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Despite Rhetoric, Republicans Aren’t Interested in Preventing $1,000 Tax Increase on Middle Class Families


Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding a compromise payroll tax cut extension proposal. Below are his remarks as prepared:

Last week my friend, the Republican Leader, tried to convince me Republicans realize it would be disastrous to raise taxes on the middle class.

Here on the Senate floor, he quoted half a dozen news reports as evidence Senate Republicans support an extension of payroll tax cuts for 160 million American workers.

I told him I was skeptical Republicans really support this tax cut. It turns out I was right.

On Thursday Republicans shot down Democrats’ proposal to cut taxes for middle-class Americans, supposedly on the grounds it raised taxes on the richest of the rich in this country.

But a few minutes later Republicans also shot down their own proposal to extend payroll tax cuts, even though it was paid for with their own hand-picked reductions in government spending.

Whatever my friend, Senator McConnell, may say, it is obvious Republicans just aren’t interested in preventing a $1,000 tax increase on nearly every family in this nation from taking effect on Jan. 1.

But Democrats will not relent on keeping taxes low for the middle class. So today Sen. Casey will unveil a modified version of the payroll tax cut proposal he introduced last week.

Like our previous proposal, this scaled-back version will cut taxes for 160 million American workers, including 1.2 million Nevadans. Sen. Casey’s proposal will allow the average family to keep an extra $1,500 to spend on necessities next year.

And like our previous proposal it won’t add a penny to the deficit. It will be fully paid for with a mixture of spending cuts Republicans have already agreed to and a tiny surtax on the top two-tenths of one percent of American taxpayers.

Every spending reduction in the proposal was agreed to by a bicameral group of Republicans on the Supercommittee, so we know they support these cuts.

And, in an effort to make our proposal more palatable to Republicans, we have conceded to significantly cut the surtax on income above $1 million and make it temporary.

Democrats know how important extending and expanding the payroll tax cut is to working families. It’s also important to our economy.

Economists of every political persuasion agree if Republicans block this proposal – raising taxes on American families by $1,000 next month – it will have an immediate, negative impact on our economy. It will halt our still-fragile recovery in its tracks, and drag us back into recession.

We all know Congress can’t afford to play chicken with the economy. That’s why Democrats are committed to passing this payroll tax cut.

Republicans need to be prepared to meet us partway. We are offering a serious proposal with meaningful concessions, including spending cuts Republicans have already agreed to.

And the scaled-back, temporary tax on the very richest Americans – a group with an average income of $3 million a year – is also a sincere attempt to get Senate Republicans on board.

We know a few of them have even said publically that they are open to asking millionaires and billionaires to contribute to our economic recovery. I only hope they have the courage to act on their convictions.

I repeat: this is a serious proposal, and Republicans should take it seriously.

Here’s why: Americans, regardless of political affiliation, say they wholeheartedly support Democrats’ plan to cut taxes for middle-class families.

Fifty-eight percent of Republicans agree we should extend and expand payroll tax cuts for 160 million American workers.

Further, Americans overwhelmingly support our proposal to ask millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share to help this country thrive.

Americans from every corner of the country and every walk of life agree. Democrats, Republicans and Independents agree.

Asked if they support a plan that would require people making more than $1 million a year to contribute a little more to ensure this country’s economic success, the results were decisive: three-quarters of Americans said yes.

Wealthy Americans agree. Two-thirds of people making more than $1 million a year said they would gladly contribute more.

A supermajority of Republicans agrees, with two-thirds supporting the idea. And even a majority – 52 percent – of members of the Tea Party agreed.

It seems the only place in the country you can’t find a majority of Republicans willing to speak up for shared sacrifice is the United States Senate.

Republicans across the country support our plan and the way it is paid for. Republicans in Congress dismiss it at their peril. The American people are watching.


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