The Vice President began his remarks at the signing of the middle-class tax cuts compromise with a joke: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is a -- I wasn’t going say, a big deal, but an important deal. (Laughter.) I can no longer say 'big deal.'" Both he and the President readily acknowledged that there are things in the compromise that they do not like, but as the President explained the sheers numbers of hard-working Americans who would be affected, the importance was made clear:
First and foremost, the legislation I’m about to sign is a substantial victory for middle-class families across the country. They’re the ones hit hardest by the recession we’ve endured. They’re the ones who need relief right now. And that’s what is at the heart of this bill.
This bipartisan effort was prompted by the fact that tax rates for every American were poised to automatically increase on January 1st. If that had come to pass, the average middle-class family would have had to pay an extra $3,000 in taxes next year. That wouldn’t have just been a blow to them -- it would have been a blow to our economy just as we’re climbing out of a devastating recession.
I refused to let that happen. And because we acted, it’s not going to. In fact, not only will middle-class Americans avoid a tax increase, but tens of millions of Americans will start the New Year off right by opening their first paycheck to see that it’s actually larger than the one they get right now. Over the course of 2011, 155 million workers will receive tax relief from the new payroll tax cut included in this bill -– about $1,000 for the average family.
This is real money that’s going to make a real difference in people’s lives. And I would not have signed this bill if it didn’t include other extensions of relief that were also set to expire -– relief that’s going to help families cover the bills, parents raise their children, students pay for college, and business owners to take the reins of the recovery and propel this economy forward.
As soon as I sign this legislation, 2 million Americans looking for work who lost their jobs through no fault of their own can know with certainty that they won’t lose their emergency unemployment insurance at the end of this month. Over the past few weeks, 600,000 Americans have been cut off from that lifeline. But with my signature, states can move quickly to reinstate their benefits –- and we expect that in almost all states, they’ll get them in time for Christmas.
Eight million college students who otherwise would have faced a tuition hike as soon as next semester will instead continue to have access to a $2,500 tax credit to afford their studies.
Twelve million families with 24 million children will benefit from extensions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. And when combined with the payroll tax cut, 2 million American families who otherwise would have lived in poverty next year will instead be lifted out of it. (Applause.)
And millions of entrepreneurs who have been waiting to invest in their businesses will receive new tax incentives to help them expand, buy new equipment, or make upgrades -- freeing up other money to hire new workers.
Putting more money in the pockets of families most likely to spend it, helping businesses invest and grow -- that’s how we’re going to spark demand, spur hiring, and strengthen our economy in the New Year.