Today, Wednesday, December 5th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray returned to the Senate floor to continue to put pressure on her colleagues in the House to pass the Middle Class Tax Cut Act, which the Senate passed in July. The bill would extend tax cuts for 98% of workers and 97% small business owners, and would let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire as scheduled. Senator Murray discussed Speaker Boehner's recent proposal that would protect the rich from payer higher rates, as well as her support for Minority Leader Pelosi's discharge petition to bring the Senate bill to the House floor for a vote.
The full text of Senator Murray's speech follows:
"Thank you Mr. President.
"Middle class families across America are paying close attention to what we are doing here in D.C.
"They understand what's at stake--they know the impact our decisions will have on their lives--and they are hoping their elected officials will finally come together around a budget deal that works for them.
"Less than a month ago we concluded an election season that engaged our nation in a conversation about this very issue.
"Candidates for the Presidency--for the Senate--and on down--they all laid out their positions on some of the key questions we are now hoping to answer.
"Should the middle class tax cuts be extended? Should the Bush tax cuts on the rich end? Should we end the Medicare guarantee for our seniors and the next generation?
"These big questions were discussed--they were argued--clear positions were taken--and voters went to polling places on Election Day to render their verdict.
"And Mr. President--the outcome was clear. Candidates who stood up for the middle class won. Candidates who advocated for our seniors came out ahead. And in exit polls across the country, voters made clear they strongly supported the idea that the wealthy should pay higher tax rates and their fair share.
"And everyone--Democrat, Republican, Independent--Wealthy, low-income, middle class--Student, worker, retiree--Older, younger, and in between .Everyone supports extending the tax cuts for the middle class.
"Nobody thinks taxes should go up for 98% of workers and 97% of families.
"So Mr. President--this should be easy.
"The American people just weighed in supporting a continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the middle class.
"It's a policy Democrats and Republicans agree on.
"And it would cushion millions of middle class families across the country from a significant portion of the upcoming fiscal cliff.
"So why isn't it already the law?
"Why aren't middle class families already able to feel confident their taxes won't go up?
"For one reason, and one reason alone.
"House Republicans continue to hold the middle class hostage in a desperate and deeply misguided attempt to buck the will of the people-- ignore the results of this election--and protect the wealthiest Americans from paying higher taxes.
"That's really all there is to it.
"Mr. President, if Republicans truly cared about keeping taxes low for the middle class they could do that right now.
"The Senate passed a bill that would extend tax cuts for 98% of families and 97% of workers.
"President Obama has said he would sign it--he even showed us the pen. And all the House has to do is let this bill come up for a vote--and pass it--and middle class families can go into the holidays with the certainty they deserve.
"Mr. President--I want to be very clear about something, because some of my Republican colleagues seem intent on confusing the issue.
"Republicans don't have to support taxes going up on the rich in order to vote for our bill to keep taxes low on the middle class.
"Let me repeat that.
"Republicans can believe that the Bush tax cuts for the rich should be extended. They can remain committed to fighting for that misguided policy. And they can still vote on the portion of the tax cuts we all agree should be extended--those for the middle class.
"Then middle class families would win, we would all have worked together to extend tax cuts for 98% of workers and 97% of small business owners, and then, when the middle class is taken care of--I would be happy to engage my Republican colleagues in a debate about extending the Bush tax cuts for top 2%
"But the first step--the most obvious step--is for the Republican House to take the 98% both sides agrees on--and pass our Senate bill and send it to the President for his signature.
"Mr. President, recently there have been some cracks in the Republican rhetorical armor that has held fast against compromise for years.
"More and more Republicans have begun to accept in their rhetoric what Democrats--and every bipartisan group that has examined this issue--have known all along: A deficit deal is going to have to be balanced--and it is going to have to include new revenue from the wealthiest Americans.
"Grover Norquist calls these "impure thoughts," but to most Americans, it's just common sense.
"Now the onus is on Republicans--and especially their leadership--to follow this encouraging rhetoric with some action. And M. President, so far that has been lacking.
"The lengths to which Republicans are now going to in order to protect the rich from paying higher rates would be comical if they weren't so detrimental.
"They say they've accepted that revenue needs to be on the table--but then the proposal Speaker Boehner made to the President would actually CUT rates for the rich.
"It lacks any details about where that claimed revenue would come from. And just as independent analysts confirmed about the Ryan plan, and just like we saw in the Romney plan, when you are talking about simply closing loopholes and deductions--either the math doesn't add up, or the middle class end up bearing the burden.
"Republicans are tying themselves up in knots to avoid the obvious: the easiest way to raise revenue from the wealthiest Americans is simply to allow the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% to expire as scheduled.
"That's what the Democrats want--it's what the American people support--and it would move us a long way toward the balanced and bipartisan deal we are aiming toward.
"Mr. President, my colleague in the House of Representatives, Minority Leader Pelosi, is circulating a discharge petition to bring the Senate bill to the House floor.
"I strongly support this move--and I urge House Republicans to sign on and allow this legislation to come to the floor for a vote.
"Mr. President--Democrats have proven we are willing to make the tough compromises a balanced and bipartisan deal would require.
"And we have been very clear that we will not allow Republicans to push through a bad deal that forces seniors and the middle class to bear this burden alone.
"So I am hopeful Speaker Boehner and House Republicans will decide to stop holding the middle class hostage, allow the Senate bill to come to the floor, put it up for a vote, and give the middle class the tax cuts we all agree they need.
"Thank you Mr. President, I yield the floor."