For Rosa DeLauro, no deal on the “fiscal cliff” would have been better than the deal that passed the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday night.
DeLauro, who represents New Haven in Congress, was one of just 16 House Democrats who voted against a last-minute deal that prevents the federal government, for now, from going over the so-called “fiscal cliff.”
Connecticut’s four other House members and two senators, all Democrats, voted yes.
The deal passed, and President Obama is expected to sign it Wednesday. The deal prevents automatic government-wide spending cuts from going into place; it prevents the so-called “Bush tax cuts” from all expiring. Economists—and the crucial stock market group psyche—had assumed that the lack of a deal could plunge the fragile economy back into recession. At the same time, some observers have predicted that the narrow deal defers too many big questions for another round of potentially devastating showdowns. At the heart of debates over the past week of gamesmanship is whether the two parties made essential compromises to govern responsibly or whether they sold out their bases. Or whether this temporary fix helps much.
The full House voted 257 to 167 in favor of the deal, called the Tax Relief Extension Act. The Senate previously approved it. (Click here for Christine Stuart’s account of the overall vote.)
In a statement issued after the vote, DeLauro said she was glad the deal extended the tax cuts for people earning up to $250,000 a year. She was glad it extends unemployment benefits for another year for people whose benefits would have otherwise expired.
But why preserve the tax Bush tax cuts for families earning up to $450,000? Why keep permanent a tax exemption for estates of up to $10 million? Why leave for later (like in only two months) the need to settle other major debt and budget-cutting questions that will force another showdown in D.C.?
DeLauro’s statement posed those questions to explain her no vote.
The statement didn’t mention President Obama. But it echoed the arguments of fellow liberals that Obama, despite the repudiation of Republican economic arguments in the November elections, gave away too much too soon in negotiations, strengthening the Republican hand for showdowns to come.
Here’s the full text of her statement:
“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. However, the bill before the House of Representatives tonight is not that.
“I have consistently supported making the tax cuts for the first $250,000 of household income permanent and I am pleased this bill does so. I am also pleased that this legislation extends unemployment insurance, allows some high-end tax rates to return to Clinton-era levels, and extends tax credits that benefit the working poor and students. Those are reasons to support it, but are not enough.
“I question whether those making above $250,000 need tax cuts and I cannot support an extension of the Bush tax cuts to those making up to $450,000. At the same time, this legislation fails to address the expiring payroll tax cut, meaning that millions of middle class families will see as much as a $2,200 tax increase, beginning with less take home pay in their next paycheck. This is regrettable.
“This legislation makes permanent a tax structure that benefits the wealthy—it provides permanent tax rates to the wealthy while only providing temporary tax credits to working and middle class families. A $10 million estate tax exemption is now permanent, while the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit are only temporary.
“This legislation also does not permanently address the automatic spending cuts which threaten to cost thousands of jobs, and the debt ceiling, which if not raised, as we saw a little more than a year ago, could wreck havoc on our economy. That means we will be back two months from now under another fiscal cloud—and with many of the same people that created this crisis once again holding the economy hostage while this time calling for benefit cuts to Social Security and Medicare. This once again will put the middle class at risk.”
Rep. Rand Paul: “Last night - over my loud opposition - the U.S. Senate passed an Obama-blessed scheme that allows $600 BILLION in tax hikes…You and I know the problem in Washington, D.C. isn’t the lack of money. It isn’t that Americans are ‘greedy’ and want to keep the money they’ve earned out of the hands of wasteful politicians. The problem is the spending that pushed our country to $16.4 TRILLION in debt with no end in sight.” And this is the REAL reason DeLauro voted no: because for 22 years she has consistently supported the budget-busting, out-of-control spending that is destroying our country. DeLauro’s “perpetually-campaigning-for-reelection” mode always has included instilling fear that “they” are going to tax the “middle class”, that “they” are putting the middle class at risk, that “they” are going to scuttle entitlement programs like Social Security. In her statement she fails to mention that the expiring “payroll tax cut” was a gimmicky, temporary 2% cut in the Social Security withholding—which had minimal impact on take-home pay—but which further erodes the future funding of Social Security. DeLauro claims that “the same people that created this crisis”—conveniently omitting herself!—will be calling for benefit cuts to Social Security—the very same program that the spendaholic thinking of DeLauro is undermining.
posted by: parejkoj on January 2, 2013 12:20pm
An interesting point of view from Rep. DeLauro. It’s hard to see how this deal really is better for the country in the long run than just going over the “cliff” would have been. Especially with regards to rapidly rising income and wealth inequality.
