WASHINGTON – The Massachusetts House delegation can normally be counted on by the White House to support President Obama’s priorities.
Not this time -- at least so far.
No one in the 10-member, all-Democratic delegation has embraced the compromise plan that Obama struck with Republicans, and some are outright opposed.
“I strongly disagree,” Representative Barney Frank, a Newton Democrat, said this morning. He said he would vote against the deal, although he also said it likely had enough votes to pass. “You have overwhelming Republican support and enough Democrats to do it,” he said.
Representative James McGovern, a Worcester Democrat, has called the compromise “a lousy deal” and said he would vote against it. “This deal is just not something I believe in,” he said.
Representative Stephen Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, signed onto a letter protesting the compromise.
“I don’t believe that caving in to the Republican position is in the best interest of the American people right now,” Lynch said last night in a statement. He said he is “inclined to vote against” the package.
“I’m not convinced,” said Representative Richard Neal, a Springfield Democrat and top member of the House Ways and Means Committee. “We’re paying a price for pushing the issue past the election.” He said he hadn't made a firm decision on how to vote but said, "Count me as a skeptic."
Representative Michael Capuano, a Somerville Democrat, said his office has received 500 phone calls on the deal, with about 5-to-1 voicing opposition to it.
He said he was still undecided, and did not want to cast a symbolic vote against the package if it were clear that it was going to pass.
“I’m not Don Quixote,” he said. “If I think that there is a critical mass of Democrats to do the right thing, I might vote no, but I haven’t settled on it yet…But I’ve made no bones about it: I don’t like the deal.”
But he also had harsh words for Obama, saying he proved to be an ineffective negotiator with Republicans.
“I’ve negotiated with people who are a lot tougher than [Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell, I understand negotiations,” Capuano said, referencing his time as mayor of Somerville. “I don’t mean to be a jerk, but I don’t need a lecture from the President of the United States on how to do negotiations.”
“I do know one thing: you never get anything unless you fight,” he added. “And my analogy has been, I’m not going to bring President Obama with me to buy my next car. I’ll end up paying more, and it won’t have a radio in it.”
“Losing is one thing,” he said. “Losing without a fight is not a smart move.”
Several other members in the delegation have been critical of the plan, but have not yet hinted how they would vote.
Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat, said in a statement last night that he has “serious concerns about extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires for two more years,” but did not say whether he would vote against the plan.
Representative John Tierney, a Salem Democrat, said he was still reviewing the plan, but he criticized several aspects of it.
"I share a general disappointment of many that the President did not refute untenable economic claims earlier and engage earlier with the public in order to gain the necessary support to avoid this poor choice," he said in a statement last night.
Representative Niki Tsongas, a Lowell Democrat, has remained noncommittal, saying through a spokesman that she “is still considering the compromise package at this time.” Representative John Olver, an Amherst Democrat, said through a spokeswoman that there are both good and bad components of the compromise but that he had not yet developed a firm position.
Representative Bill Delahunt, a Democrat from Quincy, is also continuing to review the plan and has not come out for or against it, according to a spokesman.
The two senators from Massachusetts seemed more open to voting in favor of the compromise.
Senator John F. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and a potential key vote, left open the possibility of supporting the measure. “We have a huge amount here that will go to working people, that goes to average Americans,’’ Kerry said yesterday after emerging from the Democratic meeting, noting a reduction in certain payroll taxes. “The middle class is going to get tax cuts that we never contemplated that we could get.’’
Senator Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, was noncommittal. “He will review the compromise, and while the proposal may not be ideal, he wants to make sure that it is good for American families and a victory for taxpayers,’’ said Gail Gitcho, the spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Republican.
Mark Arsenault of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.