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Bill Clinton Backs Tax Deal: 'I Hope That My Fellow Democrats Will Support It' (VIDEO)


Here is the transcript of Clinton's opening remarks, which folllowed an introduction by Obama:

Let me just say a couple of things. First of all, I still spend about an hour a day trying to study this economy. And I'm not running for anything, and I don't have a political agenda. I just -- I try to figure out what to do.

I have reviewed this agreement that the president reached with Republican leaders, and I want to make full disclosure. You know, I make quite a bit of money now, so the position that the Republicans have urged will personally benefit me. And on its own, I wouldn't support it, because I don't think that my tax cut is the most economically efficient way to get the economy going again. But I don't want to be in the dark about the fact that I will receive the continuation of the tax rates.

However, the agreement taken as a whole is, I believe, the best bipartisan agreement we can reach to help the largest number of Americans and to maximize the chances that the economic recovery will accelerate and create more jobs, and to minimize the chances that it will slip back -- which is what has happened in other financial collapses, like what Japan faced, and something that we have to avoid in America.

Why do I say that? Because clearly, the extension of unemployment [benefits] -- which gives people a percentage of the income they were previously making -- that money will be spent, and it will bolster the economy through the next couple of years. Secondly, the conversion of the Make Work Pay tax credit, which the President passed before, which went to 95 percent of the American people, converting that into a $120 billion one year payroll tax relief act is, according to all the economic analysis, the single most effective tax cut you can do to support economic activity. This will actually create a fair number of jobs. I expect it to lower the unemployment rate and keep us going.

Thirdly, one thing I haven't seen much about in the reports, this agreement will really help America over the long term, because it continues the credits for manufacturing jobs related to energy coming into America. And I'll remind you, just in the last two years, there have been 30 high powered battery factories, either opened or presently being built in America, taking us from 2 to 20 percent of the world's share of that, and we're gonna probably be at 40 percent by 2014. This is a really important thing, bringing manufacturing back to America, because it's a huge multiplier to create new jobs.

So in my opinion, this is a good bill, and I hope that my fellow Democrats will support it. I thank the Republican leaders for agreeing to include things that were important to the president. There's never a perfect bipartisan bill in the eyes of a partisan. And we all see this differently. But I really believe this will be a significant net plus for the country. I also think that in general a lot of people are breathing a sigh of relief that there's finally been some agreement on something.

But don't minimize the impact of the unemployment relief for working families of the payroll tax relief, and of the continuation of the incentives to grow jobs, which will trigger more credit coming out of the banks. keep in mind ultimately the long term answer here is to get the $2 trillion, which banks now have in cash reserves uncommitted to loans, out there in the economy again. The $1.8 trillion in corporate treasuries not now being invested, out there in the economy again.

I think this a net plus. And you know how I feel, I think the people that benefit most should pay most. That's always been my position -- not for class warfare reasons, for reasons of fairness and rebuilding the middle class in America. But we have the distribution of authority we have now in the congress, and the one we're gonna have in January. And I think this is a much much better agreement than would be reached were we to wait until January, and I think it will have a much more positive agreement on the economy. So for whatever it's worth, that's what I think.