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December 21, 2012

Reid: Boehner "wasted a week on this futile political stunt"

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tore into House Speaker John Boehner Friday, saying he had wasted time trying to unsuccessfully pass an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for all but millionaires.

And, Reid, D-Nevada said, the House should now turn to the Senate-passed bill to provide those rates only for individuals earning less than $200,000 and families making under $250,000.

Here are some of his remarks:

"It’s too bad Speaker Boehner wasted a week on this futile political stunt. But at least now House Republicans have gotten the message loud and clear that any comprehensive solution to the looming fiscal cliff will need to be a bipartisan solution.

No comprehensive agreement can pass either chamber without both Democratic votes and Republican votes. Which means any solution will have to ask the most fortunate among us to pay a little more to reduce the deficit and ensure partisanship doesn’t take the nation to the brink of default a few months from now.

Nothing that has passed the House of Representatives fits this test. A few days ago President Obama and Speaker Boehner appeared poised to strike a grand bargain.

But instead of making hard choices or compromising, as President Obama has been willing to do, Speaker Boehner retreated to his corner and resorted to political stunts. But the stunt fell flat.

 It’s time for the Speaker and all Republicans to return to the negotiating table. It’s time for Republicans to work with us to find the middle ground. That is the only hope of averting the devastating impacts of the fiscal cliff entirely.

And in the meantime, the Speaker should bring the middle-class tax cut passed by the Senate five months ago to the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote. The clock is ticking until the nation goes over the fiscal cliff and taxes go up for every family in America.

 But there’s still time for Speaker Boehner to hit the brakes and avoid the cliff. The Senate-passed bill would protect 98 percent of families and 97 percent of small businesses from crippling tax hikes while President Obama and the Speaker work toward a comprehensive agreement.

If Republicans truly want to ensure American families’ taxes don’t go up on January 1, they should simply pass the Senate bill. The only reason Speaker Boehner hasn’t brought our bill to the floor sooner is that he knows it will pass.

Americans are not fooled by the Speaker’s phony, procedural excuses for failing to bring this solution to a vote.  They’re tired of excuses. They expect action. Let me be plain: there is nothing preventing the Speaker from taking up our bill and giving middle-class families certainty.

So I say to my friend, the Speaker, this isn’t a game. It isn’t about scoring political points or putting wins on the board. There will be very serious consequences for millions of families if Congress fails to compromise. And there will be very serious consequences for our economy if Congress fails to act.

It’s time for Speaker Boehner to return to the negotiating table ready to compromise. And it’s time for House Republicans to remember what’s at stake."


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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