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Public Statements

Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 3630, Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from New York for this opportunity.

We got some welcome economic news last Friday that companies added about 250,000 private sector jobs. It's long overdue, and we hope and pray that it continues for many, many months to come. The country is coming back, but we have a very long way to go.

I think one of the reasons why the country is coming back is because at the beginning of 2011, everybody who earned a wage in this country got a fairly substantial tax cut so that they would buy more in the stores and maybe eat a little bit in the restaurants and buy more goods and services. And I think that and some other things started to work.

The worst thing that we could do would be to interrupt that recovery by failing to extend this tax relief for middle class Americans. I'm willing to take at face value that I think almost everyone in this House agrees with that proposition. And I think everyone agrees with the proposition that it would do great harm to our economy not to make this happen.

Here is what I think stands in the way of where we are and where we need to get to: in any negotiation, you can't succeed by negotiation through ultimatum. There are some things that I really think ought to happen. I, frankly, think the way to pay for this is a very small tax surcharge on the very wealthiest Americans. I think that those who make more than $1 million a year, who have gotten, by the way, 90 percent of the pay increases in this country over the last decade, I think asking them to contribute to deficit reduction is a fair and reasonable thing to do. I think it's what we should do. But I don't think we should make it an ultimatum. And I don't think our party is making it an ultimatum.

The problem here, as I see it, is that the last time we went around in this 1-year extension, we heard from the other side two very important matters that I think are rather extraneous to solving this problem. The first had the functional effect of a cut in unemployment benefits. Now, at a time when there are four unemployed Americans for every one open job, I think to presume that the unemployed are lazy or are not working hard to find a job is really just factually incorrect and, frankly, indefensible. So we don't agree with extending this recovery by cutting the unemployment benefits of people out there looking for work. We just don't think that's a good idea. Then the other ultimatum came on the issue of the pipeline. And there are all different views on the pipeline--some pro, some con--within both parties.

I hope that what we're able to do is to stop the negotiation by ultimatum and extend this for the rest of the year. And the purpose of Mr. Bishop's amendment needs to be looked at. There is no good reason why this can't be done by the 17th of February. Frankly, it should have been done by the 17th of January. And we all made this decision at the end of December. There was no reason why this couldn't have been done in the month of January, but here we are.

When the American people have a dispute in their family, in their business, at the labor negotiations table, at their school board, no matter where they are, they do not negotiate by ultimatum. Neither should the Congress. And, frankly, when I heard from the other side in December that we must do the pipeline or no extension of the tax cut, you know, we must cut unemployment benefits or no extension of the tax cut, that's no way to run the country. And that's not what we ought to do.


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