Washington, D.C. - Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor this afternoon in support of the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, which passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 234 to 188. Below are the Speaker's remarks.
“Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman [Mr. Levin] for yielding. I commend him for his great leadership in terms of working and being a champion for America's working families, for America's middle-income families who need so much help at this time of this down economy.
“Mr. Speaker, this has been a very interesting week. Yesterday, hundreds of people looking for work came to the Capitol of the United States. They came because they knew that the day before, unemployment insurance benefits had expired for people looking for work. They knew that by the end of December, unless this Congress acts, 2 million Americans will lose their unemployment insurance. 2 million Americans.
“This is the first time in American history when unemployment benefits would have been allowed to expire at this rate of unemployment. They came looking for jobs. They came in the spirit of fairness to say: ‘Until we can find jobs, we need to continue unemployment insurance.' And what they heard was that the Republicans in the Senate had said, ‘If you want unemployment insurance, it has to be paid for.' Well they have paid into unemployment insurance. ‘But we want to give tax cuts to the wealthiest people in America to the tune of $700 billion and that doesn't have to be paid for.'
“Now I think we should use a measure for everything that we do--what does it do to create jobs, what does it do to reduce the deficit? Unemployment insurance, economists tell us, returns $2 for every $1 that is put out there for unemployment insurance. People need the money. They spend it immediately for necessity. It injects demand into the economy. It creates jobs to help reduce the deficit. Giving $700 billion to the wealthiest people in America does add $700 billion to the deficit. And the record and history show it does not create jobs. It does not create jobs.
“I mention this because it is the context in which we bring up this tax cut for middle-income families in America today. And while some on the other side say this is not going to make a difference, it indeed makes a difference. Let me say unequivocally, there will be no tax bill for any situation unless there is a tax cut for middle-income people in our country. That is what this vote is about today. That is our declaration. That is what we send to the table for the discussion that the President has so rightfully called for.
“Now what our Republican colleagues are saying is--we know they must support tax relief for the middle class, right? And this is tax relief for every income filer, everyone gets a tax break. Well what they are saying is, ‘Unless you give an additional tax break to the wealthiest people in our country, adding to the deficit and not creating jobs, we are not going to vote for middle-income tax cuts.' As Mr. Hoyer said, ‘Holding the middle-income families of America hostage for a tax cut for the wealthiest.
“And who are they? Well, some of them create wealth, create jobs, and we want to reward success in America. And they do get a tax cut in this bill. Some of them are getting bonuses on Wall Street. Did you see the announcement? Almost $90 billion in bonuses on Wall Street after all that they have put us through. Not all of them, but some of them. $90 billion, billion with a ‘b' dollars, in bonuses. And under what the Republicans want to do, they want a tax break for that. A bonus and a tax break on top of it. But no, we can't give middle-income tax cuts unless you do that. And no, if we do unemployment insurance it has to be paid for but not a tax break for these billionaires with these bonuses on Wall Street.
“This is so grossly unfair. It is so grossly unfair. I can't imagine that my colleagues on the Republican side don't want to give a tax cut to the middle class. Why don't they just go for that? They can try to add whatever else they want and have that debate. But to say that this is not the right thing to do, I think is not the right thing to say.
“And so, we have a situation where we come out of an election. Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. That's what those hundreds of people looking for work came to Capitol Hill looking for. They were looking for jobs. They were looking for security for their family. One young man, 35 years old, stood up and said, ‘I am 35. I am married. I have a 4-year-old child. I have been out of work for two years. I am a college graduate. I am a trained professional. Don't tell me to go dip into my savings. My savings are all gone. Don't tell me to go ask help from my family. I've already done that. They've done what they can, but they're strapped as well. Don't tell me to cut back on what we do as a family. That was something we did a long time ago. And so we can try to live as we look for work on unemployment insurance--insurance. And you are now telling us that Congress cannot pass that unless it is paid for.'
“While it is giving, I'm saying, a tax cut to the wealthiest people in America, $700 billion unpaid for, $700 billion to the deficit. Something is very wrong with this picture.
“But we come to this floor, we Democrats today, with great clarity. The tax cut for middle-income families will create jobs because people will spend that money, again, inject demand into the economy, and create jobs. That is something that will help. That growth will help to reduce the deficit. While the record shows, and recent history acknowledges that the tax cuts at the high end did not create jobs, those tax cuts were in place during the Bush years. And more private sector jobs have been created this year than the entire eight years of the Bush Administration. They simply did not create jobs.
“So if you want to create jobs, if you want to reduce the deficit, if you want to stabilize the economy, if you want to support the value of what the middle class, middle-income families mean to our country--these workers who came were veterans. They were the backbone of our country. They came from the heartland of America. They came from a place where we in this Congress and with this President saved the auto industry, saved the auto industry. Without the measures taken by the Obama Administration and this Congress, we would have unemployment that is even higher. But that is not good enough. We want unemployment that is lower. This tax cut taxes us to that place. This tax cut, not what the Republicans are proposing, will help create jobs instead of what they want to do which is not create jobs and increase the deficit.
“So the choice is clear. It's not about 42 signatures [in the Senate] that ‘I'm not going to do this unless you do that.' We are very clear: there will be no tax bill unless there is a tax legislation that gives middle-income families of America the fairness they deserve, the respect that they have earned, and the economic opportunity for creation of jobs, reducing the deficit and stabilizing our economy. I think this choice is clear. I urge our colleagues, and I hope we could have some bipartisan support for middle-income families in America, to vote ‘aye' on this important legislation.
“I again salute Mr. Levin for his leadership and yield back the balance of my time. Thank you.”