By Nancy Pelosi
America's middle class -- families, workers and small businesses -- deserves economic stability and certainty. That is why Democrats have called on House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to set an immediate vote on extension of the middle-income tax cuts. Our economic growth requires that we act now.
Our nation's entrepreneurial spirit depends on a thriving middle class. These tax cuts strengthen the economy by putting money into the pockets of consumers and supporting small businesses, the engines of our recovery and job creation.
We face two tasks: One is to promote growth and create jobs; the other to reduce the deficit. Our proposal achieves both goals.
If Democrats and Republicans agree that we should not raise taxes on the middle class, then the question Republicans must answer is: Will they support middle-class tax relief now, or will they continue to insist that it be coupled with tax breaks for the wealthy that increase the deficit and do not grow the economy or create jobs?
Democrats have always opposed the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Since President Obama's election, we have repeatedly called for an end to tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year. Republicans have rejected this effort, holding tax relief for the middle class and small businesses hostage to permanent tax breaks for millionaires, Big Oil, and corporations that ship jobs overseas.
Democrats are committed to moving the process forward by asking the wealthiest to pay their fair share through the expiration of tax cuts for those earning over $1 million a year. Democrats are committed to using the significant savings to reduce the deficit. And in the future, Democrats are committed to reforming the tax code, closing special interest loopholes.
Democrats and President Obama have supported a grand bargain to spur our economy and reduce our deficit in a balanced way. We hope Republicans return to negotiations after walking away. Until then, we must not allow the middle class and small businesses to pay the price. We must invest in jobs and growth, as we reduce the deficit and restore certainty for Americans.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the first female speaker of the House, serves as minority leader.