U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday regarding the need for the Obama administration to act now to reverse job-stifling policies:
"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 in Washington are seriously undermining the recovery that Americans desperately want. And I've 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.
"So I've offered a couple suggestions.
"It's not that difficult, really. I'm sure the job creators and the workers the President meets with are telling him the same thing that they tell me 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 could hire right now are holding back because they don't know what else to expect in terms of regulations, taxes, mandates, and fees.
Just yesterday, in fact, we learned that a significant percentage of businesses plan to drop their employee health coverage, something the administration assured us repeatedly people didn't have to fear. Unexpected jolts like these are causing confusion, and anxiety, and they're 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. And many people are also understandably outraged by the fact that the party that occupies the White House and runs the Senate hasn't 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 doesn't plan ahead, how can job creators? If the White House doesn't have a plan to pay down the debt or preserve entitlements, why should people have any confidence something will be done?
"None of this is news to the President or 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, to be blunt, people wonder whether the President is really focused on jobs when so many of his policies seem aimed at destroying them, and when there's so much he could 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'd 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 here at home.
"The President says he's a proponent of domestic energy production, but let's be honest: he hasn't shown it. And this shouldn't surprise anyone. This is an administration, after all, that appointed an Energy Secretary who said a month after the President's election that, `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 get us 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 oil spill in the Gulf last year, the President imposed a six-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 severe.
"Nor can we deny that the White House has effectively continued that 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 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 dollars a gallon, permitting is still well below pre-spill 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 or dependent on energy. He 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 two per month. As for deepwater drilling, the administration has issued a grand total of 2 new deepwater permits. 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. 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.
"And let's not forget that the administration's impact would be even worse if it had had its way and raised taxes on energy producers, which would have only served to strengthen foreign competitors, raised gas prices even more, put energy independence further out of reach, and killed 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 two and a half years, Democrats in Washington have paid lip service to the idea of job creation -- even as they've 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 this when it comes to energy, as I've indicated this morning.
"Unless Democrats change their priorities and their policies, the threats of a downgrade won't go away. The debt won't get any smaller. And businesses won't create the kind of jobs Americans need. The President can talk all he wants about the economy. But it's time he starts looking at the impact of his own policies.
"We need to change course. And a good place to start is with trade -- and with energy. American businesses want to expand and hire. Here are two areas where we could help them do it right now."