Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, with gas prices hovering around $4 a gallon, I think it is important for the American people to realize there are really two camps on this issue here in Washington: there are those who want to do something about the problem, and there are those who want people to think they are doing something about the problem. And let's be clear--President Obama is firmly planted in the ``say anything but do nothing'' camp. If there were any doubt about that, he dispelled it when he blocked the Keystone Pipeline and then again this week by embracing the age-old Democratic dodge of blaming gas prices on speculators.
Look, what bothers Americans is not that the President has unpopular views on this issue. Everyone knows he does not really support an all-of-the-above approach to energy.
What bothers people is the fact that he pretends as though he does.
What bothers people is the President is blocking one-half of a pipeline one day and showing up at a ribbon cutting for the other half on another day. It is blocking domestic energy and then taking credit for increases that came about as a result of his predecessor's decision. It is pretending that speculators have a big impact on the price of gas when his own staff can't even point to any.
The President said he was different, and a lot of people believed him. But to a growing number of Americans that is just what he has become: just one more politician saying the same things they always say.
This week has been a real clarifier for people when it comes to this President. Whether it is the Buffett tax that would not lower the deficit or a commission on speculators that even the White House says would not lower the price of gas, what people have seen this week is a President who seems a lot more interested in looking like he is solving problems than actually solving them.
For years Washington Democrats have had the same totally rigid opposition to expanding domestic energy exploration. The only people they seem to listen to are extremists. But instead of just stating their position and letting the political chips fall where they may, they pull out the same poll-tested talking points they always do, on the assumption that reporters will just reprint them like it is the first time they have used them and that everybody else will just somehow forget.
But with gas prices at about $4 a gallon, it is time somebody called them out on it. Ten years ago today Democrats voted down a bill to open a tiny area of Alaska known as ANWR to drilling. They relied on the nonargument that it would take too long to get the oil to market. That was 10 years ago today. Every Democrat who was asked about it said the same thing, that it would take too long to get the oil to market. I have two pages of quotes from Democrats saying it would take at least 7 to 10 years to get the oil to market.
Well, here we are 10 years later. In some places gas prices are now three times what they were in April 2002. The United States still imports one-half of its oil. ANWR is still off-limits. If we ask Democrats why they oppose more domestic exploration, they will say the same thing they said 10 years ago.
This is precisely the kind of thing this President campaigned against 4 years ago. He was the one who was going to stop kicking the can down the road. He was the one who was going to tackle the problems everybody else was afraid to face. He was the one who was going to rise above petty squabbles and the tired talking points of the past and offer something different. He was going to be a different kind of politician who would usher in a new era of authenticity.
What did the American people get? They got the same gimmicks as before. They got someone whose idea of solving a problem is to give a speech about it or to blame whatever person, place, or thing doesn't happen to poll well that day. What the American people got was a President who absolutely refuses to lead.
It is the same thing they got from the Democrat-controlled Senate, the same tired talking points, the same evasion, the same refusal to address our problems at all.
Yesterday, the chairman of the Budget Committee made it official. For the third year in a row, Senate Democrats will refuse to do the basic work of governance by refusing to offer a budget blueprint for government spending--by the way, as required by the law.
After pledging both to me and his Republican counterpart on the committee that he would, in fact, mark up a budget this year, the chairman of the Budget Committee bowed, once again, to the political pressure and said he would not put his Democratic colleagues at any political risk by asking them to vote on a plan their constituents might not like; that is, not until after the election. The Democratic chairman did suggest, however, that if Europe implodes, he might change his mind.
Well, with all due respect, the statute doesn't say the majority must present a budget if the European economy implodes. It says it must present a budget, period, so that the American people can see how much they are going to be taxed and how their tax dollars are going to be spent.
I am having a hard time thinking of a word to describe the level of leadership we are getting from Democrats in Washington these days--whether it is the President or the Democratic Senate. Frankly, it is a disgrace. There isn't a single issue I can think of that they are willing to do anything about.
Under this President's watch, Washington has been spending more than $1 trillion a year more than it takes in. Senate Democrats don't even have the courage to put it all in black and white. They don't have any problem spending it; they just don't want to be on record voting for it. That is what passes for leadership in Washington these days.
Well, something has to give. Our challenges are too urgent. The status quo just would not cut it anymore.