[Congressional Record Volume 156, Number 166 (Wednesday, December 15, 2010)]
[Senate]
[Page S10237]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                   TAX CUTS AND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

  Mr. NELSON of Florida. Mr. President, we are soon going to vote on 
the bipartisan compromise on extending the expiring tax cuts and 
unemployment benefits. Although, as I described yesterday, it is a 
bitter pill to swallow because of the extended funding that will cause 
the deficit to rise, I doubt there is anybody in this Chamber who wants 
the alternative; that is, inaction or a political stalemate which is 
certainly not an option.
  Job growth remains anemic. For many of our constituents who are 
struggling to make ends meet in the midst of this jobless economic 
recovery, unemployment benefits have already expired. Without action, 
on January 1, those fortunate enough to have a job would see a 
significant drop in their paychecks as the middle-class tax cuts 
enacted 10 years ago also expire, with the effect that the taxes would 
be going up all across the income spectrum.
  So out of this stark reality facing us on January 1, this is when 
people of good will have come together--people of good will who have 
different opinions, and who, as I said, have to swallow hard on some of 
the parts of this package. It is my intention, as we vote in just a few 
hours, to vote for this package. It does provide relief that is 
critical for middle-class families.
  For example, for a family making $63,000 a year, if we didn't pass 
this bill, and the existing tax law expired, then that income level, a 
family earning $63,000--their taxes would go up by $2,000. This bill 
prevents that. These middle-class tax cuts are extended in this 
legislation for a period of 2 years, and that includes the 10-percent 
income tax bracket, the $1,000 child tax credit, an increase in the 
standard deduction for married couples, and an expansion of the 15-
percent tax bracket for married couples. The bill rewards work by 
continuing provisions in the 2009 Recovery Act that expanded the 
earned-income tax credit and the refundable tax credit.
  The bill also continues the tax credit that allows taxpayers to claim 
a $2,500 tax credit for all 4 years of their higher education. In my 
State of Florida, 600,000 Florida taxpayers benefited from that tax 
credit.
  It also has significant consequences for everybody across the board. 
For example, without an extension of the unemployment benefits through 
this coming year, 7 million unemployed workers would lose one of the 
last lifelines available to them. This bill is going to breathe life 
into the private sector through a payroll tax reduction of 2 percent 
for 1 year. What that does is put more money into people's pockets, 
which they will then go out and spend. That spending will turn over in 
the economy and that will produce jobs.
  The bill includes provisions of particular importance to my State. 
Our State is one of six that does not have an income tax. As you know, 
when you calculate your Federal income tax, you can deduct your State 
income tax. For those six States, we finally got a provision in 6 years 
ago--whereas we don't have an income tax in Florida, we have a State 
sales tax. We put that in, and that is a deductible item, comparable to 
other States that have an income tax--to deduct that in the calculation 
of the Federal income tax. I am pleased that this agreement extends 
that deduction.
  The bill also has an extension of section 1603, which is the Treasury 
grant program for renewable energy projects, to convert tax credits for 
the production of renewable electricity into an upfront investment tax 
credit, and to receive a grant in lieu of the investment tax credit. 
Certainly, as we are trying to move to renewable energy, that keeps 
that alive. It is badly needed. But what it illustrates is that there 
were some 20 to 25 Senators out here on the floor yesterday who were 
talking about our commitment to roll up our sleeves going into the next 
year, to try to do something about the reduction of spending and, 
therefore, reduction of the deficit, at the same time reforming a Tax 
Code that has gotten so complicated and so fraught with special 
interest provisions that it is crying out for reform. One way or 
another, we are going to have to make it happen. I believe that what we 
are going to vote on this afternoon is the first step of a badly needed 
effort toward restoring trust and confidence and starting to get our 
economy moving again.
  I yield the floor.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Oklahoma is 
recognized.

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