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McConnell Speech to Young Republican Leadership Conference

Location: Washington, DC

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered remarks to the Young Republican Leadership Conference earlier today on the Democrat agenda in Washington and Republican efforts to counter it. The following are his prepared remarks --

"Thank you. It's wonderful to be here.

"You know, you guys may be young Republicans. But even if you've only followed politics for the past year and a half you've already learned some important lessons that I hope you'll carry with you for a lifetime: You now know what happens when Democrats are in charge… And you now know what a difference a year and a half can make…

"So this morning I'd like to talk a little bit about what's happened here in Washington over the past year and a half. And share some thoughts about what it means for our country and our party.

"Let me start by asking you to cast your minds back to January 2009. President Obama was being sworn in as President. Democrats were flying high. And the American people were eager to see their plan for addressing the nation's problems. Hope was famously in the air.

"Meanwhile, Republicans were portrayed as beaten down, demoralized, and despondent. We were more likely to be a late night punch line than a relevant part of Obama's Washington. I'm sure you all remember it well.

"But something happened on the way to the political graveyard.

"The Democrats actually had to govern.

"First, they shoved a trillion dollar stimulus down the throat of the American people promising it would create 4 million jobs and keep unemployment under 8%.

"Then they introduced a budget, a budget that doubled the debt in 5 years and tripled it in 10.

"And then they turned to health care.

"Along the way, pundits in Washington were stunned to find out that ordinary Americans, like you in this room, were rising up all over the country. And those Republicans in Washington -- the ones who were supposed to be beaten down, demoralized, and despondent -- well, we were listening. We shared your frustration. And we girded for the fight, confident that we had supporters behind us. We broke out of the Washington echo chamber and fought the government-driven solutions that Democrats were proposing. We got our groove back.

"Just a few months after Inauguration day, the Republicans who voted against the Stimulus, unanimously opposed the budget and said no to closing GITMO weren't reviled as obstructionists. At least not outside of Washington.

"We were congratulated for taking a stand.

"The beaten down, demoralized, despondent Republican minority that Washington dismissed as an afterthought found its voice by looking beyond Washington.

We found that voice in the American people. We didn't apologize for opposing government takeovers and runaway spending. We wore it as a badge of honor.

"And that's when the Democrats' hold on power started to crack. The people of New Jersey elected a governor who was willing to take the unions to task. Virginia elected a conservative Republican in a state that President Obama had won just a year earlier. Then we got the political equivalent of a square circle: a Republican senator from Massachusetts.

"The cracks in the Democrats' foundation continued to spread. And today, just a year and a half after Democrats took over, confident that Washington bureaucrats had the answers to our problems, virtually every survey you look at shows that Americans have lost faith in the Democrat leadership and in government period.

"As it turns out, when your entire pitch to the American people is that government will solve your problems, people get upset when government can't deliver.

"That's one reason Democrats are so unpopular right now.

"It's why Republicans are on a comeback.

"And we got there by listening, rather than talking.

"I know that's a novel concept in Washington, D.C. But that's exactly what happened. We listened. And then we fought, confident in our principles and in the support of people like you, who had made their voices heard.

"Republicans in Congress didn't water down our principles. We didn't listen to the experts who suggested we duck and cover. We fought back.

"So where does that leave us today?

"Well, according to the prognosticators, it leaves us in a good place politically.

"If the election were held today, they say, we'd probably have a good day.

"But this isn't about a political horse race. If there's one thing we've learned over the past few years, it's that Americans don't particularly care about who's up and who's down, as long as the people they elect put the interests of their constituents and the interests of the country first. So this isn't about who's on top. It's about following through on the kinds of changes Americans want to see.

"It's about reversing the damage Democrats have done.

"It's about solving the crises in front of us.

"And those crises should be plain enough for anybody to see.

"It doesn't take a genius to see that the government is out of control.

"It doesn't take an accountant to see that we have a debt crisis.

"It doesn't take an economist to see that what our economy needs at the moment are good, lasting, private-sector jobs.

"It doesn't take night vision goggles to see that our borders need securing.

