Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, yesterday and the day before, I came to the floor and noted the many troubling signs of a persistently weak economy and how I believe the actions of Democrats here in Washington are seriously undermining the recovery Americans desperately want. I proposed some things that could be done about it right now.
The President says he wakes up every morning asking himself what he can do to create jobs and help businesses succeed. Let me offer a few suggestions. It is not that difficult, really. I am sure the job creators and the workers the President meets with are telling him the same thing they tell all of us every day. Most people think Washington is too intrusive, that it imposes too many job-stifling regulations and sends too many mixed signals today for anybody to plan for tomorrow. We know that many who would hire right now are actually holding back because they do not know what else to expect in terms of regulations, in terms of taxes, in terms of mandates, and in terms of fees. In fact, we just learned that a significant percentage of businesses plan to drop their employee health coverage--something the administration assured us repeatedly people did not have to fear. Unexpected jolts such as these are causing confusion and anxiety, and they are freezing job creators and entrepreneurs in place.
Beyond that, many Americans are also seriously concerned about a government in Washington that spends trillions more than it takes in and a national debt that this year will exceed our entire national economy. Many people are also understandably outraged by the fact that the party that occupies the White House and runs the Senate has not even taken the time to put together a budget or any other kind of plan to get our Nation's fiscal house in order. After all, if the government does not plan ahead, how can job creators? If the White House does not have a plan to pay down the debt or preserve entitlements, why should people have any confidence that something will be done?
None of this is news to the President or to the Democrats in Congress. The fact is, the President and Democrats in Congress know as well as I do what employers and workers need to prosper and to create prosperity and jobs. They just don't seem to want to do it, and that is the problem. To be blunt, people wonder whether the President is really focused on jobs when so many of his policies seem to be aimed at destroying them and where there is so much he can do right now to create tens of thousands of good American jobs.
Yesterday, I spoke about trade and how, even though the President admits that pending trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia have the potential to create tens of thousands of new jobs and boost American businesses, he refuses to move on them in an apparent favor to his union allies.
This morning, I would like to focus on the two sides of the President's energy policy in which he publicly claims to support greater domestic production and the jobs that come with it even as he seems to do everything he can behind the scenes to block production and to kill energy-related jobs right here at home.
The President says he is a proponent of domestic energy production, but, let's be honest, he has not shown it. This should not surprise anyone. This is an administration, after all, that appointed an Energy Secretary who, a month after the President's election, said, ``Somehow we need to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.'' Since then, the administration's policies have helped us get there. Not only have gas prices skyrocketed, but the administration's policies are also hindering the creation of thousands of good private sector jobs that so many Americans desperately need. Let's look at just a couple.
Everyone knows that in the aftermath of the oilspill in the gulf last year, the President imposed a 6-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling. We can dispute the wisdom of a temporary ban for purposes of a safety and
environmental review. What we cannot dispute is that the impact on jobs and the Nation's economy has been quite severe, nor can we deny that the White House has effectively continued the ban even after its time was up and the review was complete. It was only after the courts got involved and months of political pressure from both Democrats and Republicans that the administration reluctantly began issuing new permits months after the ban was supposedly lifted. And even as gas prices hover around $4 a gallon, permitting is still well below prespill levels and energy production in the gulf is expected to slow.
Senator Vitter tells us that the administration's anemic permitting in the gulf for domestic energy production threatens nearly 100,000 jobs every year in addition to the many thousands of jobs that could be lost every year in industries that are related to or are dependent on energy. Senator Vitter has also told us about one estimate suggesting that 23 wells per month are needed just to maintain current production levels in the shallow waters of the gulf and that even after the moratorium was supposedly lifted, the administration has averaged fewer than 2 per month.
As for deepwater drilling, the administration has issued a grand total of two new deepwater permits--just two. The other 13 have been for work that was already permitted prior to the moratorium.
The administration's lack of support for energy production in deep water has led to five rigs simply pulling up stakes over the past year and moving their tax dollars and their workers elsewhere in the world. This is just one of the ways the administration is holding back job creation in the energy industry. This is to say nothing of the administration's actions with respect to Alaska's Outer Continental Shelf, which, according to one estimate, could create an average of 54,700 new jobs annually for decades, adding billions in pay and tax revenue.
Let's not forget that the administration's impact would be even worse if it had its way and raised taxes on energy producers, which would have only served to strengthen foreign competitors, raise gas prices even more, put energy independence further out of reach, and kill more American jobs. By one estimate, the energy tax Democrats still want to impose on energy producers could cost 154,000 jobs and $68 billion in lost wages.
For 2 1/2 years, Democrats in Washington have paid lipservice to the idea of job creation even as they have pursued an agenda that is radically opposed to it. We can see this when it comes to trade, as I indicated yesterday, and we can see it when it comes to energy, as I have discussed this morning. Unless Democrats change their priorities and their policies, the threats of a downgrade will not go away. The debt will not get any smaller and businesses will not create the kinds of jobs Americans need. The President can talk all he wants about the economy, but it is time he starts looking at the impact of his own policies on the economy.
We need to change course, and a good place to start is with trade and with energy. American businesses want to expand and want to hire. Here are two areas where we can help them do it right now.
I yield the floor.