WASHINGTON — Finally revealing their positions on the House floor, Maine’s Democratic House members split their votes on a landmark agreement to cut spending and raise the debt ceiling that cleared the House on Monday night and now is headed for a Senate vote.

Reps. Mike Michaud, D-2nd, and Chellie Pingree, D-1st, had not said how they would vote ahead of time on the deal that raises the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling in return for $2.4 trillion in planned spending cuts over a decade — an initial $917 billion cut now and $1.5 trillion by the end of the year.

Michaud voted yes, saying that it was an imperfect bipartisan compromise. Pingree voted no, saying that, “I am just seriously worried about the state of our economy and what some of these cuts are likely to do in a very fragile time.”

Meanwhile, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine still have refrained from saying how they will vote when the bill, a deal worked out by President Obama and congressional leaders from both parties, reaches the Senate. The deal is expected to pass the Senate by a wide margin with or without the Maine Republicans’ votes, apparently today, and quickly be signed into law by Obama just ahead of the nation defaulting today on its obligations.

Michaud said that, “While this bill isn’t perfect, it’s a bipartisan compromise that will avoid default, which would have severely impacted the lives of every American. Our seniors will now receive their Social Security checks. Our service members will get paid and avoid putting their families through unneeded financial hardship. Veterans’ benefits will not be threatened.”

Michaud said that it was important that the bill raises the debt ceiling by enough to avoid yet another standoff in a few months, and said that it protects the level of Social Security and Medicare benefits. Michaud said he joins “Mainers in being disgusted in the process. But at the end of the day, I believe this bill makes some important progress that will improve the fiscal stability of our nation.”


And citing an issue that Democrats and Republicans already at are odds over, Michaud said that the special bipartisan committee that will be charged with coming up with more spending cuts after the initial $917 billion will be able to look at raising new tax revenues, which are not included in this deal, including allowing the Bush era tax cuts for wealthier Americans to expire. Republicans have said that tax increases will continue to be off the table.

Interest rates won’t skyrocket on home and car loans,” Michaud said. “This promotes economic stability, which impacts the investments and retirement savings of millions of Americans.

But the bill’s “deficit reduction committee will put tax reform on the table, something that previous proposals rejected,” Michaud said. “And as a result of the deficit reduction goals contained in the bill, it will be very difficult to extend the irresponsible and unaffordable Bush tax breaks for the wealthy.”

Pingree said she agrees with Michaud that the bill offers stronger protections for maintaining Social Security and Medicare benefits than previous debt ceiling bills favored by House Republicans.

She noted that she also voted in favor of a compromise debt ceiling agreement offered by a few days ago by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., which passed the Democratic-led Senate but failed in the Republican-led House.

“I just felt like this plan went too far,” Pingree said of her vote against the final debt ceiling agreement. “It certainly has the potential for harming Medicare in the long run. I didn’t like the process. I didn’t like the deep cuts that are going to be made without asking for any support from big corporations or millionaires or any kind of (new tax) revenue in the plan.

“I just felt that in the ling run that this would be very bad for our economy…and take away the fabric of the safety net, the things that help our most vulnerable citizens.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.