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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, for nearly 4 years now, Democratic leaders in Washington have claimed to want what is best for the economy but done just about everything you can think of from a policy perspective to actually undermine the economy.
Whether it is overwhelming businesses with redtape, burdening them with costly new health care laws or punting on major economic decisions until after the election, Democrats have done everything you would expect of a party more focused on centralizing power in Washington than reviving a weak economy.
And, of course, we have the results to show for it. As a result of the Democrats' policies, we have fewer jobs today than the day the President took office, more signed up for disability assistance last month than got jobs--more people signed up for disability assistance last month than got jobs--and the percentage of Americans who actually can work but are not is at the lowest point literally in decades.
This is the sad legacy of this President's economic policies. And later today we will have a chance to cast a vote for more of the same or for a plan that will help us get off of this hamster wheel we have been on for the past 3 1/2 years.
I am referring, of course, to the very different proposals we will vote on today for dealing with a looming tax hike coming in January: the Republican plan, which gives every American not only the certainty that their income taxes will not go up at the end of the year but that Congress will deliver meaningful tax reform within a year, and the Senate Democratic plan which raises taxes on a million small business owners at a moment when we are counting on them to create jobs, raises taxes on thousands of family farmers and small business owners grieving the loss of a loved one, leaves a middle-class tax hike in place, and reforms absolutely nothing.
We would also like to vote on the President's plan, though it appears our Democratic friends will deny the President his vote.
I will leave it to others to explain the finer points of these plans. But one thing stands out. As I have indicated, the thing that stands out is the Democratic proposal to raise the death tax. This is one of their bright ideas to revive the economy: to raise the death tax. It dramatically lowers the exemption level, so more families actually get hit by it, and dramatically increases the amount of the tax itself. Under their plan, family members who inherit a farm or a ranch would have to write a check for 55 percent--55 percent--of the value of the property and equipment above $1 million, all but guaranteeing that tens of thousands of small and mid-size family businesses across the country will be broken up and handed over to the government instead of passed on to the next generation.
Look, I know some Democrats will try to justify their vote on this stunningly bad proposal by saying they will deal with the assault on family farms later. Wrong. The Democratic bill we will vote on today, by not addressing the problem, makes the tax liability for these families even worse. A vote for the Democratic plan is to vote to put these farms and ranches literally out of business. There will be no stand-alone bill signed into law on the death tax, and anyone who says otherwise is not being straight with the American people.
But there is one big difference between our plan and theirs. The most important difference is this: Only ours is aimed at helping the economy; only ours is aimed at helping the economy; only ours is meant to help struggling Americans in the midst of a historic jobs crisis. Theirs is meant to deflect attention from their continued failure to reverse this economic situation.
Throughout this entire debate, not a single Democrat has come forward to claim that raising taxes on job creators will help the economy. Nobody is claiming that because they cannot. The real motives are based on an ideological agenda, not an economic one.
Ordinarily, Republicans would do everything we can to keep a plan as damaging as the Democrats' plan from passing, and the only reason we will not block it today is we know it does not pass constitutional muster and will not become law because it did not originate in the House. If the Democrats were serious, they would proceed to a House-originated revenue bill, as the Constitution requires.
That said, the potential consequences of inaction on this issue are so grave that the American people deserve to know where their elected representatives really stand--truly stand--on this issue.
That is why I am announcing this morning Republicans will allow a simple majority vote--a simple majority vote--on the two proposals I have described, and that is why we are also calling for a simple majority vote on the President's plan. He is the leader of the Democratic Party. He has been calling for a vote on his plan. I for one think we ought to give the President what he is asking for: a vote on his plan.
So what I am saying here this morning is, we will have a simple majority
vote on the Senate Democratic plan, on the Republican plan, to make sure no one's income taxes go up at the end of the year, and I would also recommend we have a simple majority vote on the President's plan.
The only way to force people to take a stand is to make sure today's votes truly count. By setting these votes at a 50-vote threshold, nobody on the other side can hide behind a procedural vote while leaving their views on the actual bill itself a mystery--a simple mystery--to the people who sent them here. That is what today's votes are all about: about showing the people who sent us here where we stand.
We owe it to the American people to let them know whether we actually think it is a good idea to double down on the failed economic policies of the past few years or whether we support a new approach, whether we think it is a good idea to raise taxes on nearly a million business owners at a moment when millions of Americans are struggling to find work or to do no harm and commit to future reform.
Three votes, two visions. Three votes, two visions. The American people should know where we stand, and today they will.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, the vote we are about to take on the Democratic plan to raise taxes is interesting for a few reasons. First, it is a revenue measure that didn't originate in the House, so it has no chance whatsoever of becoming law.
Second, it is the perfect example of what you get when you put politics over the people who sent you here. If the Democrats truly believed what the President has been saying out on the stump, they would vote on his plan. But as the vote tally will show, they can barely muster 50 votes on their own plan, let alone his. So for the entire President's talk about supporting a balanced approach to taxes, he evidently can't even get 50 votes for his plan in a Democratic-controlled Senate when we all know he would need 60 votes to get it to his desk.
Instead of voting on the President's plan, our Democratic friends have cobbled together the only thing they could come up with that would muster more than 50 votes--a purely political exercise, and a total waste of time.
But to be honest, I can't imagine why they would want to vote for either one, since both proposals raise taxes on about a million business owners, and both raise taxes on investment, at a time when the economy is in paralysis.
Here is the Democratic plan for the economy: We will get this thing going again--by raising taxes. Let's take more money out of small business and send it to Washington; that is how we will create jobs, they say. Let us create jobs instead of the small business owners out in America. After all, they don't create jobs anyway; of course, Washington creates jobs.
If you are looking for the legislative equivalent of the President's now famous view that ``you didn't build that,'' this is it.
They don't think you deserve to keep what you have earned because you are not responsible for earning it. They don't think you are entitled to keep what you have earned because, after all, you weren't even responsible for earning it; they are.
That is the message Democrats are sending with today's votes, that you are not responsible for your success; Washington is. So give us your money, and we will handle it for you. That is their tax plan. That is their plan for the economy and for jobs.
Fortunately for the American people, there is another approach. Next week, House Republicans will pass a bill that drew broad bipartisan support in this body 19 months ago, and it would draw broad bipartisan support today if Democrats were more concerned about what is best for creating jobs than they were in centralizing power right here in Washington and pleasing their liberal base.
The Republican proposal is to do no harm and to commit to the kind of serious tax reform we all know we need. That is the vote Senate Republicans are proud to take today and House Republicans will take next week. It is the plan Senate Democrats--and the President--would support if they were serious about jobs.
The Democratic plan is to raise taxes on nearly a million business owners and, in a notable departure from the President, threaten tens of thousands of family farms and ranches with a death tax of 55 percent at the end of the year. That is their plan. That is their idea of economic stimulus. That is the bill they would rather vote on than the President's proposal. And it is absolutely the last thing we need right now.
The good news is that this new, convoluted Democratic bill will never make it to the President's desk. It will never make it. The bad news is they will also vote down the one tax plan that should make it to his desk.
We can do better than this. It is time for the Democrats to work with us on rewarding success and not punishing it.
I yield the floor.
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