I started this post a couple of weeks ago. It sat in my rough drafts section as I tackled other issues and offered my thoughts on the stimulus and other topics. The sad part is that when I started it, there were 11 Democrats who had stood their ground and not let the party dictate what they believed to be true. We have since seen the passage of the bill, and the final vote. The good news: 7 stuck to their guns and did what they felt was right regardless of party pressures that I am sure were quite demanding. The bad News: 5 others rolled over and showed their belly to Queen Nancy. But I wanted to put these guys out there so that you all knew which 7 in Congress held to their beliefs rather than their party’s beliefs.
It must be noted that 5 of the original 11 switched votes to Yes. One other Representative, Peter DeFazio, voted yes originally but no on the final bill. So here is a list of the 7 Democrats who stood their ground and voted “NO”, in direct opposition to their party and their comments on why they did so. I know you Democrats will call them traitors and Republicans will call them heroes. I will just call them honest enough to vote what they believed. Remember, these are their reasons. Whether or not I agree with them is irrelevant:
Bobby Bright (D, AL, 2nd District) – “I feel strongly that the American people must have confidence that a recovery package is worth its tremendous price tag. Congress could have done this by simply focusing on investments in infrastructure and targeted tax relief for individuals and small businesses, but this legislation includes billions in additional spending that will have little effect on the economy.”
Parker Griffith (D, AL, 5th District) – Griffith wanted more funding for projects “such as NASA, water and sewer and transportation” in the fifth district. “We need to jump start our economy and create new jobs, but this bill does not do enough to cut taxes, support small businesses or invest in our research and development programs. I hope that we can work together to improve this bill as it moves through the process so that taxpayers are protected and we do more to invest in the programs and projects important to North Alabama.”
Walt Minnick (D, ID, 1st District) – “Economic stimulus, no matter how much you spend, is only going to work if the US banking and financial system is also functioning.” He added that “until banks are lending money again, it’s unrealistic to expect results.”
Heath Shuler (D, NC, 11th District) – “The legislation before the House today contained too much additional spending in areas that will not offer immediate economic stimulus.”
Colin Peterson (D, MN, 7th District) – “In this difficult economy, many in Congress are rushing to write and pass another massive federal spending bill. In my view, what we’re considering will not solve our problems, and may in fact make matters worse. The bill should have focussed on programs directly resulting in job creation and infrastructure projects, and for unemployment compensation and food stamps”
Gene Taylor (D, MS, 4th District) – “If anything is in it for the Coast, I don’t know. I don’t think it’s worth the $800-billion price tag. I do think there are lower cost ways to stimulate the economy. For example, the multi-peril bill will pay for itself.”
Peter DeFazio (D, OR, 4th District) – “The bill is simply too larded with tax cuts – as opposed to infrastructure spending – for me to accept the final version.”
As for the five who reversed course? I can tell you who they were, but not why they switched. Perhaps the back room compromise on a new version of the bill included some pork throw their way. That is what usually turns a vote around. They are:
- Allen Boyd (D, FL, 2nd District) – “I have serious concerns that this level of deficit spending without a plan toward fiscal responsibility will only make our economic problems worse. This stimulus package does not address the issues that we know are at least partly responsible for the economic downturn, and that is years of irresponsible fiscal policies rooted in out-of-control spending and borrowing.” (But you changed to yes on a bill rooted in out of control spending and borrowing $787 Billion)
- Brad Ellsworth (D, IN, 8th District) – he supported many of the provisions in the bill and “it’s clear that our economy cannot get back on its feet without some help.” But “there were far too many provisions that would provide little to no economic stimulus. I hope that the Senate and conference processes will result in an improved final bill.” (It didn’t and all those provisions were still there, what was eliminated was tax credits for first time home buyers and auto buyers. Interesting that it was elimination of of the stimulating parts that changed your vote)
- Frank Kratovil (D, MD, 1st District) – “A stimulus package of this unimaginable size needs to be met with the reality that a recovery and reinvestment plan is an extraordinary response to an extraordinary crisis. It is not an opportunity to abandon fiscal discipline in lieu wasteful spending. The plan includes projects to the tune of $200 million to rebuild the National Mall and $50 million in funding for the National Endowment of the Arts. Although these may be admirable causes, they certainly are not emergencies and should not be lumped in with legitimate efforts to strengthen our economy and get people back to work.” (Yet you voted yes even when these pet projects were still there in the final version)
- Paul Kanjorski (D, PA, 11th District) – “I strongly agree that we must stimulate our economy to help it recover from the current crisis. However, considering the magnitude of this program, is vitally important that the Congress and American people fully understand both the problem and proposed solution. All Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle needed to provide their input, but unfortunately this was not possible.” (Nothing changed there Paul, The American public was given 11 hours to view the 8 inch thick bill before your yes vote)
- Jim Cooper (D, TN, 5th District) – “This bill had too many congressional pet projects and too few of President Obama’s plans for jump-starting the economy. I hope the next version of the bill stays closer to its purpose: helping America recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.” (Again, nothing changed here except for your vote)
So there we have the guys who stood up to their party in the House of Representatives. And those who rolled over and reversed course on the final version. It isn’t important in the end what my thoughts are on the stimulus. What I wanted to highlight was the fact that at least some of the members of the House voted their beliefs instead of the party line. It is that kind of courage that is needed to move the country forward. Now if we can just get them to admit that they are Libertarians. Tomorrow I will give the same treatment to the 3 Senators who did the same.