Christopher Schaefer brings out the usual Republican line about excessive spending, and as usual, it’s just not true.
If it wasn’t for the ongoing “great recession” and its associated drop in employment and income, the federal government would have about $500 billion per year more in revenue. Perhaps $150 billion per year in extra spending since the beginning of the slump is due to extra spending on income security like food stamps and unemployment benefits. There’s more than half of the current budget deficit gone right there, if the economy were operating at full capacity. Re-instating the 2001/2003 tax cut would fill in a large part of the remaining gap.
So, although the US certainly needs to have a serious discussion about spending priorities (which really hasn’t happened), claiming that our problem is due to “spendaholic thinking” is just plain false.
For a more in-depth analysis:
posted by: wendy1 on January 2, 2013 12:37pm
You will never get my vote ever. This is the best deal on the table and you said no??????????!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by: FrontStreet on January 2, 2013 1:07pm
Would be great to a good, rigorous democrat challenger to DeLauro. She seems more part of the congressional “problem” (inability to find common ground and legislate) than the solution. Maybe someone like Lamar would be interested…
posted by: PH on January 2, 2013 1:54pm
Bravo to Rosa, she is absolutely right that we should have gone over the cliff and then negotiated with the absurdly unpatriotic Republican House members once tax rates had returned to Clinton-era standards. I am not opposed to compromise, but I think the country would have benefited from seeing what lengths the Republicans would go to to keep the pockets of the absurdly wealthy fat and tight at the expense of the rest of us. We’ll get another chance in February, when the hostage-takers threaten to take down the world’s economy with their debt-raising shenanigans.
As for Mr. Schaefer, I suspect he would be opposed to cutting our defense spending, by far the largest driver of our discretionary spending and debt, but wouldn’t hesitate to slash the health care access of poor and elderly Americans. Why do we need a defense budget that is greater than the rest of the world combined? Last time I checked nobody is going to be coming to invade us any time soon and we have a few allies out there as well.
And re: the idea that the Social Security cut was “gimmicky” and had “minimal impact on take-home pay” it just shows how out of touch with reality Mr. Schaefer is. That was the single largest move that the administration made to put money in the pockets of peope who spend their money, not hoard it like Scrooge McDuck. $2000 a year per person may be chump change to Mr. Schaefer, but I can assure you it was a pretty serious deal for all working Americans earning under $113,000 a year. If you want to make Social Security even more solvent, just increase the range of incomes that can be taxed, up to $140,000 or so, and your problem is solved.
Rosa wins in a landslide year after year because she is a superb, attentive politician with the needs of the middle class squarely in her sights.
Readers should note that the links above posted by parejkoj are articles by Paul Krugman , recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics. (Note that these are the same folks who awarded Pres. Obama the Nobel Peace Prize because he thinks peace is a cool idea…) Go here for an alternative opinion and critique of Krugman: http://krugman-in-wonderland.blogspot.com/ To PH: What you “suspect” about me and defense spending is quite wrong. I am a strict Constitutionalist on that particular matter: only Congress has the authority to declare war, not the President. We’ve been wrong on that at least since the Korean “conflict”. And the Constitution only authorizes a “militia” for “defense”—not for engaging in regime change throughout the world. Both Dems & GOP have engaged in egregious unconstitutional behavior in this matter. And DeLauro? When I attended a candidate forum back in Oct. at New Haven’s 1st Presbyterian Church DeLauro talked about how important it was to keep securing govt. contracts for CT’s defense industry because it’s the “backbone” of CT’s economy. A young man then asked her why we are spending so much on defense. DeLauro, master of obfuscation, replied that Sikorsky makes helicopters for businesses.
posted by: anonymous on January 2, 2013 3:07pm
It’s unfortunate that Connecticut’s other elected officials didn’t join DeLauro in this vote.
