Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor tonight on H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. The bill, which the House passed by a vote of 277 to 148 late Thursday night, was passed by the Senate on Wednesday and now goes to President Obama for his signature into law. Below are the Speaker's remarks.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman [Mr. Levin] for yielding. I thank him for his leadership on fairness, for growing the economy, for reducing the deficit, and for creating jobs because that is some of what is done in this bill.
“I think I want to use my time to make some distinctions here. President Obama and the Democrats have supported initiatives to protect the middle class. We are fighting for the middle class. We are wanting to grow the economy and to create jobs and to reduce the deficit. So we must subject whatever legislation that comes before us as to how it meets those tests.
“This legislation on the Democratic side of the ledger does create jobs. And the demand that creating jobs injects into the economy helps reduce the deficit. For example, unemployment insurance provisions that are in the legislation, economists across the board tell us, return more money to the economy than almost any initiative you can name. People spend that money quickly--these are people who are looking for work, people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Their unemployment insurance is spent immediately, again, injecting demand into the economy, creating jobs.
“Low-income tax credit, refundable; child tax credit, refundable--all of this placed in the hands of working class people and working families in America, again spent immediately, injecting demand, creating jobs. The college tuition tax credit--very important for America's working families and their children.
“So here we are with a bill on one side of the ledger that benefits 155 million Americans. We have tax cuts for the middle class across the board. Everybody gets that tax cut. But in order for the middle class to get that tax cut, the Republicans insist that those who make the top 2 percent in our country, that they get an extra tax cut--adding billions of dollars to the deficit and not creating any jobs.
“To add insult to injury, they have now added this estate tax provision. An estate tax provision, now mind you, the Democrats' side of the ledge benefits 155 million Americans. In order for the President to get those terms accepted, the Republicans insisted that $23 billion in benefits go to 6,600 wealthiest families in America--6,600 families holding up tax cuts for 155 million Americans. Is that fair? Does that meet any test of fairness that we have? Again, this $23 billion not creating jobs. This $23 billion increasing the deficit by 8 percent in the next fiscal year.
“Think of what we could do with that $23 billion. We could triple our research in cancer and diabetes. I think that means something to all Americans, including those 6,600 wealthiest families. We could give a $7,000 raise to every public schoolteacher in America. We could create investing in new technology--780,000 jobs, 780,000 jobs. Instead we are giving a bonanza to 6,600 of the wealthiest people in America who really don't need the help.
“It's just amazing to hear our colleagues on other side of the aisle talk about deficit reduction when everything on their side of the ledger increases the deficit and does not create jobs--tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent, most egregious of all the estate tax provision that they have that benefits not 1 percent, not one half of 1 percent but one quarter of 1 percent of the American people. We have to borrow that money from China and send the bill to our children and our grandchildren. And that is not good policy. It does not have a favorable impact on the deficit. It does not create jobs. It does not grow our economy. It does not stimulate growth in our country.
“And so I hope that our colleagues will vote favorably for the Pomeroy amendment to bring some fairness and clarity to the estate tax issue. And on that, the 99.7 percent of all Americans are exempted. 99.7 percent of all Americans are exempted from paying estate taxes under Pomeroy. But we had to get that upper 3 percent in this legislation in order to benefit 155 million Americans. These figures have to be engraved in our being. 155 million--you can't have that unless 6,600. I've said it over and over.
“And then on top of that, on the Democratic side of the ledger, we have the green initiative, 1603, that the Senate put in the bill. This is just a very positive provision for renewable energy, wind, solar, etc. But the Republicans said: ‘That's the limit, we won't accept any more.' And so all of the initiatives for innovation that have been passed the last few years that should have been extended--we said no to innovation, we said no to the future, we said no to keeping America number one, for encouraging our competitiveness. So if we are talking about growth, we have to talk about investments in the future. If we are talking about being number one, we have to have an innovation agenda to do it. The Republicans said no to that. They only said yes to tax cuts for the wealthiest.
“And as Mr. Weiner said, we recognize success. We admire success. We all want to be part of it. God bless them for having the wealth that they have, whether it is inherited or earned. We recognize success and that wealth does to create jobs, etc. But we also want to reward work. We want to reward work. So in order to reward work in this legislation, we had to have a big payoff to the top one quarter percent of America's wealthiest families.
“So I hope my colleagues as they review this--this is very difficult. Nobody wants taxes to go up for the middle class. In fact, everybody gets a tax cut in this. We just don't see why we have to give an extra tax cut to the wealthiest and then an extra, extra estate tax benefit to the top one quarter percent. So as Members have to make their mind about this, I hope that they will vote for the Pomeroy amendment to this legislation. They will have to make their own decisions as to whether it is necessary to be held hostage to pay a king's ransom in order to help the middle class. We absolutely cannot allow taxes to go up come January 1.
“The previous speaker said: ‘We have to look to how we were forced to this precarious ledge.' Yes, let us look to how we were forced to this precarious ledge. This situation, the deep recession that we are in, President Obama was a job creator from day one with the Recovery Act and pulled us back from that recession. The financial crisis that they created, President Obama pulled us back from that. And oh by the way, remember the financial crisis? Remember the banks that all that money went to and they didn't extend credit? Now those same people are giving out over $100 billion in Christmas bonuses. And these Republicans in this House of Representatives are saying, ‘We don't want you to be taxed the proper extent on that $100 billion--more money given on bonuses on Wall Street.' Think of it--over $100 billion. And we want to give them a free ride in terms of paying their fair share.
“So if it comes to creating jobs, growing the economy, reducing the deficit, investing growth and competiveness and innovation to keep America number one, I applaud President Obama for his side of the ledger. I am sorry that the price that has to be paid for it is so high at a time when everybody is preaching the gospel of deficit reduction, the Republicans come in with an increase in the deficit to the tune of over $100 billion for people in our country who need it the least. And again, where it does not create jobs.
“So Members will have to make up their mind as to how we go forward on the bill, but I hope that all of them in their consideration of it will vote for the Pomeroy amendment, which addresses the most egregious--with stiff competition, mind you, in this bill--the most egregious provision when it comes to fairness, reducing the deficit, and not creating jobs.
“I, again, commend the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, all of our colleagues who have had to explain, through all of the misrepresentations that have been made, about what this legislation is about. And again, I salute President Obama for getting in the bill what is in there. I am sorry that the price that has to be paid by our children and our grandchildren to the Chinese government to pay for the increase in the deficit that the Republicans insisted upon.”