Maine Democrat stands alone, again, in opposing Biden bill

Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine is bucking his party again, voting Friday against an expansive social and environment bill that President Joe Biden hailed as “another giant step forward” for the country.

After casting the only Democratic vote against the legislation, Golden blasted the bill and said he won’t support what he described as a $280 billion tax break for millionaires.

“I don’t think people should accept things like this as the price of doing business,” he told The Associated Press in an interview.

This isn’t the first time Golden has stood alone, at least among Democrats, in voting against one of Biden’s top priorities. He was the sole Democrat in Congress to oppose the Biden administration’s $1.9 billion COVID-19 relief package in March, which he said was “too big, too fast” and contributed to creeping inflation. “I’ll stand by that vote, too,” he said.

It’s all part of a delicate political balancing act for Golden, a Marine Corps veteran who serves an increasingly conservative district in rural Maine. His district, which covers almost four-fifths of Maine’s land area, voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 even as it sent Golden to Congress for a second term. Republicans have made it a top target as they try to win back the House in next year’s election.

His decision to break ranks on Biden’s bill attracted some Twitter scorn Friday. A few critics called him a DINO, or “Democrat in Name Only.”

Golden shrugged off the criticism. He said he’s worried not for himself, but for Democrats at large if they want to hold onto their congressional majorities in the midterm elections.

His said his opposition to Biden’s bill centered on the state and local tax deduction, where a $10,000 cap would be raised to $80,000. He said 88% of millionaires would get an average tax break of $17,000 while little more than 1% of benefits would go to people making less than $100,000. These people would get back $20 or $30 under the provision, he said.

That’s not the sort of thing Democrats should support, Golden said.

“Sometimes the truth hurts,” he said.

The good news, he said, is that the bill will be revised in the Senate. He said he expects those negotiations will produce a final version of the bill that he can support.

Golden noted that Biden has vowed for months that the overall proposal would be funded by rich people who don’t pay their share in taxes.

“We need to deliver on that,” he said.

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Sharp reported from Portland, Maine.

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