McGovern, Neal slam Republicans while waiting for vote on fiscal compromise
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal speaks during an interview Tuesday at the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Purchase photo reprints »
Jim McGovern talks with left David Narkewicz and Susan Lantz, of Northampton on a visit to town Sunday afternoon. Purchase photo reprints »
Two of western Massachusetts’ Democratic representatives in Congress expressed frustration Tuesday night as they watched political maneuvers over the nation’s fiscal crisis.
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, said he was “dumbfounded as to why Republicans in the House are resisting” a compromise plan. If about 40 Republicans vote for it as well as most Democrats, it can pass, he said.
“Common sense has to prevail,” said Neal, who shifts Thursday to representing the 1st Congressional District, which includes Amherst. “The American people want compromise and this is a reasonable compromise.”
He noted that the plan has been supported by 90 percent of the Republican senators as well as by President Barack Obama.
“The danger is if we don’t get it done tonight, the reaction in the financial markets Wednesday could be very bad,” Neal said.
Stock prices increased on Monday in anticipation of a the completion of a fiscal deal, he said.
Republicans are good at obstruction but not governing, said a frustrated U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Worcester, as he waited for a vote Tuesday night on the Senate’s bipartisan plan to avert a fiscal crisis.
“This is not a perfect bill, but the alternative is going off the fiscal cliff and having everyone’s taxes increase and having no extension of unemployment insurance,” said McGovern, who as of Thursday will represent the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Northampton. “At this late stage, to throw a monkey wrench in it and say, ‘We want to add something new’ is regrettable.”
House Republicans assessed Tuesday night whether they had the votes to pass an amended version of the compromise plan adopted by the Senate early Tuesday, with spending cuts inserted. They apparently concluded they didn’t have the votes, or they thought the Senate wouldn’t take up their amended version in time, or they were worried that the public would blame them if taxes increased, McGovern said.
McGovern said he is not comfortable with some details of the compromise, such as the provision to keep tax cuts in place for those earning up to $400,000 a year, instead of $250,000, as Obama originally proposed. But he said it represents a bipartisan effort and he would vote for the plan.
McGovern and Neal spent a lot of time waiting in their offices Tuesday before it was clear that the compromise would come up for a vote. On Thursday at noon, a new Congress will convene, including 80 new members who are still hiring staff and finding their offices, McGovern said.
“Time is running out,” he said. “On Thursday, we’d have to start all over again. It would be back to the drawing board.”
Many Republicans don’t believe in the give and take of compromise, he said. “I wish I could get everything I wanted on every bill,” he said. If unemployment insurance ends and the earned income tax credit disappears, he said, “that’s cruel.”
McGovern said he can understand why many people are exasperated with Congress, but they should remember where the true fault lies.
“It’s easy to say, ‘A pox on both your houses,’ but any objective observer can see that the president has made a huge change,” he said. “To say he’s not compromising isn’t the case, and in return, what we’ve gotten is nothing. Starting tomorrow, taxes go up if we don’t do something.”