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Weekly remarks: GOP's John Cornyn sees D.C. change already; Obama hails passage of tax-cut package

December 18, 2010 |  3:00 am

Capitol Hill Christmas Tree 2010

Weekly remarks by Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, as provided by Republican Party leadership 

Hello, I’m Texas Senator John Cornyn.

On November 2, voters elected 13 new Republican senators and sent 63 more Republicans to serve in the House of Representatives. This week, even before these new reinforcements have taken their seats, Republicans showed the American people that we got the message. And everyone can see how your choices have already changed the terms of the debate here in Washington.

First, Republicans prevented a massive, job-killing ‘New Year’s Day tax increase.’ Before Congress acted, every American taxpayer was looking at a much higher tax bill in just a few weeks. Those higher taxes would have been devastating to millions of American families and small businesses and could have increased the risk of a ‘double-dip’ recession.

But our bipartisan agreement with the White House changed all that. Our agreement....

...keeps marginal income tax rates low, preserves the one-thousand-dollar per child tax credit, extends relief from the marriage penalty, blocks higher taxes on capital gains and dividends, protects at least 21 million additional families from the alternative minimum tax and reduces the sting of the ‘death tax’ on families and small businesses.

This bipartisan agreement was made possible because voters gave Republicans much more leverage at the negotiating table. Our leverage forced the White House to abandon its ‘class-warfare’ rhetoric; stop pandering to the President’s left-wing base; and doTexas Republican senator John Cornyn the right thing for American taxpayers and job creators.

  Republicans delivered even more ‘tidings of comfort and joy’ this week by holding the line on reckless federal spending. Despite their willingness to work with Republicans on taxes, Senate Democrats went their own way on spending by proposing a nearly $1.3-trillion omnibus bill on the American people and by insisting we’d have to vote on it before anyone had the time to figure out what was in it.

This ‘spending snowstorm’ was nearly 2,000 pages long. It combined 12 separate appropriations bills that were never debated or amended on the Senate floor. And it included more than one billion dollars to feed the beast of ObamaCare, part of which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge just a few short days ago.

Senate Republicans stood together but we did not stand alone. Millions of Americans made their voices heard on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. You lit up the phone lines across the Capitol and across the nation. Thank you for doing that. You helped strengthened the resolve of the Republican Caucus and rattled the nerves of the big spenders on the other side of the aisle.

As we approach the Christmas season and the new year, it’s easy to see how much you have changed our nation’s capital. Last year, on Christmas Eve, Senate Democrats passed a divisive 2.6-trillion-dollar healthcare bill strictly along party lines. This year, God willing, Washington will give the American people a far better gift: a silent night.

Have a joyous holiday season, keep our troops in your prayers, and remember that the best days for our country lie ahead. Thank you.     ####

the National Christmas Tree 12-9-10

Weekly remarks by President Obama, as provided by the White House

This week, Congress passed – and I signed into law – an essential economic package that will help grow our economy, spur businesses and jump-start job creation.

Instead of a New Year's Day tax hike on the vast majority of Americans, 2 million Americans who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own will now know with certainty that they won’t lose their emergency unemployment insurance at the end of the month. Eight million college students who’d otherwise face a tuition hike next semester will continue having access to the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Twelve million families with 24 million children will benefit from extensions of the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit. And millions of entrepreneurs who’ve been waiting to invest in their businesses will receive new tax incentives to help them expand, buy new equipment or make upgrades, freeing up money to hire new workers.

This package, which is so important for our economy at this pivotal time, was the product of hard negotiations. Like any negotiations, there was give and take on both sides. But I’m heartened by our ability to come together to do what’s best for middle class families across this country, and our economy as a whole.

Before going away for the holiday break, I’m hopeful we can also come together on another urgent national priority – and that is the New START treaty that will reduce the world’s nuclear arsenals and make America more secure. Twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union and United States each had about 25,000 nuclear weapons. In the decades since, that number has been reduced by over 70%, and we have had on-site inspections of Russian nuclear facilities. That progress would not have been possible without strategic arms control treaties.

During the past year, however, our old treaty with Russia expired, and without a new one, we won’t be able to verify Russia’s nuclear arsenal, which would undercut President Reagan’s call to trust, but verify, when it comes to nuclear weapons. Without a new treaty, we’ll risk turning back the progress we’ve made in our relationship with Russia, which is essential to enforce strong sanctions against Iran, secure vulnerable nuclear materials from terrorists, and resupply our troops in Afghanistan. And we’ll risk undermining American leadership not only on nuclear proliferation, but a host of other challenges around the world.

Ratifying a treaty like START isn’t about winning a victory for an administration or a political party. It’s about the safety and security of the United States of America. That’s why this treaty is supported by both Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. That’s why it’s supported by every living Republican secretary of state, our NATO allies and the leadership of the United States military. Indeed, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. 'Hoss' Cartwright, said this week that the military needs this treaty, and they need it badly. And that’s why every president since Ronald Reagan has pursued a treaty like START, and every one that has been reviewed by the Senate has passed with strong bipartisan support.

We have taken the time to get this right. The START treaty has now been under review by the Senate for over seven months.  It’s gone through 18 hearings.  Nearly 1,000 questions have been asked – and answered. Several Republican senators have come out in support of ratification. Meanwhile, further delay comes at a cost. Every minute we drag our feet is a minute that we have no inspectors on the ground at those Russian nuclear sites. 

It’s time to get this done. It’s time to show the same spirit of common purpose on our security that we showed this week on our economy. It’s time to remember the old saying that politics stops at the water’s edge. That saying was coined by a Republican senator, Arthur Vandenberg, who partnered with a Democratic President, Harry Truman, to pass landmark national security measures at the dawn of the Cold War. Today, over 60 years later, when we’re threatened not only by nuclear weapons, but an array of other dangers, that’s a principle we must continue to uphold. Thank you, and have a nice weekend.    ####

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Photos: (from top) Capitol Christmas tree. Credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images; National Christmas tree. Credit: Charles Dharapak / Associated Press; Cornyn Credit: Freddie Lee / FNC.

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