Transcript of Press Event Unveiling House Democrats’ ‘Middle Class Jumpstart’ Economic Agenda


Washington, D.C. – Today, as House Republicans gathered in the Rules Committee to discuss their latest partisan distraction of suing the President, House Democrats took to the steps of the Capitol to announce a bold new economic agenda to jumpstart the middle class.  Below is a transcript of the press event:  

Chairman Becerra.  Good morning.  Are you all ready?  Because we’re ready – ready to go.  My name is Xavier Becerra.  I have the privilege of being the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, and we are gathered here today to send a very clear message to America:  you can either sue the President of the United States, or you can do your job here in the House of Representatives and pass laws that help the middle class and working families.

[Applause]

You can shut down the government, taking 800,000 workers and 24 billion taxpayer dollars with you, or you can enact the President’s jobs agenda.  You can vote more than 50 times to tear down America’s new health security and patients’ law, or you can make the law even better so every working family in America has a doctor and the peace of mind that comes with it.

[Applause]

You can pass stop-gap measures that merely kick the can down the road on our nation’s budget or on the construction and repair of our roads, rails, and bridges, or you can do it the right way and pass stable, long-term laws that give our businesses and employers the confidence to hire and grow.  You can do nothing other than block a vote to fix a broken immigration system, or you can pass the bipartisan fix that the Senate voted out 384 days ago.

Americans don’t have the luxury to watch the House of Representatives waste time and taxpayer dollars.

It’s time to give Americans who work hard, but earn only $7.25, a raise.  It’s time to pay women the same as a man for the same work.  It’s time to reward companies that grow jobs in America, not ship them overseas.  And it’s time to make college affordable once again for the middle class.

Democrats have a straightforward, ambitious agenda.  But we will not waste America’s time or taxpayers dollars.  Give us the chance to lead the people’s House, and in 100 days, we will accomplish the work of America, putting the middle class first.  Let me now introduce our friend and our Chairman who helped us put together the agenda that will put America back to work: Chairman Steve Israel.

[Applause]

Congressman Israel.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  The defining issue of our time is middle class economic security.  It’s all about who’s got your back. And this House Republican majority has turned its back on the middle class.  It’s time for somebody to stand up for the middle class and get to work for the middle class.  That’s House Democrats.  That’s what we’re going to do.

[Applause]

House Republicans – they have stacked the deck for special interests; they have turned their back on the middle class; they have stalled the middle class.  Today, behind these doors, they will waste an entire day and taxpayer dollars, plotting to sue the President of the United States.  Meanwhile, we are out here announcing our solutions to support the middle class.

This is the “Middle Class Jumpstart.”  It is to jumpstart the middle class – 100 days of action to put the middle class first ahead of the special interests.  Now, you couldn’t have a more vivid contrast in priorities.  They have passed maximum subsidies for the special interests.  In the first 100 days, we will increase the minimum wage for America’s workers – first 100 days.

[Applause]

They have protected the profits of the big banks.  In the first 100 days, we will allow every student in the middle class and working families to refinance their student loans.

[Applause]

In their House majority, they have supported putting bosses in charge of women’s health freedoms.  In the first 100 days, we will require bosses to pay a woman the same as a man for equal work.

[Applause]

That’s the difference between them and us: 100 days.  Putting the middle class first.  More jobs, not more subpoenas.  More jobs for the middle class, not more jobs for partisan lawyers.  Supporting women and families, supporting affordable and accessible education.

Today the middle class – they feel stalled.  They do feel stalled.  We do not need, on that same day, another Republican lawsuit to advance their partisan aims.  We need solutions to protect the middle class’ pocketbooks.  That’s what “Middle Class Jumpstart” is all about.  You give us this majority, we will protect the middle class first and stop House Republicans from putting the special interests ahead.  Thank you very much.  Let’s jumpstart the middle class.  We need solutions, not more politics.

[Applause]

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  And let me turn it over to our distinguished Minority Whip, who, as Majority [Leader], will make sure that with these first 100 days we produce solutions and results for the middle class – Steny Hoyer.

[Applause]

Whip Hoyer.  Thank you so much.  The middle class needs a jumpstart.  The middle class knows they need a jumpstart, and they know they need a Congress that is on their side, not a Congress that says: “You’re on your own.”  That’s what the American people want, and that’s what we’re going to give them.  Democrats have a strong agenda for the 114th Congress.

The Republican majority has squandered their chance to create jobs and grow opportunities.  They have wasted taxpayers’ time and money with a costly government shutdown and frivolous lawsuits.  It’s time for a change: a new Democratic majority that will hit the ground running with a legislative agenda that supports a strong and growing middle class.

The “Make It In America” plan is a broad agenda for jobs and competitiveness and is a central part of this “Middle Class Jumpstart.”  We want to provide tax incentives to encourage companies to bring jobs home, rather than send jobs overseas.

[Applause]

We want to invest in increased exports, improved infrastructures and skill training programs that attract jobs and promote a strong manufacturing base.  Democrats have a real plan to get things done.  And if we have the majority in January, as I fully expect us to have, we will be introducing the “21st Century Make It In America Act.”

