DENVER (CBS4) – U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado was one of just three Democrats to go against his party and vote against the fiscal cliff deal in the Senate.
The bill passed the House late Monday night where Colorado’s delegation voted along party lines — Democrats for it, Republicans against.
Bennet said the bill didn’t address what it was intended for — bringing both parties together to make real compromise. With nearly 90 percent of the Senate approving, it was a protest some analysts say Bennet was smart to make.
Bennet said he changed his mind about approving the fiscal cliff bill the morning of the vote.
“As it became clearer and clearer that this deal wasn’t going to do anything, I was more convinced than ever to vote against it,” Bennet told CBS4.
Bennet says the fiscal cliff bill didn’t go far enough, giving no path to reducing the national debt. He chose going over the cliff as the best of what he called “two lousy options.”
“I just didn’t see how I could go home and say to the people that I represent that we had passed a plan with no debt reduction.”
“He has people talking,” political analyst Eric Sondermann said.
Political analysts say Colorado’s junior senator earned needed seriousness with the no vote. It was politically safe because of the margin that approved the bill, but shocking enough to keep Bennet from looking like a rubber stamp for the president.
“He wants to be this independent maverick minded Democrat, as evidenced his vote the other night on the fiscal cliff,” Sondermann said. “On the other hand, he has the ultimate insider job.”
His defection made the editorial page of the New York Times. He told columnist Maureen Dowd that congressional leaders were “so intransigent I’m not sure they could be brought to an agreement that’s meaningful.” He doubled down on that statement by saying congressional leaders were not serious about a real solution yet.
“I think both parties have played a role in that,” Bennet told CBS4. “We have an opportunity here. I believe the president really wants to get something done.”
Bennet didn’t say he had plans to introduce a new debt reduction bill, but the subject won’t go away. A new cliff on the debt ceiling will happen in six weeks.