By a vote of of seventy-four to twenty-six, the U.S. Senate has put its stamp of approval on the Barack Obama/John Boehner debt ceiling “deal”.
The roll call from the Pacific Northwest was as follows:
Voting Aye: Murray, Cantwell, Wyden, Begich, Baucus, Tester, Risch, Crapo, Murkowski
Voting Nay: Merkley
As noted above, Jeff Merkley was the only senator from the Pacific Northwest to cast a vote against the debt ceiling vote. We thank him for that. Here’s an excerpt from his strong, well-reasoned statement against the deal:
I have spent the last several days immersed in the details of this budget deal, trying to understand its real-world impact on Oregon’s middle class and small businesses. I have a single, simple measure to evaluate this proposal: is it going to create greater opportunities for prosperity and success for working Americans? Unfortunately, I have concluded that it will not, and so I cannot support it.
Our unsustainable deficits are absolutely a long-term challenge that we must address.
But millions of Oregonians and Americans are out of work right now. And with at least 5 million foreclosures looming, with the expiration of extended unemployment benefits forecast to cost half a million jobs next year, with the payroll tax holiday ending and costing another estimated 900,000 jobs in 2012, we should be relentlessly preoccupied with how to create more jobs.
Instead, this package will add to the job losses, repeating the mistakes that have caused prolonged economic slumps in this country and elsewhere.
We’ll be posting additional excerpts from Merkley’s statement against the debt ceiling deal throughout the day on In Brief.
Ordinarily, on the occasion of a significant vote such as this, we would include the president’s reaction. But we know what that’s going to be: more platitudes and empty promises. So instead, we’d like to salute one of the other five Democrats besides Senator Merkley who voted no: Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey.
Senator Menendez delivered a powerful, thoughtful, inspiring speech against the debt ceiling deal on the Senate floor just a couple of days ago. Here’s one of the best parts of his address, which reviews why the deal is flawed:
Mr. President, there is no balance in this agreement — no compromise. It simply does not force shared sacrifice as the American people have demanded.
Oil companies will keep picking the pocket of American taxpayers with ridiculous handouts while they earn $143 billion in profits.
Ethanol millionaires will be off the hook with this deal.
There is no balance in this deal.
There is no fairness. There is nothing but concessions to the radical right wing of the Republican Party that is holding the American economy hostage – a gun to its head – threatening to the pull the trigger if they don’t get their way.
And yet, no one on the right seems to be happy. They want more. They don’t believe they have gotten enough.
Mr. President, when is enough – enough?
How far do we have to bend before we break?
How much do we have to give of our values, our beliefs, our vision of America?
How much do we have to give of the promises we have made as a nation to the hard-working middle class families struggling to make ends meet …struggling to pay the bills, the mortgage – pay for health care and tuition to put their children through college and give them a chance at a better life?
How about those whose lives would be shattered except for the government’s protection?
We are their voice… and I speak for them when I say this is not a fair deal, but it is the deal before us.
The debt ceiling deal was certainly neither fair nor square.
Barack Obama keeps talking about balance, keeps talking about asking billionaires and millionaires to pay their fair share, keeps saying the plans offered by Republicans are one-sided, and yet he wasn’t any able to secure any new or restored revenue as part of the deal that he negotiated. Republicans came away crowing that they got “ninety-eight percent” of what they wanted.
Their attitude tells us all we need to know about this deal. It’s capitulation on the part of the president and all the Democrats in Congress willing to go along with him — including, sadly, our own Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.
POSTSCRIPT: The other Democrats who voted no were Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, though not a Democrat, was also a no.