Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010

Floor Speech

Date: Dec. 16, 2010
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DINGELL. Mr. Chair, H.R. 4853 was negotiated in the dead of night, and I am outraged by the take-it-or-leave tactics employed to ram this legislation through the House, no less in a lame-duck session. This is not how good legislation is produced, and I am convinced we will feel the repercussions of this for years.

In considering H.R. 4853, the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, members of the House of Representatives confront the tragic choice of extending unemployment benefits and current middle-class tax rates at the price of enormous tax give-aways to millionaires and fat cats on Wall Street. At a time when American corporations are making record earnings and giving million-dollar holiday bonuses, we are extending tax cuts for the wealthiest two percent of Americans for two years but extending unemployment insurance for only 13 months. This greatly frustrates me, and I believe we must do more to help working families. Equally distressing is the fact that this lop-sided agreement hides another, more insidious provision that could promise to do future violence to the federal program upon which millions of senior citizens in this country rely for their very existence, namely Social Security.

I am somewhat comforted, however, that H.R. 4853 clearly mandates the shortfall in revenue to the Social Security Trust Fund caused by the bill's one-year payroll tax holiday be made whole with a transfer from the Treasury's General Fund. This measure is designed ostensibly to provide Americans with more take-home pay to spend or save as they see fit, but it earns only my hesitant backing for fear that Republicans will attempt to make this provision permanent when it expires next year. Such a move can only be seen as the first step leading to what my colleagues on the other side of the aisle want most: privatizing Social Security.

While I maintain my strong reservations about portions of this tax package that benefit only the wealthiest two percent of all Americans, my colleagues and I cannot in good conscience return to our districts without having secured an extension of unemployment benefits and existing tax rates for middle-class families so aggrieved by the current recession. The good people of the 15th District need the stability of assured unemployment benefits to help get them through this holiday season, giving them time until they find stable employment.

Now is one of the times when it is ultimately better for our government leaders to come together on common ground where it can be found, instead of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good enough. In this case, the government is taking real action to stimulate the economy and help those desperately in need. Democrats are making the choice to protect millions of Americans struggling to keep food on the table and keep the heat on while searching hard for a job. According to the Center for American Progress, the tax deal would save or create 2.2 million jobs through 2012. In Michigan, the importance of the unemployment extension cannot be overstated. In November 2011, almost 300,000 Michiganders will lose their unemployment benefits without federal action. These are real numbers, and this is real money that will have a positive impact on our economy at a time when it is desperately needed.

Absent a better choice, I will vote in favor of H.R. 4853. I do so as Dean of this House and the proud son of a man who helped pass the Social Security Act but demand my colleagues' sacred vow that this bill's payroll tax holiday never again be extended. To do so would be an indefensible assault on the economic and social progress achieved by generations of working-class Americans. I assure you, Madam Speaker and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, I will do everything in power to make sure Social Security is protected from rascality and available for not only current recipients, but also their children and grandchildren.