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Rep. Adam Smith explains change-of-heart on debt limit vote

Post by Rob Hotakainen on Aug. 2, 2011 at 4:15 pm with 22 Comments »
August 2, 2011 4:28 pm

Adam Smith
WASHINGTON – Just last week, Rep. Adam Smith warned that the nation’s debt ceiling had to be raised immediately.

“This is non-negotiable,” said the Tacoma Democrat.

But on Monday, when the House finally decided to increase the debt limit, Smith voted against it.

What happened?

For starters, Smith didn’t like what congressional leaders left out of the legislation.

He complained that the debt package didn’t include any tax increases and predicted it would result in “devastating cuts” to scientific research, education, roads and bridges and national security.

“To prevent the worst of these cuts from taking effect, revenue must be on the table,” said Smith, 46, who’s serving his eighth term.

In an interview Tuesday, Smith said it marked the first time in his career that he had voted against increasing the debt limit.

“I will tell you – I thought about it long and hard,” he said.

In hindsight, Smith said, he might have voted differently “if it had come down to one vote and we were staring at default.” But he said lawmakers had to choose between a default or a package of cuts that goes against “everything that I believe in.”

“It’s a horrific, horrific choice,” Smith said. “This plan that was put in front of us puts us on a path to massive, massive cuts in discretionary spending, with no revenue – no revenues whatsoever – and I could not endorse that plan.”

But with backing from 270 members, the plan won a “huge endorsement” from the House, Smith said.

“All of these things that I think are pretty important are going to be destroyed. … The thing that’s really kind of underreported in all of this is the choices that face us if we don’t find some way to get new revenue,” he said.

On Thursday, Smith argued for an increase in the debt limit in an op-ed published in The News Tribune, saying that partisan and ideological extremists had “hijacked this issue without thought to consequences.”

“We are legally obligated to pay bills in excess of the money we bring in, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, salaries for all federal employees including military, as well as contracts for goods and services purchased from businesses,” he said.

And with the nation set to default on Tuesday if Congress didn’t act, Smith said Congress had “no more time for dogma or righteousness holding up this vote.”

“America is on the brink of default,” he warned.

Smith, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the point of his op-ed was to make clear that he would vote to raise the debt limit “with no other attachments to it.”

By Monday morning, as many of his colleagues were promising to support the debt limit package, Smith was undecided. His spokeswoman said Smith was listening to his constituents and studying the package closely in advance of the vote.

After the vote, he called it “a flawed piece of legislation” that did not help the country’s long-term fiscal and economic woes.

The day did include one big highlight for Smith: His very close friend, Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, showed up for her first vote since getting shot in the head in early January in Tucson.

While most House members were surprised by her appearance, Smith was prepared. He received an e-mail from Giffords’ chief of staff earlier in the day, saying she was on her way to Capitol Hill.

“It was terrific,” Smith said. “It was great to see.”

Leave a comment Comments → 22
  1. BigSwingingRichard says:

    Smith: I voted no because I am a Democrat and the only solution to every problem is to raise someone’s taxes. Too much spending is never a problem, spending other people’s money is what we as Democrats do.”

  2. jimkingjr says:

    Smith- I voted no because I’m in the minority and do not have to take responsibility or tough votes. I’ve been that way my whole career- why is anybody surprised?

  3. Thank God we have one politician who thinks about working families instead of wealthy contributors to his campaign.

    Why is it that the R’s never want to acknowledge that the Republican party have given tax break after tax break to the wealthy, but never to the working class? You know you pay more in taxes than Warren Buffet….. right?

  4. taxedenoughintacoma says:

    Do you need for proof that Smith is a TAX and Spending democrat. He has to go.

  5. jimkingjr says:

    Gen- you should look at Adam Smith’s record on tax breaks before praising him.

  6. TheMASO says:

    We will remember him when it time to vote in 2012 — another NO here!!!

