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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, tomorrow, the President plans to deliver a speech to once again tout his favorite approach to the economy. I say that because aides to the President say we should not expect much new in the speech. We can expect more of the same: More government, more debt, and higher taxes to pay for it all.
According to news reports, some Democrats are starting to get a little wary of this approach. A number of folks who worked in the Clinton administration have suggested something more positive. But others are pleading with the President to double down on the message that government is the answer.
So far it appears as though the hard-left wing of the party has the upper hand. As liberal columnist E.J. Dionne suggested recently in the Washington Post:
Let's turn [Reagan's] declaration on its head. Opposition to government isn't the solution.
Opposition to government was and remains the problem, and that is precisely what the President appears to be doing--doubling down on the same government-driven solutions that have kept the private sector mired in what some are calling the worst recovery ever.
These folks have so much faith in government that they seem blind to any failure or excess. They make no distinction between the things government has done well in the past and the things it does not do well now.
They have no limiting principle whatsoever. This is their logic: If you like the Hoover Dam, you should support bureaucrats making higher salaries and better benefits than the taxpayers who are paying for them. If you like the Transcontinental Railroad, you should support a $1 trillion stimulus bill that has been more effective at creating punch lines for late night comedians than it has at creating jobs. If you like the GI bill, they believe you must also embrace a debt-to-GDP ratio that makes us look like Greece.
These folks seem to have no limiting principle whatsoever when it comes to the growth of government. They have blind faith in it. It is the only thing they ever seem to want, and they are completely out of touch.
The President wants you to believe the reason we are in this economic slump is because States and local governments have been laying off government workers. But what he does not tell you, and what the American people will not hear him say tomorrow, is that since the recession began, for every government worker who has lost a job 11 private sector jobs have been lost--for every government worker who has lost a job 11 private sector jobs have been lost.
Another thing you will not hear the President say is that public sector unemployment is just over 4 percent--unemployment among public workers, just over 4 percent--while all other private sector industries are at least twice that. So government employment is not the problem. It is the private sector that is suffering, and it is the private sector where we need to focus our policies.
So the battle lines are clear: After 3 1/2 years of failure, Democrats in Washington have one suggestion: more of the same. The President can repackage it however he wants tomorrow, but that is what it amounts to: more government, more debt, and fewer jobs--and that is not what Americans want.
Republicans have refused to go along with this approach, and we will continue to oppose it until the Democrats recognize what most Americans already seem to know: government is not the answer to what ails us; government is not the answer to what ails us. It does not mean government does not do some things well. It means government has its limits, and we have reached them.
I saw a story line this week about a high school in Utah. It said the school has been fined $15,000 for selling carbonated drinks. The school has been fined $15,000 for selling carbonated drinks. Why? Because Federal nutrition guidelines say the school cannot sell sugary drinks during lunch hour. Students could buy them before lunch and drink them during lunch, but they cannot buy them during lunch and drink them during lunch. The government will not allow it.
Madam President, we are not talking about the Transcontinental Railroad. We are talking about a government that has no sense of its own limits under the constitution and a President who does not seem to be willing to embrace anything that does not start and end with a government bureaucrat calling the shots.
It is time for a change, and here is what I would suggest: One, the Democrat-led Senate should pass a budget. It has not done so in 3 years. Two, the Senate should take up the 28 job-related bills the House Republicans passed that are collecting dust on the majority leader's desk. Three, we should pass comprehensive tax reform; and, four, entitlement reform. This Nation will not be able to get out from under the mountain of debt we have without addressing the out-of-control spending related to these programs. They are simply unsustainable.
As I said yesterday, without Presidential leadership, it simply cannot happen. The same failed policies are not going to cut it. The only question is whether Democrats in Washington are capable of seeing that.
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