When the final votes were tallied in Tuesday’s fiscal cliff vote, 89 senators had voted for and eight had voted against. The five Republicans and three Democrats who voted no should each be congratulated for ignoring their party leaders and voting their conscience.
With few exceptions, those who voted against the measure did so because they knew their role as lawmakers was to serve the American people, not to make deals — in this case, to avert a crisis much bigger than the so-called “fiscal cliff.” They recognized the need to reset the nation’s course before the economy completely implodes.
Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio was perhaps the most visible Republican voting against the deal. He said one reason he voted no was because the deal raises taxes in a fragile economy.
“Thousands of small businesses, not just the wealthy, will now be forced to decide how they’ll pay this new tax and, chances are, they’ll do it by firing employees, cutting back their hours and benefits, or postponing the new hire they were looking to make,” Rubio said in a statement.
He also addressed the bill’s failure to stem the spiraling debt. Instead, it adds $4 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years.
On the opposite side of the isle, Delaware’s Democratic Sen. Tom Carper recognized the deal for what it was — a sham.
“The purpose of this so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ was to force our hand to come up with a grand bargain to get our nation’s fiscal house in order and make the tough decisions that we, as legislators, are expected to make,” Carper said in a statement Tuesday. “Unfortunately, the deal the Senate passed this morning is not the grand bargain that I, and many of us, had hoped for, and that’s why I ultimately voted against it.”
The other Republicans who voted no were Sens. Chuck Grassley, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Richard Shelby, joining Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and Tom Harkin.
Ignoring Congress’ artificial “fiscal cliff,” Rubio addressed what was needed to address the country’s real fiscal ills.
“Rapid economic growth and spending reforms are the only way out of the real fiscal cliff our nation is facing. But rapid economic growth and job creation will be made more difficult under the deal reached here in Washington,” he said in his statement.
The Hill’s Alexander Bolton called Rubio’s words a potential “rallying cry for skeptical House conservatives.”
It’s apparent from Tuesday’s House vote that Rubio’s rallying cry was ignored by far too many to change the course. The most notable exception was House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Nevertheless, the bold action by Rubio and Carper, against their respective party leaders and many of their constituents, was an act of courage.
After the House vote, the president congratulated that body for averting “another recession.” It doesn’t come close.