Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn, and House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin held a press availability immediately following votes on tax cut legislation at the Will Rogers stakeout location in the Capitol today. Below is a transcript of Leader Pelosi's opening remarks and the question and answer session:
Leader Pelosi. Good evening. As you know, the House of Representatives just took a vote and we had an opportunity to pass President Obama's middle income tax cut. This legislation that has already passed the Senate could be on the President's desk tomorrow. The great middle class of America could have a tax cut by this weekend. What would that mean to them? It would mean that they could pay their bills. It would mean that the uncertainty in their lives would be relieved a bit. But also, the uncertainty to our economy. Instead the Republicans chose to go down the path which gives tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country, heaping more debt on our nation, almost a trillion dollars worth, which does contribute to uncertainty, increases the deficit -- where do we borrow that from? China? Well, one of the places we take it from is from the middle class. It's so strange that they have a tax bill that gives you -- if you make over a million dollars a year, you get on average of $160,000 in a tax cut. If you're a middle-income person, on average, you get a tax increase of around $1,000. It's just not fair. It's just not right. And it also means that we will be leaving here tomorrow not having passed middle income tax cut, not having done a farm bill, so much work unfinished, so many opportunity missed. Today we had the opportunity to put an end to some of the economic uncertainty Americans are feeling and give 100% of Americans a tax cut.
Q: Leader Pelosi, on the other side of the Capitol, Senator Rubio introduced a bill that would eliminate a tax on medal winners from the Olympics. Do you believe that Olympic medal winners should be taxed on the money that they receive from winning a medal? Would you support a bill that would eliminate that tax?
Leader Pelosi. I think that we have a serious matter before us. As a great fan of the Olympics I don't get any sleep, I stay up and watch it and when they're finished on t.v. I go to the internet. So, it's not without the greatest respect and regard for the skill and talent and teamwork of our Olympians. But the fact is that we have a serious matter to deal with here. You heard Mr. Clyburn talk about how the Republican bill taxes our men and women in uniform with their bill that favors the wealthy at the expense of middle income families.
I think that's the debate that we should be having.
And if our colleagues have anything that they want to say about the Olympics.
Q: Let me just ask something that's sort of -- the Senate portends to it a little bit here. The Republicans, it's obvious what their position is, they've made this known. Your side made it known, it was passed in the Senate here. Don't both parties, going into the August Recess and going into November, sort of have the issue -- I know that everybody would like it resolved -- but have it politically where they want saying: "this is what we're for, this is what we're against.'
Leader Pelosi. Well, we want a tax cut for the middle class and we think the Republicans do too. And that's why it's hard to understand why they won't -- we agree on this. You want to talk about the rest of it? Save it for another day, but remove the uncertainty in the lives of the American people and the life of our economy.
Mr. Hoyer has spoken about this at some length and I'm going to yield.
Whip Hoyer. No, I think that the Leader has said it. The American people are distressed that they see their Representatives, when they have agreement, it's one thing when they don't have agreement, but when they have agreement, won't pass that agreement to the benefit of the American people, the American economy, and the country. And that's position we find ourselves in today. We have 100 percent agreement for the most part on making sure that people under $250,000, who are married and a couple, or $200,000 if they're single, don't get a tax increase on January 1st. We have agreement on that. The problem is that the Republicans will not pass that unless we pass what we don't agree on.
In other words we're asking them to do something that we agree on. They're asking us to do something on which we do not agree. Our position is pass that on which we agree. Give middle-income families the confidence that they won't get a tax increase in January and let's move on. And, as the Leader said, we can debate that in the campaigns in Congress, the Presidential debate. We can debate that issue. The President's made it very clear that he's prepared to go to the American people on his support of a middle class tax cut. But also, trying to bring the debt and deficit down.
Mr. Levin. If they think they're on the side of the American people they're wrong. They're wrong and survey's show that. They're wrong with protecting a small group and sacrificing the needs of middle class Americans. They're wrong.
Leader Pelosi. And every poll bears that out. But this isn't about that, the polls, to get to your point, we would rather have a result for the American people than an issue in the campaign. That's for sure. That's what we came here to do -- to get results.
Thank you all very much.
Whip Hoyer. Can I just add? We think that'd be good for the economy. Our Republicans friends over the last election talked about giving confidence to people, giving them some certainty.