What Fresh Hell Is This?

August 2, 2011

The House Vote - How The Locals Voted

First the vote::
After months of partisan impasse, the House on Monday approved a budget agreement intended to head off a potential government default, pushing Congress a big step closer to the conclusion of a bitter fight that has left both parties bruised and exhausted.

Despite the tension and uncertainty that has surrounded efforts to raise the debt ceiling, the vote of 269-161 was relatively strong in support of the plan, which would cut more than $2.1 trillion in government spending over 10 years while extending the borrowing authority of the Treasury Department. It would also create a powerful new joint congressional committee to recommend broad changes in spending -- and possibly in tax policy -- to reduce the deficit.
All but one member of the Pennsylvania delegation to The House voted for the bill - Congressman Doyle. In a press release he explained his vote:
I voted against S. 365 because I believe it will kill jobs and choke off economic growth while making life harder for the Americans who are struggling the most.

I believe the federal government’s skyrocketing national debt is a problem the United States must fix – and that it will require substantial sacrifice for us to do so – but I strongly oppose the approach taken in this bill, which I believe to be both counterproductive and unjust.

I recognize that we need to cut spending as part of the solution. That’s why I voted last week for Senator Reid’s plan to cut $2 trillion in spending over the next ten years. But the Republican cuts-only approach won’t stop the growth in the national debt, it won’t grow the economy, and it won’t create jobs.

In fact, spending cuts in the middle of an economic crisis slow the economy down and choke off job growth – as recent economic figures for the second quarter have shown.

Unless we grow the economy, spending cuts won’t get the deficit under control. That’s why I believe that Congress must enact a more comprehensive approach that includes tax reform along with spending cuts.

The other reason I opposed the debt limit bill was my belief that getting deficits and the debt under control should be accomplished with shared sacrifice, and not by dumping all of the burden on the most vulnerable members of our society. So, for example, this bill doesn’t ask profitable companies and the wealthiest Americans to share the sacrifice through higher taxes. On the other hand, it makes cuts in student loan programs and eliminates the firewall for defense after only two years. That’s not my idea of shared sacrifice.

I voted twice to raise the debt – once for a clean debt limit increase with no strings attached, and once for the Reid plan, which would have raised the debt limit and cut $2 trillion in spending. I am deeply pleased that, in the end, Congress didn’t allow our government to default on its obligations, but I couldn’t support a bill that I believe will do real, substantial damage to our economy, deny essential aid to struggling households, and slow or stop the creation of American jobs.
Congressman Jason Altmire, our other local Democrat in the House, voted in favor. His explanation:
Addressing this nation's fiscal responsibilities can't be done by listening only to the views of extremists of either political party. All along, I've called for a centrist approach to reduce spending and lay the groundwork for long-term deficit reduction. This package makes the responsible cuts in Washington's long history of over-spending without harming Social Security, veterans' benefits and military pay. Because this debt limit increase does not put us back in this situation six months from now, this bill provides a sense of certainty to our financial markets that have been unhappy with the process involved with fulfilling our credit obligations. The American people wanted compromise, a solution from the middle, and today Democrats and Republicans delivered that to them.

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