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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, last week the President said the private sector is ``doing fine.'' Well, the fact is the private sector isn't doing fine and the President's comments make me wonder what private sector he may be talking about.
Since he took office, we have had 40 straight months of unemployment of over 8 percent and more than 23 million Americans are either unemployed, underemployed, or have given up looking for a job altogether. Last month's job report said the economy added only 69,000 jobs--far below what forecasters had predicted. That is the Obama economy, and it is not doing fine.
With the debt the size of our GDP, the President's recent push for even more government spending is equally out of touch. Taking more money out of the private sector, out of the hands of businesses and job creators or borrowing it to pay for yet another stimulus has consequences. We need to reduce the size and scope of government, not expand it. We need to put in place a progrowth policy to allow the private sector to flourish.
That is why Republicans have been calling for years for comprehensive tax reform and for both parties to sit down and begin the process of reforming entitlements. That is
how we will get our fiscal house in order and help the economy grow as well. But without Presidential leadership, it simply can't happen.
Controlling only one Chamber, Republicans in Congress can only do so much. The Republican-led House has passed budgets while, for 3 1/2 years, the Democratic-led Senate has refused to do so. And they have passed 28 job-related bills over in the House that our Democratic friends here in the Senate refuse to take up. For our part, Senate Republicans will continue to pursue a pro-jobs agenda, and I encourage our Democratic friends to join us before the administration's spending and debt spree forces us into the sort of economic spiral we currently see facing folks over across the Atlantic. They can start by working with Republicans on our commonsense amendments to the farm bill.
The President may think the private sector is doing fine or that the government isn't big enough, but those in rural America are definitely not doing fine. The biggest threat to farmers in Kentucky and across America is this administration's job-killing regulations. That is why Republicans are calling for votes on commonsense amendments that would either eliminate or prevent future job-killing regulations from going into effect which would provide the necessary relief for American farmers and give a boost to rural America in these challenging economic times.
Last year, while visiting Atkinson, IL, the President blew off one farmer when he asked about policy regulations. The President said, ``Don't always believe what you hear.'' Either the President doesn't know what his administration is doing or he doesn't want the American people to know it is his policies that are hurting farmers all across the country. It is either one or the other.
Here are a few examples of this administration's policies that are suffocating the American agricultural industry and the Republican amendments we want the Senate to take up.
Last fall, the Department of Labor attempted to regulate the relationship, believe it or not, shared between parents and their kids on family farms. The proposed rule would have prohibited those under age 16 from manual labor such as stall cleaning, using a shovel, and using a battery-operated screwdriver. Many people in my State consider this the type of manual labor that is widely referred to as Saturday morning chores. Senator Thune is offering an amendment that would require the Department of Labor to consult with Congress before implementing such regulations.
The EPA wants to lift the ban that prevents Washington, DC, bureaucrats from regulating nonnavigable waters. The expanded Federal jurisdiction would bring the EPA and their redtape and taxes into the backyards of millions--literally millions--of Americans. The economic impact would be disastrous.
Congress passed a navigable ban to protect families, small businesses, and farmers from Washington bureaucrats trying to seize control of their water or their land. The U.S. Supreme Court twice affirmed the limits of Federal authority under the Clean Water Act. But, apparently, the EPA believes they are above the other two branches of government, and Senators PAUL and BARRASSO are offering two amendments that would stop the EPA in its tracks.
The EPA is considering a regulation that would require farm and ranch families to take as yet undefined measures to lower the amount of dust that occurs naturally--I am not kidding--lower the amount of dust that occurs naturally and is transmitted into the air due to agricultural production activities. It is hard to go through this and maintain one's composure. These activities include such things as combining, haying, moving cattle, tilling a field, or even driving down a gravel road. Failure to do so would result in a substantial fine. Senator Johanns is offering an amendment that would prevent the EPA from issuing any new rule that regulates agricultural dust. I kid you not, they want to regulate agricultural dust.
Finally, Senator Crapo and Senator Johanns are offering an amendment that would help farmers across the country continue to manage their unique business risks associated with their day-to-day operations. The amendment would prevent unnecessarily diverting capital away from job creation and investing in their businesses in a way that was never intended by the sponsors of the Dodd-Frank Act. Preventing this unnecessary burden would promote economic growth, protect farmers and businesses, and ultimately help save American jobs.
In these extremely difficult economic times, rural America is already struggling to get by and it simply can't be bothered by an overreaching Federal Government that has literally no idea of the unintended consequences of its policies.
These five commonsense Republican amendments I have outlined, along with several others, put an end to numerous job-killing regulations, and each of these amendments deserves a vote.
I now wish to address another matter.
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