The following is a transcript of the Democratic response to the President's weekly radio address, delivered May 31 by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR):
Hello, I'm U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas.
On Wednesday, President Bush signed into law a tax cut of $350 billion. Republicans claim that this tax cut will put a $400 check into the mailboxes of millions of American families by July.
What they don't tell you is that in a last-minute deal in Congress, Republican negotiators stripped out a provision that would have made sure that families with incomes from $10,500 to $26,000 also get a check in the mail.
This means that millions of low- and middle-income taxpayers won't benefit from the refundable child tax credit. Up to 12 million children in the United States will lose out because of this last- minute change.
Consider this: The base pay for a private serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq right now in defense of our freedoms is just under $16,000 per year. If that private is trying to support a family back here at home in the United States, then he got cut out when those negotiators shook hands over the final tax bill.
In 2001, Congress created the child tax credit to help low- and middle-income families with children. In this year's tax bill, we boosted the child tax credit to $1,000 per child. We also accelerated the refundability so that a greater number of taxpaying families could benefit.
Would this provision have been affordable? Absolutely. We could have extended the child tax credit to all of these families for $3.5 billion, just 1 percent of the entire cost of the tax cut.
This measure had strong bipartisan support in the Senate, and I was proud to play a leading role to expand the child tax credit in the Senate bill. But at the last minute, Republican negotiators stripped this provision from the final bill to make room for the dividend tax cut and other measures that only benefit a few.
That's simply unfair to low- and middle-income taxpayers who work hard to provide for their families. Especially as our nation contends with a sluggish economy, we should ensure that everyone benefits from the tax cut. After all, buying blue jeans for the kids or tires for the car is just as expensive for a family making $20,000 a year as it is for a family making $100,000 a year.
If we want to get our economy back on track, we need to make sure that we're putting money into the pockets of consumers who will spend it. Responsible tax cuts can help to stimulate the economy, but not when they reward some taxpayers at the expense of others.
This isn't about partisanship. It's about doing what's right for all working American families. We should fix this problem immediately.
When Congress convenes next week, I'm going to introduce legislation with my Republican colleague, Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine, to restore the accelerated refundability of the child tax credit. That way, the millions of working families who were cut out will see the benefit.
After all, wasn't the original purpose of the economic stimulus package to strengthen our country? The strength of our country lies in the American family. Let's make those families a priority now.
I'm Senator Blanche Lincoln. Thanks for listening.