10 of 11 Virginia representatives vote no

RoadrunnerTen of Virginia’s 11 members of the U. S. House of Representatives voted no on the fiscal cliff bill last night. Only Gerry Connolly (D-11) voted in favor.

It’s really not a surprise. The early details contained enough for Republicans and Democrats alike to agree that this was not a good bill. (And the additional details that have emerged – a tax break for Nascar? Really? – make the deal even less palatable.) The argument in favor boiled down to this: something had to be done.

Like ten of our members, I still don’t find that argument persuasive. Statements from Rep. Bobby Scott (D-3rd) and Rep. Scott Rigell (R-2nd) came to similar conclusions: the bill doesn’t reduce the deficit.

My biggest concern was that this just kicked the argument down the road two months. There was plenty of time to solve the problem – and it didn’t happen. Yes, the blame mostly lies with the Republican-controlled House. Passage of this bill won’t make change that one iota – and, in fact, will probably make the negotiations in March even more contentious.

Redistricting is the root of this mess. But a change in the process of redistricting may not be enough. Perhaps it is time to enlarge the house, making the districts smaller and less prone to gerrymandering, even of the self-chosen kind.

We need to do something to fix a broken Washington.


20 thoughts on “10 of 11 Virginia representatives vote no

  1. The whole damned group needs to resign…or be kicked out! Notice that they didn’t forget to give themselves a COLA. I’ve lost respect for the whole group.

  2. I don’t agree with Rep. Scott’s conclusion, but I can’t fault him for the process. As a procedural matter, he gets basically no say in how business is conducted in the House of Representatives.

    As for all the Republicans who voted “no” because they wanted more spending cuts, they should step back and take a long, hard look at how they reacted during Speaker Boehner’s negotiations with President Obama two weeks ago. There were plenty of opportunities for them to say “yes” to a deal they would have liked a whole lot better than this one. Regardless of one’s political persuasion, it would behoove every Virginian to consider voting these individuals out of office — if not for their politics, than at least for their lack of basic legislative competency.

    1. Scott has been saying the same thing for years: let the Bush tax cuts expire. He said it when they were first extended.

      And I agree: the Republicans should have taken an earlier deal. Based on what I’ve seen from this one, the Democrats should have, too. 😦

  3. They DID say yes to a better deal. Harry Reid refused to bring it up for a vote in the Senate.

    This bill has more new spending that it has cuts, and will add to the deficit.

    I only wish we had had a clean 11-0 opposition to this stupidity.

  4. Well I suppose I was mistaken. Apparently Scott Rigell is doing an adequate job representing the portion of the electorate in this state too flipping silly to realize that it doesn’t count as a deal if you know that yours is the only party to the negotiation that will agree to it.

      1. I want to start this post with an apology — I have a feeling this is going to end up being about 2,500 words long. If I were running my own blog (and particularly if I were running one that had gained as much prominence as yours has, considering how it’s propelled you into editorial writing for the local paper), I would probably hate it every time someone came along and tried to draft behind my own writing while he expostulated on his own thoughts. I’d leave well enough alone if I didn’t know you, Vivian, and if I didn’t enjoy exchanging thoughts on these matters with you.

        On the topic of the letter: I feel disinclined to credit that letter as an attempt to move the House GOP’s caucus on the fiscal cliff debate. Much like the constituent letter on the ATR pledge that he appended, it’s construction is such that it uses revenue and expenditure figures as expressions of %GDP to rationalize…what? I don’t see a policy proposal advocated within the text of the letter anywhere. I don’t see anything that he suggests as possible common ground for building a consensus with his Democratic colleagues in Congress or the Obama administration towards the ultimate goal of resolving the fiscal cliff negotiations in a timely fashion. I don’t see support for any individual proposals that had emerged at that point in time or a definition of what that proposal would have to contain in order for him to be able to find his way from “no” to “yes.”

