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I`m joined by Congressman Steve Israel of New York, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Great to be with you.
DYSON: Sir, how optimistic are you about this week`s vote?
ISRAEL: Well, I`d be optimistic if we had a Democratic majority, which would support tax cuts for the middle class. In this case, I`m pessimistic.
Here`s what you`ll see on the floor of the House of Representatives tomorrow: a hostage drama -- where the Republicans will hold the middle class hostage and hold small businesses hostage to getting their tax cuts unless their millionaire and billionaire special interest friends get theirs.
So the message that the Republicans will send tomorrow is quite simply this. If you`re a cop, a firefighter, a teacher, even if you`re living fairly comfortably, making $150,000, $200,000, you lose your tax cut unless their big million dollar friends, billion dollar friends, get their tax cut worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you`re a small business, you lose your tax cut. If -- unless your ExxonMobil and you get yours.
It is wrong. It is against the middle class, and they should be ashamed of themselves for this hostage drama.
DYSON: Well, I`m not an economist here, but if the wealthy, the truly wealthy get those big tax cuts, won`t it really eliminate the benefit we have from giving tax breaks to those making $250,000 and below?
ISRAEL: Well, look, the fact of the matter is that when the middle class does best, the country does best. And we need an economic strategy that is based on solutions to expand the middle class, promote new small businesses that will create jobs and hire people, the Republican economic principle is simply -- give millionaires and billionaires more tax cuts and the economy will be fine.
They tried that for eight years in the Bush administration. It didn`t work.
DYSON: It just didn`t work. If Republicans vote against the Senate legislation, what kind of message does that send to the middle class because obviously, they don`t feel the love from the Congress?
ISRAEL: You know, I think there`s an unquenchable thirst by Americans throughout the country for two things: solutions and compromise.
In this case, we have a compromise on a solution. We can tomorrow pass the Senate bill which provides a tax cut on the first $250,000 of everyone`s income, send it to the president, he will sign it. The middle class will have that security, sustainability, and predictability. We all agree on that.
Why are the Republicans insisting on not even allowing us to vote on that
bill, but instead say, take it or leave it. Millionaires and billionaires, where everybody under 250,000 dollars gets nothing.
DYSON: You know, Congressman, people have been asking for Congress to
step up, especially the Democrats? Are the Democrats in the position to go
on the offensive on this issue?
ISRAEL: We are going on offense. You saw that ad. We`re holding them accountable. What have the Republicans proposed so far since they had the majority? If you are a senior on Medicare, you lose your Medicare and you pay 6,000 dollars extra. If you`re a millionaire, unless you get your tax cut, nobody gets a tax cut.
It`s millionaires over Medicare. It`s billionaires over the middle class. That`s the dividing line. Tomorrow is just another front in the war to protect the middle class. We have the high ground. And we`re going to hold Republicans accountable for their utter lack of priorities in the middle class.
DYSON: Speaking of that, your Republican colleague from New York, Richard Hanna, called out his own party today for catering to the extreme right. What do you make of his remarks and do you expect his vote on extending middle class tax cuts?
ISRAEL: I don`t know how Richard is going to vote tomorrow, but I will tell you this, John LaTourettte from Ohio, one of the more moderate Republican, today said he`s leaving. He`s resigning. He`s not even waiting for the next election. Richard Hanna has been out spoken in saying that the Republicans have just been too extreme.
You know what my definition of an endangered species is in Washington right now? Being a moderate Republican. People want moderates. They want Democrats and Republicans who are willing to compromise. Democrats have
consistently said we will compromise, even -- there are some things we don`t even like, but we understand it`s not always about left or right.
It`s about forward.
And the Republican, the Tea Party caucus that is running the Republican Congress right now, has rejected all compromise, has rejected all moderation. And that`s why even some of their own people in the Republican caucus, like Richard Hanna, like Steve LaTourettte and others, Tim Johnson, another moderate Republican from Illinois, he`s leaving Congress.
They`re sick and tired of it. They`re more in touch with their constituents than these radical Tea Party Republicans who are so out of tune.
DYSON: Sure. Did the House just become easier for the Democrats to take in the next election then?
ISRAEL: Look, every time the Republicans say to the American people it`s millionaires over Medicare, billionaires over the middle class, we do better. Look, frankly, I wish it was different. I wish the Republicans would join us in focusing and emphasizing on priorities to expand and support the middle class. They have chosen the wrong policy and the wrong politics. And that`s why I`m confident that we`re going to win the 25 seats we need to take the House and reinvest in the middle class and working families in this country.
DYSON: Congressman Steve Israel, thank you so very much.
ISRAEL: Thanks, Michael.
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