They can never again claim to be so-called “guardians of the middle class,” when they’ve just voted to redefine middle class as $450,000 per year. The median household makes $50,000, and $380,000 is the top 1%.
Did Chris Murphy say how we would have voted?
posted by: Dee Rien on January 2, 2013 4:27pm
Chris Murphy is still in the House. He did vote, and he voted in favor.
And Mr. Schaefer, Rosa DeLauro voted NO on the one thing that has been largely responsible for our current fiscal nightmare, the Iraq War—which as I’m sure you know, was waged off-budget and on a credit card during the Bush administration.
posted by: jim1 on January 2, 2013 4:46pm
For Anonymous if like you said $50,00 and $380,000 then those people are going to be just fine. Look anyone over $400,000 is up to 39% not under!!!!!!!!
posted by: DingDong on January 2, 2013 6:06pm
The same folks do not hand out the Nobel Peace Prize and the Nobel economics prize.
The Peace Prize is handed out by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, a 5-member committee appointed by the Parliament of Norway.
The Committee for the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is appointed by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. It usually consists of Swedish professors of economics or related subjects who are members of the Academy.
In other words, the Nobel Peace Prize is handed out by (Norwegian) politicians and can be a bit of a joke at times. The Nobel Economics Prize is handed out by (Swedish) economists and is quite serious.
posted by: parejkoj on January 2, 2013 7:19pm
Christopher Schaefer is wrong again: The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize is selected by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, who are appointed by the Norwegian parliament. The winner of the Prize in Economic Sciences is selected by members of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Notice that those two selection committees are completely different. I don’t understand why Obama was selected for the Peace Prize either, but that’s beside the point: suggesting that a poor choice for the Peace Prize reflects on the choice for the previous year’s Economics Prize completely misunderstand how the various Nobel Prizes are chosen.
And, in another “smear the messenger” tactic, Christopher chooses to link to a blog that attempts to smear Krugman, without any analysis of the data I provided. Does Christopher dispute the numbers Krugman gives in those links? If so, please post an analysis that refutes those numbers, not some general smear.
I’d like to thank DingDong and parejkoj for doing such a “noble” job of correcting me re. the 2 different Nobel committees. Re. the “blog that attempts to smear Krugman”, author William L. Anderson describes his blog thus: “Analysis and criticism of America’s most prominent public intellectual and champion of Keynesian economics. I am part of the Austrian School of Economics, and I critique Krugman’s writings from that perspective.” So is “analysis and criticism” or a “critique” of one’s writings now synonymous with “smear the messenger”?! I leave it to readers to study the writings of both and make up their own minds. I expect that Prof. Anderson soon will provide a critique (“smear”?) of Krugman’s latest data linked above.
posted by: HhE on January 4, 2013 10:16am
Austrian School of Economics = My gut tells me so, so it must be so.
Strict Constitutionalists? To me that is like taking The Bible as the literal word of God, instead as containing God’s message, but requiring deep thought and reflection to find. To my mind, both are sacred, living texts (I don’t necessarily believe in one, the other I am sworn to defend and bare true faith and allegiance to.)
So I take it CS would shut down all of our National Parks as unconstitutional.
The Korean war/police action was the right thing to do.
I loathe Rep. DeLauro for a lot of reasons, including these written here.
posted by: HhE on January 4, 2013 9:27pm
Mr. Schaefer, I dare say we are not alone, that there are others who object to her views, values, votes, or fashion sense. As for your questions; I find the NHI seams to be a supporter of her’s, and no, just more sensible clothes.
posted by: Stephen Harris on January 5, 2013 1:29pm
Since noses are counted before a vote is cast, some politicians get to grandstand without affecting the bill everyone wants to pass.