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Public Statements

Urgent Crisis

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, our Nation faces many urgent crises at the moment. Americans are looking for solutions. They are not getting any from Washington. Whether it is the housing crisis or the financial crisis, the debt crisis or the crisis in the gulf, what they are getting is a White House and a Democratic majority in Congress that seems more intent on pursuing a government-driven political agenda than finding commonsense solutions to the problems about which all of us are concerned.

Americans are exasperated by all this, but they should not be surprised because if there is one motto that defines this administration, it is the one delivered by the White House Chief of Staff in a revealing moment just after the President's election. I am referring, of course, to what Rahm Emanuel famously referred to as ``Rule 1: Never allow a crisis to go to waste.'' It is a fitting slogan for an administration which saw a crisis at some of America's great automaking firms as an opportunity for the government to extend its reach into industrial policy, which saw the panic on Wall Street as an opportunity for government to extend its reach further into Main Street, which saw out-of-control costs in health care as an opportunity to extend government's reach further into health care decisions of every American, and which is now talking about using a nightmarish environmental calamity in the gulf as a prime opportunity to extend government's reach even further into Americans' lives through a new, job-killing national energy tax that would hit every single household and business, small or large, in our country.

Think about it. For more than 50 straight days, an underwater geyser of oil, now roughly the size of Vermont, has been polluting the gulf. This is the kind of crisis that in the past would have united the Nation in a focused effort to solve the problem. Yet day after day, as this toxic oil continues to flow, what we get from the administration is some new twist on the blame game or some ham-handed effort to appear in control of the situation.

Meanwhile, in Congress, we are getting much the same thing. The deficit extenders bill that is now on the floor was supposed to be about giving job creators some assurance that the tax benefits they currently are receiving and on which they depend to retain workers will be there the next time they have to make a major business-related decision. Yet Democrats are using this bill as another opportunity to extend government's reach. Desperate for funds to bail out programs, they are raiding a trust fund--get this--created to pay for just the kind of cleanup we now need in the gulf. They are quintupling the tax that oil companies pay into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund that was created in the wake of the Exxon Valdez fix, and instead of using this money to clean up the oil that is spewing in the gulf, they are raiding the trust fund to pay for new unrelated spending.

Dipping into the oilspill trust fund in order to pay for something else--in other words, they are using the crisis in the gulf not only as a cover for even more government spending but as a major source of funding for it. This is really an outrage, and it should give every American a window into the Democratic approach to spending, as well as the lack of seriousness about the debt. Frankly, they just cannot restrain themselves. That is the only possible excuse for raiding this trust fund for unrelated government spending.

At the same time, as Americans wonder when this gusher will ever be plugged, we hear word that the administration and my good friend, the majority leader, want to piggyback their controversial new national energy tax--also known as cap and trade--to an oilspill response bill that could and should be an opportunity for true bipartisan cooperation.

So again we see the administration using a crisis--in this case the disaster in the gulf--as an opportunity to muscle through Congress another deeply unpopular bill that has profound implications for small businesses and struggling households.

Look, if the health care debate taught us anything--anything at all--it is that Americans want these kinds of massive bills to be debated out in the open, not rushed past them on a holiday or tucked into a must-pass bill aimed at alleviating the kind of suffering we are seeing in the gulf. The problem for Democrats is that debating the Democratic cap-and-trade bill
might not fit neatly into the White House messaging plan since it has been widely reported that a major part--a major part--of the Kerry-Lieberman bill was essentially written by BP.

Let me say that again: A major part of the Kerry-Lieberman bill was written by BP. This is clearly an inconvenient fact. An administration that seems to spend most of its time coming up with ways to show how angry it is with BP is pushing a proposal that BP actually helped to write. I can't understand, and I don't think the American people will understand, why the majority believes it makes sense to respond to the BP oilspill by imposing a gas tax increase on the American people that was advocated by BP.

I think the American people want us to work together to address the disaster in the gulf, not exploit it--not exploit it--for partisan political purposes. The oilspill trust fund ought to be used to clean up oilspills. The oilspill trust fund ought to be used to clean up oilspills. This is one crisis Americans will not let Democrats exploit for their policy purposes.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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