Mazie Hirono

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today voted in favor of H.R. 4853, the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, which will extend tax cuts for American middle-class families earning less than $250,000 a year.  The House passed the bill by a vote of 234 yeas to 188 nays. The legislation now goes before the U.S. Senate for consideration.

Congresswoman Hirono made the following statement on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives during today’s legislative debate (Click here to view floor speech):

Mr. Speaker,

I rise in strong support of the rule and the bill we are voting on today, the Middle Class Tax Relief Act. This bill will help millions of Americans who are trying to make ends meet by providing them with sorely needed tax relief. The Middle Class Tax Relief Act permanently extends the tax cuts for middle class taxpayers, so that individuals who make less than $200,000 (under $250,000 for joint filers) will get the tax relief they need. The legislation will help about 323,000 lower- and middle-income families in my congressional district alone.

My colleagues on the other side of the aisle have made it clear that they won’t vote for this bill because it doesn’t meet their highest priority—continuing the status quo of providing tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. On the one hand, they claim to be concerned about reducing the $13.8 trillion national debt, opposing an extension of unemployment benefits for the nearly two million Americans who desperately need the assistance, including more than 4,000 in Hawaii. Not only is this reprehensible—it is bad math. A recent Labor Department report shows that for every dollar spent on unemployment insurance, two dollars are reinvested into the economy.

On the other hand, continuing tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, the richest 2 percent of Americans, would add a whopping $700 billion to our deficit over ten years. These tax breaks would not “trickle down” to create more jobs or help our economic recovery. In fact, they would add to our deficit. And, by the way, these richest taxpayers will also get the benefit of this tax relief in this bill for their first $200,000 of income. Why should this group of taxpayers then get an additional benefit that 98 percent of Americans will not?

Mr. Speaker, this is about fairness. We need to fight for working families and let the tax breaks for the wealthy expire so that they can start to pay their fair share of taxes. Today’s vote on this bill will let the American people—the 98 percent who don’t make $200,000 a year (including 323,000 families in Hawaii)—know who is on their side fighting for them.

I urge my colleagues to support this measure

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