From Cleveland Plain Dealer…
Sherrod Brown and George Voinovich say 'no' on first key tax-cut vote
Monday, December 13, 2010
By Stephen Koff, The Plain Dealer
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ohio's two U.S. senators don't see eye to eye on a lot of matters, but both expressed their displeasure today with a proposed two-year extension of economy-wide tax cuts.
They were in the minority and the motion already has 79 "yes" votes, well above the threshold of 60. About that ongoing vote: Sherrod Brown cast his a little while ago. George Voinovich, however, has not yet arrived (snow trouble back home in Cleveland, though his plane is now in the air). But he had a speech entered into the Congressional Record in which he said he would vote "no."
Today's action will clear the way for a final vote by the end of the week on a package agreed to by President Barack Obama and congressional Republican leaders, extending Bush-era tax cuts for all earners while providing help for Americans whose jobless benefits are ending.
There are elements of the $857.8 billion bill that both Ohio senators like. Neither wants to raise taxes on the middle class. But Voinovich, a Republican who will retire when Congress adjourns this month, wants offsets to pay for the tax cuts and new spending.
And Brown, a Democrat, is against estate- and income-tax cuts for the rich, though his "no" on the bill is not absolute. To see where he's heading, watch for his efforts to write job-creation and trade-protection measures into the bill.
Brown is pushing for an amendment to strengthen U.S. trade law so this country could use trade courts to stop China from propping up its currency, which Brown and others say undermines America's global competitiveness. Obama, like President George W. Bush, has declined to pursue currency matters as trade violations, saying like his predecessor that currency should be addressed as a matter of negotiation by the Treasury secretary and his international counterparts.
Brown also is pushing for $2.5 billion in tax credits for clean energy manufacturing.
It is too soon to know whether Brown will get either of these concessions. On cue, however, the National Republican Senatorial Committee commented on Brown's vote, saying that he "stands to the left of President Barack Obama."
What's that mean, then, for Voinovich? If he votes like Bernie Sanders, the Vermont socialist and outspoken opponent of this bill, will his legacy be as a flaming leftist?
If it helps, Voinovich provided this message for the Congressional Record:
"I will not, after working my butt off from the day I got here to address a broken tax and entitlement system, have one of my final votes as a United States Senator be to kick the can down the road by extending these tax provisions and assuming that our fiscal ills will be taken care of next year."
Shades of Che, to be sure.