Tennessee’s two senators are defending their votes for a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. Both see it as means to shoring up Medicare and Social Security.
The tax-raising deal would have passed without Republican Bob Corker. He says he could have found an excuse to vote no but tells CNBC he treated his decision as if he were casting the deciding vote.
“I looked at the policy of where we were going to be if we didn’t pass it or where we would be if we did. While it was like eating a you-know-what sandwich to vote for this, to me it was a right of passage.”
The final agreement raises taxes – especially on the rich – and does not include the spending cuts Corker had outlined in his own plan. He says spending reductions to entitlement programs are now in order.
Senator Lamar Alexander says a “Medicare fiscal cliff is still ahead.” He and Corker have proposed limiting benefits to the wealthy and increasing the age to begin receiving Medicare.
Congressman Steve Cohen of Memphis voted in favor of the fiscal cliff agreement. The rest of Tennessee’s House delegation voted no, including Democrat Jim Cooper of Nashville.