        And speaking of the figures he brings up, in the spirit of your recent “dumbing down of America post,” he attributes this information to CBO while also writing that, “As a businessman in a season of public service, I go where the numbers lead me. The conclusions I have come to are data-driven, reflect considerable research, and are therefore strongly held.” This claim is absolutely absurd; this is Wikipedia-level research that takes fifteen minutes to do. You go to Treasury’s website and get the topline figure for both tax revenues and outlays every year. You go to the website for Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis and get the annual GDP number for each year. Divide A by B and multiply by 100. If I was being flippant, I would deride this as high school mathematics, but if I was being truthful, I’d admit that it’s a formula one learns in middle school.

        Given both the lack of specifics as well as the attempt to pass off rudimentary research and math as uncommonly insightful, I couldn’t help but conclude that this letter is meant less for an audience of other Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives and more for his constituents; he did, after all, publish it to his website for his constituents to see. The ultimate message seems to be, “After careful consideration, a lot of hard work and no small amount of prayer, I am confident that I am on the right side of this issue, whatever that happens to be.”


        On the topic of Democrats taking a better deal, I’m honestly not sure that there was ever a better attainable deal from their perspective unless Republicans were willing to incorporate the debt ceiling into the negotiations. Also, while I am concerned about long term deficits, it’s not something I’m terribly concerned about fixing right this red hot second. Nationally, unemployment remains about two percentage points higher than where it needs to be. The aforementioned BEA pegs 3Q2012 growth at 3.1%, which is certainly good news, but we’re still digging ourselves out of the recession, and by most accounts holiday spending failed to meet projections. Now is not the right time to take money out of the economy by having the government increase its revenues but also diminishing spending. Our first job needs to be making sure that our economy stays on the right track back to prosperity and low unemployment. This remains a time for triage; we can worry about the long term health of our economy once the short term survival is assured.

        Incidentally, there absolutely was a right time to worry about deficits. That time was Autumn of 2000, when during a period of solid economic growth and a 31-year low unemployment rate, Al Gore proposed taking some of the Government’s budget surplus and directing the Social Security Administration to buy up American debt, thereby reducing the interest liability to foreign governments like China while also further securing the solvency of the social safety net. Instead, the same people who elected Tea Party members in 2010 went ahead and elected the candidate who wanted to take the surplus and bet it all on black. We truly get the government we deserve. Apparently 12 years later than when we needed it.

        1. “Now is not the right time to take money out of the economy by having the government increase its revenues but also diminishing spending.”

          That is the critical error made so frequently in this debate.

          ALL government spending must start with the government’s acquiring money to spend. There are three ways a government can acquire money: taxes, debt, and printing. In getting money through taxes, it gets money from those who would spend it elsewhere. In debt, it takes money from those who would invest it elsewhere. In printing, it debases the currency and takes wealth from everyone. (There is a fourth way — owning businesses. However, that requires outlawing private competition, as with ABC stores and lotteries, thus putting a hidden “tax” on the patrons of that business through government inefficiency. Let’s face it, if the numbers-runers of old paid back only fifty cents on the dollar, they’d have ended up at the bottom of the Chesapeake wearing cement overshoes.)

          ALL government spending MUST take money out of the economy one way or another.

        2. “Al Gore proposed… directing the Social Security Administration to buy up American debt, thereby reducing the interest liability to foreign governments like China while also further securing the solvency of the social safety net.”

          That is what the Social Security Trust Fund is. (There is a similar Trust Fund for unemployment insurance.) However, this does NOT do anything to secure the solvency of these programs, because the repayment of those bonds must come out of general revenue.

          This is also why you will know they are lying when they say that if we do not raise the debt limit on time, seniors will not get their Social Security checks. Because these trust fund debts are subject to the debt limit, the Treasury can simply sell bonds on the open market, use the proceeds to redeem Trust Fund bonds (they are unsecured, and cannot be sold directly to the public), and pay the benefits out of the proceeds of the redemption, all without raising the debt one penny.

          But you will hear that lie anyway.

        3. I don’t mind long-winded, on-point responses, so no need to apologize. I maintain this blog so that we have a place for a free exchange of ideas, even those that I disagree with.

          I can understand why you might think that Rigell’s letter as being self-serving, especially since it was published on his website. I don’t know when it got there – that was the handiest link I could find – but originally, it went only to Republican conference members. (I recall a website getting a copy of the original letter but I can’t put my hands on it right this minute.)

