This week Congressman Vern Buchanan staked out a position that could earn the ire of tea party loyalists and other hard-line conservatives. The Manatee-Sarasota representative voted in favor of the bipartisan "fiscal cliff" deal which only raised taxes on the wealthiest of Americans, retaining the Bush-era tax cuts on 99.3 percent of taxpayers.
"With a $16.3 trillion national debt and 7.7 percent unemployment, the last thing we need is a massive tax increase on hard-working Americans," Buchanan said in a statement. "However, moving forward, both parties must immediately address Washington's reckless pattern of borrowing and spending that has put our country on a road to bankruptcy."
Four other Florida House Republicans also supported the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 while 14 others voted against it.
The Virginia-based Americans for Limited Government came out quickly with a threat:
"Rep. Buchanan's vote is inexplicable and disappointing. Raising taxes on job creators into the teeth of this recession is a recipe for higher unemployment. This vote is sad, and may engender a primary challenge in 2014 -- and Rep. Buchanan will have nobody to blame but himself."
In the run-up to this vote, we urged Buchanan to exhibit bipartisanship and compromise in a Dec. 13 editorial. He did, earning our respect and appreciation.
Instead of rigid ideology, he opted for sensible leadership and pragmatic solutions. Shouldn't all members of Congress deal with the people's business in similar fashion?
Overall, the House approved the measure by 257-167. Will the ideologues target all the many Republicans who voted for the relief act with primary opponents in two years? Should that occur, we hope GOP voters opt for collaboration and compromise rather than confrontation and gridlock.