The House passed the last night with a vote of 269 to 161, putting the country yet one step closer to making good on the nation’s credit status.
However, neither Democrats nor Republicans are happy with the deal. Democrats believe that President Obama gave up the store in negotiations, failing to insist on measures to increase revenue, while the Tea Party conservatives—now driving the direction of the Republican Party—felt the cuts to spending fell far short.
Still, President Obama got what he said was most important to him: an agreement to raise the debt ceiling through 2013. And the Republicans successfully preserved every single tax breaks reserved for the wealthiest Americans.
Congressman Edolphus Towns of the 10th District, which includes all of Bedford-Stuyvesant, voted against the plan which he says includes cuts to vital domestic programs that will have a devastating impact on an already fragile economy.
“I am deeply dismayed that the compromise reached to raise the debt ceiling included no revenue raising provisions, but instead was laced with trillions of dollars in cuts to vital domestic programs,” said Towns. “I have long maintained that we should either raise the debt ceiling in a clean vote with no additional policy provisions, or if cuts are deemed necessary, then revenue must be raised to balance the deal.
“I proposed that we include creative revenue raising options like a bill I recently introduced, HR 2410, the College Debt Swap Act, which would raise $10 billion by providing an opportunity for private student loan holders to swap their debt for more forgiving federal loans. Unfortunately, in lieu of win-win policies, we are now considering lowering domestic discretionary spending to the lowest level since President Eisenhower was in office.”
Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, said on "Piers Morgan Tonight", the biggest problem with the compromise in the bill was that the Tea Party was allowed to call the shots and President Obama should have done more.
"There was a vacuum of leadership, and into that vacuum stepped the Tea Party, without any kind of economic theory to back up the solutions that they were offering" said Huffington. "But if there had been real leadership on the other side, this would not have happened.
"I really liked what Bill Clinton had suggested President Obama should have done, which is basically appeal to the 14th Ammendment, the Constitutional option [to] raise the debt ceiling and refuse to be held hostage. And more important, refuse to allow the economy and the lives of the American people to be held hostage."
Democrats were summarily against the bill. And although Republicans clearly made the fewer number of concessions, the bill was unpopular on both sides of the aisle. But ultimately, enough congressional members in both parties fell in line behind their party leaders in time to drive the bill through successfully.
Quick Details of the Deal
· Debt ceiling raised through 2013
· $900 billion in spending cuts over the next ten years
· Only $22 billion will be enacted before 2013
· $350 billion in cuts to defense spending
· No cuts to Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security
Quick Details of the "Super (Deficit-Reduction) Committee"
· They will recommend $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction before Thanksgiving
· Congress will vote on Committee recommendations before Christmas
· Tax revenues and entitlements (such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security) will be back on the table
Initially, Democrats held back from voting, to force Republicans to register their positions first so the liberal block could gauge the number of votes they would be able to register against the bill.
The mood in the room changed, however, when Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Democrat of Arizona, showed up on the House floor to cast her for vote in favor of the bill. It was her first appearance in Congress since she was shot in the head this past January.
During those final moments of voting, Giffords’s presence seemed to soften the bickering foes—evoking a round of applause, even—and reminded all who were present why they were standing there, on the House floor in the first place: to represent, preserve and protect the safety and well-being of all Americans.
The Senate will vote on the bill today.