News Releases

Murray Urges Extension of Tax Cuts for 98% of Workers, 97% of Small Business Owners

Jul 24 2012

In speech on Senate Floor, Murray tells stories of constituents from Walla Walla, Tri-Cities, and Seattle



(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor to urge her colleagues to support the extension of tax cuts for 98% of workers and 97% of small business owners across America. During her speech, Senator Murray shared stories from constituents, including small business owners from Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities, and a Seattle firefighter whose tax cuts she is fighting to extend.  She called on Senate Republicans to stop holding middle class families and small business owners hostage to protect the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

“Democrats don’t want taxes on middle class families to go up.  And Republicans claim they want that too—they also say they want these tax cuts extended,” Senator Murray said. “So Mr. President, this should be easy—when 100 Senators agree on a policy, we should be able to pass a bill. But unfortunately, Republicans aren’t focused on the 98% we agree on—they are preoccupied with the 2% we don’t. And they are prepared to take our country over the edge and into the New Year in an effort to prevent millionaires and billionaires from paying a penny more in taxes."

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:

  • “Republicans are so opposed to having the wealthiest pay the very same rate they were paying during the Clinton years—that if they can’t force through more tax cuts for the rich—they would prefer taxes to go up on every middle class family. They want 98% of workers to pay the price if millionaires are asked to pay a penny more.”
  • Holding these middle class tax cuts hostage is bad policy—it’s bad economics—and frankly, it’s bad politics.”
  • “The vote on the middle class tax cut extension is going to be very illuminating. It is going to highlight some stark contrasts—and give the American people a clear view into the priorities of the two parties.”
  • “We have a fundamental difference of opinion between the two parties about the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that have added trillions of dollars to the deficit and debt.  I’m not asking Republicans to set aside their values—it’s clear they are deeply committed to putting more money in the pockets of the rich. All I am saying—all Democrats are saying—is we shouldn’t let this disagreement on tax cuts for the rich cause taxes to go up for the middle class.”

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:

“Mr. President, I come to the floor today to urge my colleagues to support the extension of tax cuts for 98% of workers and 97% of small business owners.

“This should be a no-brainer.

“Democrats don’t want taxes on middle class families to go up.  And Republicans claim they want that too—they also say they want these tax cuts extended.

“So Mr. President, this should be easy—when 100 Senators agree on a policy, we should be able to pass a bill.

“But unfortunately, Republicans aren’t focused on the 98% we agree on—they are preoccupied with the 2% we don’t.

“And they are prepared to take our country over the edge and into the New Year in an effort to prevent millionaires and billionaires from paying a penny more in taxes.

“Republicans are so opposed to having the wealthiest pay the very same rate they were paying during the Clinton years—that if they can’t force through more tax cuts for the rich—they would prefer taxes to go up on every middle class family.

“They want 98% of workers to pay the price if millionaires are asked to pay a penny more.

“This is an unbelievable, deeply cynical position to take. And it just doesn’t make any sense.

“Mr. President—we have a fundamental difference of opinion between the two parties about the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that have added trillions of dollars to the deficit and debt.

“I’m not asking Republicans to set aside their values—it’s clear they are deeply committed to putting more money in the pockets of the rich.

“All I am saying—all Democrats are saying—is we shouldn’t let this disagreement on tax cuts for the rich cause taxes to go up for the middle class.

“We can certainly have a real debate about the merits of extending tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires—I am confident Republicans are ready to stand here on the floor and make their case, and I am prepared to make mine.

“But I urge my Republican colleagues to not play political games with the tax cuts both sides agree should be extended. 

“Because Mr. President—holding these middle class tax cuts hostage is bad policy—it’s bad economics—and frankly, it’s bad politics.

“Poll after poll show the American people support ending the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.

“Republicans know they are in an unsustainable political position—they know they can’t be seen as holding the middle class hostage to force more tax cuts for the rich.

“And last week we saw how they react when they get called on that reality.

“They stomp their feet, they shake their fists, they try to muddy the water,  and change the subject——they do everything but admit it is finally time for compromise.

“In fact—just this morning, the Republican Senator from Pennsylvania gave a speech about his plan for even deeper tax cuts for the rich—down to just 28% for the wealthiest Americans.

