Newsroom

Middle Class Tax Cut Blocked Again by Senate Republicans; Murray Vows to Keep Fighting for Critical Extension

Dec 08 2011

Compromise bill would have cut taxes for the typical middle class family from Washington state by approximately $1,700 next year



(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement after Senate Republicans once again filibustered Democrats’ attempts to pass an extension and expansion of the middle class payroll tax cut. The compromise bill would have reduced the payroll taxes that workers pay to 3.1% from the 6.2% it would jump to if Republicans continue to block action.

“The choice today was clear, and Republicans made the wrong one. Instead of standing with Democrats and middle class families to extend and expand a  critical tax cut, Republicans chose to stand with millionaires and billionaires and protect them from paying a penny more toward their fair share.

“I want to be clear: Democrats are not leaving Washington, D.C. without delivering this tax cut for middle class families in Washington state and across the country. Republicans need to end their political games and help us get this done in time for the holidays.”

Last week, Senator Murray launched an interactive map on her website to highlight the potential county by county impact on Washington families if Congress fails to extend the payroll tax cut into next year.  

Senator Murray spoke about this legislation on the Senate floor yesterday. The full text of her speech follows:

“Mr. President—I come to the floor to once again urge my colleagues to support legislation to extend and expand the payroll tax cut that middle class families across America depend on.

“Last week, Democrats brought a bill to the floor that would have not only accomplished this goal for our workers, it also would have slashed the payroll tax in half for our nation’s employers, and eliminated it entirely for businesses making new hires.

“To pay for this proposal, Democrats proposed a small surtax on millionaire and billionaires. In order to extend and expand a critical tax break for middle class families and small business owners, we wanted to call on the wealthiest among us—those who can afford it most—to pay just a little bit more at a time when the vast majority of Americans are struggling.

“Our bill set up a choice—and we thought it was an easy one: Do you vote to extend critical tax cuts for middle class families, or do you vote to protect the wealthiest Americans from paying one penny more toward their fair share?

“Unfortunately, Mr. President—almost every Senate Republican chose to side with the richest Americans and filibuster our middle class tax cut bill. And in a surprising development, their leadership’s own bill to simply extend the middle class tax cuts while protecting the wealthiest Americans was opposed by the majority of Republicans.

“Mr. President—Republicans spent months on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction saying that tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans should be made permanent. Saying that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations should get even deeper tax cuts—that tax cuts for the rich shouldn’t be paid for and should simply be added to the deficit—and that a pledge made to a Republican lobbyist named Grover Norquist gave them no choice but to support tax cut extensions.

“So I’m truly disappointed to see once again that this apparent concern for tax cuts only seems to extend to millionaires and billionaires. And now that a break for the middle class is on the verge of ending, potentially causing deep harm in a weak economy—those Republicans who fought tooth and nail for tax cuts for the rich are nowhere to be found.

“In fact, many of them are actively opposing it.

“Mr. President—Republicans seem to be operating under the backwards economic principle that only tax cuts for the richest Americans and biggest corporations are worth fighting for.

“In fact, they have a name for this group of people: they call them ‘job creators.’

“They believe the only ones who create jobs in America are the rich—and they claim the tax cuts and loopholes they fight for that benefit the wealthy will somehow trickle down to ordinary families.

“Mr. President—we know this is wrong.  We know this Republican economic policy has failed us.

“It was this kind of thinking that turned a surplus in into a deficit, that brought the economy to its knees, that failed the middle class—and that allowed the wealthiest Americans to amass record fortunes paying the lowest tax rates in decades.

“It’s the wrong way to go—Americans know it—and our country has the scars to prove it.

“Mr. President—a constituent of mine named Nick Hanauer recently published an op-ed in Bloomberg Businessweek that speaks to this point exceptionally well. Nick is a businessman and venture capitalist in Seattle. He helped launch more than 20 companies—including Amazon.com—and he has a deep understanding of 21st century jobs and the innovation economy.

“Nick wrote that it’s not tax cuts for the rich that create jobs, but that—‘only consumers can set in motion a virtuous cycle that allows companies to survive and thrive and business owners to hire.’

“And that—‘An ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than I ever have been or ever will be.’

“He advocates ending the tax breaks for the rich—and using some of that savings to give average working families a break and put more money in their pockets.

“Nick’s logic is clear—it makes economic sense—it’s in line with what the American public believes—and it’s exactly why we need this middle class tax cut to pass.

“So while I strongly supported our last bill that would have extended and expanded this tax cut on both the worker and the employer side—it was clear that Republicans were not going to drop their filibuster.

“So now, Mr. President, we are back with a compromise.   Republicans claimed to be concerned that our bill was too big—so we scaled it back. They said they didn’t like the surcharge on the wealthiest Americans—so we cut that down significantly and made it temporary. And to make it even more acceptable to Republicans, we included: spending cuts both sides have said were acceptable, as well as their proposal to make millionaire ineligible to receive unemployment insurance and food stamps.

“So Mr. President—this compromise bill is fully paid for.  It would extend and expand payroll tax relief for millions of middle class families across the country. And it would create jobs and provide a critical boost to the economy at a time when we desperately need it.

“I continue hoping that my Republican colleagues will be as focused on tax cuts for the middle class as they are on those for the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations. And I urge them to stand with us to pass this critical legislation in time for the holidays.

“Thank you. I yield the floor.”