"And it doesn't take a political scientist to see that the Democrats in charge are doing little or nothing to address these and other serious problems that we face.

"It's not that the Democrats haven't been busy. They've been busier than ever. But rather than being busy addressing the crises in front of them, they've all adopted Rahm Emanuel's 7-word manifesto for governance: "Never let a crisis go to waste."

"The evidence of that cynical approach is everywhere.

"We needed jobs, and they gave us a trillion dollar boondoggle they call a Stimulus. We needed lower health care costs, and we got a 2,000 page bill that's expected to increase them. We wanted to put an end the idea that some companies are too big to fail. Today they're trying to pass a bill that institutionalizes it. Arizona needed the federal government to secure its border. They got named in a federal lawsuit.

"And for nearly three months, we've needed to fix a broken pipe at the bottom of the Gulf. And what we got instead was a proposal from the President for another plank in the far-left agenda -- a radical, far-reaching scheme to impose a new national energy tax on every American.

"In every case, the administration saw a crisis and used it to achieve some other long-desired goal of the left. And the crisis remained.

"The trillion dollar stimulus that promised to keep unemployment at 8% didn't prevent 9.5% unemployment and a loss of nearly 3 million more American jobs.

"The new health care law, according to the Administration's own actuary, will bring us higher, not lower health care costs.

"The financial regulation bill doesn't do a thing to reform the two institutions that played what may have been the leading role in creating the financial mess in the first place.

"A President who vowed in his inaugural address to manage the public's dollars wisely delivered a budget to Congress a few months after being sworn in that would add more to the national debt in 10 years than every President before him combined.

"Along the border we continue to see illegal border crossings, kidnappings, lawlessness.

"And day after day after day, the pipe at the bottom of the Gulf continues to gush.

"On issue after issue, the administration's solutions to our problems have only made our problems worse.

"And yet they still crave more power, more of your tax dollars, more responsibility.

"Well, Americans are tired of politicians who promise one thing and deliver another.

"Let's start with competence.

"I mean, wouldn't it be nice to have representatives in Washington who actually represent you instead of making life-altering decisions on your behalf -- and against your will -- all the time?

"Wouldn't it be nice to have a government that does more to solve problems than create them?

"Wouldn't it be nice to have a government that spent within its means?

"Wouldn't it be nice for people to be able to make local decisions locally, without having to ask permission from distant and unaccountable bureaucrats in Washington?

"This isn't that hard.

"Our task is pretty simple.

"Our job is to force what my friend George Will calls a retreat of the state.

"What Republicans are offering the American people is a pledge, a pledge to do everything in our power to restore government to a size and scope that leads to some semblance of competency.

"We're not going to tell you that if you vote Republican you're going to wake-up in your dream home with a brand new Corvette outside ready to take you to the best job in the world.

"You know why?

"Because government can't deliver that promise.

"What government can do -- and what we've seen it attempt to do repeatedly over the past year and a half -- is take away the freedoms that enable those dreams to come true.

"So we need you to help us take the next step.

"We're still listening. And we'll make government start listening. Start learning. Stop imposing its will and start implementing solutions. And for heaven's sake, stop spending money we don't have on things we don't need.

"The voices of conservatives that sparked a chorus across the country have brought Republicans half way back to where we need to be. But we need your voice to help us get all the way home.

"We've been called radicals, obstructionists, crooks and thieves. Our motives have been questioned, our ideas ridiculed, and our enthusiasm mocked.

"Let it fuel you.

"I'll tell you something.

"The politics of personal destruction is always the last gasp of a politician on the ropes.

"That's why you can't pick up a newspaper these days without reading about some Democrat trying to convince people that their opponent is a crazy person.

"Their opponents aren't crazy.

"What's crazy is a $13 trillion debt.

"Out of touch? Scheduling more tee times than Phil Mickelson during the greatest environmental disaster in our nation's history is out of touch.

"Their opponents aren't wrong.

"Asking our children and grandchildren to pick up the tab tomorrow for Democrats' inability to control spending today is wrong.

"So have confidence.

"Hold your heads high.

"Work your tails off.

"Speak up.

"And when it is all said and done I promise you, we'll be listening."

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