Pelosi Floor Statement Against Tea Party Republican Tax Increase

Dec 20, 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 refusal of the House Republican leadership to allow a vote on the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which passed with bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate. Below are the Leader’s remarks.

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentlelady for yielding. I thank her for her leadership in fighting the good fight at the Rules Committee. I commend her for her patience and also for her great knowledge that she brings to this debate.

“This is a pretty simple matter. The fact is what we’re debating here today is of the utmost importance to the American people, to America’s working families. And they know it. So much of what we debate on the floor may appear irrelevant to meeting their needs. This has a direct connection. The debate that we have around our table of discussion here relates directly to discussions that are happening at kitchen tables across the country as people prepare for the holidays. To see if they’re going to be able to have a holiday. If they are going to be able to pay the bills come January.

“Last night, the leadership of the Republican Party announced that a bill, that the procedure today would be that we would be able to vote up or down on the Senate bill. In a matter of minutes, when it went to the Rules Committee, they changed that and said we wouldn’t have a chance to vote up or down on the Senate bill. This isn’t, though, about process.

“It’s about why is this happening and why can’t we get the job done for the American people? What is at stake is the following: given the chance to have an up or down vote on the Senate bill, will probably attract some Republican support. When passed it could go directly to the President, be signed into law today, removing all doubt in the minds of the American people as to whether the following will occur: They will get up to $1,500 tax cut for middle-income families, 160 million American workers will get the tax cut. It will mean 48 million seniors will have access to their doctors under Medicare. It will mean up to 2 million people will be receiving unemployment insurance in the next two months. For some of those people, losing that unemployment insurance cuts off any means of support for them.

“Is that what we are here to do? I thought we were here to do what the American people want us to do. What they have said they want us to do is to work together to get the job done. Why can’t we work together? A, being they want jobs and they want this tax cut. Democrats, Independents, Republicans want this tax cut. In fact, Republicans, 50 something to 30 something, support the payroll tax cut. That is Republicans across the country. Republicans in the Senate voted for this tax cut, 39 of them did. 90 percent of the Senate, in a bipartisan way, voted for this tax cut. It is just the extreme Tea Party element of the Republicans in the House of Representatives who are standing in the way of a tax cut for 160 million Americans, unemployment benefits for millions of Americans and Medicare opportunity for 48 million seniors. Republicans say: ‘This is too short.’ It reminds me of a Yogi Berra story; he said: ‘I don’t like the food at that restaurant, besides the servings are too small.’ Well that’s just what they are saying here. They never wanted a tax cut. And now they are saying a tax cut for the middle-income people is too small. So what is it? The record shows that in the beginning of the summer, Speaker Boehner said, that the tax cut, even the one year tax cut, was a ‘short term gimmick’ and he opposed it.

“It wasn’t until President Obama went across the country with the American Jobs Act to persuade the American people, the support the job creation that he was advocating. One part of that was the payroll tax cut. The American people overwhelmingly support that. They want us to get that job done. So the only reason the Republicans are using the subterfuge, these excuses, is because they never wanted the tax cut to begin with. Our distinguished, Mr. Hoyer, said it very well: ‘The bill they put forth is designed to fail.’ To fail. Designed to fail because they didn’t want it to begin with. But this is deadly serious to the American people.

“The Senate, they said, just to see where we are. The Senate Republicans opposed bringing up the House bill. The Republican House bill in the Senate, because they knew it would fail. The Republicans in the House, now let’s repeat that, the Republicans in the Senate refused to allow a vote on the House Republican bill because they knew it would fail. The Republicans in the House refused to bring up the Senate bill here because they are afraid it will pass. And it will pass and give the tax cut, take us down the path where we can go forward to make plans for how we extend it for one solid year. But how do you explain this to the American people? 90 percent of the Senate has voted in a bipartisan way. That is what the American people want us to do, to work together for a tax cut that the American people want in overwhelming numbers. And that we have the opportunity to do, right here and now, today.

“President Thomas Jefferson said, very wisely, ‘That every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.’ And so, let’s see what this is today. Is this a difference of opinion on the path we can go down to have tax relief for the American people? Which economists say, this tax cut will create jobs, if we don’t pass it as many as 600,000 jobs can be effected—either lost or not added. 600,000 jobs, because of the demand injected into the economy by putting money into the pockets of the American people. By providing unemployment benefits which are spent immediately and inject demand into the economy, therefore creating jobs. So this is dangerous business, not only for how it impacts individual families and their survival. It’s about the success of our economy and not passing this bill today can hurt our economic recovery.

“So let’s really be clear: Republicans say we were going to have a vote on the Senate bill. They are afraid it will win. They pulled that. So now we have to be engaged in these process maneuvers. That’s only an excuse; it’s not a reason to reject the tax cut. It’s an excuse because they never wanted the tax cut from the beginning. So let’s understand what we’re here about.

“Getting back to President Jefferson, ‘Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.’ But maybe here it is. Maybe the principle at stake here is the anti-government, ideological warfare that the Tea Party Republicans, in the extreme, have taken us to. They alone are standing in the way of a tax cut for the middle class. Republicans across the country support it. Republicans in the Senate support it. Some Republicans in the House support it. That’s why we’re not getting a chance to vote on it. So let’s understand that this is a pattern of House Republicans isolating themselves from the mainstream of even their own party across the country and their colleagues in the Senate, who may or may not like this bill. It isn’t the bill most of us would write. But that’s what a compromise is. So it’s not as if this is a mad, wild embrace of this. It’s facing the reality of two-party systems, needing 60 votes in the Senate and a Republican majority in the House. I thought that the Speaker said that this was a victory after it passed in the Senate? He was the one that instructed Harry Reid, insisted that Senator Reid have the discussion with Mitch McConnell. Was that just a farce too? Is this all just a delaying, stalling tactic? That says we were never going to do it before. Remember Yogi Berra: ‘I don’t like the food at that restaurant and the servings are too small.’ They don’t like the tax cut. And now they’re claiming that it is too small. When it was a one year tax cut, it was called a gimmick by the Speaker of the House.

“So I urge my colleagues to certainly vote ‘no’ on the rule. The Speaker is proud of saying, ‘The House will work its will.’ Well now, if we don’t have the opportunity, under the rules of the House, that are put on this floor, in opposition to the wishes of the American people, to take a simple vote on a bill that comes in with the strength of 90 percent bipartisan vote in the Senate of the United States. So, it’s clear, they never wanted a tax cut. Anything they put forth is designed to fail because that is what they want to do. I tell my caucus, and they may be tired of hearing it from me, that it is like a gentleman who is wooing his potential fiancé and keeps asking her to marry him, to marry him, to marry him and she says: ‘Of course I’ll marry you, of course I’ll marry you. I can only do it on February 30th.’ Well that day is never coming. Nor is the day coming when the Republicans will wholeheartedly support a tax cut for the middle class. Their focus has been on tax cuts for the wealthiest people in our country. And those wealthy people want a tax cut for the middle class.

“Let’s see what the American people want. Let’s vote ‘no’ on this rule, so that we have an opportunity to vote ‘yes’ on the Senate bill that can be sent to the President this very day, so that we can truly wish people a happy holiday season.

“With that Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.”