Floor Statement in Opposition to Republican Year-End Extension Package

Dec 13, 2011 Issues: Economy

Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) made the following statement on the House floor today in opposition to the Republican year-end extension package:

“There are fewer than three weeks until the New Year and yet here they go again: Republicans are seeking a path of confrontation instead of collaboration. If Republicans were serious, truly serious about trying to come together on behalf of American families, they would have reached out to Democrats. They’ve done nothing of the sort. They have made a sham out of bipartisanship.

“Instead, they’ve once again targeted millions of seniors and middle class families for cuts without asking essentially anything of millionaires and billionaires. They have singled out Medicare premium increases that permanently increase seniors’ costs by $31 billion. The bill also, when you look at it carefully, spends $300 million on a special interest provision that helps a handful of specialty hospitals while cutting billions from community hospitals.

“They’ve targeted the unemployed, slashing 40 weeks of unemployment insurance, impacting millions of families still struggling under the weight of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Twenty-two jurisdictions with the highest unemployment rates would be hit the hardest: Alabama, California, Connecticut, DC, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.  The result would be that in state that Mr. Camp and I come from – Michigan – the bill would cut unemployment insurance to 46 weeks.

“And what do they ask of the wealthiest Americans? Basically nothing. Not even after the wealthiest 1 percent saw their incomes nearly triple in the last three decades while salaries for middle class families barely budged.

“There are more than four unemployed Americans for every job opening. Never on record in our nation’s history have there been so many unemployed Americans out of work for so long. There is nothing normal about this recession. One gentleman from my district – Phil of Clinton Township – put it this way: ‘I am by no means unintelligent. I am by no means lazy. And I am by no means giving up.’

“The unemployed are not people who can ante up $10,000 bets or spend lavishly on jewelry at Tiffany’s. These are families scraping by on less than $300 a week, trying to keep food on the table, a roof over their head, and clothes on their backs and the backs of their children as they look for work.

“Republicans are out of touch with the families of America. I hope after today’s exercise – that is going nowhere in the Senate and which the President opposes – House Republicans will get serious about addressing very pressing end-of-year issues on behalf of the American people.”