Republicans take a lashing for vote
Pennsylvania's Republican senator and congressmen on Thursday worked to clarify their positions for constituents as Tea Party groups lashed at them for voting for the “fiscal cliff” deal, saying they should be ashamed and promising primary challengers in the next election.
Tea Party groups helped to elect five of the state's 12 GOP House members in 2010 and conservative Sen. Pat Toomey of the Lehigh Valley, who once headed the anti-tax Club for Growth.
“To say that we are disappointed in our local Republican delegation would be an understatement,” the Philadelphia-based Independence Hall Tea Party Association said about the entire state delegation's vote for the bill.
Toomey defended his vote.
“We faced a unique set of circumstances with a law on the books that began on Jan. 1 that we could not avoid that would have raised taxes on everyone,” he said. “I did what I thought was right and spared as many folks as we could from a tax increase.”
“Most people who look at this closely understood why I took the vote,” was Toomey's answer to Tea Party criticism.
Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson targeted Rep. Mike Kelly of Butler, calling his vote “inexplicable and disappointing.”
“Raising taxes on job creators into the teeth of this recession is a recipe for higher unemployment,” Wilson said. “This vote is sad, and may engender a primary challenge in 2014 — and Rep. Kelly will have nobody to blame but himself.”
Kelly said House Republicans lacked bargaining chips going into the deal.
“Our attention must immediately turn to doing the real spending and tax reform that needs to be done to restore the fiscal health of this country,” said Kelly, whose website touts the passage of his bill to hold government employees more accountable to taxpayers and asks in bold print: “How long has it been since the United States Senate passed a budget? 1,345 Days.”
Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason applauded GOP members of Congress, saying they “voted to make tax relief permanent for a majority of Pennsylvanians” and gave “more certainty to small businesses and job creators to continue to drive a recovering economy here.”
“Our Republican leadership will continue to fight to cut spending, reform entitlements and reduce our $16 trillion national debt,” Gleason said. He accused President Obama of reneging on a vow to take a balanced approach, by seeking “destructive tax hikes” without curbing spending in Washington.
Nationally, conservative disappointment raged on Twitter and Facebook.
Dana Loesch, a conservative talk show host and self-described rabble-rouser, tweeted: “If the House compromises they will lose control after midterms.” Said a tweet by Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of RedState.com: “ ‘House GOP in Disarray' Isn't Just Liberal Media Spin.”
Yet, just as moderates and conservatives in the Republican Party split over the issue, so did chapters of the Tea Party. The 500-member Veterans and Patriots United in Western Pennsylvania pledged continued support for Toomey, Kelly and Rep. Tim Murphy of Upper St. Clair.
“We understand from a conservative point of view that they were basically boxed into the vote,” said Sam DeMarco, the group's president.
Murphy said his office heard from thousands of people with questions about the Social Security tax and how Congress would cut spending.
He said most criticism of his vote was not sharp in tone, “but there was a lot of confusion as to how people would be affected.”
Republican Rep. Bill Shuster of Hollidaysburg called the bill “imperfect” but said its “passage was essential to prevent ... sending our fragile economy back into recession.”
Paul Upson, 68, a registered Republican from Unity, said Murphy's vote didn't surprise him. Upson views the “nonsolution” bill as a way “to take money from those who have worked hard for it and let the government spend it.”
“Tim Murphy has a tag on him called Republican, but he's basically a Democrat,” Upson said. “I don't spend my time getting angry with people like that because I know what he represents.”
Upson said Republicans put themselves in “a really unpleasant situation.”
“They should have been dealing with this two years ago ... but they're not willing to do the hard things — take the stand, take the bad press,” he said.
Others were more forgiving.
Karen Beard, 60, of Ligonier said she doesn't like the compromise but can't be entirely critical of lawmakers who voted for it.
“I'm a Republican, but I think my own way,” Beard said. “I think the wealthy can afford the taxes more than we can. ... I feel the middle class is getting hit from all directions.”
She hoped for changes to entitlement programs, but “that wasn't even something that was brought up. It was just the rich against the middle class, basically.”
Bruce Adamson, 64, a Greensburg Democrat, is happy that Murphy voted for the deal. “If he hadn't, then nothing would have gotten done and that's not good. We need to compromise, and there's not a whole lot of that.”
Adamson said he's disappointed that a pending fight over the debt ceiling will bring “more delays, more problems and more bickering” in Congress.
Though it has more than 1,000 chapters across the country, the Tea Party is not a unified group with agreed-upon talking points on issues such as government spending or the national debt, said Bruce Haynes, a Washington-based media consultant with Purple Strategies.
“There are ... a thousand different viewpoints on what was the responsible thing to do here,” Haynes said.
Staff writer Kari Andren contributed to this report. Salena Zito is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Healthy safety Mitchell is eager for 2nd season with Steelers
- NFL notebook: Vikings coach delivers ultimatum to Peterson
- Knoch secures 1st WPIAL title by defeating defending champion West Allegheny
- One man found dead when fire sweeps through South Fayette apartment
- Late goal gives Riverhounds victory over Tampa Bay in U.S. Open Cup
- Emergency crews search Youghiogheny River in Layton for Charleroi man
- Pirates use big 7th inning to sweep Marlins, stretch winning streak to 6
- Stocks bounce back from losses on reassurance from Greece
- Central Catholic downs Norwin to win 1st WPIAL baseball title
- Concert business booming at Heinz Field this summer
- Shadyside Art & Craft Festival makes jump to new spring edition