Pelosi Floor Speech on Middle Income Tax Cuts


Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks on the House floor calling on House Republicans to act on middle income tax cuts.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

“Thank you very much Madam Chair, Ranking Member.  Thank you, Mr. Speaker.  Why did I sort of smell smoke when I heard this debate?  It’s reminiscent of Nero fiddling while Rome burned.  The American people are waiting for us to get the job done here, not to make a myriad of excuses about why stuff hasn’t been done.

“We’re bringing up a rule that says we should take up, have a suspension authority.  Let’s bring the middle income tax cut up under suspension.  I believe, and I am willing to take the chance, that this House would give over two-thirds of a vote to the middle income tax cut.  A tax cut which gives – oh, do I detect your smirk to mean that you don’t think Republicans will vote for a middle income tax cut, Mr. Sessions?  Should I take it to mean that you will continue to hold middle income tax cuts hostage to giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country?  The unfairness of it is appalling, the fact that it increases the deficit is disgraceful, and that it does not create jobs is a big mistake for us to make.

“What we are asking for in this rule is to say ‘no’ to the previous question so that we can take up a rule that says that we cannot leave here until we, and unless we pass the  middle income tax cut, whatever else happens on the whole myriad of other issues that relate to the cliff.  This matters, what happens here.  It matters that we get a job done.  It is relevant to the lives of the American people.  As we gather here we – a country of great family tradition, of family values, of commitment to faith, faith in ourselves, our families, our God, our country – are away from home while people are lighting a menorah candle, a Hanukkah candle, while people are trimming trees and the rest of that.

“Okay, we’re here to do our job.  But we hear from the Republican side that they might not be ready to relieve the pain and curiosity that American families have about whether or not we’re going to get this done.  They are going to put this off until the last very minute, as to whether the markets will have confidence on how to grow the economy and create jobs and remove all doubt, remove all doubt in the full faith and credit in the United States of America.

“Every time we put this forth – it’s an existential question: why are we here?  We are here to do the people’s work.  Let’s sit down, get it done, and move forward instead of filling the agenda, however worthy those initiatives may be, instead of, not along with, passing the middle income tax cut.

“This is all so reminiscent of a year ago.  The President proposed, the Senate Democrats and Republicans voted for the payroll tax holiday.  The Republicans in the House resisted, painted themselves into a corner, until they had no choice.  The issue had been made too hot for them to handle and they finally had to come around to supporting the payroll tax holiday.  And here we are again.

“One hundred percent of the American people will receive a tax cut when we pass the middle income tax cut.  The wealthiest people in our country will receive a tax cut up to their income of $250,000.  We’re asking them to pay a little bit more for what they make over $250,000 a year to help reduce the deficit, to help grow the economy, grow the economy, that growth is what is essential.  If you want to reduce the deficit, create jobs.  So, why aren’t we doing that?  Why are we just having all this subterfuge and this, that and the other thing?  Why are we being told: ‘make a reservation on Christmas Eve, and one on the day after Christmas to come back?’  Is there not an appreciation for the Jewish holidays, the Christmas holidays, Kwanza, all the other things that families come together around, bonding rituals important to the strength of our society?  Do we not care about that?  Well, the American people do.  And they want to shop for it.  They want to have family dinners and they want to exchange gifts, as is the tradition, but they really don’t know if they’re going to be able to pay the bill in January for the purposes in December.

“The President has been very clear.  Democrats have agreed to $1.6 trillion in cuts, much of it voted on, all of it voted on already either in the Budget Control Act, or in the other actions taken by this Congress in the course of this Congress.  We have already taken in savings of over a trillion dollars, redirected savings in Medicare to prolong its life and to increase benefits that would be $750 billion in the Affordable Care Act, and now another $400 billion or such in the President’s budget.  We’re committed to that.

“Where are the tax cuts?  Where are the tax cuts for the middle class that would inject demand into the economy and therefore create jobs and create growth?  Where are the revenues that we would get if we did that and then had the additional participation of those who make over $250,000?  Where is the revenue that the Republicans are willing to bring to the table?

“All we’ve seen from them is a letter.  All we’ve heard from them is that they don’t want to tax the rich.  All we know is that the public is very much on board with everyone in our country paying his or her fair share.  So, this rule today that says – give us authority to have other bills brought to the floor – well if one of those bills is the middle income tax cut, we’re happy with that.  But if that isn’t the plan, then I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ on the previous question because that would enable us to bring a rule to the floor which calls for bringing forth the middle income tax cut before we leave here.

“Again, we support the President in his proposal, which is fair, which reduces the deficit, which creates jobs, and which will work for the American people.  With that, I yield back the balance of my time.”

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