First, it was Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) voting against the fiscal cliff deal because it added to the deficit. Now one of the other Democratic “no” votes in the upper chamber — from Joe Biden’s home state, no less — says he rejected the deal because it didn’t tackle entitlement reform.
“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,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) explained in a detailed statement Tuesday.
One key element for any “genuine budget plan,” Carper said, is that it “had to reform entitlements in order to preserve programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for future generations.”
“When push came to shove, we walked away from entitlement and meaningful tax reform, at least for now,” the senator said. “Rahm Emanuel, former chief of staff to President Obama, is fond of saying, ‘Never waste a good crisis.’ I’m afraid that we’ve just wasted a doozie at a time when our president’s bargaining power was at its zenith.”
Carper also singled out the can-kicking aspect, noting that “two months from now, we face the prospect of yet another debt ceiling crisis and more turmoil that will discourage a lot of American businesses from investing their cash in hiring new employees that will help our economy grow.”
“…My hope is that this intransigence will someday be overcome, and that the next time there’s a serious effort to put together a budget deal, both sides will stay at the table and seize the opportunity to make the hard choices we know have to be made.”
Carper is an avowed supporter of the Simpson-Bowles plan to cut the deficit $4 trillion over the next 10 years with a combination of tax reform, entitlement reform, and spending cuts.
The third Senate Democrat to reject the fiscal cliff deal in the wee hours, Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), voted “no” after railing against the element of the bill in which the threshold for tax hikes was raised from Harkin (and Obama’s) preferred $250,000 level to $450,000 for households.
Harkin called the higher income for higher taxes “a tough pill to swallow.”