[Applause]

Americans are tired of a Republican do-nothing and do-bad-things Congress focused simply on partisan divisions.  They want a Congress that helps everyone make it in America and jumpstart the middle class.  Now I want to introduce my colleague, a real leader in the Democratic Party and in this country, my friend, the Congressman from South Carolina, and the Assistant Leader of our Party, Jim Clyburn.

[Applause]

Assistant Leader Clyburn.  Thank you.  Thank you very much, Mr. Whip.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  Thanks to all my distinguished colleagues.  I’m pleased to join House Democrats today to unveil our 100 day action agenda.  House Republicans have stacked the deck for the wealthiest few at the expense of working families.  In the first 100 days of 2015, a Democratic House majority will act to jumpstart a middle class agenda, an agenda that starts with jobs – good jobs; jobs with livable wages; jobs that will expand the middle class and move the families of hard-working men and women into the middle class.

Democrats will pass the 21st century “Make It In America” Act to provide tax incentives to companies that create good paying jobs here at home.

[Applause]

Republicans voted to give tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas.  House Democrats will pass the Build American Bonds Act to boost job growth and modernize American infrastructures by building roads, bridges, broadband technology, and investing in clean energy.  And we will pay for it by closing corporate tax loopholes.

[Applause]

Republicans have blocked legislation to make long-term investments in our nation’s aging highway system and oppose creating clean energy jobs for the future.  House Democrats will raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and pass the Tax Fairness Act to deny CEOs the ability to claim tax deductions for pay over $1 million unless they give their employees a raise.

[Applause]

Republicans refused to raise the minimum wage, but give massive tax giveaways to corporate special interests and the ultra-wealthy.  America needs an economy that works for working people.  House Democrats are ready to deliver on that vision with our 100-day action plan.  And with that, it is my pleasure to yield now to the soon-to-be Chair of the House Budget Committee, Chris Van Hollen.

[Applause]

Congressman Van Hollen.  Thank you.  Thank you, Mr. Clyburn.  As we work to shut down those special interest corporate loopholes that encourage American companies to move jobs overseas – as we shut those down and invest those savings in jobs here at home – we need to make sure, as Mr. Clyburn said, that those jobs pay a decent wage, a living wage, a wage that can support American families.  Because when American families succeed, all of America succeeds.

[Applause]

So there two things we’re going to do in those first 100 days.  The first is end the scandal that in America, you can work 40 hours a week all year long and still have to raise your family in poverty.  That is simply wrong.  We need to make sure we raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and get that done once and for all.

But we cannot stop there.  We need to make sure all of America has a shot at a wage.  What we’ve seen over the last several decades is large increases in worker productivity.  We have seen skyrocketing increases in CEO pay and bonuses.  What we have not seen is increases in the employee pay.  They have been left behind even though they are working to boost that productivity and boost those corporate profits.

So, we have a very simple proposition.  We have a proposition called the CEO-Employee Pay Fairness Act, and that is this: If you’re a corporation, you cannot give your CEO and top executives – you cannot take a deduction for their pay over $1 million unless you’re going to give your employees a raise.  It’s pretty simple.  It’s pretty fair.

[Applause]

After all, the taxpayers should not have to subsidize big corporate CEO bonuses for corporations that are not providing their employees with a wage and pay increase.  So, let’s get the job done, let’s invest in jobs here, let’s make sure there are jobs that pay a decent wage for all Americans.  And with that, I’m very pleased to turn it over to Mr. Tierney, who is taking the lead in making sure every kid has a shot at the American dream: Mr. Tierney.

[Applause]

Congressman Tierney.  Thank you, Chris.  Thank you.  I want to thank Leader Pelosi, and all my colleagues, for including my bill in the House Democratic Economic Agenda.  It is simple and it is straightforward.  What this bill does is provide existing student loan borrowers the opportunity to refinance their debt at a lower rate.

[Applause]

Banks can do it.  Businesses can do it.  Families can do it with their home ownership.  And students should be able to do it. It would save students and parents and graduates thousands of dollars on their loans.  And that savings no doubt will get spent right back into the economy, giving it a boost.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office says clearly that it would reduce the deficit by $22 billion in 10 years, so taxpayers also benefit from it.

Right now, the House Republicans are in there trying to find out how to sue the President.  We’re out here making sure that we’re fighting for tens of millions of parents and students and graduates to make sure that they have an equal chance.

[Applause]

This is all about: Whose side are you on?  And we’re on the side of students and graduates and parents.  So again, I want to thank the Leader and my colleagues for putting this bill in the plan – we’re going to make sure it passes.  And with that, I turn this microphone over to my colleague and [House Democratic Caucus Vice Chair] Joe Crowley.

[Applause]

Vice Chair Crowley.  Thank you, John.  John, as you know and all my colleagues know, education doesn’t start at college.  And we also know that our children only have one real shot – one real shot at a quality education.  And it’s imperative that they get off to the right start, the right jumpstart.  Decades of studies have found that quality pre-school not only leads to higher academic achievement and stronger job benefits, but it also lowers crime and delinquency levels – and even more importantly, it reduces poverty, which really is the cause for the prior two issues.

