Transcript: Sen. Harry Reid on extending tax cuts for the middle-class
Edited by Jenny Jiang
Transcript of Senate floor statements by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on S. 3412 Middle Class Tax Cut on July 25, 2012:
“Mr. President, the Republicans’ tax hike on the middle class has just been defeated. Their plan would have raised taxes by about $1,000 for 25 million middle-class families while giving millionaires an average of a $160,000 tax break. So let’s look at that. Their bill would have raised taxes on 25 million middle-class families by about $1,000 a year, and it would have given millionaires a $160,000 tax break. Those numbers are staggering. Their bill would have raised taxes on parents trying to pay for college, on families–especially large families–with children. So it is no wonder a majority of Senators opposed that legislation.
“In just a short time there will be a bill that will pass cut taxes for 98 percent of Americans, including every middle-class taxpayer and more than 97 percent of small businesses. This plan, proposed by President Obama, would cut taxes for 114 million American families. Theirs raises taxes for 25 million middle-class families. This is the only bill that has a chance of becoming law, so it is the only plan that would actually give a middle-class family the security of avoiding their fiscal cliff. The House should take up this legislation and pass it.
“President Obama believes we must keep taxes low for 98 percent of Americans. Democrats agree. So do the majority of Americans. A majority of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, around this country believe taxes should remain low for the middle class but the top 2 percent should pay their fair share to reduce the debt. The bill the Senate is about to pass respects the will of the American people, including a majority of Republicans in America outside the Halls of this Congress. Republican Members of Congress disagree with a majority of Republicans.
“The President, of course, has said he will sign the bill immediately. But now Republicans are threatening to hide behind yet another arcane procedural maneuver to stall this crucial legislation, and this will get the attention of the American people. They are threatening to do something called blue slip this because revenue-raising resolutions must be originated in the House of Representatives. But my Republican colleagues have very short memories. Senate Republicans are all too happy to bypass the procedural hoop when it suits their purposes. They are willing to go around it when it is time to reauthorize the FAA. They were willing to sidestep it when we passed the Violence Against Women Act. We did that here in the Senate. They were willing to dodge it when we passed the Transportation bill that was so important to this country. But now their excuse for stalling a tax cut for 98 percent of the American people is an old procedural trick that the American people do not understand, and rightfully so.
“If Republicans in the House fail to act on this bill, taxes will rise by $2,200 for the typical middle-class family of four. That is $2,200 less to spend on gas, groceries, rent, and life in general for these people. This tax hike on ordinary families couldn’t come at a worse time–just as our economy is doing its utmost to get back on its feet.
“Republicans should not force middle-class families off their fiscal cliff to protect more wasteful giveaways to millionaires and billionaires–an average of $160,000 a year per millionaire. Democrats believe this country can’t afford more budget-busting giveaways for the top 2 percent of earners. Again, Republicans in America agree with us. It is only here in the Senate that the Republicans don’t agree. But that is a debate we are willing to have, and the House Republicans need not hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage in order to have that debate. They can and should pass our middle-class tax cuts immediately.
“Once we give middle-class families security, we can spend the next 5 months debating whether wealthy families need more tax breaks. We know how the American people feel–just like we do.”
“Mr. President, in 2010 the country was staring at what had taken place the prior 8 years–8 million jobs lost. What has happened in the years since 2010 that my friend the Republican leader talks about? This administration has created 4.5 million jobs. We haven’t filled the hole we lost during the 8 years of the prior President, but we have made some progress. We all acknowledge we need to do more, but don’t ever compare today with 2010.
“First of all, everyone understands, all you folks who love to give tax cuts to the millionaires, our bill does that also. The first $250,000 they make is treated just like a middle-class family.
“I would also point everyone to this. I have talked about the Republicans around the country supporting this legislation. Of course they do. They know the deficit needs to be handled, and they know that about $1 trillion is what our legislation will do to fill the hole of the debt.
“But also, people who are in this great country of ours who have done so well understand that they are supposed to contribute more. They know that. My friend doesn’t like to hear polls, but let me give him another one. Sixty-five percent of these really rich people are willing to pay more taxes. Again, the people who are unwilling to do this are people who signed a pledge for this person, Grover Norquist. And remember, there was a little vacillating about a month ago, so he came up here and had somebody renew their vows with him.
“So we are on the side of the angels; we are on the side of the American people because this legislation that is going to pass is what is good for the American people. And I ask that we have that vote now.”
“Mr. President, they may have different newspapers in Kentucky than I read. I get my Nevada clips every day. I try to read some papers from back home. We have now 28 months of job growth in the private sector, 20 months in a row. That is pretty good.
“This legislation is about the debt. It is about the debt. We have to do something about the debt, and we have tried mightily to do that. We have tried mightily.
“We had the Conrad-Judd Gregg legislation. Seven people who are Republican Senators who cosponsored that wouldn’t vote for it and allow me to get it on the floor because they had adopted the Republican leader’s philosophy that the most important thing we can do is defeat President Obama for reelection. Then we went to Bowles-Simpson, which was a program we put together when we couldn’t get that legislation. That was so good, by two of our best financial minds in the Senate, Judd Gregg and Kent Conrad. And Bowles-Simpson didn’t make it. Then we had a series of talks with the President and the Speaker. Always, we could never quite get it done. Why?
“Even though my friend and I care about him, John Boehner said, I want to do big things, not little things. One of the little things he couldn’t do is get his caucus to agree to just a little bit of revenue so we could have a deal, the grand bargain. Then we tried the Biden talks. The majority leader in the House of Representatives walked out on those talks. Then we had the supercommittee, and about 1 week before, by statute, Patty Murray and her troops were supposed to offer the legislation, I got a letter signed by virtually every Republican Senator saying: No thanks. Grover wins again. No revenues.
“This is about our country, about doing something about a debt. It will contribute about $1 trillion to the debt. That is not bad.”
- Thomas.LOC.gov: Summary of S. 3412 “Middle Class Tax Cut Act”
- Senate.gov: Senate Roll call vote #184 on S. 3412 “Middle Class Tax Cut Act’ on July 25, 2012
- WhatTheFolly.com: Senate Democrats pass middle-class tax cut
- WhatTheFolly.com: How the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts benefit the wealthy
- WhatTheFolly.com: Romney’s tax controversy shines spotlight on tax code that favors wealth over wages
- WhatTheFolly.com: CBO report shows extending Bush tax cuts will raise deficit
- WhatTheFolly.com: Obama presses Congress to extend middle-class tax cut
- WhatTheFolly.com: Transcript: Sen. Mitch McConnell on extending the Bush tax cuts