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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, yesterday, something truly remarkable happened right here in the Senate. First, Democrats blocked a vote that the President of their own party called for just 2 days earlier.
Last night, the majority leader moved to shut down a debate on taxes that hadn't even begun.
Earlier this week, President Obama issued an outrageous ultimatum to Congress: Raise taxes on about 1 million business owners and I promise not to raise taxes on anybody else.
At a moment when the American people are reeling from the slowest recovery in modern times, when the percentage of those who could work are working is at a three-decade low, and just 5 months away from the economic body blow that will result if tax rates spike, as scheduled on January 1, the President's solution is to take away more money from the very business folks we are counting on to create jobs we need, presumably so he can spend it on solar companies and stimulus bills.
This was the President's brilliant economic solution to the mess we are in.
Naturally, Republicans oppose this. The way we see it, nobody should see an income tax hike right now, not small businesses, not individuals, nobody. Nobody should get a tax hike right now. The problem isn't that Washington taxes too little but that it spends too much. Rather than just talk about it, we thought we should actually take a vote on it.
After all, the President himself boasted Monday that he would sign a bill to raise taxes on small businesses right away if we pass it. So we suggested two votes, one on the President's plan--once it is actually written--and one on ours. But the majority leader in the Senate blocked it from happening. Why? Because, as usual, Democrats want to have it both ways.
Two years ago, when the economy was growing faster than it is now, 40 Democrats in the Senate voted to do precisely what Republicans are proposing right now: keep everybody's taxes right where they are and do no harm. The President apparently doesn't want any of them to vote that way now.
In other words, he doesn't want to do what is right for the economy and jobs. He wants to do what he thinks is good for his reelection campaign. For some reason, his advisers think it helps him to take more money away from small, already-struggling businesses and spend it on more government. That is the plan anyway, and he wants to stick with it.
Yesterday, the Democratic majority leader did what the President told him to. He made sure there wasn't a vote on a proposal the President of his own party demanded 2 days earlier. My friend, the majority leader, made sure there wasn't a vote on the plan the President asked for just 2 days ago. Then he offered a vote on a bill today that isn't even written and only if Democrats and Republicans give up their ability to offer amendments to the bill we haven't seen yet.
This is the kind of absurdity we get when we have a governing party that is more concerned with winning an election than facing the consequences of the President's failed economic policies.
But it actually gets even more absurd because the majority leader didn't just block us yesterday from having votes on whether to raise taxes, he wouldn't even let us have a debate about it--don't have the vote and don't have the debate.
Senators on both sides of the aisle have proposals that would help the American people weather the economic crisis we are in. Senator Hutchison has an amendment that would extend the relief from the blow of the marriage penalty. Senator Heller has a plan to extend the deduction of sales tax in Nevada. Senator Scott Brown and a whole host of other Republicans have a proposal to repeal the potentially devastating tax on medical devices that is being used to help fund ObamaCare. Senators Cornyn and Crapo have amendments that would lessen the blow of the tax hikes on investments--tax hikes that will directly affect job creation and harm those, such as our seniors, who are living on fixed incomes.
As for the Democrats, well, even they have some ideas that might do some good for the country. Senator Brown of Ohio has an amendment to extend the research and development credit, which I know has bipartisan support even if Republicans might differ in his approach. Senator Begich has an amendment that would extend the popular tax breaks for investments by small businesses. I don't fully endorse the specific approach taken by these two, but if they had a chance to offer and debate them, I think we might be able to work out an agreement and actually get a result. But we can't even have a debate or get a vote on these Democratic amendments because of the politics.
Personally, I can't imagine why Democratic Senators would tolerate this kind of authoritarian approach. It seems to me that if Senator Brown of Ohio and Senator Begich really believe in their amendments, they would fight for a vote on them. It is hard to believe their constituents sent them here to rubberstamp everything the party leader puts out there regardless of the impact on their States. We would probably have these votes later today if these Democratic Senators vote to cut off debate. I will leave it up to them to explain to their constituents why they didn't think these amendments deserved votes.
But the larger issue is this: All of these petty political maneuvers betray an astounding lack of concern about not only the economic crisis we are in but the threat that is posed by the fiscal cliff we all know is looming in January. A New York Times article from just this morning suggests that one reason the economy has slowed down so much is that businesses are reacting to the uncertainty about what will happen at the end of the year. Well, of course that is the case. We hear it from everyone. Yet here is a Democratic-controlled Senate blocking votes, blocking debate, and hosting private meetings with the President's political advisers on strategy instead of working on serious bipartisan solutions.
Last night Democratic leaders admitted that the bill they wanted Republicans to turn to hasn't even been written yet. Think about that. The proposal the President announced Monday with so much fanfare hasn't even been put on paper. Yet Democrats wanted us to move to it. Move to what? What is it? We haven't seen it. I think it hasn't been written. You can't move to a speech. This is the level of seriousness we are seeing from the Democratic-controlled Senate right now. This is how seriously they take this economic crisis. It is nothing but one political game after another. If the President has a proposal, we will be happy to send an intern down to the White House to pick it up, but we can't vote on a speech. Frankly, we can't continue like this.
It is long past time Democrats in the White House and in the Senate took the lives and challenges of working Americans as seriously as they take their politics. It is time to put childish things aside and get down to serious business for the American people.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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