Transcript: Harry Reid on Mitch McConnell’s proposal on the debt limit
Edited by Jenny Jiang
Transcript of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s remarks on Sen. Mitch McConnell’s proposal on the debt limit. Press briefing held on Dec. 6, 2012.
It’s really time for Republicans to face reality.
There’s enough writing on the wall to fill quite a few pages in the Congressional record about Republicans deciding that the right thing to do is to [protect] the middle-class, and we need to do it now.
It’s really important that this holiday season the middle-class is not going to be burdened with the thought that they may get a $2,200 a year tax increase.
There have been positive developments this week. We’ve had a list of Republicans who have decided clearly that the best interest of the American people is to pass the bill that we passed here last July confirming the tax cut continuance for the middle-class.
I think that the proposal we have from Mitch McConnell this morning is a proposal to avoid the knock-down-drag-out debt ceiling battle that’s caused quite a downgrade the last time they tried that, cost our economy billions of dollars. He’s the one who came up with the idea in the first place – I think that’s good – to give the President the authority to raise the debt.
So I think that what we need to do is look at his proposal. I just got it from my staff. We’re going to have some conference meetings with the White House. We’re reviewing it. It shouldn’t be that hard. From what I know about it now, it’s comparable to what we had the last time.
But my question now – and I haven’t had a chance to speak to our Republican friend, Mitch McConnell – about whether he’s going to filibuster his own idea or we can have it with a simple up or down vote. Hope that in fact is the case.
But no matter what, it’s a positive development to see Republicans backing so many of our proposals, brining the country back on a fiscal path to common sense.
I would hope the House of Representatives would look closely at what’s going on with Senators coming out saying, “Please, Mr. Speaker, do something about protecting the middle-class.” And we have all kinds of House members that have done the same.
We have one House member who said that he’s – a Republican House member who’s thinking of signing the discharge petition to have a up or down vote on this.
We need to find a solution to this problem we have as soon as we can so we don’t have to keep worrying about going over this fiscal cliff.
But it’s up to the Republicans to decide how long it’s going to take and how much financial stress middle-class families and the rest of America are going to have to endure before we reach an agreement.
Press briefing Q&A:
Harry Reid: We have kicked the can down the road for far too long. We’re not going to do it any more. The American people need certainty. The only way to have that certainty is to make sure that we start paying for things, and one way to do that is to have the richest of the rich pay a little bit more.
The meetings with the Business Roundtable, other groups I’ve met with, including the Business Roundtable – the people who are making this money, they’re willing to pay the extra money. The American people believe they should pay the extra money. There’s polls out today by more than a 2 to 1 margin, the American people believe this to be the case.
The only people in all of America who disagree with that are Republicans who serve in this building that we’re in now.
Harry Reid: The President’s been very clear. He’s been very clear. I’ve been very clear. Republicans have to make sure that they allow the rate increase to take place.
Harry Reid: There’s no bigger financial – there’s no one who cares more about the debt than Kent Conrad but he has always said that any part of a financial deal – any type of budget proposal – we do should have a component – should have a part of it in there that allows for stimulation of the economy. We really need that, and that’s why the President through Secretary Geithner indicated that he would very much like the proposal to have some job creations in this.
Harry Reid: The President’s made clear, I’ve tried to make very clear, until there’s movement in tax rates, I’m not talking about any other proposals – not about whether there will be a cut here, a cut there.
No one understands that’s better than the woman standing to my left [Sen. Patty Murray]. She was chairwoman of the Super Committee and they worked really hard. We had cuts here, cuts there, ideas on how to solve our problems. They were waiting for revenue.
And as you all remember. About a week or so before the statutory report time of this committee, I get a letter from virtually every Republican Senator: “No revenue.” We’re not going to fall for that again.
Question: Sen. Reid, would you accept a deal where it raises the top tax rates to a point below what they were in the Clinton years?
Harry Reid: We are not going to negotiate this now. I believe that the tax rate should go up to 39.6% – that’s where they were when Clinton was President and look at the economic vitality this country had.
And there are very few people – you take Warren Buffett for example. He said he’s never made a deal and been concerned about the rates.
Harry Reid:…The European Community now is concerned about all their austerity. You can do both. As Kent Conrad so clearly explained, there are many, many things you can do to reduce debt but still have a stimulative aspect of the economy, and that’s what the European Community has recognized in the press reports I got today. They haven’t done it, and that’s been a mistake.