Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today
regarding tax and budget negotiations. Below are his remarks as prepared
Democrats have been saying it for more than four months: it’s time for
the House to pass the middle-class tax cut approved by the Senate.
But as the days until the country goes over the fiscal cliff tick by,
more and more Republicans have joined our chorus. They realize
Republican leaders’ unwillingness to compromise sooner has put them in a
So reasonable Republicans are asking their House leadership to allow a
vote on the Senate-passed legislation. What was once a trickle has
become a flood.
Last week Republican Rep. Tom Cole said it was time to give middle-class
families certainty their taxes won’t go up by $2,200 on January 1.
Then Rep. Tim Scott, also a Republican, admitted the Senate’s
middle-class tax cut would surely pass the House – since it will take
only 26 moderate, Republican votes to ensure passage.
Conservative opinion makers piled on. Columnist David Brooks, of the New
York Times, wrote: “Republicans have to realize that they are going to
cave on tax rates.”
Then on Tuesday the Senior Senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe, urged
House Republican leaders to end the suspense for middle-class taxpayers.
They shouldn’t have to wonder, she said, whether “we will ultimately
raise taxes on low- to middle-income people.” I assure them, we won’t.
And on Wednesday Senator Susan Collins, joined her colleague from Maine,
agreeing the idea of ending the suspense for the middle class “has
Yesterday, it seemed every practical Republican left in Washington was
suddenly willing to say out loud what we’ve known for weeks: the only
remaining option is for the House to pass the Senate bill.
Dozens of House Republicans signed onto a letter urging Speaker Boehner
to take the last exit before the cliff.
Neither President Obama nor Democrats in Congress have ever been
ambiguous about our proposal – to provide economic security for 98
percent of American families, while asking the wealthiest 2 percent to
contribute just a little more to stop runaway debt.
And now that even a dyed-in-the-wool conservative like Senator Coburn
has endorsed the Democratic approach, Speaker Boehner has the political
cover he needs.
“I know we have to raise revenue,” Senator Coburn said Wednesday. “I
would rather see the rates go up,” he said, than eliminate tax credits
and deductions that benefit the middle class.
It’s apparent how this will end. The only question left is how long
Speaker Boehner will make middle class families wait for relief and how
long he’ll force the financial markets to wait for certainty.
longer he delays, the greater the risk to our economy. So I urge Speaker
Boehner, if you won’t listen to me, listen to your own caucus. Listen to
prudent members of your own party.
We can argue whether to give more unnecessary tax breaks to the wealthy
tomorrow. We can discuss balanced, responsible ways to reduce our
deficit next week. We can reform our tax code next year. But we must
give economic certainty to the middle class today.
Democrats agree. Independents agree. Republicans agree. Americans agree.
Even dozens of CEOs of major corporations – whose personal taxes would
go up under our plan – emphatically agree.
I’ve been saying for weeks that the only people who aren’t on board are
Republicans in Congress. But now even they are crying out for
compromise. I only hope Speaker Boehner is listening.