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Public Statements

Election Year Legislation

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it is not exactly a State secret that Senate Democrats have turned the floor into an extension of the Obama campaign over the past few months, and that what happens here these days has a lot more to do with what some political consultant out in Chicago thinks is good for the President's reelection than what the American people think would be good for the country as a whole.

Separation of powers notwithstanding, the Democrats' top message man recently admitted Senate Democrats and the White House are ``attached at the hip,'' meaning, of course, the Senate has ceased to be a place where problems are resolved and has become instead a place where Democrats produce campaign material.

Today's vote on student loan rates is a perfect example of this cynical election year strategy in action. Rather than working with Republicans to help young people in this country weather the effects of the Obama economy, Democrats have sought to distract them from it. Never mind the fact that Democratic leaders supported the bill that will cause interest rates on certain college loans to spike on July 1. Never mind the fact that President Obama was so concerned about this issue when this legislation passed he didn't even show up for the vote. Never mind the fact that Democrats have known this problem was coming for literally years but deliberately waited until 2 months before their temporary fix was due to expire to do anything about it.

Never mind any of that. What matters now for Democrats is they find a way to drive a wedge between Republicans and a constituency they are looking to court ahead of the November elections. That is what today's vote is all about for them.

For Republicans, well, we don't think young people should have to suffer any more than they already are as a result of this President's failure to turn the economy around. We just disagree we should pay for a fix by diverting $6 billion from Medicare and raising taxes on the very businesses we are counting on to hire these young people.

But as I said, solving the problem isn't what this is about for Senate Democrats and the White House they are coordinating with. Finding a solution to this problem actually isn't difficult at all. What is difficult is getting Democrats to agree to it in an election year. For them, it is about putting the other party on the spot.

Look, Republicans have a solution to this problem. We have asked for a vote on it. Even Senator Harkin, who opposes our approach, thinks we should at least get that vote. But following the President's lead, Senate Democratic leaders have decided to put the finger of blame instead on us instead of solving the problem--which, of course, is completely ridiculous.

Here we are nearly 3 1/2 years into this President's first term, and he is still blaming his predecessor. He got nearly everything he wanted for 2 years. He borrowed and spent trillions. He took over the student loan industry. He took over health care. He imposed his regulations. It is his economy now. Yet he is still blaming others.

My view is, if you are going to ask the American people to take responsibility for their actions, pay their fair share, and play by the rules, it is time the President led by example and did the same.

Three months ago, the President told the American people that it is time to apply the same rules from top to bottom. The President said: No bailouts, no handouts, and no cop-out. An America built to last, he said, insists on responsibility from everybody. Yet day after day, week after week, what do we get from Democratic leaders in the Senate and from the President himself but more cop-outs.

Here is the real issue behind today's votes. Right now, more than half of college graduates cannot find a decent job. Close to half of them are back at home living with their parents. As a Wall Street Journal article from late last year put it: The U.S. labor market may be in a malaise, but young adults are in a crisis.

The real solution, of course: progrowth policies that make it easier for U.S. businesses to hire. But in the short term, Republicans are ready to offer temporary relief, just as we did for working Americans early this year by extending the payroll tax holiday.

To pay for this fix, Republicans propose to end an ObamaCare slush fund that Democrats and the President himself have already drawn from to cover other expenses.

This is a pay-for Democrats and the President have already used.

This is perfectly reasonable. It is a solution to a problem both parties want to address. It passed the House with bipartisan support. If Democrats want to solve the problem, they should embrace it too or, at the very least, offer a bipartisan solution of their own. The White House has done neither.

The real enemy of recent college graduates is this President's economic policies. Until Democrats are willing to admit that, we will keep falling behind. And the real losers will be the young people we should be working together on a bipartisan basis to help.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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