Dem Caucus Chairman: Running Out of Time to Help American Middle Class
WASHINGTON – House Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (CT) held a press avail after the Democratic Caucus meeting this morning calling on the Republican leadership to act to help middle class families before it’s too late.
You can watch the avail and read the transcript below:
Chairman Larson: Well good morning and thank you for joining me as we deal with the compression of time in this very limited legislative calendar that we have.
To be blunt about it, we're out of time.
And the unfortunate thing about being out of time is that it's a time when the American people need us the most.
Take a look around the country and you see that the—we're in the middle of one of the worst droughts we've ever suffered and we're not taking up a farms bill. 14 million Americans are still without work and we haven't taken up the President's jobs bill. The fiscal cliff is looming over the heads of so many middle class families, and yet we can't even get the Republican leadership to agree on what everyone agrees on: providing tax cuts for the middle class. In fact, providing tax cuts for everyone up to $250,000, which both helps them and also helps our economy moving forward.
And yet, what we have here in Congress is inaction. We continue to say to our colleagues that we need to stay here and get the job done on behalf of the American people. Congress is going to go home, but go home and find a drought that has besieged the nation, they're going to find people that are still out of work, and they're going to find families in need of a tax break and wondering, as one of my constituents put it best, why are you leaving us in this dark abyss of uncertainty? The dark abyss of uncertainty when Congress could easily act on what we can all agree to, which are tax cuts for the middle class. Everyone agrees to it. And yet, what's frustrating and what has the American people so angry is that this Congress will not.
As I've said time and again, it seems that the Republican leadership would rather see President Obama fail than the nation succeed. We're not here to determine presidential elections; we're here and take an oath on behalf of the American people to serve them, to work together, to come up with the compromises that are needed to keep this nation going forward. We have one on the floor today. It remains to be seen whether the Republicans will follow our lead and join with the Senate and come together and pass tax breaks on behalf of America's middle class.
We'll be having another caucus this afternoon at 3:30 and we'll be having a press conference at—more of a rallying of a conference—at noon today on campaign finance reform. But with that, I'll take questions that you might have.
Q: Mr. Larson, any sense of how many Democrats are going to vote against this Senate bill when it comes up?
Chairman Larson: No, I think the important thing, as I continue to stress, is that we have overwhelming agreement on both sides about the—on the Senate bill and we just can't understand why the Republicans won't join with us and vote on that bill and send it to the President's desk. Again, allowing the middle class, and not only the middle class—I mean, this provides everyone, including billionaires, with a $250,000 break. And then after that is when the taxes set in.
So we're really—we really think that this is a great opportunity for the country and we can't—it'll be incredible if we can't come to this kind of an agreement today.
Q: Given what you said, that is the question: will Congress press hard to cancel the recess this coming Friday? The Financial Times, The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times all came out after Sandy Weill's comments to endorse Glass-Steagall. So will this measure be brought up in conjunction to cancel the recess to get it passed in the House which it exists in bill form to get it introduced in the Senate?
Chairman Larson: We wish that they would stop blocking everything that's been passed in Dodd-Frank and stop trying to overturn the regulations that have taken place. We just had last week at our caucus a presentation from Norm Ornstein and Thomas Mann that goes across the board to show the great extent that has been taken to do away with Dodd-Frank. So while there are many aspects, certainly, that we would like to see in terms of continued reform and making sure that we keep a cop on the beat on Wall Street, we remain blocked by this current Republican Congress.
Chairman Larson: Sure.
Q: Are you whipping for votes today?
Chairman Larson: No, we're not whipping—we feel very confident of the votes that we're going to have in the Democratic Caucus for our tax cuts, there's no question about that.