Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, last week President Obama came up to Capitol Hill to unveil a stimulus bill he is calling a jobs plan, and yesterday the White House explained how they would like to pay for it. The first thing to say about this plan is that it is now obvious why the President left out the specifics last week. Not only does it reveal the political nature of this bill, it also reinforces the growing perception that this administration is not all that interested in economic policies that will actually work.
But none of this is news. Over the past few days, press reports have made it perfectly clear that this legislation is more of a reelection plan than a jobs plan. It is an open secret which Democrats all over Washington have been acknowledging to reporters since the moment the President revealed it. They have said that despite the President's calls to pass this bill immediately, the real plan is to let it hang out there for a while so Democrats can use it as an issue on the campaign trail. What is more, the President knew as well as I did when he unveiled this plan that Democrats in the Senate had already scheduled a full slate of legislative business for the next few weeks. So unless the White House wants to admit that it has no regard for its own party's legislative business in Congress, the President's call for immediate action was clearly little more than a rhetorical flourish.
But the specifics we got yesterday only reinforced the impression that this was largely a political exercise. For one, they undermined the President's claim that it is a bipartisan proposal because much of what he is proposing has already been rejected on a bipartisan basis. The $ 1/2 trillion tax hike the White House proposed yesterday will not only face a tough road in Congress among Republicans but from Democrats too.
The central tax hike included in this bill, capping deductions for individuals and small businesses, was already dismissed by a filibuster-proof, Democratic-controlled Senate in 2009. Another idea floated by the White House yesterday, a tax on investment income, has been vehemently opposed by the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, among others. A proposal to raise taxes on the oil and gas industry was rejected as a job-destroying tax hike by both Democrats and Republicans just a few months ago, and for good reason, since the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service tells us it would not only raise gas prices but, in addition to raising gas prices, would move jobs overseas. So claiming this bill is bipartisan may sound good if you are out there on the campaign trail, but surely the President could come up with some proposals that both sides had not already rejected.
Here is how one prominent left-leaning analyst put it yesterday: ``These aren't new policy ideas,'' he wrote. ``The Obama administration has been looking to cap itemized deductions since the 2009 budget. Nor are they bipartisan policy ideas. ..... ''
The specifics we got yesterday were disappointing for another reason as well. Not only have they failed to attract wide bipartisan support in the past, even if they did enjoy bipartisan support they wouldn't create any jobs. The President knows raising taxes is the last thing you want to do to spur job creation. He said so himself. Yet that is basically all he is proposing: temporary stimulus to be paid for later by permanent tax hikes so that when the dust clears and the economy is no better off than it was after the first stimulus folks find themselves with an even bigger tax bill than today.
The President can call this bill whatever he wants, but in reality all he is doing is proposing a hodgepodge of retread ideas aimed at convincing people that a temporary fix is permanent and that it will create permanent jobs, and then daring Republicans to vote against it.
I think most people see through all of this. I think most Americans are smarter than that. I think they know our economic challenges are more serious than this and that they require serious long-term solutions. I think the American people realize we can do a lot better.
I have talked with a lot of job creators over the past few weeks, including many in my own State. It is no secret that they need to create jobs. Every one of them says the same thing. Yet the President refuses to do any of it.
If the President is truly interested in growing the economy and putting Americans back to work, then he will leave the temporary proposals and the half measures and the tax hikes aside. He will consult with both parties and work with us on a plan that indicates he has learned something from the failures of the past 2 years and which actually has a chance of attracting bipartisan support.
He could start with a permanent reform of our broken tax system, reducing out-of-control Federal regulations, and by passing the trade bills that have been sitting on his desk since Inauguration Day 2009. All of this is doable, all of it should attract bipartisan support, and all of it would actually create jobs. That would be a jobs plan worthy of the seriousness of the moment.
But make no mistake, what the President proposed so far is not serious, and it is not a jobs plan. After what we learned yesterday that should be clear to everyone.
I yield the floor.