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Middle Class Tax Cut--Motion to Proceed--Continued

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. REED. Mr. President, before I begin my remarks with respect to the current debate, let me pay tribute to Officer Jacob J. Chestnut and Detective John M. Gibson of the Capitol Police, and to all of the Capitol Police officers, men and women who protect us each day.

I was here on that somber day when these gentlemen sacrificed their lives to protect innocent people in this building. Their example continues to sustain us and inspire us. They continue to sustain and inspire the Capitol Police officers who today are protecting us. We thank them all.

As my colleague from West Virginia commented, we are in the midst of a very serious debate with huge consequences for our country, our economy, our future. That is why I rise today in support of the Middle Class Tax Cut Act. This bill will extend the 2001, 2003, and 2009 tax cuts for the middle class through 2013. It will provide tax relief to every American, especially to those families who have struggled through this recession and this weak recovery, and restore some fairness to the Tax Code by letting the top marginal tax rates return to the Clinton-era levels.

If we do not extend these tax cuts for the middle class, the typical Rhode Island family of four could see their taxes raised by an average of $2,200 in 2013. This is not fair to middle-income Rhode Islanders, middle-income Americans.

Unfortunately, I fear many, if not all, of my Republican colleagues will block this bill because it does not extend additional tax cuts for taxpayers who make over a quarter of a million dollars. Instead, they will continue to press for a proposal that doubles down on the failed economic policies of the Bush era for a plan that gives more tax cuts to the wealthy, while eliminating middle-class tax breaks for families with children. Indeed, one of the astounding things about the Republican proposal is it will, if you look closely, actually increase the tax burden on middle-income Americans.

In contrast, the bill Democrats propose will benefit every single taxpayer in America. It is only when someone exceeds a quarter of a million dollars in income that their income in excess of the quarter of a million dollar threshold will be subject to the top two Clinton-era rates.

The Democratic plan will extend tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans. Only the top 2 percent of earners, approximately 2.1 million out of more than 100 million households, households that have disproportionately benefited from the Bush tax cuts for more than a decade, will see their top rates revert to Clinton era levels. They will get to maintain their benefits up to $250,000, but after that, they will see an increase. This is the nature of our progressive tax system, one which for generations has spread the burden across income levels, making sure that middle-income Americans do not shoulder a disproportionate burden of the taxes that support this government.

One of the key facts we have observed, now for more than a decade, is that these Bush tax cuts have been very costly. They have been a primary driver of this deficit, in addition to unpaid conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and a prescription drug program that was not paid for.

At least with this proposal, we are beginning to try to reverse that trend in a principled way. The wealthiest, those who enjoy the greatest economic privilege in the country should shoulder some of the responsibility, and should shoulder some of the effort in order to help us begin to repair the deficit, which has grown as a result of these massively costly and ineffective tax breaks the wealthiest have enjoyed since 2001.

The Democratic bill will cost the Federal Government $249 billion in lost revenue for a 1-year extension. The Republican bill will cost $405 billion. So, again, if you are talking about trying to get a handle on the deficit, compare a bill for $249 billion, which is expensive but significantly less than $405 billion Republican plan that would do virtually nothing to restore fairness to our tax code or create jobs. I do not think our Nation can afford this $405 billion Republican alternative. There has been a promise or a mantra that has been offered over the last decade that these Republican tax cuts create jobs, and that they would contribute to our prosperity. But what we have seen, particularly over the 8 years of the Bush administration, is that these tax cuts for the wealthy did not create jobs. I believe the evidence we have shows that there is very little correlation between these tax cuts for the wealthy and job creation or economic prosperity.

Additionally, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans constrain our ability to pursue policies that will boost growth in the near-term.

Indeed, if we do not have the resources to invest in the country, in our infrastructure, in our education, in the health of our people, we will not have the economic dynamism needed to be competitive and give our children the future they deserve. Frankly, like the future our parents gave to us. A future that previous generations were able to provide for because of Federal tax policies which were fairer, which were more progressive, and which allowed for significant investment and job growth.

In my State, with a 10.9-percent unemployment rate and a national unemployment rate above 8 percent, it is imperative that we embrace fiscal policy that creates jobs in the short-term but also recognizes the need for long-term deficit reduction.

Democrats have offered plan after plan that would preserve and create jobs in a fair and fiscally responsible manner. We press for policies that will provide more of an economic bang for the buck, policies such as the continuation of unemployment benefits and policies that provide relief to middle-class households. What we have to do is go forward, support this effort, begin the hard and difficult task of not only continuing to support middle-income families but begin to address the issue of long-term deficit reduction.

I hope my colleagues do not block this effort. I hope my colleagues do not once again decide that doing nothing is a viable alternative to helping middle-income Americans and helping our economy overall. Unfortunately, they have done that in the past. Earlier this month, the Republicans blocked a bill that cut taxes for small businesses that hired new workers. The bill was estimated to create 1 million jobs nationally and could have created about 3,500 jobs in my State, but Republicans filibustered.

Just last week, the Republicans blocked a bill that would have given tax cuts to businesses that brought jobs to the United States and closed tax loopholes for companies that send jobs overseas. Republicans blocked that also. I believe the record is clear. Democrats have been trying week in and week out to create jobs here at home, to make our tax system fairer, to give middle-income families a break, and to do so in a fiscally responsible manner. The vote on the Middle Class Tax Cut Act will be upon us shortly. I hope it will be a vote on which we prevail and go forward together and provide tax relief to middle-class Americans. I think it will be a first step toward the larger issues that were alluded to by my colleague from West Virginia dealing with the potential of sequestration at the end of this year, advancing policies that will grow our economy while beginning to restrain our deficit and provide a more stable, more sustainable economic environment for all Americans.

With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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