It was not that long ago - just a few hours in fact - that Arlen Specter proudly told President Obama 'I'm a loyal Democrat. I support your agenda.' And so Specter did - all the way up until his first vote as a Democrat. Today Specter cast his first vote in opposition to one of Obama's top priorities - a measure Democrats favored to make it harder for banks to foreclose on homes:
Centrist Senate Democrats joined with Republicans on Thursday to defeat a measure intended to help struggling homeowners stay in their homes.
By a 45-51 vote, Senators voted against an amendment that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to write down the terms of existing primary home mortgages. The proposal was offered to a bill that would increase the borrowing authority of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp...
Supported by President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) spent more than a year negotiating with banks and their lobbying arms in Washington, D.C., on a compromise that they could accept.
On Thursday, Durbin said nearly all parties had walked away from the negotiating table, and he reiterated that he would oppose future government bailouts of the banking industry.
“I am sick and tired of being asked to give billions of dollars to these banks when they won’t in any way help the people who are facing mortgage foreclosure,” Durbin said. “If they have no sympathy for 8 million families that are facing foreclosure in this country, then I don’t have any sympathy for them...”
Though Durbin said he believed the issue might be dead for the year, he did hold out hope that the provision might be salvaged by a House-Senate conference committee on the bill. “I know that Democrats in the House feel very intensely about this,” he said.
This amendment was defeated 51-45, so it wasn't even as if Specter's vote really mattered. Nevertheless, he shows a surprising lack of loyalty to a Senate Democratic conference that welcomed him with open arms, and which is promising him committee seniority and a clear path to the Democratic nomination. Do you think maybe Specter just doesn't appreciate the good deal he got? It's enough to make people think he's disloyal!
Note: The 'Cram Down' is a terrible idea, of course. If I were Specter, I'd vote against it. But then again, I'm a Republican - with no stake in the success of the Obama agenda. What's Specter's excuse?
Update: It's been pointed out to me that Specter voted against the Obama budget after he announced his switch. In the Senate's record of roll call votes, he is listed as a Republican at the time of that specific vote; that was the reason for my error.
Of course, he's now two-for-two on opposing top Obama priorities since his switch. It seems he's a better Republican now than before.