Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) voted this evening against final passage of H.R. 4853, the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010. The bill passed the House by a vote of 277-148.
Rep. Edwards made two attempts to improve the legislation. The first was a letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), cosigned by eight other Members. The letter called for increasing the manufacturing tax credit to 15 percent and colocating it with research and development to spur long-term economic growth and create high-wage American jobs. The second, was cosponsoring a proposal with Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Peter Welch (D-VT), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and John Garamendi (D-CA) that would have extended unemployment benefits, provided a $250 COLA for seniors, provided tax cuts for middle-income Americans, focused on job creation, and reduced the ballooning deficit (details below).
"The Tax Relief Act benefits primarily the wealthiest two percent of Americans at the expense of adding billions of dollars of debt on the backs of our children and grandchildren. It is indefensible that working families struggling to make ends meet, and those depending on unemployment benefits, are being held hostage to ensure tax cuts for the two-percenters and an estate tax break that benefits only 6,600 families. I continue to be concerned deeply about the payroll tax reduction provision that threatens the future of Social Security. This signifies a dangerous first step toward privatizing a critical program for our senior citizens.
"We must fight to make sure that hard-working families are winning and not the one-percenters. We cannot surrender the hopes, dreams, retirements, and paychecks of hard-working families across our country. Going forward we must do better. I will continue to work with my Democratic colleagues to refocus our efforts on what defines who we are and what we stand for as Democrats by protecting the middle class, creating jobs for working families, ensuring the solvency of Social Security, and making critical investments in our nation's infrastructure."
The Weiner-Welch-Grijalva-Edwards-Garamendi alternative would have:
* Allowed the Bush tax breaks for households earning more than $1 million per year to expire, saving approximately $63.5 billion.
* Substituted 2009 estate tax rates with a top rate of 45% and a $3.5 million exemption, saving approximately $13.9 billion.
* Extended the Making Work Pay Tax credit instead of a temporary payroll tax reduction, saving approximately $54 billion. This amendment would not have cut payments to Social Security and would have protected the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.
* Provided 57 million Americans, including senior citizens, veterans and persons with disability, with a one-time $250 COLA, who otherwise would go without a COLA for 2 years in a row.
* Invested approximately $72 billion over the next two years in our nation's crumbling infrastructure to create jobs and repair our roads, bridges, schools, dams, culverts, housing, and transform our nation's energy sector.
* Reduced the deficit by $44.5 billion.