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Public Statements

Tax Cuts

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. SHEA-PORTER. Thank you, and I appreciate the opportunity.

Thank you for bringing the Nation's attention to this problem. This is absolutely stunning. We spent a year and a half listening to our campaign opponents talk about borrowing and spending, borrowing and spending. Indeed, we really do have to get control of the debt. We have been working on that but suddenly they have blown that to pieces because everything in this bill is going to be paid for by borrowing the money.

So the middle class, who needed these tax breaks and deserve these tax breaks, will now carry the debt for the very wealthy who didn't need them and will get huge, huge amounts of money, all borrowed, probably from China, and then they will tell the middle class, but, look, there is something here for you too. You are going to get a piece also. But, by the way, you are also going to be paying for it because we are borrowing the money. So if you don't pay for it your children will pay for it.

Shame on all of us if we allow this to happen after talking about this debt and saying we are really getting serious about the debt. I mean, I campaigned on this in 2005. I said the debt was like an iceberg, and we were about to crash into it. We borrowed from the Chinese, and that was a national security risk as well as an economic risk.

For a year and a half, ironically all of us who are Democrats have been whacked by Republicans for this debt that they ran up during the Bush era, and now they are turning around and saying, well, you know for all the people who are uninsured, or people who don't have jobs and the unemployment benefits, those are not the people we want to focus on now. We want to make sure that the wealthiest receive even more, and we want the middle class to pay for it. It's just wrong on so many levels.

So for those people who are listening, who are concerned about the debt, they need to understand that all of this money to pay for will be borrowed. It's not a gift; it's borrowed money, and if we don't pay for it our children will get stuck paying for it, plus interest, of course.

And why would they need it? I understand the middle class needing it. They certainly do. But why do we have to do this for the wealthiest. There are many who have great social consciousness and are saying, well, we really shouldn't get this money. We don't need it, and we shouldn't get it.

So why are the Republicans driving this, absolutely refusing, absolutely refusing to give unemployment benefits to those who have been victimized by this recession, unless we also took care of the top? I think the Republicans are quite clear about that, and we understand what happened in the last election, and I think it's disgraceful.

The other part of this that's so important, though, is the part where they carried on about Social Security. Social Security is at risk. We have to change Social Security. And we said, no, you don't, you just have to tweak it. You have to bring more income into it and

stabilize it, because it's not just a Social Security problem. I read where a journalist said it's actually a retirement problem, that there are many, many millions of Americans who will not have adequate retirement and that Social Security is absolutely the floor.

So what are we doing here knowing that Social Security actually has to have more money coming in? We are cutting again. Again, we are cutting what people pay into it for a year. And then how are we going to make up the money? Oh, we just going to borrow it from the general fund. And how will the general fund get the money? We will just borrow it. And where will we borrow the money? Oh, probably China.

This is insanity, I think it's fiscally irresponsible. I think it's awful that the Republicans held the unemployed in this country hostage to this tax bill, and we simply must fight for this. We have to fight for the middle class. Thank you very much for bringing attention to this.


Ms. SHEA-PORTER. I wanted to say, this is not just Democrats who are saying this. Republicans who are no longer in power have also been attacking these plans. David Stockman, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Reagan administration, called these tax cuts ``unaffordable.'' He is one of many voices who said this. Unfortunately, the Republicans who are in power now are not listening. It is fiscally irresponsible.

We need that income; we had to have that revenue so we could pay our bills. If we had that revenue, what could we do with it? Or if we were going to borrow, what should we have borrowed for?

To begin with, we could start paying our military men and women more. This year they are having a very tiny increase. They are outraged, and I don't blame them. They have been serving this country honorably. We have been at war for 8 years. They are exhausted, and now they are getting a very tiny pay raise. We could have used it for that.

What else? We could have helped mom and pop small businesses, the businesses on Main Street. Rather than giving those tax cuts to the top 1 percent, we could have used that money to help our small businesses that are struggling.

