U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the need for the President to offer specific spending cuts as part of a balanced plan to avoid the Fiscal Cliff:
"With the Fiscal Cliff fast-approaching, I feel the need to point out something this morning that's perfectly obvious to most Americans, but which Democrats in Washington still don't seem to grasp. I'm referring to the fact that any solution to our spending and debt problem has to involve cuts to out-of-control Washington spending.
"I know that might sound obvious, but for all the President's talk about the need for a balanced approach, the truth is, he and his Democrat allies simply refuse to be pinned down on spending cuts.
"Americans overwhelmingly support some level of cuts to government spending as part of a plan to cut the federal deficit -- yet the President won't commit to it. He refuses to lead on this issue.
"The President seems to think that if all he talks about are taxes, and that's all reporters write about, somehow the rest of us will magically forget that government spending is completely out of control, and that he himself has been insisting on balance.
"A couple weeks ago, we saw his plan. After four straight trillion dollar deficits and two years of running around calling for a balanced approach to bring those deficits under control, we saw his idea of "balance': a $1.6 trillion tax hike, new and totally unprecedented power to raise the federal debt limit at his whim, and $50 billion in Stimulus-type infrastructure programs -- in other words, even more spending.
"So when it came to offering his idea of a balanced approach, the President was vague about cuts but very specific in his request for more government spending, something no reasonable person had publicly contemplated previously.
"It raises the question: do Democrats even believe their own rhetoric on spending? Or, contrary to the clear wishes of the majority of Americans, do they just want more tax revenue to fund a government without any limits whatsoever, which just keeps getting bigger and bigger with every passing year.
"Think about it: the federal government spent $1.8 trillion in 2001 and $3.6 trillion last year. These are nominal dollars, I realize, but by any measure the size of government has grown beyond its means. Government spending is totally out of control. We need to start acting like it.
"Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office revealed that government workers and private contractors are doing the same exact work on Medicaid claims, leading to billions in waste. Meanwhile, Senator Coburn has shown all of us some of the ridiculous things the taxpayers are paying for with their tax dollars, some of the things that cause us to spend a trillion dollars more than we take in every year.
"Last year, he put out a report showing how we could save more than $100 billion -- or about one tenth of the annual deficit -- just by eliminating duplicative and overlapping government programs.
"We've got 94 federal initiatives aimed at encouraging "green building' through 11 federal agencies.
"We've got 14 programs with the sole purpose of reducing diesel emissions.
"A few weeks ago, Senator Coburn issued a study that showed taxpayers are funding Moroccan pottery classes, promoting shampoo and other beauty products for cats and dogs, and a video game that allows them to relive prom night.
"Get this: taxpayers also just spent $325,000 on a Robotic squirrel name RoboSquirrel.
"The President just sent us a 73-page report detailing how $60 billion in Sandy funds would be spent. Don't you think he could put together a list of spending cuts that at least includes RoboSquirrel?
"We're still waiting. Why? Because for Democrats, apparently, every dollar in federal spending is sacred. Once secured, it can't be cut. That's why we've got trillion dollar deficits.
"And the truth is, until the President gets specific about cuts, nobody should trust Democrats to put a dime in new revenue toward real deficit reduction -- or to stop their shakedown of the taxpayers at the top two percent. As one liberal lawmaker put it last week, that's just the beginning.
"When it comes to deficit deals, the taxpayers need to trust but verify. On cuts, that means specifics."