And, yet, it might be expected that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) might be joined in his marathon Senate speech against the agreement by a fellow progressive like Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sanders also found himself in the company of a much more conservative ally, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).
Landrieu is one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate, representing the increasingly red state of Louisiana. But she nonetheless came to the Senate floor on Friday to help Sanders, a self-described socialist, rail against the deal the White House struck with the GOP to extend tax cuts for the wealthy in exchange for continued benefits for the unemployed and other measures to stimulate the sluggish economy.
“When the inequities are so great, when the needs of the middle class are so great, when there is no evidence to suggest that even after this tax cut — that I’ve seen that’s convincing — that the recession will end, we’re doing this for two years,” Landrieu says, joining in a colloquy with Sanders, who held the Senate floor for eight hours on Friday to make a case against the extension of tax cuts for the very rich.
“What happens if the recession doesn’t end and we’ve borrowed all of this money to provide the extension of these tax cuts and in addition given $50 billion to the million dollar earners in this country? What do we do then? Go borrow another trillion and try it again? I think we have to try something different,” Landrieu adds.
She stopped short, however, of saying she would actually oppose the bill that would enact the framework of the tax deal.
“I’m going to be forced to vote and have to choose, which is going to be a very tough choice, between extending tax cuts for 84 percent of the people in my state that make less than $75,000, which, of course, I want to do, even though we have to borrow the money to do it,” Landrieu says. “We can’t not do it, but now in order to get them help, I’ve got to say yes to something that I’ve talked about that borders on moral recklessness.
“I am not unmindful of the importance of providing tax cuts when we can, but when we’re asked to vote on a package that has a provision like this that borders on moral recklessness, I have to catch my breath and say whose idea was this? I’d like to know,” she says. “So, it’s going to be a long weekend. It’s going to be a long 30 hours of debate. I am glad that the Senator from Vermont is going to make sure that we take every one of those 30 hours post-cloture, if we even get to cloture on this bill, because I think the American people are going to be waiting around to find out whose idea this was.”
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.