Following President Obama's remarks this afternoon, Congressman John Tierney released the following statement:
"I intend to review any final legislative proposal extremely carefully given the important stakes involved. It remains a top priority to provide unemployment benefits to those Americans struggling to make ends meet and ensure that middle class Americans and small business owners do not face a tax increase in January. I am disappointed that the proposed compromise continues to ensure additional tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires at a time when our economy is so strained.
"The current fiscal discussion should be looking at proposals through dual purpose lenses: in the near term, given the immediate economic need to help those about to lose their unemployment support and the need for job retention and creation, does any plan continue unemployment benefits and create jobs to grow our economy? In the longer term, does it add unreasonably in later years to the systemic deficit?
"Economists across the political spectrum agree that extending unemployment benefits is crucial to our economic recovery. Unfortunately, they just as clearly warn that income tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans will inappropriately balloon the deficit, imperil vital programs like Social Security and Medicare that sustain the middle class, and are the least effective means of stimulating the economy.
"I have consistently remained focused on supporting policies that create jobs and improve our economy, assist Americans who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and provide that any tax cuts benefit working families. It is more than troubling that Republicans have held the middle class hostage for provisions that benefit only the wealthiest 3 percent of Americans, that do not create jobs, and that add billions of dollars to the deficit. It is even more disturbing that the Republican estate tax proposal would help only 39,000 of America's richest families, while adding about $25 billion more to the deficit.
"A significant percentage of the American people clearly agree with the Democratic proposal that passed the House earlier and saved tax cuts for everyone up to $200,000 (for individuals/$250,000 for couples). That bill stimulated job creation and retention while not adding to the long-term systemic deficit by caving to Republican demands that the already well off get tax breaks on their second million in income and a small group of millionaires get to balloon our debt by avoiding reasonable estate taxes. That bill would have created jobs and helped 155 million workers through tax cuts for the middle class and support for working families.
"The proposed "compromise" as so far described leaves us in a position of balancing our need to support those facing a loss of unemployment benefits and/or middle class tax relief against the danger of allowing a burgeoning deficit. Certainly, accepting the extension of billions of dollars in debt in order to accede to Republican demands will likely make efforts in the future to support Social Security and Medicare as well as appropriately fund programs to educate our children and ensure public safety, among others, all the more difficult.
"Further, with respect to the White House and the Senate, we shall have to seriously consider whether accepting this proposal sets up a hazard that Republicans will continually hold other matters essential to the middle class hostage to future demands adverse to our national economic well being. I share a general disappointment of many that the President did not refute untenable economic claims earlier and engage earlier with the public in order to gain the necessary support to avoid this poor choice. Nevertheless, these are the considerations I will be reviewing as the specific and final details of legislation are presented."