BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, last Friday morning the American people woke up to the news that the economy is on life support. The first response of the President of the United States was that we are headed in the right direction.
Let's just think about that for a second. The President's first reaction to the news that more Americans signed up for disability last month than got jobs was to flash a thumbs up and head back to the campaign trail, just like his first reaction to a question about the economy at a recent White House press conference was to say that the private sector is doing just fine.
Well, obviously, answers like that just aren't going to cut it. The President's advisers must be telling him that much. So yesterday the President--the man at the wheel--changed his tune by doing his Washington best to change the subject.
For 3 1/2 years, this White House has shown an utter lack of imagination when it comes to jobs and the economy. If the solution doesn't involve more government, they are not interested. That is all they have. So yesterday the President went back to the same well one more time. After 3 1/2 years of more government, more debt, more spending, more taxes, and more regulations, he demanded even more.
Yesterday the President issued an ultimatum: Raise taxes on about 1 million business owners to fund more government, and I will not raise taxes on the rest of you. That was his considered response to this crisis.
Let's leave aside for a second the complete and total absurdity of raising taxes on job creators in the middle of what some are calling the slowest recovery ever. Leave that aside and ask yourself a more fundamental question: Whose money is it in the first place?
Why should small businesses be put on the defensive about keeping money they have worked for and earned? It seems as though every day for the past 3 1/2 years we have woken up to stories about waste and abuse in government--whether it was a bankrupt solar company or the $800,000 party some government agency threw for itself or this week's report that we overspent on unemployment benefits by about $14 billion.
As far as I am concerned, there should not even be a debate. The government doesn't need any more money. It is the government that should be answering to us for the tax dollars it has wasted and misdirected. It is the President who should be on the defensive. He is the one who pledged he would cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term but doubled it instead. He is the one who spent the first 3 1/2 years of his administration shattering spending records.
Now he wants us to believe he will direct new tax revenue toward tackling the deficit? Look, yesterday's announcement was many things, but let's be honest. It wasn't a plan for deficit reduction, and it sure wasn't a plan for job creation. First and foremost, it was a distraction. By any standard the President has a nightmarish economic record. By demanding higher taxes on the few, he is trying to direct attention from it.
Second, it is deeply ideological. The President has already admitted that the last thing we need to do in the middle of a recession is raise taxes. He knows that yesterday's proposal would only make the economy worse. He knows that. His goal isn't jobs, it is income redistribution. It is his idea of fairness, which means you earn and he takes. His definition of fairness means you earn and he takes.
Third, it is purely political. The President's top priority for the last year hasn't been creating jobs; it has been saving his own. Let me say that again. The top priority of the President hasn't been creating jobs for anybody else; it has been saving his own job. His advisers seem to think if they create enough scapegoats that he will slip by in November.
That is why he has spent the past year trying to convince the public that somehow his predecessor is more responsible for the economic failures of the past 3 1/2 years than he is; that all the bailouts and the trillions in borrowed money and the government takeover of health care and the onslaught of bureaucratic redtape and regulations are somehow irrelevant to the fact that we are mired in the slowest economic recovery in modern times; that we are just one more stimulus away from an economic boom; that the fact that we have had unemployment above 8 percent for 41 straight months has nothing to do with the policies he put in place in his first 2 years in office; that all these massive pieces of legislation he touted were somehow hugely historic yet, at the same time, completely unrelated to the joblessness, uncertainty, and decline we have seen almost every day since.
It is this kind of economic thinking that leads to the kind of proposal the President announced yesterday, which says a tax hike is harmful to middle-income earners but somehow meaningless for the 940,000 business owners who will get slammed by this tax hike, as well as all the other tax hikes the President has in store for them at the end of this year.
The sad truth is the President isn't just ignoring the economic problems we face; he is exacerbating them. He is running us headlong to the cliff that is fast approaching in January. Frankly, it is hard to imagine a President deliberately doing all these things he knows will only make things worse, but that is where we are. Now it is incumbent upon the rest of us to outline a better path.
And that is what we support--commonsense progrowth policies that liberate the private sector. It starts by repealing a health care law that is stifling businesses, by ending the senseless regulations that are crushing businesses, by ending the threats of tax hikes on businesses that can't afford them, and by putting our faith in free enterprise over the dictates of a centralized government. In the Obama economy, we need policies that are designed to create jobs, not destroy them.
No one should see an income tax hike next year--no one--not families, not small businesses, no one. We should extend all income tax rates while we make progress on fundamental tax reform.
It is time to put the failed policies of the past 3 1/2 years aside and try something else. Washington has done enough damage to the economy already. Let's focus on the kinds of progrowth jobs proposals the Republican-led House has already passed. And above all, let's do no harm. It is time to give the private sector and the innovators and the workers who drive it a fighting chance.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT