Following in uneasy but steady lockstep behind the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives, the Democrat-coontrolled US Senate voted 74-26 Tuesday to endorse the deal between President Obama and Congressional Republicans that will impose massive cuts in federal programs in return for a temporary hike in the debt ceiling.
Obama will sign the deal quickly, even as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admits it may not avert a downgrading of the Triple AAA credit rating the US has long enjoyed.
Few of the Democratic senators who backed the plan were happy with what they were doing. “At the end of the day I will vote for this measure, but obviously with a heavy heart,” said assistant majority leader Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, a liberal who was President Obama’s political sponsor and mentor when the young state senator sought an Illinois US Senate seat in 2004.
A Democratic president may have gotten the vote he wanted from the Senate. But Democrats weren’t celebrating.
The celebration was on the right.
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was busy declaring “victory” for conservatives in their struggle to disempower and defeat Obama, who she comically described as the most liberal president, I believe, in US history…”
“We have to make sure that we realize that, yes, this is a victory, because Tea Party patriots did shift the debate,” announced Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee who still hints that she might be a 2012 contender for the party’s presidential nod.
Of this, there can be little doubt.
Most members of the Senate Democratic Caucus were willing to give the “Tea Party patriots”—and the Republican Party they are steering far to the right—the victory Palin described.
But seven members of the Democratic caucus refused to go along —as did nineteen Tea Party Republicans, such as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley voiced some of the strongest objections when he said the spending cuts in the deal could cost as many as 300,000 jobs.
“Doesn’t this deal take us in the wrong direction?” Merkley asked. “Shouldn’t we be on this floor working to create jobs, not to destroy jobs?”