Newsroom

Murray Urges Passage of Middle Class Tax Cut Bill, Calls on Republicans to Follow Rhetoric with Real Revenue Proposals

Nov 28 2012

Murray: Elected officials need to come together around real answers - real solutions - and smart policies that work for middle class families across the country



(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Wednesday, November 28th, U.S. Senator Patty Murray delivered a speech on the Senate floor to call 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 reiterated her commitment to making sure any deal Congress makes over the next few weeks works for middle class families and seniors, and said that she will not sign onto a deal that throws the burden of deficit reduction onto the backs of the families and communities who have already sacrificed so much.

Senator Murray also highlighted some of the positive rhetoric from Republicans who are talking about moving away from the Norquist pledge, like Representative Tom Cole, who told reporters yesterday that making sure taxes don’t go up for 98% of people was “the right thing to do.” Senator Murray called on Republicans to follow these words with action when it comes to putting proposals on the table that call on the wealthy to pay their fair share.

Key excerpts from Senator Murray’s speech:

“Here in D.C, this issue is too often viewed through the prism of partisanship and political point-scoring. The conversation and the coverage are very focused on the moment we are in: This debate, the next few weeks, this year. But for families sitting around their kitchen tables, and in communities across America, this issue is about so much more than that. It’s about their lives, their futures. And it’s about the tough questions too many of them have to ask themselves every day.”
 
“That is why I am absolutely focused on making sure any deal we make over the next few weeks works for middle class families, works for our seniors, and works for our country. And it’s why I’ve been very clear that I will not sign onto a deal that throws the burden of deficit reduction onto the backs of the families and communities who have already sacrificed so much.”

“We built our campaigns—from the top to the bottom—around the idea that budgets need to work for the middle class, and that the wealthy ought to pay their fair share. The Republican approach—the Ryan budget plan—was literally on the ballot....voters spoke clearly this election—and they stood strongly behind Democrats as we fight for a budget deal that works for the middle class.”

“...we are hearing encouraging words from some of my Republican colleagues who have indicated a willingness to put revenue on the table and to break the stranglehold that D.C. lobbyist Grover Norquist has on the modern Republican Party. But I am hopeful that more and more Republicans will break away from Grover Norquist, and that they will actually follow up on their new rhetoric with a genuine willingness to call on the wealthy to pay their fair share.”

“The Senate passed a bill that would extend tax cuts for 98% of workers—and 97% small business owners. And it would let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire as scheduled. All House Republicans have to do is pass our bill, and a significant chunk of the fiscal cliff will disappear for the middle class. When that is done, we can continue the serious conversation we need to have about our country’s budget future.  But there is no reason why middle class families should have to go into the holidays not knowing if their taxes are going to go up.”

“Democrats and Republicans both agree that the middle class should have their taxes cuts extended, so there is no reason why the House should continue holding that bill, and the middle class, hostage.  And one conservative Republican in the House agrees.  Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma told his colleagues and reporters yesterday that ‘the first thing I’d do is make sure we don’t raise taxes on 98 percent of the American people.’  He said that was ‘the right thing to do.’ And that ‘where there is common ground…..we should seize that common ground.’ I applaud Representative Cole for his common-sense but brave position.  And I am hopeful he can persuade his Republican colleagues to do the right thing for those families, small business owners, and communities across the country who have so much at stake, and who are looking to us to solve this problem.”

The full text of Senator Murray’s speech follows:

“Thank you Madam President.

“You know, we’ve been hearing a whole lot recently about the inability of our nation’s elected officials to come together on a balanced and bipartisan budget deal.

“Here in D.C, this issue is too often viewed through the prism of partisanship and political point-scoring.

“The conversation and the coverage are very focused on the moment we are in. This debate. The next few weeks. This year.  

“But for families sitting around their kitchen tables —and in communities across America—this issue is about so much more than that.

“It’s about their lives. Their futures. And it’s about the tough questions too many of them have to ask themselves every day.

“Will they be able to afford to stay in their homes?

“Will they get the support they need to learn new skills and get back on the job?

“Are they going to be able to send their kids to college?

“Are they going to be able to go to the doctor when they get sick?

“Is Medicare going to be there for their parents? For them? For their children?

“Are their taxes going to go up next year?

“These are the questions they are asking—and they want their elected officials to come together around real answers, real solutions, and smart policies that work for families like theirs across the country.

“Madam President—these are the people I am fighting for as we work toward a balanced and bipartisan deal in this lame duck session of Congress.