What else could we have done? We could have put money into infrastructure and created jobs. We could have been building things. You walk around Washington and you see beautiful buildings that were built during the Depression. They put men and women to work, and they left something behind for the next generation. I have said, if you are going to borrow money and you are going to have the next generation pay for it, you better leave them something to look at. We could have done that. We could have fixed some of our infrastructure. It is crumbling all over the country. We have deferred maintenance.

And we have not taken care of just that. You talked about education. I'm on the Education and Labor Committee. We know we are failing our children. We could have put money there.

Where else? How about money for research and money for basic medical care.

You know, every time I hear the Republicans in power here say: everybody is going to have to feel the pain, I say to myself, I know who they mean, and they don't mean them. They mean the middle income and below. They are the ones who are going to feel the pain. And by the way, they are the ones who are also going to have to pay for this because, once again, it is borrowed money. I think it is absolutely disgraceful.

Given the past campaign that we all experienced where the borrow-and-spend theme, borrow-and-spend was just hammered, absolutely hammered, as if the Bush era hadn't happened, as if George Bush hadn't created the greatest deficits in history, as if the Republicans hadn't been in charge when that happened, they said that they were going to fix that. They had learned their lesson. Remember on the floor, we heard many times that they had learned their lesson, but they hadn't. Here they are, holding people's unemployment hostage to make sure that their benefactors get their tax cuts.

I think it is outrageous. I think it is stunning. I think it is so cynical that it is ugly to watch. And I will not support that.


Ms. SHEA-PORTER. Thank you.

I think it is important to reiterate that we are very happy when Americans do well financially. We want every American to do well financially. I have said many times before that each one of us hopes to have a little more money, and I said that my kids hope that I have a little more money also. It's not a question of success. We want everybody to be successful.

The problem that we have here is that we are borrowing money that middle-income taxpayers will have to pay back, plus interest, in order to give those who are

already extremely successful--and I'm glad that they are--money that they don't need. Then we will carry the debt and put this country further at risk.

So, when we want to tell the truth about the debt, this has to be part of the story: that it was proposed--and I

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fear could be passed--that we borrowed more money, probably from China, and we gave it to those who least needed it while we ignored all the great pressing needs of our country.

I fear for the middle class. I know that we all grew up at a time when our parents believed that we would do better than they did financially, and indeed we did. I put myself through college, but I was able to work double shifts in the summer at a factory, and then I was able to work through the school year to pay for that. Now, no matter how hard people work in the summer and no matter how hard they work in the winter, they can't afford to pay for college tuition.

So what are we going to do for those children? What are we going to say to their families? Sorry. We've borrowed enough money. Do you understand that we borrowed the money to give it to the wealthiest so that we can't give it to you? What are we going to do, crush their dreams, their hopes and their possible paths to the same kind of success? This is just wrong on every level.

If you look at children today, you will recognize that, chances are, they have family members who are underemployed or unemployed, that their families are struggling to pay the rent or to pay the mortgage, that the cost of everything has gone up dramatically, and that their families can't afford to save for their educations. What do we say to them later? You have to understand that it was just so important to make sure that we gave you this debt and increased your debt so that we could take care of those who didn't need it.

I don't understand this, and I think that most Americans looking at this don't understand it either. We celebrate people's good fortunes and successes. We are happy that they have been so successful, but we should not borrow money to give them what they don't need.

Let's invest in America. Let's invest in the next generation. Let's help our seniors out. How many seniors fall in the doughnut hole and can't even afford to pay for their prescriptions? Will we say, Well, we can't help you because we can't afford it? Let's build infrastructure. Let's help small businesses. Let's create jobs. Let's get people working again. People really don't want unemployment checks. They want jobs.

How many jobs bills did we try to pass, which were passed out of the House but which sank in the Senate? There was so much Republican opposition to creating jobs. Yet here we are, saying the only way we can help people with unemployment is if we yield to the Republicans and say, okay, we'll give tax cuts to the very wealthiest also.

This is a sad moment, a very sad moment on this floor and in the Senate. I hope that the American people will rise up and say, No, this is not fair to the middle class.

Thank you very much for doing this.


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