Rep. Kevin McCarthy voted irresponsibly on the fiscal cliff bill last week, casting a vote for his party, not his district. McCarthy, the third-ranking House Republican, told The Californian's CEO, Richard Beene, of the fiscal cliff compromise: "There were good reasons to vote for it, and good reasons to vote against it. I believe that any legislation considered by the House had to seriously address the root of our debt crisis: Washington's out-of-control spending."
We agree spending is a big problem. Almost everyone does. But Republicans and Democrats couldn't agree on how to make those cuts so they essentially decided to break the fiscal cliff into stages, with a vote Tuesday to deal with the most immediate problem: tax rates set to rise on everyone. There will be time later to wrangle over cuts, like when the delay in sequestration cuts expires or when the debt ceiling expires.
But in a district where the median income is $48,000 (compared with $61,000 statewide) and where more than 1 in 5 people live in poverty, holding down tax rates on those making less than $400,000 is pretty important.
Also important to McCarthy's district are the wind energy tax credits and an extension of the farm bill, both of which McCarthy opposed when he voted against the fiscal cliff deal.
McCarthy has long supported wind energy tax credits, even proposing at one point to extend them for 10 years. Likewise, he has claimed in recent months to be pushing hard to get some action on the farm bill, which he hasn't been able to convince House leaders to put up for a vote.
And what about the economic consequences of not passing a fiscal cliff deal? Many predicted that markets would have reacted negatively, setting the U.S. back further in its economic recovery if not setting off a global recession.
On that last point, Republicans have been completely unwilling to take chances. So McCarthy had to know he was safe to vote against the fiscal cliff bill, which, perhaps had to do with the lack of spending cuts but also had the added incentive of ingratiating him with his fellow House Republicans.
That's called playing politics -- voting to burnish your political credentials even if it means voting against what's good for the folks back home. The fiscal cliff deal was far from pretty. But the good reasons to vote for the bill clearly outweighed the bad, at least for the folks back here at home.