Washington, D.C.— Nevada Senator Harry Reid delivered the following remarks on the Senate floor this morning on Senate Republicans continuing to hold middle class tax cuts hostage to giveaways for millionaires and CEOs:
“Mr. President, I had hoped we would have been able to come to an agreement with the Republicans to hold votes today that would protect middle-class families. But the Republican caucus would not agree, and so we will have a series of votes tomorrow on the tax rates set to expire at the end of this month.
“Democrats’ priorities are clear: We’re protecting middle-class families every way we can. Tomorrow’s votes will show where the Republicans’ priorities are.
“These votes will very clearly demonstrate who supports the middle class. I hope that includes every Senator.
“The minority can spin this any way they want. They can pretend giving the rich tax breaks creates jobs, even though we know from the past decade that it doesn’t. If it were the case, given the Bush Administration’s giveaways to the wealthy, the economy would be booming.
“They can pretend we can afford to give billionaires another hand out, even though we know we can’t.
“But no matter how many times you pretend, it doesn’t make it true.
“The truth is simple: Holding middle-class tax cuts hostage for tax breaks for the wealthy that they don’t need – and that we can’t afford – is irresponsible.
“A lot has been written about the letter all 42 Senate Republicans sent me this week. Maybe it’s news that they put it in writing. But that’s all that’s new about it.
“Republicans have been holding good legislation hostage for four years. Important bills, non-controversial bills – every bill. It’s why we have a lame-duck session with such a long to-do list.
“Since they sent that letter, a lot of the focus has been on the political impact of this game. I’m more interested in the impact on the people I represent.
“When Republicans take their ball and go home, here’s what happens:
“More than 83,000 Nevadans who are jobless and looking for work will lose their unemployment insurance over the next year. The Council of Economic Advisers predicted that will cost the country 600,000 jobs.
“What else happens? A treaty that would make Americans safer goes nowhere – a treaty supported by our entire military leadership and endorsed yesterday by the secretaries of state for the last five Republican Presidents. Without the START Treaty, there are more nuclear weapons than there should be, we know less about the Russian nuclear arsenal than we need to, and Americans are less safe.
“Here’s one more consequence of the Republican ultimatum: Thousands of first responders who rushed to Ground Zero on 9/11 got terribly sick from the toxins there. The longer Republicans stall, the longer these heroes have to wait for the health care and compensation they deserve.
“Why are tens of thousands of unemployed Nevadans at risk of losing their lifeline? Why is Nevada at risk of losing jobs when we’re desperate to create them? Why is the START Treaty stalled? Why are the 9/11 heroes still sick, with nowhere to turn?
“Each of these questions has the same answer: Because Senate Republicans want to give their richest friends a tax break they don’t need, many don’t want, and none of us can afford.”