On the "fiscal cliff" compromise, thousands of West Virginians who admire, respect and vote for U.S. Reps. David McKinley and Shelly Moore Capito are much dependent on the very benefits the two voted against. This is a serious, major disconnect. Why do people (mostly Republicans in this case) vote for lawmakers who vote against their essential financial interests? Is it an irrational emotional attachment to a political party that parents and grandparents supported? A party that has swung far right?
Of course, our national government must and will address the spending side of the national budget. But, for McKinley and Capito to vote against this urgent part of the budget either because as McKinley said, House members had only nine minutes to review the 150-page bill: "... we wanted 72 hours (three days) to review it." Where was he when others were discussing it. Didn't he attend the Republican Caucus?
Then Capito's excuse was, "The last-minute, haphazard process led to an unbalanced bill that includes no substantial reductions in spending." Another excuse for denial of the essential needs of thousands of West Virginians.
The process which Congress must continue in order to reduce deficit spending is similar to how my neighbors had six 110-foot trees removed from around their two houses - one piece at a time. This wasn't a timbering project, but a skillful removal, a section at a time. McKinley was only partially correct when he said, "We don't have a tax problem; we have a spending problem." The "we" includes selfish, irresponsible Democrats and Republicans influenced by millions of dollars dispensed by influential lobbyists.
Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin both voted for the bill. Manchin, an avid proponent of spending reduction, said that going over the cliff wasn't an option. Rockefeller expressed concern about ongoing Republican efforts to drastically slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security as part of a long-term deficit reduction strategy.
Apparently, next year West Virginians will have an opportunity to vote for either Capito or Rockefeller for U.S. Senator. I believe the above information provides voters additional reason to continue voting for Rockefeller.
Harold D. Brown
EDITOR'S NOTE: Brown is chairman of the Wood County Democratic Executive Committee.