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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it has been a week now since the Republican leadership in the Senate and the House sent several good-faith, bipartisan proposals to the White House in an effort to resolve the student loan issue. And what has the White House done? Absolutely nothing. The President has not yet responded. One can only surmise he is delaying a solution so he can fit in a few more campaign rallies with college students while pretending someone other than himself is actually delaying action.
Today the President is taking time out of his busy fundraising schedule to hold an event at UNLV, where, once again, he will use students as props in yet another speech calling on Congress to act. What the President won't tell these students is that the House has already acted and that Republicans in both Chambers are ready to work on solutions as soon as the President can take the time. All the President has to do is to pick up his mail, choose one of the bipartisan proposals we laid out in a letter to him last week--proposals he has already shown he supports, with pay-fors he has recommended--and then announce to the students that the problem has been solved.
Unfortunately, the President is apparently more interested in campaigning for the students at UNLV than actually working with Congress to find a solution.
Mr. President, I would suggest you open your mail. Just open your mail, and you will find a letter there from the Speaker and from the majority leader in the House and from Senator Kyl and myself laying out a way to pay for the extension of the current tax rates for student loans for another year that you yourself previously recommended. The only people dragging their feet on the issue are over at the White House itself--dragging their feet to fit in yet another college visit.
Republicans here in Congress have been crystal clear on this issue for weeks. We are ready to resolve the issue. It is time the President showed some leadership and worked with Congress to provide the certainty young people and their parents need. I encourage the President, if he really wants to do something to help students, to join us in working to find a solution. This is really pretty easy. We all agree that we ought to extend the current student loan rates for a year.
We have recommended to you, Mr. President, the way to pay for it that you have already adopted. This isn't hard.
Every day he is silent on solutions is another day closer to the rapidly approaching deadline here at the end of the month.
TAX RATE EXTENSION
Mr. President, I stood with the Speaker of the House yesterday and his conference leadership and called for at least a 1-year extension of current tax rates to provide certainty to families and job creators around the country that their taxes will not be going up on January 1.
In the Obama economy, we are facing a looming fiscal crisis that some have called the most predictable in history. Millions are unemployed, millions more are underemployed, and the country is facing the largest tax hike in history at the end of this year.
This tax hike the President wants would hit hundreds of thousands of small businesses. To put that in perspective, this tax hike would hit job creators who employ up to 25 percent of our workforce, and we really can't allow that to happen. I think we all know we cannot allow that to happen. The economy is far too fragile right now.
Former President Bill Clinton said we are in an economic recession, and earlier this week, before the Obama campaign got to him, he was for temporarily extending current tax rates. Yesterday the Democratic Senate Budget Committee chairman came out and said he was for temporarily extending current tax rates. And I would remind everyone that it was the President himself in December of 2010 who said that you don't raise taxes in a down economy. Well, the economy is slower now than it was when he last agreed with us to extend current tax law back in December of 2010. In fact, the rate of growth in our economy is slower now than it was in December 2010 when the President agreed with us that at that point we ought to do a 2-year extension of the current tax rates. We are experiencing slower growth now than then. The same arguments apply now.
This is the time to prevent this uncertainty and the largest tax increase in American history--right in the middle of a very fragile economy. It really doesn't make any sense to do otherwise. Let's extend all the current tax relief right now--before the election. Let's show the American people we are actually listening to them. Let's send a message that in these challenging economic times, taxes won't be going up for anyone at the end of this year. And let's not stop there. Let's tackle fundamental, progrowth tax reform. This is something upon which there is bipartisan agreement. I think we all agree it has been over 25 years since we did comprehensive tax reform in this country. It is time to do that again. We all agree on that. The President thinks that and Republicans and Democrats in the Congress think that. The time to act is now. If the President is serious about turning the economy around, preventing taxes from going up at the end of the year is one bipartisan step he could take right now.
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