          The thing is that Rigell has been trying for a long time – not just with this letter – to try to make Republicans in Congress realize the need to increase revenues. (FWIW Rigell gave me the same presentation as the Time Magazine writer.) You and I know how to do the math, but, obviously, most folks don’t. This was a revelation for him, to be able to see in cold, hard numbers that current policies guarantee a deficit. He’s trying to make his fellow Republicans see it, too.

          Yes, Democrats could have gotten a better deal. I think the vote actually reflects that. Hell, the deal Boehner offered was better than the one that ended up passing.

          But truth be told, that’s all water under the bridge. Just like the ACA – which should have been better, especially with Democratic control of everything – I know we have to move on. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  5. Congress is the governing body of our democracy that makes the laws for the land, it is not the President. President Obama has shown that he is wiling to work with all parties, but the opposition fails to understand that they are elected to represent the majority of their constituents, not just the hand full that will profit from their decisions. I have lost all respect for those who have taken an oath to uphold the government, yet vote and pass laws that help their personal gain and the gain for their capitalist friends.
    Those elected officials that want to cut waste need to start at home with: the elimination of subsidies to farmers, tax breaks for companies that outsource and remove jobs from the economy; enforce the laws that protect American workers, revamp the import and export regulations, cease privatization of public sector, etc. Yes, I like the Dollar stores, but I am willing to pay the dollar extra if the product is made in the US by Americans. {Not designed in American or distributed in America, but made in AMERICA}.

    Our democracy is based upon the people and we the people must hold them accountable as well as remove their “A…..” from their comfort zone. November’s elections did not remove or change the status quo. I don’t know what will wake the people up, but something must be done real soon. We can give foreign aide, yet when the Storm Sandy destroyed American homes and businesses, Congress turn their head. Congress bail out the corporations that caused our economy to demise, but will not take care of Americans.

    A $400,000 – 450,000 annual income is more than adequate when compared to the income of those who worked all of their lives and have to live on the tidbits of their Social Security. I don’t think that our elected officials have the morals and ethics that they want to impose on us, the people. If they were morally and ethically astute they would see to it that the tidbits of Social Security would be comparable to their lucrative pay for a part time job and stop cutting the SS benefits and the necessary entitlements that governments provide for their citizes. Let them live on the incomes of the once middle class that is now the low income retiree struggling from day to day. Life experience is the best teacher.
    Thanks for the opportunity to vent my frustrations!

    1. I think your venting makes a lot of sense. I was in an area that use to be mainly agricultural over the holidays and even all the old farmers agree the farm subsides need to end. Especially where farmers are paid not to grow certain kinds of crops. What they want is them to stop taxing their property like it is commercial building property. IE if a housing development next to you on 5 acres brought the county in X amount of dollars then your 100 acre farm should be taxed at 20 times what the subdivision made. I have seen so many family farms have to be sold after a farmer dies due to the huge estate tax bill that the family can not afford to pay. Then the land which has been farmed for to many generations to count has to be sold to pay the tax bill to the government. Then the land developer who bought it for a steal sells it off in section and makes a hugh profit. That is just wrong. All the while we all by veggies/fruit from walmart type stores . Older fruit grown in china which do not have the growing regulations to stop us from ingesting harmful chemicals. That is why I try when ever I can to make sure my food is from America and I try to shop at the local farmers areas first.

      Same for dollar store. I was thinking about that when I was buying some decorations for Christmas. I would much rather buy one nice thing that cost more but will last for years then inexpensive imported items that will be broken by the end of Christmas. However, it is getting harder and harder to figure out what is really made in America. It is like the law that allows them import oysters , drop them in Virginia Waters for 30 days then repackage them as “Virginia Oysters”.

      Its getting harder and harder to tell what you buy.

  6. The root cause of this entire mess is blatant gerrymandering. Until we fix that House members will never vote against the demographic of their respective districts. That is what is broke in Washington….

    1. That’s certainly a part of it, Zagevan. The need for majority-minority districts is long gone. But more to the point is the district system itself. Congressional districts are not a constitutional requirement, and they necessitate winner-take-all elections, which it turn results in a two-party system.

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