The four Utah Republicans in Congress voted against the budget compromise that was - finally - approved Saturday, complaining that it cuts spending too little and raises taxes too much.
But the Utah delegation's lone Democrat - Rep. Wayne Owens - voted for it, although even he was not very enthusiastic."It was better than the first package we had, but not as good as the second (proposed by House Democrats)," Owens said. "But there was no other responsible thing to do but vote for it. It's time to move the country forward."
Owens, like other Democrats, said the final budget package was easier on the elderly and the middle class than the original budget pushed by President Bush and congressional leaders but rejected by the House.
"I voted for a dog the first time. Now I voted for a deal that is at least acceptable. It does a lot for the elderly and the middle class. A person making over $200,000 will pay an average of 6 percent more under this plan, while the average middle-income wage earner will pay 2 percent," Owens said.
Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, said the budget packages kept getting worse as time went on. "Each time we got fewer cuts and more taxes," he said.
Garn also said, "I also think people should know this cuts absolutely no spending. It just decreases the increases in spending." He and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, had voted for an earlier Senate-proposed budget package - but did not like the final compromises made with the House.
Rep. Howard Nielson, R-Utah, who voted against every budget package that the House faced, said the final package "was more fair than the first, but not fair enough." He added, "It's still primarily a tax bill with few spending reductions."
Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah - who voted for the original summit budget, but opposed all subsequent packages - said opposing the final package was one of the most difficult votes in his career, but he felt the bill creates regressive taxes that hurt the elderly and the middle and lower classes.
"The Democrats feel that raising taxes is the answer to the deficit. Taxes are their answer for everything. Well, they have succeeded in adding $20 billion in taxes for the first year of this plan," he said.
"But while they agreed to tax the rich, they added taxes that hit the poor. A rich man could care less about an extra nickle for a gallon of gas. But to most of my constituents, that nickel a gallon adds up to some real pain."
Hatch could not be reached for comment.