[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 159 (Tuesday, December 11, 2012)]
[Pages H6682-H6683]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                      AT LAST, FISCAL CLIFF DEBATE

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from 
California (Ms. Pelosi) for 5 minutes.
  Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor very pleased that our 
Speaker of the House, Mr. Boehner, has brought the discussion of our 
fiscal challenges to this floor. Indeed, it is long overdue. We have 
been calling upon the Speaker to bring forth a middle-income tax cut 
now for a very long time--in fact, since last summer when it passed the 
United States Senate. The President stands ready and poised with his 
pen to sign it.
  Democrats in the House have a discharge petition to bring that bill 
to the floor. What stands in the way is an act on the part of the 
Republican majority to bring a middle-income tax cut to the floor of 
the House, which across the country has almost universal support and 
which I think in this body, given the right to vote for it, would have 
overwhelming support.
  Up until now, everybody in the country--in fact, in the world--has 
been talking about what's going to happen--those who pay attention to 
such matters--what's going to happen in the budget debate in the 
Congress and with the President. At last, that subject comes to the 

                              {time}  1210

  What I would do to respond to what the Speaker has said, though, is 
to set the record straight. The fact is that the President has, and 
Democrats agree with him, agreed to around $1.6 trillion in cuts in the 
Budget Control Act and other acts of Congress in this particular 
Congress, $1.6 trillion in cuts. Where are the cuts? They're in bills 
that you, Mr. Speaker, have voted for.
  Secondly, on the issue of the entitlements with the Affordable Care 
Act and with legislation, suggestions and provisions in the President's 
budget, it amounts to over $1 trillion in savings in Medicare, over $1 
trillion in savings which have been redirected to prolonging the life 
of Medicare, making it stronger for nearly a decade while increasing 
benefits for our seniors and those who depend on Medicare--not reducing 
but increasing benefits. There's been a massive misrepresentation about 
what that is, so I want to set the record straight. So in terms of 
spending cuts, we are on the record having voted for about $1.6 
  In terms of entitlement reform, there is over $1 trillion already and 
more savings to be gained in further discussions on the subject by a 
strong down payment.
  What is missing are two elements that the President has put forth in 
his budget: growth, investments in infrastructure--yes, the President 
has called for investments in infrastructure to build the 
infrastructure of America and to create jobs to grow our economy; and, 
where are the revenues? Where are the revenues? Regardless of the cuts 
or the changes in entitlements, more is demanded in terms of what 
seniors would have to pay into Medicare and at what age that would 
happen, while the Republicans refuse to touch one hair on the head of 
the wealthiest people in our country.
  The public overwhelmingly, 2-1, supports the President's initiative 
for extending the middle-income tax cuts whereby 100 percent--100 
percent--of U.S. taxpayers get a tax cut. Above 250--the people making 
more than $250,000 a year would be asked to pay a little more to 
contribute to the fiscal soundness of our country, to pay our bills, 
the defense of our country, the support of our troops, the pillars of 
security for our seniors, the education of our children and the safety 
of our neighborhoods.
  This is just asking them to pay a little bit more while they continue 
to get the same tax cut that everyone does. So it is 100 percent of the 
American people get a tax cut, the upper 2 percent are asked to pay a 
little bit more.
  So I thank the Speaker for finally at least uttering the words on the 
floor of the House about what the decisions are that need to be made. 
Again, we have committed to the cuts, we have acted upon the 
entitlements, the President has more in his budget, all of this would 
be a down payment for as we go forward into the next session of 
Congress to talk about tax simplification and fairness, how we can 
perhaps lower rates while plugging up loopholes and having a Tax Code 
that encourages growth in our economy.
  But that is a longer discussion as we address the issue of how we 
strengthen our entitlements not by diminishing benefits but by getting 
more for what we are spending. So if it's Social Security, any changes 
in Social Security should be left to strengthen Social Security. If 
it's Medicare, any changes should be there to strengthen Medicare, not 
to underwrite and subsidize tax cuts for the wealthiest people in our 
  So, again, I welcome the Speaker's statement that he wants to solve 
the problem. The President has put forth his budget, which has his 
initiative in it. He has said that he's willing to make some changes. 
But it's really important that any changes not hurt the middle class. 
It comes right down to this. Again, I've said, it's not about the price 
of the high-end tax cut, it's about the money that it generates. You 
can find the money another way at the high end. Let's see what that 
discussion is. But it is not to burden the middle income in order to 
have bigger tax cuts at the high end.
  Those high-end tax cuts only increase the deficit. They have not 
created jobs. It's simply unfair, and it doesn't work. So hopefully the 
clock is ticking, we're getting closer to the holidays, and that means 
closer to the end of the year, which is fraught with meaning in terms 
of time and the rest of this. I don't think there's any reason for us 
not to come to the table to make an agreement to give confidence to 
consumers in this holiday season and to the markets at their end of 
year decisions so that we will have the growth--the growth, the jobs 
that produce revenue. That approach is the way to create jobs to reduce 
the deficit.
  We want to fix the deficit, grow the economy, and do so in a way that 
makes responsible cuts and strong investments for our seniors and the 
pillars of economic security for them and for their family. It is not a 
time to inject even more uncertainty into the lives of the American 
people and the economy of our country--and what that means globally. It 
simply isn't the time. Many of these ideas are bad at any time, but 
they're particularly harmful at this time.
  So, again, I thank the Speaker for bringing the issue finally to the 

[[Page H6683]]

of the House of Representatives. I look forward to how we can move 
quickly because time is of the essence, and every day that we can 
remove all doubt about the full faith and credit of the United States 
of America, our investments in the future, our creation of jobs and our 
respect and support for the economic and health security of our 
seniors, every day we can do that, but more quickly, is a good day.