Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-19) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed a tax package that cleared the United States Senate earlier this week:
"I share the frustrations felt by so many of my constituents who oppose extensions of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, the estate tax giveaway, and a dangerous payroll tax cut that threatens Social Security. In recent days, I worked aggressively at all levels to improve this legislation. Ultimately, I had to support this deeply flawed bill because I cannot allow unemployment benefits to expire for the jobless and taxes to go up for middle class Americans during this devastating economic stretch that has hit South Florida so hard.
"Like most Americans, I object to spending $68 billion on what amounts to taxpayer-funded bonuses for millionaires and billionaires when we know it will not boost consumer demand or create jobs. I am also appalled at the inclusion of an additional $23 billion in taxpayer dollars for an estate tax break benefitting just 6,600 of America's wealthiest families. In my district, there are more than 7,000 retirees in Century Village community alone, but my Republican colleagues had no problem voting down a Social Security cost of living payment for them.
"I led an effort in the House of Representatives to protect Social Security from inevitable Republican attacks by replacing the temporary cut in employee contributions to Social Security with a $1600 tax refund for families. If Republicans have their way, and this so-called payroll tax holiday is made permanent, this provision will double Social Security's long range shortfall. While an amendment preventing this disaster never received a vote, for the next 12 months I will dedicate every fiber of my being to ensuring that Social Security remains strong and solvent.
"Since coming to Congress, I have been appalled by the bitter partisanship consuming Washington at a time when people are hurting and need us to work together to overcome our challenges. The painful reality is that, while I voted to allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to expire months ago, not enough of my colleagues in the Senate agreed. Ultimately, I could not vote against a bill that will extend unemployment insurance to 100,000 jobless Floridians and 7 million Americans. Nor could I stand in the way of providing middle class families under enormous financial strain with the tax relief needed to boost consumer demand, fuel private sector investments, and create 600,000 new jobs.
"This is not the package I would have crafted or the bill on which I wanted to vote. However, it was the only bill that came before me with a shot at helping the people hurting most in this economy before a Republican Congress with very different priorities convenes in just a few weeks."
In September, Congressman Deutch voted to cut taxes for all earners on the first $250,000 of income while restoring Clinton-era tax rates for additionally earned income. Early this December, Republicans defeated this legislation, in addition to blocking an extension of federal unemployment benefits for jobless Americans and a cost of living payment for seniors.
When the details of a negotiated tax deal were released, Congressman Deutch led the fight against the unprecedented threat to Social Security posed by the temporary payroll tax cut provision. He detailed how the likely efforts of Republicans to make reduced contributions to Social Security permanent could double Social Security's shortfall and force retirement benefits to compete against defense, nutrition, and other programs for a share of the general budget.
In Congress, Deutch made the case for replacing the payroll tax holiday with a refundable tax credit twice the size of the Making Work Pay initiative in a letter to House Leadership. His letter was joined by 24 of his House colleagues and endorsed by the Progressive Congress Action Fund and the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, a coalition of 250 organizations representing over 50 million Americans. The final list of signatories included Reps. Doggett; Ackerman; C. Brown; Carnahan; Chu; Conyers; Critz; Cummings; DeFazio; Ellison; Filner; Foster; Grijalva; Hastings (FL); Holt; Kaptur; Kucinich; John Lewis; Michaud; George Miller; Nadler; Olver; Shea-Porter; Tonko; Visclosky; Waters; Welch; and Woolsey.