Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky was the key vote in 1993 for the Clinton economic plan, which set about creating the economic wonder of the 1990s – a wonder that created millions upon millions of jobs and more than balanced the federal budget. It gave this country a surplus and set us on course towards actually shrinking the national debt. As I said, she cast the key vote. In point of historic fact, she cast the decisive vote – 218. It was the vote that decided whether the bill passed or failed, whether the new president and Congress could prove to the Federal Reserve and the country’s money managers that the government could be trusted to get the country’s fiscal house in order and keep it that way. For Congresswoman Margolies, it was a brutal vote for her personally. She hoped that her vote would not be needed … It was. That day in August 1993, she had her moment of truth, and she accepted it. With Republicans chanting “Goodbye, Marjorie,” she put her House ID card into the slot and cast her vote – “Aye.”
I was pressed on all sides, by my constituents, my president needing a victory and Republicans promising my demise. I was in the country’s most Republican district represented by a Democrat. I voted my conscience and it cost me.She was defeated in the next election by a candidate whose most discernable quality was that he was not Marjorie Margolies. In one of the wealthiest counties in the country – Montgomery County, Pennsylvania – it was not a heavy lift to beat a member of Congress that had voted for a budget that, while holding the line on spending, also included tax hikes. The great thing she did is cast the vote that made possible (though she couldn’t have known it at the time) a chain reaction of very good things: The budget got balanced – indeed, it went into surplus – and the economy of the 1990s roared. And, yes, the rich got richer. It’s now 17 years later. This Saturday, Marjorie’s son Marc will marry Chelsea Clinton. Sometime at the rehearsal dinner or at the wedding, I’m sure someone will remember that vote on the House floor at the beginning of the Clinton economic boom. They will not say “Goodbye, Marjorie,” but “Hello” to what this country needs now, again, as much as ever: The guts to cast votes you’ll be proud of the rest of your life. Anyway, isn’t it nice, once in a while, when nice things happen to nice people?
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