The speech he gave...
The speech I wish he had given...
"My fellow Americans...I come before you tonight to ask your help.
I wanted to provide tax relief to 95% of the American people as I promised in the campaign, and that's what I intended to do. However, the people who are the minority party tonight, but whom you decided to make the majority party come January (giving them extraordinary leverage) have decided to hold those tax cuts hostage along with holding back on extension of unemployment benefits, desperately needed by millions of our neighbors, friends and family members, unless we provide tax cuts to their millionaire and billionaire cohorts.
Let me repeat that...in order to protect millionaires and billionaires from having to pay the VERY SAME TAX RATE that they paid during the very prosperous Clinton years, they are willing to allow YOUR tax rates to go up, effective January 1, as well as to allow over 2 million American families who desperately depend on their unemployment as their only source of income in these hard times, to lose that essential support, thereby plunging the economy into even further depression. PLEASE...we cannot allow them to think that this is acceptable.
I have tried to get them to agree to the following proposal...
Extend unemployment benefits for 18 months and make the Bush era tax cuts permanent for all Americans on the first $250,000 of income. In addition, we would temporarily extend those cuts for an additional two years on incomes between $250,000 and $1,000,000. But, on those earning over $1,000,000 the tax rates will return to the Clinton era number...39%.
But they refused, calling this a "tax increase" on the "job creators". I'd like to clear that up.
First...this is NOT an increase, it is a simple return to the pre-Bush figure. To call this a "tax increase" on their millionaires is as incorrect as it would be to accuse a store of "raising prices" because a special sale ended. I'm sure that you all recall that during the Clinton years the economy was in terrific shape. Everyone was more prosperous and most of us were doing well. Rather than a deficit as we currently have, the nation had a financial surplus. The upper income folks were also doing quite well at that time. The Clinton era rates were not burdensome, and are actually even far lower than the rates under even Republican Presidents like Eisenhower and Nixon.
But the soon-to-be-majority party will make no compromise when it comes to their wanting to make the rich, richer...after all, even former President Bush admitted that the super-rich are, for the Republican party, their "base".
The Republican party is willing to allow your taxes to go up...the taxes of your friends, your family, your neighbors to go up, unless their millionaires get tax breaks larger than most of you earn in a year. They are willing to allow millions of unemployed people to end up starving or homeless...at CHRISTMAS, in order to blackmail me to give tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires at a cost of $700 BILLION dollars that the country cannot afford. They SAY that they want "fiscal responsibility" and will only extend unemployment benefits if it is "paid for", but they want to give these tax breaks to billionaires on credit.
These people think that their priorities are YOUR priorities, but I don't believe that's true. I believe that you know that the unemployed cannot have their only source of income cut off in the dead of winter, right before Christmas. I believe that you know that the Middle Class of this country desperately needs their tax cuts made permanent. And I believe that you know that millionaires and billionaires do not need to keep these tax cuts...which did not work in the way the Bush administration told you that they would.
The Bush administration put through tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans and made you believe that with those tax cuts, the "job creators" (as they call them) would use that money to create more jobs for our country's economy. But that didn't happen. They didn't make those jobs. The Bush economy consistently lost jobs as you watched your friends lose their livelihoods and watched corporate profit figures rise, as the wealthy hoarded the cuts they were given and just amassed more and more for themselves. It is time for those cuts to end.
This is the proposal that I tried to get the Republicans to go along with, but of course they would make NO compromise whatsoever. They believe that you gave them a "mandate" to demand that the richest 1% of this country get unneeded tax cuts. That you're willing to give up your own tax cuts and let unemployment end for millions... in order to make sure that millionaires get more in a tax cut than the annual income of most of you.
Please...tell them they're wrong. Please contact your Congressional Represenatives and Senators tomorrow and tell them that you want them to stop protecting 2% of the people at the expense of the other 98%. That you want the middle class tax cuts made permanent. That you want unemployment extended. That although you are willing to allow the tax rates for those making between $250,000 - $1,000,000 to be temporarily extended for two more years, the time has come for the richest of the rich, those who benefit the most from all our nation offers, to simply pay the same rates that they did during the Clinton years. That you want to go back to the times of budget surpluses and prosperity for the rest of the country, not just their super-rich base.
You can call the Capital switchboard at 1-800-839-5276 or call their district offices. Send them an e-mail or even a written letter. Please...tell them to stop playing games with our economy to keep helping the rich get richer as the middle class collapses.
Together, we can do this. Thank you and goodnight."
But...since that is not the speech that he gave I have a few messages for some folks in Washington...
Mr. President...I'm so fucking disappointed in you, I'm actually, literally heartbroken.
Senator Sanders...even though you're not from my state, I'm standing behind you if you really do filibuster this horrendous proposal in the Senate...good luck to you, sir...and thank you for both your speech on Saturday (http://arismusings.blogspot.com/2010/12/wealth-gap_04.html) and for this filibuster if you choose to do it.
Senator Feingold...I respect you more than anyone else in politics and I ask that you stand with Senator Sanders in this filibuster. You have nothing to lose...the same people who are doing this to our country have already stolen your seat from you, sir. Please...make this one last, strong stand for the American middle class...before it's gone...