Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of House Democrats’ Motion to Instruct Conferees on GOP Tax Scam
Leader Pelosi. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the gentleman for yielding and thank him and the Democratic Members of the Ways and Means Committee [Richard Neal] for being committed to the truth, to the facts and to hear the distinguished Chairman of the Committee [Kevin Brady] say what he said about the budget is almost ludicrous. Almost laughable, if it weren't so serious in terms of the impact that it has on America’s future. He knows that in the last four, maybe even five years of the Clinton Administration, the budget was in balance or in surplus, the operational budget, and it was on a path to reducing the national debt until President Bush came in, gave tax cuts to the high-end, a giveaway to a pharmaceutical industry with the Medicare Part D legislation and two unpaid-for wars: that's what the experts will tell you increased the deficit, that was on a path of – the national debt of going down – it was a swing, my colleagues, of eleven trillion dollars, to date, the biggest swing in history.
When President Obama came into office he was inheriting a deficit, not the national debt but the annual deficit of $1.4 trillion – of $1.4 trillion. When he left it was about a third of that, when he left office – don't try to mislead the American people. We owe them the truth. We owe them facts and that's why what is happening tonight in this body is so important. That the violence that the Republicans are doing with their legislation on the economy of our country, robbing from our children's futures to reward the wealthiest people and biggest corporations in America.
Who – I rise tonight to ask my colleagues a simple question – who do we represent when we come to this floor? The American people overwhelmingly oppose the GOP tax scam, they see it as that and they are making their voices heard. The American people are calling the Republican Congress to abandon the House and Senate bills, which pillage the middle class and pad the pockets of GOP’s big CEO's and GOP donors.
The American people want us to start over and actually put the middle class first. We should be working in a bipartisan way in order to do that so that it will not only be right but that it will be sustainable, that there'll be some certainty in our economy that this is a path forward that has bipartisan support.
But have the Republicans in the People's House listened to the American people? No. Last month, House Republicans voted to raise taxes, in this House, Republicans voted to raise taxes on 36 million middle class American families, stripping deductions from students and teachers, children, seniors, homeowners and workers.
Last week, in the dead of night, Senate Republicans – oh and they kept saying, ‘Going to work it out with the Senate’. Ok. Last week in the dead of night, Senate Republicans voted to raise taxes on 78 million middle class families while also exploding health premiums and exploding the number of uninsured.
Tonight, heading into the conference for the House and Senate bills, Republicans have sent an unmistakable message to middle class America: pick your poison. Because with either bill, the middle class families lose. The American people lose.
According to an analysis in the Washington Post, the GOP tax scam is, “Probably the most regressive tax cut in the past 50 years… it's hard to find a tax plan that has done less for the middle class.’ That's what we talked about – who – who are we here to represent? Why? Why are they doing this? Well, they're doing this to give a tax cut to the top 1 percent. The Senate bill is 62 percent of the benefits of the bill go to the top 1 percent in our country. Is that fair? To give over – nearly $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to corporate America while heaping other benefits on them to make it easier for them to send jobs overseas.
Why? Well, some of their people have told us why. [Congressman] Chris Collins said, ‘My donors are saying, get it done or don't ever call me again.’ Senator Lindsey Graham has said, ‘The financial contributions will stop’ with the – if the tax bill scam – scam is my word. The director of Economic Counsel Gary Cohen said the most excited group out there are the big CEO's, corporate CEO's of our tax plan, he said.
This is interesting, to see the Freedom Caucus, which I thought was a values-based committed to reducing the national debt, a debt that is being added to here that we may never recover from. What happened to the Freedom Caucus? Weren't they supposed to be deficit hawks? Has that become an endangered species? No, it's become extinct – extinct. It does not exist on the Republican side. But it does exist on the Democratic side and we intend to fight this robbing of the future by increasing the deficit into the trillions of dollars by fighting this bill to the end.
Where are all the Republicans that promised to reduce the deficit? Our Republican colleagues insist we have no funds, no funds to spare for the health care of our children, the education of our young people, the job creating infrastructure of the 21st century, unless we find offsets. And yet, $1.5 trillion to corporate America on offset, tax cuts to the wealthiest in our country un-offset. That means children have to pay for their health care with their immunizations, it's absolutely appalling. It isn't a statement of values in any way.
Today, quietly, the Republicans, and some of them are admitting it with glee: they are sharpening their knives for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, recognizing how they are increasing the – they are soaring the national debt, now they have to find some way to pay for it. So they're coming after Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The understanding of some is whether they do it this year or the following year after the election. Well, I think you are in a lose-lose situation: you lose with your donors if you don't pass this bill, you will lose with the American people if you do. Democrats believe people deserve better.
Democrats believe people deserve better. We deserve bipartisanship in how we put this together so it's sustainable. We are offering a Better Deal: Better Jobs, Better Wages and a Better Future.
The American people deserve real, bipartisan, permanent tax reform that puts the middle class first.
The truth is that our colleagues either choose to ignore or do not understand the gravity of the situation, as they say in ’The Music Man.’ This is a terrible assault on the middle class, and so tonight, with the Democrats' Motion To Instruct conferees, we want the Republicans to show where they stand.
Will Republicans vote yes to protect the vital state and local tax deduction? Enabling people to live in a safe place? Or will they vote to double tax middle class families, drive down home values and endanger key funding for firefighters, law enforcement and schools? Will Republicans vote to protect the health care of those with pre-existing conditions? No. No, no, no, no. Or will they vote to spike families' premiums and add 13 million more Americans to the ranks of the uninsured if this bill goes through?
I have said that this was, with stiff competition by some of the other things they put forth, the worst bill in the history of the United States Congress. How can I make that claim? It has more money, hurts more people, increases the deficit by so much more and just because everything is bigger in our country, the consequences of this bill, multi-trillion dollar economy being addressed by a bill that had no hearing, no expert testimony, just for the speed of light, as Jamie Raskin said, ‘in the speed of light, in the dark of night, here we are.’
Who else thinks this is not a good idea? This is what the United States Conference of Bishops have said: ‘This proposal appears to be the first federal income tax modification in American history that will raise income taxes on the working poor while simultaneously providing a large tax cut to the wealthy.’ This, the Conference of Bishops says, ‘this is simply unconscionable,’ and I believe them.
Let us remember the word of Saint Augustine, ‘A state which is not governed according to justice would be just a bunch of thieves.’ He said that 17 centuries ago. When his Holiness Pope Benedict wrote in his first encyclical, God Is Love, he says sometimes you have to work hard to determine what justice is. But in doing so you must beware of the dazzling blindness of money – you must beware of the dazzling blindness of money and power. You did not heed that.
Let us look at the GOP tax scam before us. No justice. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote yes on the Motion To Instruct conferees, to inject some element of fairness and common sense into this destruction, and then to reject this terrible bill.
With that I yield back the balance of my time.