  7. geeterpontiac says:

    “By Monday morning, as many of his colleagues were promising to support the debt limit package, Smith was undecided. His spokeswoman said Smith was listening to his constituents and studying the package closely in advance of the vote.”

    Right!

    Just the way he listened to his constituents when they overwhelmingly begged him not to vote for Obamacare and then ignored them and voted for it.

    Smith is as two faced as you can get.

  8. unbiasedreporter says:

    But Rep. Smith, we were told by none other than President Obama that if a deal wasn’t reached by Aug 2 that grandmother would starve because they couldn’t send out Social Security checks. Sen Franken told us how the country would be defenseless because we couldn’t pay the military, the Border Patrol, the FBI, etc if a deal wasn’t reached by Aug 2. We were told that veterans, the unemployed, the poor would stop receiving benefits if a deal wasn’t reached by Aug 2.

    So, I have to take it that by voting against this deal you were in favor of these happening

  9. We are fortunate to have a representative who thinks more about the welfare of all of us even when that means taking a stand on increasing revenue that a lot of people won’t like. I’m glad my representative voted on the basis of sound principles that that are good for America.

  10. The Clear View says:

    Always has been a Progressive Liberal…. just left the progressive dem caucus to look moderate-thinking in the 9th district………spend more, tax more, but it was so hard to vote No. Terrible bill becuase no taxes…….Yikes!!

  11. FedUpL8ly says:

    As in just about everything, Adam Smith plays both sides of the fence. The Tribune keeps calling him “moderate”. What a joke! All a voter has to remember in the 2012 election is this: Adam Smith voted for every lousy piece of legislation that the Dems pushed on us, he voted with far-left Pelosi more than 97% of the time and he voted to keep her as Minority leader in the House. He’s a “Progressive” through and through and has voted to give tens of billions to the U.N. on more than one occasion. As a middle-class retired Democrat, I’ve followed him very closely the last five years and he’s steadily voted for policies that have made things worse for me and my family. People should realize that we don’t have the Democratic Party that past generations had.

  12. It’s unfortunate that so many commenters have apparently forgotten their Civics 101. Their amnesia prevents them from getting the real point of Congressman Smith vote — the real story. Adam Smith cast his No vote not because he wants to raises taxes, but because the total scope of the “deal” Congress as a whole approved means the Nation is far from being out of the woods. We all need to get ready for lots of tough decisions spending cuts and need to write our congressional representatives to tell them what we think and not just whine about it in blog comments.

  13. Smith, just like Obama are both campaigning, not leading or running the country!
    Dump both of the socialists.
    And, Verne keep your welfare state. The workers and tax payers do not need it, and by workers I mean….not over paid, over benefited, union government workers.

  14. JingJong says:

    Tough luck Adam you still haven’t learned to lesson. The crazy spending and taxing to the max needs to end.

  15. scott0962 says:

    “We are legally obligated to pay bills in excess of the money we bring in”

    That’s a little disengenuous. Congress created those legal obligations and Congress also has the power to alter the terms, reduce them or eliminate them. Just come out and admit it, Congressman: you saw the votes were there and took the opportunity to safely pander to your consituents on social security and medicare.

    I agree that additional revenue would help preserve the social safety net but perhaps the debt crisis shouldn’t be made too painless for the average American. Feeling the squeeze might make people, including those reliant on government entitlements, to pay more attention to what their elected representatives do in the future instead of turning a blind eye while they rack up the bills and increase government obligations in good times beyond our ability to pay for it in bad times.

    We average people are not without some responsibility ourselves for this debt crisis; someone voted for the people who de-regulated the financial industry, encouraged lowering mortgage lending standards and expanded subsidies, entitlements and government borrowing to the present unsustainable levels while choosing to fight not one but two wars with borrowed money.

    If they were private business men and women instead of Congress they’d probably be up for indictment for fraud, theft, malfeasance, barratry and a litany of other criminal charges instead of being up for re-election. (And lets not even get started on the role recent presidents and their advisors played in creating this sorry mess.)