“It’s stunning. While Democrats are fighting for tax cuts for the middle class, Republicans are not only holding them hostage to continue the tax cuts for the rich— they are also scheming ways to cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans even more.

“But their rhetoric is not going to fool the families and small business owners across America.

“I recently heard from a constituent of mine named Rob Robinson, from Walla Walla in Washington state.

“Rob owns a small construction company and just finished work on the local police department.

“He said to me, ‘I’ve been a small business owner for over twenty-five years and it’s outrageous to me that some members of Congress would hold up middle class tax cuts for the sake of protecting the wealthy from paying their fair share.’

“He continued: ‘The fact that they justify cutting taxes for the wealthy by invoking the name of small businesses tells me that they are simply out of touch with the economic reality of the majority of small business owners in this country.’

“I heard from another small business owner—Allan Willis, from Kennewick, Washington.

“Allan opened up his small business—Tri-City Music—in 2008.

“He wrote to me, saying ‘I’m like a lot of Main Street small business owners.  I open the shop in the morning and close it down at night.  I vacuum the carpets and clean the bathrooms.  I strive to provide my customers with an incredible level of customer service after the sale.  I work hard and am blessed that I make enough to pay my fair share of taxes.’

“Allan went on. ‘When Republicans hide behind the name of small business to support their agenda of lower taxes for the rich, they don’t speak for me.  ‘Let’s call it what it is: political identity theft.  ‘They are stealing the name of small business as a smokescreen for tax policy that benefits millionaires.’

“Mr. President—I also heard from a constituent of mine named Dallas Baker, a Seattle firefighter.

“Dallas has been on the job for fifteen years. He told me he loves making serving his community and making a difference.

“But he said, ‘My daughters and I are all making sacrifices now. We are comfortable but we are losing ground.’

“And if taxes went up for middle class families like his—it would only get harder.

“Mr. President—Rob, Allen, and Dallas are among the 98% of workers and 97% of small business owners the Democrats’ bill would extend tax cuts for.

“Those are the people I am fighting for. Them and the millions like them across America.

“Middle class families who have been struggling—who have sacrificed so much—and who shouldn’t see their taxes go up. 

“But Mr. President—my Republican colleagues don’t seem to be focused on people like Rob, Allen, and Dallas.

“They are much concerned about the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans—many of whom happen to be some of their biggest campaign and Super PAC donors.

“They may claim to care about small business owners—but they certainly aren’t speaking for the small business owners I hear from.

“Not small business owners like Rob and Allen—or the 97% who Democrats want to cut taxes for.

“But people like Joseph Craft—a coal industry billionaire.

“Mr. Craft is worth an estimated $1.4 billion according to Forbes—and Republicans are fighting to cut his taxes.

“They are fighting for people like Harold Simmons—who made his billions on corporate buyouts.

“He is worth an estimated $9 billion—and Republicans are fighting to cut his taxes too.

“And they are fighting for people like Harold Hamm—the oil and gas billionaire.

“Mr. Hamm is worth an estimated $11 billion.

“And yes, Republicans are doing everything they can to make sure his taxes don’t go up by even a penny.

“Mr. President—the vote on the middle class tax cut extension is going to be very illuminating.

“It is going to highlight some stark contrasts—and give the American people a clear view into the priorities of the two parties.

“Democrats are focused on the middle class.

“We want to extend the tax cuts for 98% of workers and 97% of small business owners.

“People like Rob, Allen, Dallas—and millions more.

“But if Republicans don’t vote for our tax cut bill, it will demonstrate clearly that they don’t care a bit about certainty, they don’t care at all about the economy, and they certainly don’t care about the middle class,

“Rather, they care about extending those tax cuts for the rich above all else—they will use every bit of leverage they have to do it—and they are prepared to let taxes go up on every family if they can’t get their way.

“So Mr. President, I hope Republicans change their tune on this.

“They say inaction is not an option—well here is their chance to act for 98% of workers and 97% of small business owners.

“All they have to do is stop playing political games and stand with us to pass our bill this week.

“If they do, I know we would be happy to have an honest debate about extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich they are so passionate about.

“But if they don’t, and taxes go up on every American because Republicans insist on protecting and extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich— then they are going to have to explain that to Rob, Allan, Dallas—and millions of families and small business owners just like them.

“Thank you Mr. President. I yield the floor.”