In the political overtime vote on New Year’s Day that pulled the country back from the dreaded “fiscal cliff,” San Diego County's Congressional delegation split 2 to 2 on the so-called "Tax Relief Extension Act" -- with one of the Republicans crossing party lines.
This reaction, from an unhappy Rep. Darrell Issa (R-49th Dist.), who cast a dissenting vote along with Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-52nd Dist.): "They passed a bill that was larded with pork that's going to run up the deficit by $4 trillion -- that in fact is a tax increase, not a cut -- at a time in which we have a $1.3 trillion debt."
In a telephone interview Wednesday, the chair of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee said it was shortsighted for more than a third of his House GOP colleagues to throw in with the huge voting bloc of Democrats.
"The people who voted to increase the debt by $4 trillion, many of them won't be here tomorrow,” Issa noted, referring to Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony for a new Congress. “So it was one Congress throwing $4 trillion away, and then hoping the next Congress somehow would save them."
One Republican who won't be back for Congress’ next term, Brian Bilbray, cast an “aye” vote, telling NBC 7 by phone on Wednesday: “I didn’t want to have my last vote in Congress being against one of the largest tax reductions that we’ve ever had in the country.”
Bilbray, who lost his seat in a close race against Democrat Scott Peters to represent California’s new 52nd District, agreed with Issa’s premise that there was “a lot not to like” in the measure.
But the six-term veteran of Capitol hill explained that he saw the bill as “basically institutionalizing parts of what were called the 'Bush tax cuts', that were attacked as being only for the wealthy for so long, (and) finally shown to be overwhelmingly for the average American."
Bilbray points out that budget hawks can count on another day of reckoning not far off, when a showdown on the debt ceiling will push spending cuts front-and-center.
"And I think that's where the real showdown is,” he said. "Really, we've only bought about 16 to 18 days of spending for the President with this bill. The fact is that you can't tax your way out of the budget crisis of this country, and everybody knows it."
Rep. Susan Davis (D-53rd Dist.) issued a written statement, saying in part: "The House did what the American people asked of it -- work together to strengthen the middle class. We laid the groundwork for permanent changes in making our economy work for everyone, not just the top earners."
Rep. Hunter was not available for comment.
The county's fifth Congressional seat has been vacant since last month, when Bob Filner became San Diego's mayor.