The drum-beating drama of the debt ceiling crisis is in the rearview mirror, but the consequences of it are in front of all Americans. So I asked New York’s 1st District Congressman Tim Bishop about the thought process behind the four votes he made that led to the eventual law that ended the crisis hours before the U.S. Treasury was set to default on its obligations. He then told of possible painful results to the district that will come due to the cuts and what he will do to help create jobs in a future Republican Sponsored Bill that will pass the house and senate.
After voting NO on the Republicans’ Cut, Cap and Balance Bill and the John Boehner Bill, along came a third bill that originated in the Senate that Bishop referred to as the “so-called Harry Reid-Mitch McConnell Bill.” Bishop explained it would have cut $2.8 billion in a painful but more reasonable approach. Bishop voted YES in the House after it passed the Senate, but his yes vote was in the minority as that bill crashed and burned in defeat to House Republicans.
The final successful YES vote was for the Biden-McConnell-Reid-Pelosi-Boehner compromise that passed both houses with bipartisan support. Bishop was among 95 Democrats who voted for the compromise in the House but there were 95 that didn’t. [expand]
So why did he vote for it, I asked? His reply, “Because it avoided the disastrous cuts to Social Security and Medicare the Republican sponsored bills wanted to make. We all knew to have a default was unthinkable, but with the Republicans ruling out revenue increases (tax increases of any kind), cutting trillions will now lay in the hand of a Super Commission or Super Committee… and the details so far are yet to be determined.” So I asked him what he predicted for the district from the cuts. He said, “First of all student loans will get hit in some form, in the district specifically the Brookhaven Lab will have funding cuts, and the Army Corp of Engineers budget will see noticeable cuts, and that will hurt us on the East End. Make no mistake about it; the super committee will aim to make some cuts in the social safety net, like food stamps and extended unemployment benefit aid to states. The first trillion dollars in cuts will be $350 billion in defense cuts and then $650 billion in domestic savings.” So looking for something positive I asked Bishop what’s next, and he said, “Jobs, I am hoping the Surface Transportation Act will be a highway bill that will create new construction jobs on line for the East End.”
He said we can’t have any more situations like the Federal Aviation Agency where thousands of good, hardworking people became political footballs when the two parties fought over the funding based on philosophy. “All workers must be respected. The medium income in the country has gone down, corporate profits are at a record high. I am not against corporations but I am for rebuilding a strong, vibrant middle class. Too much has been aimed at them and it has hurt them.” He also said that politics must end business’s “insensitivity to the human factors, because policy does affect human beings’ lives.”
Finally he stressed that the Republican Party’s way of running the House of Representatives nearly caused a government shutdown, a near collapse of the economy via the debt ceiling battle, and did in fact shut down the F.A.A. that hurt the workers. He concluded by saying, “I will keep on battling for the workers and hope to create jobs by supporting job-creating legislation.”