  16. southhillliberal says:

    Excuse me conservatives- he voted against raising the national debt. All your tea party and republican buddies voted to INCREASE the national debt. The liberal democrat DID NOT! I’ll try that once more, the liberal democrat DID NOT vote to increase the national debt.

  17. geeterpontiac says:

    southhill,

    Please note,

    “In hindsight, Smith said, he might have voted differently “if it had come down to one vote and we were staring at default.” But he said lawmakers had to choose between a default or a package of cuts that goes against “everything that I believe in.”

    “Smith, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the point of his op-ed was to make clear that he would vote to raise the debt limit “with no other attachments to it.”

    Translated, that means Smith is a tax and spend liberal, nothing more, nothing less.

    He doesn’t listen to his constiuency (Obamacare) and he postures to improve his election prospects.

    He is the epitomy of what is wrong with political leadership.

  18. rawdibob says:

    “…result in “devastating cuts” to scientific research, education, roads and bridges and national security.”

    Just another Tax and Spend Congressional Democrat who now demand that they can Borrow, Tax and Spend.

    BTW, do you know that the Democrat Congress between 2007 and 2011 increased the National Debt from $8TRILLION$ to $14TRILLION$ (75% increase in just 4 years). And I am sure some Republicans also had a hand it that. YOU do know that a President cannot spend a nickle that CONGRESS doesn’t tell him to.

  19. speakout says:

    So he voted No because there were only cuts and no new taxes? The Congress of today well reminds me that no matter how fancy expensive or great a machine is built it eventually wears out beyond repair, and needs to be replaced. That’s what we have here. And this guy, he votes no because he wasn’t going to get more money coming in to over spend, clearly he and the rest are beyond repair. For all the harping and finger pointing the Democrats do at Republicans, they seem to have forgotten that under Clinton they more than doubled the debt, from 2.9 to 5.9 trillion, 3 Trillion added over two terms, of course they have already passed that number in record time with Obama, from the looks of it they’ll spend 6 to 10 trillion in just the first 4 years at the rate they are going now. Clearly we can’t afford to give them another 4. Next year every last one of then needs to go, and without any golden parachutes and big fat pensions or super health care packages. Cancel all of them, and if they have no money of their own, fine then let them live on Social Security and Medicare like every ordinary person in this country of sufficient age. And if they aren’t yet old enough, well to those I say, get a real job.

  20. Where to start , first off no business or government can succeed without revenue. Given what the books look like any business person worth there salt will tell you we need to raise taxes meaning revenue to pay down the debt.
    To simply cut services that benefit the average American and not those that benefit billionaires yes billionaires seems heartless. Love how the republican comments talk about grandma not getting her social security check , but leave out republicans saying we were going to actually have panels determining death. It really is time to forget about party affiliation as it is obvious Washington is broke and focus on helping each other and the country. Congressman Smith is no different than any Republican tea party , or democrat.

  21. truthbusterguy says:

    Mr. Smith doesn’t look well. Does he have HIV or Aids??? He is for gay mariage isn’t he?

  22. “He complained that the debt package didn’t include any tax increases and predicted it would result in “devastating cuts” to scientific research, education, roads and bridges and national security.”

    That’s Smith’s thinking alright. ‘Devestating cuts’ – to a piece of junk education system, roads and bridges that were supposed to be paid for by the ‘stimulous’ but went to corporations like GE for their privacy invading ‘smart’ grid instead, and couldn’t dream of cutting any defense, even though hundreds of billions are wasted and hundreds of billions more unaccounted for.

    Smith had a decade now. He was there watching the fake real estate market go up, then, handed over tons of money to bankers and corporations without strings, now, cuts make him cry?

    Time to go, Smith. Now who is going to run against him. Run as an independent, show you know the value of a dollar, and you’ll have my vote. Actually, a frog would have my vote over Smith, the frog would have a better grip on reality.

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