So while House Republicans voted to limit access to early childhood education and essentially squashed the hopes and dreams of America’s children, House Democrats will pass legislation to expand access to education and make the investments needed to set our children on a path of future success.

[Applause]

Our legislation, the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, led by Ranking Member George Miller – we look a lot alike…

[Laughter]

…It is a bold, ten-year, federal/state partnership to expand and improve early learning opportunities for our children.  This bill will expand access to pre-school for four-year-olds and make critical investments to improve the quality of child care for infants and toddlers.  We want to jumpstart the middle class, and that must include jumpstarting our children’s education – not when they’re going to college, but from day one.  And with that, now let me introduce to you, our Leader, a Leader for all working-class men and women in America: Leader Pelosi.

[Applause]

Chairman Becerra.  Thank you Madam Leader, and thank you to all our Democrats.  America we want you to have a choice: continue the shut-down, do-nothing politics, or move to jumpstart the middle class.  Come join us, America.  Let’s jumpstart the middle class together.

[Applause]

Leader Pelosi.  Good morning, everyone.  Thank you all for being here.  Our “Middle Class Jumpstart” is a tribute to the middle class – the most productive workers in the world.  Our “Middle Class Jumpstart” has policies that reflect the “Make It In America’ – thank you, Mr. Hoyer – and building America.  “A” and “B”: American made; build it in America – infrastructure, small businesses.

This is a tribute to American entrepreneurship, to the innovation that keeps America number one.  It is a recognition that innovation begins in the classroom – enabled by Congressman John Tierney’s Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act, so that kids can have a shot at the American Dream and make their contribution to the American economy.  And, as Mr. Crowley says, that education begins at the earliest time in a child’s life: children learning, parents earning.

But one of the best actions that we can take to increase and grow our economy is to increase the role of women in our economy.

[Applause]

Our agenda for women and families is “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds.”  This is not just the title of our agenda; this is a statement of absolute fact.  And our agenda presents a stark contrast to what the Republicans have done to roll back women’s rights and limit women’s opportunities.

You’ve heard our three categories: One – Make It In America.  Two – Affordable Education to Keep America Number One.  This is all about our country.  And three – When Women Succeed, America Succeeds – when Republicans have refused to ensure equal pay for equal work, reduced access to affordable child care and voted against paid sick leave for men and women.

When we unleash the full potential of women in our economy, we strengthen the middle class and empower families to thrive.  And that’s why we have legislation to make this happen, thanks to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro…

[Applause]

…The chief sponsor of “When Women Succeed, America Succeeds,” and author of legislation, the Paycheck Fairness Act, ensuring equal pay for equal work.  We’ve heard about the Miller-Harkin bill on raising the minimum wage.  We saw what Mr. Van Hollen discussed, about giving America a raise if we’re going to give the CEO a raise.  Again, Rosa DeLauro’s Healthy Families Act to guarantee paid sick leave for men and women, and of course – as Mr. Crowley discussed George Miller’s bill to increase affordable childcare.

This is important.  Children learning, parents earning.  It’s about men and women; it’s about families.  House Republicans have voted to weaken domestic violence laws and threatened to shut down the government rather than fund Planned Parenthood.  Democrats will strengthen the Violence Against Women Act and expand women’s access to comprehensive women’s health care planning.

As we gather on the steps of the Capitol, as my colleagues have referenced, Republicans are inside wasting time and taxpayer money on partisan lawsuits against the President.  Republicans are about process, Democrats are about progress.  Republican process, Democratic progress.

[Applause]

Thanks to our colleague from Kentucky, Mr. Yarmuth.  Where are you, Mr. Yarmuth?  Thank you, Mr. Yarmuth.  He has kept us disciplined on a path of a “Middle Class Jumpstart” – instead of the stalling that the Republicans have done at every effort to increase jobs in our country – good-paying jobs in our country.

Today, with this action plan, we reassert the truths of our history.  And this is not just about better jobs, more employees; this is about entrepreneurship and our women, and our middle class initiatives for entrepreneurship to create more employers; to create small businesses.  That entrepreneurship, that innovation, connected to education and opportunity by the “Make It In America” and the Build America, brings us all together.

So, today with this action plan, we reassert the great truths of our country, of our history, and of our future.

When the middle class succeeds,

House Democrats.  America succeeds!

Leader Pelosi.  When families succeed,

House Democrats.  America succeeds!

Leader Pelosi.  And when women succeed,

House Democrats.  America succeeds!

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you all.  Now, I’m pleased to yield back to our distinguished chairman, Mr. Becerra.

[Applause]

Chairman Becerra.  Thank you Madam Leader, and thank you to all our Democrats.  America we want you to have a choice: continue the shut-down, do-nothing politics, or move to jumpstart the middle class.  Come join us, America.  Let’s jumpstart the middle class together.

[Applause]

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