U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Oh)
Belinda Prinz, communications director for U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Oh.)
U.S. President Barack Obama
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney
U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Oh)
U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Oh.)
Larry Bresler of Organize Ohio, who also leads The Northeast Ohio Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign
Ohio State Rep. John Barnes Jr. (D-Cleveland)
By Kathy Wray Coleman, Editor of The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com (www.kathywraycolemanonlinenewsblog.com)
U.S. Rep Marcia L. Fudge (D-Oh), a Warrensville Oh. Democrat whose predominantly Black 11th congressional district includes parts of Cleveland and its eastern suburbs, broke ranks with the Obama administration and voted against the president's compromise bill dubbed The Budget Control Act of 2011 that this week garnered a bipartisan debt agreement to raise the country's debt ceiling so that it could borrow monies to avoid a financial default predicted by U.S. Treasurer Tim Geithner for Aug 2.
And just in time, the bill, titled S.365, passed the Democrat led Senate Aug 2, after passing the House of Representatives the day before, though with staunch opposition from prominent Black House congressional Democrats such as John Conyers of Michigan and Maxine Waters of California.
Fudge was not alone in rejecting the measure for the impoverished buckeye state where the other four House Democrats from Ohio, Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, Tim Ryan of Niles, Betty Sutton of Copley Township and controversial 10th Congressional District Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland voiced no votes too, activity that raises the question of whether their collective opposition puts President Barack Obama at odds with Ohio's Democratic House congressional delegation as the 2012 presidential election year approaches and Ohio becomes even more of a pivotal state.
"Absolutely not," said Fudge spokesperson Belinda Prinz to the question from The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog.Com on whether the breaking of the Ohio Democratic ranks with the nation's first Black president on such an important issue signals anything serious in terms of his political status in Ohio among key Democratic office holders.
Prinz went on to say that the controversy has been fueled by a new wave of Republicans that swept the House last year and helped party members snatch control from the Democrats, presumably Republican Tea Party supporters that voted against the bill, and Senate Republicans such as Rand Paul of Kentucky, who challenged his Republican colleagues on the debt controversy to "have some backbone."
Prinz said that Fudge votes her heart and in the best interests of her constituents, and that right-wing Republicans had fueled the debate by screaming not to compromise and holding the country hostage with the debt ceiling debacle in an effort to cut spending against seniors and others that need the resources the most.
"There is an extreme factor in Congress, notably the freshman Republicans who insist on an ideological agenda that is out of sync with the needs of the American people," Prinz said.
Fudge issued a press statement Monday on her no vote as did Kucinich, and practically every member of the 435-member House that passed the federal deficit control bill, 269 votes to 161.
"I voted no because this is a job killing bill that puts our nation's economy at risk and I can't in good faith tell my constituents that medicare, medicaid, and social security are safe under this plan because we don't know what will happen," said Fudge. "We don't know what cuts the committee will come up with, but it is a safe bet that the largest mandatory spending programs, social security, medicare, and medicaid, will be at the top of the list."
Larry Bresler of Organize Ohio, who also leads the Northeast Ohio Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign group, said that the budget bill was passed on "the backs of poor people," with Debbie Kline of Cleveland Jobs with Justice, a grassroots group with some 42 unions as affiliates, including The Cleveland Teachers Union, adding that "anytime you cut special programs to the people that need it most, it is wrong."
Bresler said that his organizations will hold the president accountable and that Obama's presidential candidacy has been threatened in Ohio because "he let poor people down."
In a press release to The Kathy Wray Coleman Online News Blog. Com from Obama press secretary Jay Carney in response to a New York Times story that ran before Monday's House vote in favor of the bill that said the president's compromise on the debt crisis has diminished him, Carney said no way.
"I believe the president showed enormous leadership through this process," he said.
Obama tried to get the Republicans to increase the debt ceiling without increased spending cuts but they griped, with House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, coming to a compromise with the president and other congressional leaders, one that hard right Republicans are still balking about.
Fudge did support raising the debt ceiling, but when the increased spending cuts came attached to it through the bill, she would not support it, and 20 others of the 41 Blacks in the House that voted on the deficit bill said no too.
And while Kucinich said that the budget problems were brought on by a recession, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Bush tax cuts for the rich, he slammed Obama for compromising with the bill.
"The choice we have today, default or dismantling of the social compact through draconian spending cuts, is a false choice," Kucinich said after voting against the bill on Monday. " The president could have simply told congressional leaders back in December of last year that the debt ceiling was not negotiable, and invoked the 14th Amendment as a backstop."
But State Rep John Barnes Jr. (D-12), a Cleveland Democrat, said that Obama's support among Ohio elected officials of the Democratic party remains strong and that while congressional representatives must protect the interests of their constituents from their respective districts, Obama has a larger responsibility of promoting what is in the best interest of the country, and that that often requires compromising, sometimes on unpopular agendas.
"I do not support cuts to anything that would hurt my constituents but President Obama's responsibility on this matter is to ensure the economic sustainability of our country," said Barnes.
The country has a 9 percent unemployment rate in general, with that factor nearly doubling for Black Americans. The bill, which is now law, does, however, provide for the immediate extension of unemployment benefits nationwide.
The debt ceiling has been raised almost 100 times since it was established and as a senator from Chicago, Obama voted against it.
The Budget Control Act of 2011, established around the matter and signed into law by the president on Tuesday shortly after it passed the Senate, authorizes immediate relief from the debt ceiling with a $900 billion increase, makes more than $900 billion in spending cuts over the upcoming decade, and prescribes expedited procedures for implementing another $1.5 trillion in deficit reductions, among other things . It also calls for a new bipartisan super committee of 12 congressional lawmakers whose role will be to find at least $1.2 trillion more in deficit cuts spread over the next decade.
Betty Brown, a leader of the county grand jury.org, a constitutional watchdog organization from Ohio, said that "the cuts should start with the salaries of members of Congress."
Journalist and Community Activist Kathy Wray Coleman can be reached at 216-932-3114 and firstname.lastname@example.org.