Economic Plimate

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: Sept. 8, 2011
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, later today both Houses of Congress will welcome President Obama to speak about a very serious crisis we face as a nation, namely, an economic climate that is making it impossible for millions of Americans to find the work they need to support themselves and their families.

In a two-party system such as ours, it shouldn't be surprising that there would be two very different points of view about how to solve this particular crisis. What is surprising is the President's apparent determination to apply the same government-driven policies that have already been tried and failed. The definition of insanity, as Albert Einstein once famously put it, is to do the same thing over and over again and to expect a different result. Frankly, I can't think of a better description of anyone who thinks the solution to this problem is another stimulus. The first stimulus didn't do it. Why would another?

This is one question the White House and a number of Democrats clearly don't want to answer. That is why some of them are out there coaching people not to use the word ``stimulus'' when describing the President's plan. Others are accusing anybody who criticizes it of being unpatriotic or playing politics. Well, as I have said before, there is a much simpler reason to oppose the President's economic policies that has nothing whatsoever to do with politics: They simply don't work. Yet, by all accounts, the President's so-called jobs plan is to try those very same policies again and then accuse anyone who doesn't support them this time around of being political or overly partisan, of not doing what is needed in this moment of crisis.

This isn't a jobs plan. It is a reelection plan. That is why Republicans have continued to press for policies, policies that empower job creators, not Washington.

According to the Wall Street Journal, nearly a third of the unemployed have been out of work for more than a year. The average length of unemployment is now greater than 40 weeks, higher than it was even during the Great Depression. As we know, the longer you are out of a job, the harder it is to find one. That means, for millions of Americans, this crisis is getting harder every day. It is getting worse and worse.

We also know this: The economic policies this President has tried have not alleviated the problem. In many ways, in fact, they have made things worse. Gas prices are up. The national debt is up. Health insurance premiums are up. Home values in most places continue to fall. And, 2 1/2 years after the President's signature jobs bill was signed into law, 1.7 million fewer Americans have jobs. So I would say Americans have 1.7 million reasons to oppose another stimulus. That is why many of us have been calling on the President to propose something entirely different tonight--not because of politics but because the kind of policies he has proposed in the past haven't worked. The problem here isn't politics. The problem is the policy. It is time the President start thinking less about how to describe his policies differently and more time thinking about devising new policies. And he might start by working with Congress instead of writing in secret, without any consultation with Republicans, a plan that the White House is calling bipartisan.

With 14 million Americans out of work, job creation should be a no-politics zone. Republicans stand ready to act on policies that get the private sector moving again. What we are reluctant to do, however, is to allow the President to put us deeper in debt to finance a collection of short-term fixes or shots in the arm that might move the needle today but which deny America's job creators the things they need to solve this crisis--predictability, stability, fewer government burdens, and less redtape. Because while this crisis may have persisted for far too long and caused far too much hardship, one thing we do have right now is the benefit of hindsight. We know what doesn't work.

So tonight the President should take a different approach. He should acknowledge the failures of an economic agenda that centers on government and spending and debt, and work across the aisle on a plan that puts people and businesses at the forefront of job creation.

If the American people are going to have control over their own destiny, they need to have more control over their economy. That means shifting the center of gravity away from Washington and toward those who create jobs. It means putting an end to the regulatory overreach that is holding job creators back. It means being as bold about liberating job creators as the administration has been about shackling them. It means reforming an outdated Tax Code and getting out of the business of picking winners and losers. It means lowering the U.S. corporate tax rate, which is currently the second highest in the world. And it means leveling the playing field with our competitors overseas by approving free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea that have been languishing on the President's desk literally for years.

Contrary to the President's claims, this economic approach isn't aimed at pleasing any one party or constituency. It is aimed at giving back to the American people the tools they need to do the work Washington has not been able to do on its own, despite its best efforts over the past few years.

The President is free to blame his political adversaries, his predecessor, or even natural disasters for America's economic challenges. Tonight, he may blame any future challenges on those who choose not to rubberstamp his latest proposals. But it should be noted that this is precisely what Democratic majorities did during the President's first 2 years in office, and look where that got us. But here is the bottom line: By the President's own standards, his jobs agenda has been a failure, and we can't afford to make the same mistake twice.

After the President's speech tonight calling for more stimulus spending, the Senate will vote on his request for an additional $500 billion increase in the debt limit, so Senators will have an opportunity to vote for or against this type of approach right away.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.