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Mr. SHERMAN. Republican Senators have held America hostage, held the American economy hostage, held hostage the middle class. And the President agreed to pay the ransom. Now that ransom can be paid this month with the consent not only of the President, but the Senators and this House. So we can stop the ransom from being paid until the end of the year. And at that point, the President will still be willing to pay the ransom, and the ransom will go up.
If the ransom is going to be paid, let us pay it before it goes up. Knowing that the President had agreed to the major and expensive changes that the Republican Senators demanded, I sought to amend this bill only in a modest way, only to the extent that we could do the deal by the end of the year. And I put forward an amendment that would not increase the cost of the bill by a penny or reduce the tax cuts that the Republicans have been asking for by a penny. I asked only that instead of the payroll tax holiday that needlessly involves the Social Security trust fund and comingles general funds with the Social Security trust fund, that we send out checks as soon as possible so that the money the Republicans have already agreed should go to working families would get to them perhaps in time to pay this year's Christmas bills.
Unfortunately, no effort was made at the highest levels to secure the support of even a couple of Republican Senators for that kind of minor tweaking. And so we stand today with only one choice: pay the ransom now, or pay more ransom later. This is not a place Democrats want to be. But, ultimately, it is better to pay the ransom today than to watch the President pay even more--and I think he'd be willing to pay a bit more--next month.
Therefore, we are going to have to swallow hard. We are going to see an estate tax law so bad that for the richest families where someone died in 2010, the tax rate is going to be less than zero. The family will be able to choose zero, or choose huge reductions in future income taxes. And they will be well advised, and they will pick whatever costs the Treasury the most money, and we will collect less than zero from those families. We will see those with an income--not mere millionaires but people with $1 million in annual income--get tax relief that they won't spend and don't particularly need.
The choice is to pay the ransom now, or to watch it go up next month.
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