Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008/Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008/Tax Extenders and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act of 2008. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Like all Senators, my office has been flooded in recent days with calls and letters from constituents who are deeply and rightly concerned with the state of our economy and the security of their savings. Here is one such letter from a man from Henderson, Nevada. He writes:
‘I am a home owner and have a wife and two kids. I have been employed in Nevada for about 5+ years…as a salesman in the Southern Nevada area.
‘This area has been hit like no other it seems. My salary has dropped nearly 35% and it does not look good for next couple years. My family and I are fighting to stay afloat in this cut throat market. We have done and re-done our budget and seem to have to make additional cuts every month just to keep up with my declining income.
‘Please keep everybody in mind when passing a bail-out bill for Wall Street. My home is down more than $ 100,000.00 from the time I purchased it in August 2006. I am fighting to stay current…I don’t want to see the big corporations take the bail out and move on with the middle class left to fight for themselves. We need a real solution that is in the American Citizens’ interest and not straight out the pockets of Wall Street.
‘Thanks and my family and I look forward to seeing an end to this economic tragedy here in Las Vegas and the United States.’
“The rescue package we are on the verge of passing is not for the titans of Wall Street. It is not for those who chose greed over prudence. It is not for the CEOs who failed their employees, then left town with multi-million dollar golden parachutes.
“This plan is for the man from Henderson whose letter I read. It is for families in Las Vegas, Reno, Sparks, and Winnemucca – not statistics, but real people with problems they did not cause and cannot solve themselves.
“It is for families across Nevada and across America who are struggling every day to keep their jobs, save their homes and find a way to make one pay check last until the next.
“Some members in both chambers of Congress have asked how they can explain a vote in favor of this legislation to their constituents back home. Here is how: not with any sense of glee or satisfaction – but with a sense of confidence that when called upon to choose between what is easy and what is right, we rejected the easy and chose the right.
“There is not a Member of Congress who wouldn’t rather use this money to reduce our record debt, to invest in roads, schools and hospitals, or to provide our troops and veterans with the care that they deserve.
“But given the situation, supporting this legislation is the only way to make the best of a crisis and return our country to a path of economic stability, prosperity and growth.
“If we do not act responsibly today, we risk a crisis in which senior citizens across America will lose their retirement savings, small businesses won’t make payroll, students won’t be able to obtain loans to go to college, and families won’t be able to obtain mortgages for their homes or cars.
“In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, ‘thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.’ It is time for action.
“Last week, President Bush and Secretary Paulson sent to Congress a proposal that Democrats and Republicans agreed was not the answer. We proceeded to put politics aside and after long days and sleepless nights, have come to a solution that the White House, the Treasury Department and leaders from both parties on Capitol Hill all believe will resolve this crisis by protecting taxpayers first.
- On a bipartisan basis, we added oversight to safeguard any public funds spent.
- On a bipartisan basis, we stopped CEOs from receiving ‘golden parachutes’ at taxpayer expense.
- On a bipartisan basis, we made sure that this taxpayer money would be an investment, not a giveaway, and that any future returns would go not to the corporations but back to the taxpayers.
- On a bipartisan basis, we ensured that homeowners facing foreclosure would have help as well.
- And on a bipartisan basis, we added a provision to increase FDIC insurance for bank deposits from $100,000 to $250,000 to renew the American people’s confidence that the money they put in their local banks will be ironclad.
“In addition to these critical improvements, Democrats and Republicans decided to include other important components that will lower taxes and create jobs. By fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax, this legislation will save the American people more than $60 billion on their taxes. With new incentives for private sector entrepreneurs who are developing and producing clean, home-grown alternative energy from the sun, the wind and other sources, we will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. With tax breaks for small businesses, we will encourage new investment, growth and more new jobs.
“And we are finally on the verge of passing a bill that Senators Kennedy, Domenici and the late Senator Wellstone spent years on – to ensure that those who suffer from mental illness have equal access to health care as those who suffer from physical illness. It would be a fitting tribute to Senator Domenici if we are able to pass this legislation into law as his three-and-a-half decades of Senate service come to a close.
“We are facing this evening a critical test of leadership. I ask all of my colleagues – Democrats and Republicans – to send a clear and resounding message to the homeowners, laborers, middle-class families, students and senior citizens who are struggling and suffering. A clear, resounding message that we hear them – and we are here to help.”