tax rates had gone up on middle class people, it might have cost the average family an extra $2000 a year in taxes. Those are taxes that they'd subtract from their yearly gross wages.

If we had gone over the cliff and unemployment benefits had not been extended, I would have been losing $1800 A MONTH, with no paycheck to fall back on, and no other income from which to subtract that additional $2000 in yearly taxes.

So, yeah, I am ecstatic that this deal got done.

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Response to stopbush (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:56 AM

8. "Permanent"

Agree that NOTHING in Congress is "permanent" except maybe a Constitutional amendment and even that can be revoked by another amendment that repeals the previous one (although doing so is much harder than Congress simply changing the law to something else). The "permanency" for the Bush tax cuts was merely taking something that sunsetted after 10 years and taking away the sunset. A different example is the AMT, which was something that has had to be patched every year at some point after its original passage in something like 1969, due to the lack of an inflation adjustment provision, and the fix was finally changed (and "made permanent") so that the yearly patches are now unnecessary.

But next week, Congress could theoretically pass a new law that changes the tax rate yet again to the lower threshold. However, the chances of that happening with teabaggers still infesting the House is low but anytime in the future changes can and will be made. Loopholes that the wealthy routinely used, definitely should be on the table.

The DU meme about something (notably tax things) being "permanent" (in a negative sense) is one of the biggest BS RW-style talking points around here.

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Response to stopbush (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:25 AM

11. True to some degree

However, to go after the 250K-400K people for a tax increase now would require an actual tax law to be enacted. Which of course is a trap and would allow Republican messaging stating "biggest tax increase in the history of the universe" or some such pablum again.

It might have been better in some ways to allow expiration and then put forth seperate legislation for tax cuts for the working poor and middle class. Strategically speaking it is more useful and in terms of messaging it is a much bigger possible win. This deal deprived us of that.

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Response to stopbush (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:28 AM

12. I think most people know what is meant by "permanent"

It's the same thing that it's meant every time people have talked about making the Bush tax cuts permanent for the past 10 years. This might come as a shock, but no one actually thinks it means that somehow the tax cuts have been enshrined in the very essence of this country and that from now on, though it will be possible to change the constitution, it will be impossible to change tax rates.

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Response to kenfrequed (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:41 AM

3. Exactly my feelings. It has made some of the Bush tax cuts permanent & for that

very reason, it should have been the dealBREAKER, but it wasn't. And the GOP is screaming they got nothing?
Shock Doctrine is hugely playing out, day in and day out. While the cliff may have sucked, it was reversible.
A big game of chicken has been lost IMHO, something that should've played out to better, WE THE PEOPLE.

It truly speaks volumes. But somehow, there's a victory parade?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:42 AM

4. DURec

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:43 AM

5. THIS IS WHAT WAS REQUIRED

 

This country is going down the drain because of WAR, GREED, and HATE. Once the current VIET NAM war is over there will be less of a drain of money. The RICH should pay their fair share and the idea that the rich pay more taxes should be killed since the rich can AFFORD to pay more taxes.

The Congress of NO is still alive to terrorize this country and half the people in this country do not even know this fact. Not until progress is made to bring this country together will any progress be made to have a good place to live.

I think the home made terrorists are more evil than the foreign terrorists.

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Response to ROBROX (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 10:52 AM

7. Pentagon cuts were on the table. Let's not forget that either. Might've been incredibly

significant to the biggest money pit of death and destruction, bar none. Leverage lost, wave the flag & celebrate some more.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:01 AM

9. Interesting, no mention of the military.

 

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:35 AM

14. I like Merkley's comment

Although it does not do as much as I want, this bill does ensure that the wealthy will be contributing more as we work to bring our deficits under control. I far prefer that choice to further cuts to education, law enforcement, and investments in the infrastructure our economy depends on," Merkley said of the measure. “But let’s be clear: this deal carries great risks as well. This deal sets up more cliffs in the near future, including the expiring debt ceiling and the sequestration, pre-planned cuts to programs essential to working families. And as before, there will be some who use these cliffs to launch renewed attacks on Medicare and Social Security. We cannot let those attacks succeed."

The risk to future negotiation aside, voting against this bill was a vote against raising taxes, no spending cuts and securing more aid for the poor.

I'm glad he voted for it.


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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 09:31 PM

18. ^

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