Pelosi Floor Speech on Democratic Substitute to GOP Bill that Risks Middle Class Tax

Dec 13, 2011
Press Release

Contact: Nadeam Elshami/Drew Hammill, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today against the rule on the so-called “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011” and in support of the Democratic substitute to the bill. Below are the Leader’s remarks.

“Thank you very much Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and appreciate his presentation on why we are here today and why the rule that is being brought to the floor is not the right one because it does not allow for us to have options for the American people to be considered. And one of those options I want to talk about has been described by the President. President Obama, last week in Kansas, made a glorious speech harkening back to President Roosevelt’s speech about the middle class and its importance to America’s democracy, how it is the backbone of our democracy. President Obama said last week: ‘We are greater together—when everyone engages in fair play, [when] everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share.’

“This isn’t about one percentage and another percentage; it’s about all Americans working together. President Obama put those words into legislative action with his proposal for a payroll tax cut for middle-income families as well as unemployment insurance for those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Democrats have a proposal today, which we cannot take up on the floor because the Republican rule is perhaps afraid of the vote we might get, because it does so much for America’s working families.

“I want to remind our colleagues that for a long time the Republican leadership did not support a payroll tax cut at all. Rhetoric coming from the Republicans was: ‘We don’t believe in extending the payroll tax cut. However, we do want to make permanent the tax cut for the wealthiest people in America, those making over $1 million a year.’ So the President taking this to the public and the reinforcement of that message, I heard Democratic colleagues in the House and in the Senate [say], has made the payroll tax cut an issue too hot for the Republicans to handle. So they’re bringing a bill to the floor today which says they’re for payroll tax cut, but has within it the seeds of its own destruction because it has poison pills, which they know, are not acceptable to the President and do not do the best effort for the American people.”

Chairman David Dreier. Mr. Speaker will the gentlewoman yield? Mr. Speaker will the gentlewoman yield?

“You had plenty of time Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman of the Committee…”

Chairman David Dreier. I just want to ask a question…

“I’m not, I’m not going to yield to you because you make your points all day. I’m making mine now.

“One of the points I would like to make is about the Democratic substitute, which the Chairman of the Committee said we could not bring to the floor, but it’s important for the American people to know that this is what the President, mirrors what the President has proposed. The bill would cut taxes by $1,500 for the typical American family. It would secure a critical lifeline for those who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. It would ensure that seniors would still get to see the doctor of their choice with the permanent doc fix that is contained in the bill. Our proposal would protect and extend the tax cut for 160 million Americans, 160 million Americans, while asking 300,000 people, those making over $1 million a year, 300,000 people, to pay their fair share. Republicans not only said ‘no’ to the bill, they said: ‘No, your substitute cannot even be considered on the floor.’ We have said, the President has said, and we agree with him, Democrats in Congress agree with him, we cannot go home unless we pass a tax cut for the middle class. We cannot go home unless we pass the unemployment benefits for America’s working families.

“Across the country, families are sitting at the table. Christmas is coming, I say it over and over, Christmas is coming and for some, the goose is getting fat. For others, it’s very slim pickings. For families, they are sitting around the table having to make difficult choices: ‘Can we put gas in the car and still afford to put food on the table? As the holiday season comes upon us, can we buy toys for our children during the holidays and be able to pay the bills when they come in January?’ Democrats, as families gather round those tables making those decisions, Democrats have put our ideas on the table. We are willing and ready to reach across the aisle to complete our work and give 160 million Americans the gift of greater opportunity and security, hope and optimism during the holiday season of the new year. You cannot do this by saying: ‘We’re going to put something in the bill that the President says he will not sign.’ This is, it’s hard to understand how you can say you’re for something except your going to put up obstacles to its passage. The Macroeconomic Advisers have said that the legislation, that the proposal the President has put forward, will make a difference of 600,000 jobs, 600,000 jobs, to our economy. If we fail to do this we are, again, risking those jobs and we’re missing the opportunity, as the previous speaker said: “Let’s put the money in the pockets of America’s workers.”

“Welcome, welcome to the payroll tax cut, I say to our Republican colleagues, which you have long resisted but that the President has demonstrated the public support for. And so let’s reject this rule so that we can have a fair debate on the President’s proposal, which is fairer to America’s workers, stronger in terms of the macroeconomic impact it will have to inject demand into the economy, creating more jobs and making the holiday season a brighter one for many more Americans. Let us reject this rule. Let us consider, put the Republican proposal on the table, the President’s proposal on the table, which has the full support of Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. As it refers to the Republican proposal they put forth in the Senate they didn’t even win a majority of their own, of the Republicans. So let’s come together. Let’s find our common ground. Let’s get the job done. But let’s understand that we cannot leave Congress, we cannot go home, until we meet the needs of the American people.

“I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no’ on the previous question, and to fully support the best possible payroll tax cut for the middle class, unemployment benefits for our workers as well as our seniors having the ability to have the doctor of their choice.”