U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding his proposal to give Democrats an opportunity to vote on the President's $1.6 trillion tax hike plan:
"When the two parties first sat down to discuss the so-called fiscal cliff, it was widely assumed among Republicans that President Obama and Democrats actually wanted to avoid it.
"That was the premise that any possible agreement hinged on.
"That was the common goal -- or so we thought.
"Over the past couple of weeks, it's become increasingly clear to many of us we were wrong. Incredibly, many top Democrats, including the President, seem perfectly happy to go off the cliff. That's why the President's been more interested in campaign rallies than actually negotiating a deal. And it explains why the President is now stubbornly insisting on raising tax rates when he himself said just last year that you could raise more revenue from capping deductions and closing loopholes.
"Look: this isn't about the deficit for them, or balance.
"It's about an ideological campaign that most Americans thought would have ended on November 6th. And that's also why the President sent Secretary Geithner up here last week with a proposal so completely ridiculous it wouldn't have passed the House with Nancy Pelosi in charge, let alone Speaker Boehner.
"It was more of a provocation than a proposal, frankly. It was a message the President doesn't want a deal at all. To date, not a single Senate Democrat has come forward to support it, and anybody who actually looks at the details would understand why.
"As I just indicated, it includes a $2 trillion tax increase over 10 years -- the biggest real dollar tax increase in U.S. history.
"It increases taxes on nearly one million small businesses -- in the middle of a jobs crisis. According to Ernst and Young, this type of rate hike would cause more than 700,000 Americans to lose their jobs.
"It raises taxes on investment income, harming economic growth even more.
"It includes tens of billions of dollars in more Washington spending -- in a deal to cut the deficit.
"And most outrageous of all -- it gives the President of the United States unilateral power to raise the limit on the federal credit card, the so-called debt ceiling, whenever he wants, for as much as he wants. And while I'm flattered that the Administration has taken to calling this the McConnell provision, they seem to have forgotten how this proposal worked in the Budget Control Act.
"Yes, we gave the President the authority then to request a debt ceiling increase. But that was only after the White House agreed to $2 trillion in cuts to Washington spending, and agreed to be bound by the timing and amount set by Congress.
"This time, the request is for the President to have the ability to raise the debt ceiling whenever he wants, for as much as he wants, with no fiscal responsibility or spending cuts attached.
"This is an idea opposed by Democrats and Republicans alike; it's a power grab that has no support here. And so it's not only completely dishonest, it's juvenile, to compare it to last year's debt ceiling agreement. It would also be incredibly irresponsible, since history shows that the only major deficit cutting deals we ever do around here come after debates over the debt limit. It may be a good idea if you don't care about the debt, but it's a non-starter for those of us who do. It also represents a dangerous attempt by a president to grab more power over spending, power that Congress must not and will not cede.
"Beyond these details, not only would the President's plan raise taxes on certain individuals, it would cap their ability to deduct donations they make to charities, the interest they pay on mortgages, the contributions they make to retirement accounts, and the value of employer-based health insurance.
"Don't get me wrong. You've heard me say that if Democrats insist on getting more money to Washington, capping those deductions is a better way to raise revenue, but capping deductions and raising tax rates is a recipe for economic disaster.
"The President's proposal would also subject tens of thousands of small businesses and family farms to a massive tax hike, to be paid by the family upon the death of the owners.
"It would impose a crushing tax increase on industries that employ millions of Americans, including manufacturers in my state, businesses that operate abroad, the insurance industry, and would raise the price at the pump by targeting the oil and gas industry for special tax treatment.
"It's was so ridiculous, as I've said, it wouldn't even pass the House under Nancy Pelosi. And that's why even the most liberal members of Congress, the President's most ardent supporters, haven't come forward to support it. So, for the White House to demand a response shows they're just playing games at this point. And if you don't believe me, ask yourself how many Democrats would vote for this bill. Not many.
"But I didn't think we should have to speculate. I still think we should give Democrats a chance to demonstrate for themselves how serious the President's plan was, and how serious they are. That's why I just asked consent to offer an amendment to the Russia Trade Bill that gave them that opportunity.
"As I noted, I'd be happy to have this vote here, or as an amendment to the next bill, or as a standalone -- it will not slow down what I hope is swift passage of PNTR for Russia.
"If the President's proposal was made in good faith, Democrats should be eager to vote for it. So I'm surprised the Majority Leader just declined the chance for them to support it with their votes.
"I guess we're left to conclude that it couldn't even pass by a bare majority of votes, and that they'd rather take the country off the cliff than actually work out a good-faith agreement that reflects tough choices on both sides.
"To be fair to the Secretary and the President, we didn't just put together a bill that included his $2 trillion tax increase -- we also added the almost $400 billion in new tax stimulus measures he wanted as well. This bill contained a continuation of the payroll tax holiday, a 10 percent credit for new wages that will go to businesses big and small, and it included a fix to one of the many flawed provisions of Obamacare -- an expansion of a tax credit for businesses that no one uses. This proposal reflected exactly what was in the President's budget and his various submissions to Congress.
"I for one was eager to see what Democrats in the Senate support this totally unrealistic proposal. I think folks should know who actually wants to raise taxes on family farmers and manufacturers, and who thinks we can solve our fiscal problems without doing anything serious to our real long term liabilities.
"Democrats are so focused on the politics of this debate they seem to forget there's a cost. They're feeling so good about the election, they've forgotten they've got a duty to govern.
"A lot of people are going to suffer a lot if we go off this cliff.
"That's why we assumed Democrats wanted to avoid it. We thought it was the perfect opportunity to do something together.
"Apparently we were wrong."