National Security and Our Economy

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: Jan. 29, 2003
Location: Washington, DC

NATIONAL SECURITY AND OUR ECONOMY

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the President of the United States stated that America faces decisive days for our economic and national security needs. He has called for strong steps and unity to make America stronger and prosperous.
From this call, will America get the leadership from its elected officials or will it, instead, get just partisan rancor? We all hope for the former but begin to suspect the latter.

No one can imagine the awesome responsibility and burden of protecting the lives of millions of Americans and defending the free world. With such a daunting challenge as protecting American lives, I have deferred to the judgment of the President, whether a Democrat or a Republican.

On September 11, 2001, that challenge became immeasurably greater. An unimaginable act of evil changed the world of today, tomorrow, and for decades ahead. Yet only the President seems to have taken to heart that the matrix of terror has multiplied.

The options and choices and avenues for a terrorist to strike at America are almost beyond human comprehension. The President must not only comprehend these new terrorist risks to America, but he also must defend against them. Of all terrorist threats to America and the world, is any greater than the terrorists of al-Qaida employing the modern, destructive weapons of Saddam Hussein?

If outlaw regimes and suicide terrorists conspire, entire cities—entire cities—not just buildings are at risk and millions, rather than thousands, of lives could be lost.

The time when America could sleep and let outlaw regimes fester is over. But before the President can prevent this murderous alliance, many in this Chamber say they need proof. They do not demand proof that a ruthless terrorist-supporting despot has disarmed, as required by the U.N. over a decade ago. Instead, they demand proof from our President that Iraq is still armed.

The proof is in, and the President has provided more. U.N. and U.S. intelligence report that for a dozen years Iraq has had materials to produce 26,000 liters of anthrax, 38,000 liters of botulism, 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve gas, and 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents.

He has used these weapons of mass destruction against his own people. And the U.N. says there is no proof that Iraq has rid itself of these chemical and biological weapons. Yet we are told the President must show proof.

Iraqi defectors tell of mobile biological labs, but we need more proof, they say. U-2 surveillance planes over Iraq are blocked, but the critics say more proof is needed.

Iraqi security officers intimidate and threaten the lives and families of cooperative scientists, but the critics say more proof is needed.

In the past, such demands for more proof, in the face of overwhelming evidence, have been fully answered with such notable events as the invasion of Poland in 1939 and the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The price of that proof was measured in millions of lives.

What price of proof will America pay before we act? The President says the price will be a day of horror like none we have ever known.

As the President does everything to prevent that day, too many see the U.N. inspections as a game of hide and seek rather than life and death, which is the issue that it is. So that is really what is before us with regard to Iraq.

With regard to economic growth, economic security for working Americans and hope for those unemployed will not come from growing the Government but only from growing the economy. To get the economy growing—to create a job for every man and woman seeking employment—the President has proposed broad tax relief for 92 million taxpayers at an average of $1,100 each.

The President's plan will increase the reward Americans receive for working, producing, saving, and investing—everything that is part of a growing economy. Small businesses, married couples, families with children, and retirees will all be the individual beneficiaries. But the biggest winner will be the U.S. economy. For 40 years, every tax relief proposal saw its opponents try to divide and conquer taxpayers with claims of "tax breaks for the rich." And again this year is no different.

What specific part of the President's plan do they object to? Do they want to penalize marriage for a few more years? Do they think parents with kids should wait longer for the $1,000-per-child tax credit? Should the tax rate reductions be delayed along with the incentives to grow the economy? Some of our colleagues across the aisle supported these changes last year, but it seems there is always some reason now is the wrong time for tax relief. In fact, I cannot remember when there was a right time for tax relief, listening to our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. So it is always the wrong time. It is always no, maybe later, or it is, yes, but not now for you, or you, or you.

We hear a lot of talk about the stock market. But it sounds as if we are talking about the weather. Everybody talks about it and complains but no one wants to do anything about it. The President does something about it by ending double taxation of dividends. His plan will get the stock market growing again, but we have no Democratic plan for the stock market, other than to complain. If the President's opponents would show the same determination to grow the economy as they do in growing the Government—as we saw here on the floor of the Senate just over the last couple of weeks with amendments offered and, thankfully, defeated, that would have added in excess of $300 billion to the deficit—America would be in fine shape. Over the last 2 weeks, as I just indicated, our friends on the other side of the aisle forced votes on new spending that would have paid for almost half of the President's tax cut. Other spending add-ons that were offered, but not voted on, probably doubled that amount. The President's opponents have called for a $300 tax rebate for individuals and up to two children. So much for no child left behind.

Now, if we had a budget surplus and the economy was humming along, fine, I would support a broad rebate. But today we need to get the economy going again; we need to prime the pump, not splash limited resources around in a manner that does nothing to grow the economy.

When it comes to our national and economic security, the world changed on 9/11 and, more than anyone else, the President has realized this. His determination to stamp out the outlaw regime of Saddam Hussein is the President's realization that the threat to national security today is far greater than it was prior to 9/11. For national security, we need to do more than we have done before. His determination to enact an economic growth package is based on the President's understanding that the impact to our economy from the 9/11 attack was far greater than anyone imagined.

For economic security, we need to do more than we have done before. He knows we need to do more, and the American people know it, too. The only question is when will this Congress figure out that the world has changed and catch up?

Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.