Transcript: Reid says Democrats are “still waiting for a serious offer from the Republicans”

Edited by Jenny Jiang

Transcript of remarks by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at a press briefing on the fiscal cliff on Nov. 29, 2012:

I had a nice meeting with Secretary Geithner this morning. I always enjoyed meeting with him.

Democrats are on the same page. We’re ready to protect middle-class families from the fiscal cliff that they’re facing by freezing the tax rates for the first $250,000 of all American’s income, letting the rates go up to the same level they were during the Clinton administration.

Republicans know where we stand. We’ve said it, we’ve said it, we’ve said it so many times. The President’s said the same thing.

It’s been weeks – at least two weeks – since we met at the White House, and we’re still waiting for a serious offer from the Republicans.

Really, now is the time for the Republicans to move past this happy talk about revenues – ill-defined, of course – and put specifics on the table.

The President’s made his proposal. We need a proposal from them.

I’m glad to see there are some reasonable Republicans breaking from the pack. Veteran Rep. [Tom] Cole and new member [Tim] Scott from South Carolina have said basically the same thing and that is they should bring to the floor of the House a bill that’s passed over here. It would pass overwhelmingly, as Scott said in the press today. Our bill would pass in a matter of minutes if House Republicans simply allow a vote.

We’re not going to kick the can down the road. We’re going to finalize this this year. This is no time for delay.

The American people want us to avoid the fiscal cliff with a balanced approach and they want us to do it right now. The average middle-class family is staring at a tax increase of $2,200 come Jan. 1st. We’re simply not going to let that happen. If it happens, it’ll be under the leadership of the Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner.

We’ll protect the middle-class and we know that we’ll have – there will be pain on both sides. We know that.

But to forge a balanced agreement, we need the Republicans to come forward with something.

It’s time to listen to the American people, and that is really a valid statement. The vast majority of Independents support what the President’s sent to the Republicans in the House. Vast majority of Democrats support it. More than 40% of Republicans support this proposal.

The Republicans need to show us that they can help lead this country.

Press briefing Q&A:

Question: [Incomprehensible audio]…Do you believe that some kind of entitlement changes could be or should be part of a down payment?

Harry Reid: We are not going to negotiate with us [media]. We have made a proposal through the President of the United States. That proposal said we should revert back to the same tax plan that we had when Clinton was President, protect those making less than $250,000 a year, have the richest pay a little bit extra.

We’re not going to get into anything that went on. You know, we had rounds of talks. Here’s the chair of the Super Committee. They had talks there. They talked about all kinds of things, including entitlements. We had the talks with Cantor and Biden. We had two rounds of talks with Boehner and the President. We had the Bowles-Simpson, which Sen. Durbin was a part of.

We are not going to get into that. We have made our proposal. Let them come forward with something.

You know, the issue is pretty simple as was shown during all the presidential debates and during all the conversations during the campaign. You can’t get from here to there unless you raise the upper rates and that’s what the President has suggested. It’s up to them to come forward with something else.

Question: Do you support the President’s plan to lower corporate tax rates to 28%?

Harry Reid: I’m not trying to be rude to you but I just answered that question. We have made our proposal and that’s the proposal that we have. The President has made a proposal to both Republicans to raise the top rates and we’re not going to negotiate here with everybody else.

Question: [Inaudible]

Harry Reid: We know that raising those top rates is about $1 trillion – $900 billion, and we can go from there. That’s where we are. That’s the proposal the President’s made. The rest is up to the Republicans.

Question: If it came to it, do you think you have the votes to pass a [inaudible]…in the Senate by itself?

Harry Reid: One of the things the President’s made very clear and you guys have all written about it – most of you anyway – at the meeting we had in the White House a couple of weeks ago with the four leaders and the President, he said I want everyone to understand, whatever arrangement we come up with, there will be an agreement on the debt ceiling or there will be no agreement.

We are all experienced. The President’s experienced. Everyone in the White House is experienced. Why in the world would we agree to something for a month or two and then have them come back and try to shut down the government like they had in the past? So that’s a part of the program.

Question: Your position right now is you – Senate Democrats – would prefer a standalone bill raising the top rates. Do I have that right?

Harry Reid: No. No, no. We don’t have – there’s no standalone bill. If we do nothing, the rates go up.

Question: …Are you advocating that you just do a rise on the top rates now and discuss the framework as the second half?

Harry Reid: We’re saying extend the tax cuts for the middle-class. As part of that, of course, we know that if we do nothing, the top rates go up and that’s – we’re waiting for the Republicans to come forward with something. That’s our proposal. That’s our proposal, period.

Chuck Schumer: At the negotiations, the first step was each side come down with your down payment because we got to get something significant done. We’ve come down with ours. We’re still waiting for theirs. That’s the status of negotiation.

Harry Reid: And it’s about three weeks we’ve been waiting.

Question: Despite all of what you’ve said at the podium today, Speaker Boehner made very clear in his press conference that he thinks the ball is in your court and in the President’s court. He said that Democrats have got to get serious about spending cuts. Where’s the disconnect in that?

Harry Reid: Well, I don’t understand his brain so you should ask him.

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3 Comments on “Transcript: Reid says Democrats are “still waiting for a serious offer from the Republicans”

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