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Murray on Senate Floor: Pass Payroll Tax Cut Compromise to Give Middle-Class Job-Creators a Boost

Dec 07 2011

Calls on Republican colleagues to stop holding up middle class tax cuts to protect millionaires from paying a penny more toward their fair share

WATCH SPEECH

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke on the Senate floor to continue her push for legislation to extend and expand the payroll tax cut for the middle class. In her speech, Murray took on the Republican claim that the only way to create jobs is to give tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires. And she urged her colleagues to pass this bill to put more money into the pockets of the middle class families who need it most.

Last week Senate Republicans beat back the Democrats’ initial effort to pass payroll tax cut legislation for workers and small business owners, and this new legislation scales down the tax cuts and reduces the millionaire surcharge as a compromise to get Republican support.

Key excerpts from Murray’s speech today (full text below):

“…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.”

“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.”

“…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.”

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

 “….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.”

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.  The median Washington family has a yearly income of $56,479. Under the current 2% payroll tax cut, set to expire at the end of the year, that family is saving approximately $1,130 per year on their tax bill. If the current tax cut expires, their yearly tax bill will go up by that amount. If the payroll tax cut is expanded to 3.1%, as proposed in this bill, that family's savings will increase to $1,751 per year

The full text of Senator Murray’s 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.”