Pelosi Floor Speech on GOP Bill that Risks Middle Class Tax Cuts

December 13, 2011

Washington, D.C. - Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke on the House floor today against the so-called “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011.”  Below are the Leader's remarks.

“Thank you very much Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding, I commend [him] for his extraordinary leadership on behalf of Americans, America's working families.  He has demonstrated long-term, consistent dedication to their well being.  Thank you Mr. Chairman for your leadership.

“Mr. Chairman, I return to the floor, I spoke on the rule earlier, but I listened attentively to the debate and I think a few points need to be made and I will do them very briefly.

“It is clear that the Republicans, in using the pipeline, are trying to change the subject.  The subject at hand is, we have a proposal from the President of the United States, which has within it proposals that have had bipartisan support over a period of time on how to have a payroll tax cut that benefits many middle-income families in our country.  That respects that some people are out of work through no fault of their own and need unemployment insurance and that our seniors want to have the doctor of their choice and that issue has to be addressed here.

“The fact is, is that because of the way the rules were setup, not to go into process but the Republicans said: ‘We're not even going to be able to bring the President and the Democratic proposal to the floor.  Instead we're going to bring ours to the floor but, so that the public doesn't really understand the difference between the two, we're going to have a smokescreen go up there, a smokescreen of confusion by talking about the pipeline.”

“And this is very interesting because this isn't about the pipeline.  We, as other speakers have said, could have a vote on the pipeline at anytime, to vote it up or vote it down, consider what it means in jobs and impact on the environment and [that] it doesn't reduce dependence on foreign oil, but nonetheless that's a subject for debate of another time.  I myself have not made a public statement of one way or another, but many of our colleagues have.  They are either supporting it or they are not but that's not the point of the legislation and many who support the pipeline are opposing this bill because they know it is being used, it is being used.  And some of our friends in labor want this pipeline built, but I assure you that they want unemployment insurance for workers who, again, through no fault of their own are out of work.

“So let's just take a few points here.  The proponents of this bill, who are using the pipeline as a smokescreen and as an excuse, say that it will create 20,000 jobs.  Let's hope that that is correct.  But what it's doing is standing in the way of the President's proposal which will create 600,000 jobs, which will make an impact of 600,000 jobs on our economy.  That's from the Macroeconomic Advisers.  It will make the difference of 600,000 jobs.  So while they're professing this 20,000 jobs, which maybe a legitimate number, lets say it's the highest number they could come up with.  Let's have that debate on another day, you may see a very big strong vote on the floor for the pipeline, and you may not.  So the point is: 20,000 jobs, if that's the argument, versus 600,000 jobs.

“The other point is that the President's proposal affects 160 million Americans, 160 million Americans will have a payroll tax cut and, according to his proposal, and in a substantial way.  This is not as Republicans wanted it; throw bones to the middle class.  This is about a thriving middle class.  It's about a payroll tax cut that does what it sets out to do, puts $1,500 in the pockets of Americas families who need it, who spend it and in doing so inject, inject demand--demand, demand--into our economy which further creates jobs.  And how that is paid for is by a surtax on those making over a million dollars a year--160 million people affected.  A surcharge on 300,000 of the wealthiest people in America.  We don't begrudge them their wealth, their success, that's important.  I don't think anyone of those 300,000 people begrudge the 160 million Americans their payroll tax cut, but I do think it is the extremists in the House on the Republican side in the House of Representatives who have an ideological point of view, and that is what is at work here.  It isn't about those making over 300,000, begrudging the 160 million; it isn't about the 160 million begrudging the 300,000.

“So let's understand the numbers here.  I'm going to reference the Chairman's bill, who sacrifices under the Republican bill?  Seniors sacrifice $31 billion dollars.  Instead of a surcharge on the 300,000 wealthiest people in our country making over a million dollars a year, the Republicans pay for their payroll tax by $31 billion from seniors.  Federal workers sacrifice $40 billion dollars.  Unemployed Americans sacrifice $11 billion dollars, billionaires sacrifice zero.  I think their willing to do; I think all Americans are willing to do their fair share.  We all have to do our part, take responsibility, zero.  So, again, 20,000 jobs, 600,000 jobs.  160 million Americans, 300,000 Americans.  $31 billion from Medicare.

“The President's proposal and the Democratic plan, which mirror each other, reduce the deficit by $300 billion.  And according to the Congressional Budget Office, and I read from the Congressional Budget Office letter.  According, this is to Mr. Camp, a letter from the Congressional Budget Office, the independent, nonpartisan budget office of the House, writing to Mr. Camp said: “According to CBOs and joint tax committees, Congressional Budget Office and joint tax committees estimates, enacting H.R. 3630,” the bill before us, “would change revenues and direct spending to produce increases in the deficit of $166.8 billion in fiscal year 2012 and 25.3 billion over the 2012-2021 period.”  So let's just take the lower number, $25 billion in the life of the bill, that's what the CBO says about the bill before us.  It's a bill, that's why earlier today there was a motion to say this is not keeping with being revenue neutral as the Republicans espouse, and we agree.

“So, again, the numbers, 20,000 jobs the pipeline, and that may be a good thing.  This is not the place.  This is a smokescreen.  This is a distraction.  This is change of subject.  This is the masters of confusion so you don't know what really is at stake here.  You couldn't possibly be sincere, about a payroll tax cut that makes the middle class thrive if you put an obstacle like that in front of it and call it a jobs bill to prevent saving or creating 600,000 jobs.  160 million Americans benefit from this, please don't tax 300,000, instead take $31 billion from our seniors.  Reduce the deficit by $300 billion; increase the deficit by $25 billion.  The numbers are clear.  They speak for themselves.  I urge my colleagues to vote ‘no.'

“I hope that we can come to the table and share a view that this middle-income tax cut is worth doing without obstacles to its being signed into law and that we can do it soon.  I say it over and over again, Christmas is coming, for some the goose is getting fat, for others it's a very, there are very slim prospects.  Let's change that.  Let's do the peoples work.  Let's get this done.  With that I urge a ‘no' vote and yield back the balance of my time.”