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Rep. Richard Nugent's vote on Paul Ryan's budget deal easy to explain

Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent voted again the budget agreement that the House approved last week.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent voted again the budget agreement that the House approved last week.

Poor U.S. Rep. Richard Nugent.

Voting against that budget compromise last week was so hard.

For one thing, it would restore some defense spending. And, as you've heard before — as you've heard every time Nugent gets the chance — he has three sons in the military, which is being cut to shreds by the thoughtless, across-the-board cuts required by the so-called sequester.

"As a father of three soldiers, that is a serious, serious concern to me," he wrote in an email to constituents explaining his decision.

"I've been fighting for a solution on this issue for months."

If that wasn't gut-wrenching enough for the representative from Spring Hill, he really respects Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the former vice presidential candidate and acknowledged Republican budget guru, who helped craft the compromise. Nugent even gave a shout-out to Democratic Sen. Patty Murray for her leadership in shaping the deal.

And rightly so, considering the hope this deal represents for ending what Nugent previously has called a "sad time" in our country's history, the years of deadlock in Washington.

Hope is probably the most significant thing about the bill, which also passed a key hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday. It's a limited deal that also restores some non-defense spending and generates revenues in ways that are sneaky enough that Ryan can claim it doesn't raise taxes.

By most accounts, it gives the Republicans more than the Democrats, making sure, for example, that there's no additional help for those leeches claiming long-term unemployment, and, maybe, helping the party start to shake the politically destructive impression that its only goal is standing in the way of President Obama. And that's probably why the 163 Democrats who voted for the budget compromise were joined by the vast majority of Republicans — 169 of them.

So, why did Nugent vote with the 94 most conservative Republicans in the most conservative House of Representatives in history?

Well, along with citing a tiny, long-term cut to veterans' retirement benefits and including a boilerplate complaint about government not following through with promises to trim spending, it mostly comes down to the fact that this compromise is not an amendment to the Constitution requiring a balanced budget. He thinks this is a great, a necessary thing. Cities and states have to do it, he wrote, and it's "the only way Washington will ever find the discipline to seriously address our spending imbalance."

Holding the line on this principle, he wrote, "wasn't an easy decision."

Maybe not, because there probably is some angst on some level for turning his back on what he claims to believe and what anyone can see is best for the country, and doing it just to help himself politically.

Because the only thing the amendment he's talking about has going for it is that it polls extremely well. It's never going to happen and would be far from a cure-all if it did.

But if he voted for last week's compromise, he might be challenged on the right in this heavily Republican district. His vote against it, along with the rest of his tea party pandering, means he's got a job for as long as he wants it.

Hard? Not at all.

Really, it couldn't be any simpler.

Rep. Richard Nugent's vote on Paul Ryan's budget deal easy to explain 12/17/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 6:35pm]
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