When President Obama served in the Illinois Senate and was faced with a difficult vote — one requiring political courage — he chose neither a”aye” nor “nay.” He voted present.
According to a Dec. 20, 2007 New York Times article, he did this at least 130 times.
Now that Obama is president and has chosen not to negotiate with Republicans over “fiscal cliff” issues, the GOP may be taking a cue from the president’s Illinois Senate years. The Republicans may just be voting “present” and allowing the Democrats to raise whatever taxes they want and “own” the economy that results from it.
The story first broke in ABC News on Monday. At that time House Republicans were considering what they called a “Doomsday Plan” that would vote to extend the Bush tax cuts on the middle classd and nothing more.
Since that time the idea has been refined and is gathering steam in both Congressional chambers.
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., appeared on CNBC’s Kudlow Report on Thursday night and offered the following:
“Why don’t we let the Democrats pass whatever they want. If they are the party of higher taxes, all the Republicans in the House vote present and let the Democrats raise taxes as high as they want to raise ’em. Let Democrats in the Senate raise taxes. Let the president sign it, and then they can own a tax increase, and when the economy stalls, when the economy sputters, when people lose their jobs, they know which party to blame, the party of high taxes.”
On his Friday radio broadcast, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh discussed the concept — to Vote present and let the Democrats take the heat. He first considered the idea as early as Nov. 29.
“The only leverage that I can see that [the Republicans] got,” Limbaigh said on his radio program, “is to back out of this and make sure that whatever happens, they don’t have any fingerprints on it.”
Should the Republicans vote present? Why not? They’ll get the blame no matter what they do.
The following clip is the original ABC News report from Monday night defining the problem.
The following clip is of Sen. Paul’s Kudrow Report Thursday night appearance offering the solution.