Pelosi: ‘The People Have Spoken,’ Raise Taxes on ‘People at the High End’

By Elizabeth Harrington | November 28, 2012 | 6:06pm EST

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (AP)

( – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in reference to negotiations over the fiscal cliff and taxes, said the “the election was held, the people have spoken,” suggesting that Americans support tax hikes for the “people at the high end.”

In an appearance on NPR’s All Things Considered, to be aired Wednesday evening, Pelosi was asked about Congress’ need to address the quickly approaching fiscal cliff.

“This is just a decision.  There’s no mystery, there’s no new factors that are going to enter into the situation,” Pelosi said.  “The debate is a clear one.  The election was held.  The people have spoken.”

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“The president campaigned on this balanced and fair, big agreement -- now let’s just get down and write it,” she said.  “As far as the middle-income tax cut, that’s really the sticking point.”

Congress has little time to broker a deal with the president on extending the Bush era tax rates and addressing automatic defense and domestic spending cuts before the end of the year.

Much of the debate has centered on taxes, with the Republican-controlled House vowing to keep rates down for all Americans.  President Obama has repeatedly argued for extending the Bush rates only for those Americans who make under $250,000 annually, saying the rich need to “pay their fair share.”

Many small business owners, mom-and-pop operations, as well as dual-income households file annual incomes over $250,000 but they are not all multi-millionaires or billionaires.

President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the White House campus in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, about how middle class Americans would see their taxes go up if Congress fails to act to extend the middle class tax cuts. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

According to IRS data, there are 3.1 million households that show an adjusted gross annual income of between $200,000 and $500,000, and another 492,568 households with an adjusted gross income of between $500,000 and $1 million.

Although Rep. Pelosi (D-Calif.) has not released her tax returns for 2012, according to financial disclosure statements released in 2011, she has an estimated net worth of $35.2 million.  House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has an estimated net worth of $2.1 million.

On All Things Considered, NPR Host Robert Siegel asked Pelosi about whether House Republicans have a mandate on taxes, given that they maintained their majority.

“What do you say to Republican House members who say, ‘the public spoke, they reelected us.  They kept us in the majority and sent us back.  We’re the same people who rejected the deal the last time the grand bargain was on the table, so we’ve been reaffirmed in our position,’” Seigel asked.

“Well, they don’t say they rejected the deal.  They say the president rejected the deal,” Pelosi said.  “But you have it right.  But you have it right.”

“I’m putting words in their mouths,” Siegel said.  “What’s wrong with them saying, ‘We have the same position now that we had then and that our voters told us go back to Washington and make those Democrats agree with you’?”

“I don’t think that their voters told them to go back and make Medicare into a voucher,” Pelosi said.  “I don’t think that their voters told them to come back to Washington to cut benefits for middle-income people when it comes to Social Security and Medicare.  I don’t think that their voters told them that.”

“And all the polls will indicate that the voters believe that people at the high end should pay their fair share,” she added.

“What they campaigned on was an oath of office to a lobbyist, that they would never raise taxes,” Pelosi said, apparently referring to Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform pledge to oppose raising taxes while in Congress.  “To a lobbyist, they took an oath of office.  We think their oath of office, as Representative [Tom] Cole [R-Okla.] mentioned, should supersede that.”

Rep. Cole said Tuesday, “I think we ought to take the 98 percent deal right now,” and allow taxes to go up for higher income earners.

“It doesn’t mean I agree with raising the top 2,” said Cole.  “I don’t,” he said, arguing  that Republicans should only debate taxes for the top income earners after the so-called middle-class tax cuts are extended.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Cole said he did not consider his position a violation of the Norquist pledge, because Republicans would be voting to lower the rates for the majority of Americans and do nothing for the rest.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday that he disagreed with Cole, and will seek an agreement to extend all of the Bush tax rates.  "He's a wonderful friend of mine and a great supporter of mine, but raising taxes on the so-called top 2 percent -- half of those taxpayers are small-business owners that pay their taxes through their personal income tax filing every year,” Boehner said.

“The goal here is to grow the economy and control spending. You're not going to grow the economy if you raise tax rates on the top two [percent],” Boehner added.  “It'll hurt small businesses.  It'll hurt our economy."

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