“Those are the questions I feel very strongly we need to be answering.

“That is why I am absolutely focused on making sure any deal we make over the next few weeks works for middle class families, works for our seniors—and works for our country.

“And it’s why I’ve been very clear that I will not sign onto a deal that throws the burden of deficit reduction onto the backs of the families and communities who have already sacrificed so much.

“Madam President, as co-chair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction last year, I made it very clear that Democrats were willing to compromise—we were willing to make some tough concessions—but only in the context of a balanced and fair deal that called on the wealthy to pay their fair share.

“As we all know, Republicans didn’t just refuse to meet us halfway—they wouldn’t even step out of their corner.

“They insisted that seniors and the middle class feel all the pain—and that the wealthiest Americans—millionaires and billionaires, be protected from paying a single penny more in taxes.

“Well, Democrats rejected that deeply unfair approach to deficit reduction.

“We decided to keep fighting for the middle class rather than roll over and let Republicans lock in new giveaways to the rich and major cuts to programs families depend on.

“And then we made our case to the American people.

“We built our campaigns—from the top to the bottom—around the idea that budgets need to work for the middle class, and that the wealthy ought to pay their fair share.

“The Republican approach—the Ryan budget plan—was literally on the ballot.

“And Romney, Ryan, and other Republicans were not shy about telling the American people they didn’t think the rich should pay a penny more in taxes.

“Well, not only did Democrats win races across the country—but in exit polling it was clear that the vast majority of Americans supported our approach to deficit reduction—a balanced approach—an approach that cuts spending responsibly, but also calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share.

“Madam President—voters spoke clearly this election—and they stood strongly behind Democrats as we fight for a budget deal that works for the middle class.

“And we are hearing encouraging words from some of my Republican colleagues who have indicated a willingness to put revenue on the table and to break the stranglehold that D.C. lobbyist Grover Norquist has on the modern Republican Party.

“One of my Republican Senate colleagues said: “Republicans should put revenue on the table…we don’t generate enough revenue.” And he said he wouldn’t be beholden to the Norquist pledge.

“Another said “The world has changed.  And the economic situation is different.  Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill realized that in the 1980s.  I think everything should be on the table.”

“Another said: “I’m not obligated on the pledge….the only thing I’m honoring is the oath that I take when I serve, when I’m sworn in in January.” 

“And another Republican Senator said “I care more about my country than I do about a 20-year-old pledge.  If we do it his way then we'll continue in debt.”

“Grover Norquist is fighting back. He called these statements by my Republican colleagues “impure thoughts.”

“He called one of them ‘a weasel.’ 

“He is used to blind allegiance from the Republican Party—and he is not going to take this lying down.

“But I am hopeful that more and more Republicans will break away from Grover Norquist—and that they will actually follow up on their new rhetoric with a genuine willingness to call on the wealthy to pay their fair share.

“And it should be easy for them—because the Senate already passed a bill that would do exactly that, and do it in a way that works for the middle class.

“The Senate passed a bill that would extend tax cuts for 98% of workers—and 97% small business owners. And it would let the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire as scheduled.

“We sent that bill over to the House. The President has said he would sign it.

“And all House Republicans have to do is pass our bill, and a significant chunk of the fiscal cliff will disappear for the middle class.

“When that is done, we can continue the serious conversation we need to have about our country’s budget future. 

“But there is no reason why middle class families should have to go into the holidays not knowing if their taxes are going to go up.

“Democrats and Republicans both agree that the middle class should have their taxes cuts extended—so there is no reason why the House should continue holding that bill—and the middle class—hostage.

“And one conservative Republican in the House agrees.

“Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma told his colleagues and reporters yesterday that "The first thing I’d do is make sure we don’t raise taxes on 98 percent of the American people”

“He said that was ‘the right thing to do.’

“And that ‘Where there is common ground…..we should seize that common ground.’

“Well Madam President, I applaud Representative Cole for his common-sense but brave position.

“And I am hopeful he can persuade his Republican colleagues to do the right thing for those families, small business owners, and communities across the country who have so much at stake—and who are looking to us to solve this problem.

“I am hopeful they will join Senate Democrats and pass our middle class tax cut.

“And I am confident that once we move forward on these tax cuts both sides agree should happen…

“…And we listen to the American people and allow the wealthy to pay a bit more…

“…then we can focus on the other questions families are asking about our budget, our priorities, our fiscal health, and the future of our nation.

“Thank you. I yield the floor.”