U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell released the following statement today regarding the opportunity for economic growth and government reform through bipartisan efforts to rein in our nation's debt:
"Over the past several days, I've spoken of the need for the two parties to come together to address the federal debt. We need to act quickly if we're going to avert a European-style debt crisis and avoid the harsh austerity that that would bring. But this is about more than just avoiding a calamity, as serious as that prospect has become.
"What this debate offers is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to update government for the 21st century, to modernize programs that work and to reform ones that don't. Many federal bureaucracies haven't been reformed in any real way since the age of black-and-white television. Even if we didn't have a debt crisis, we should want to reform them. This debate is an opportunity to do so.
"By making government leaner and more efficient, we can sweep away outdated and heavy-handed regulations that have impeded private-sector growth and the job creation we so desperately need. And by reducing the debt, we can eliminate an additional drag on our economy.
"So this isn't a conversation about austerity; it's a conversation about growth and opportunity.
"That doesn't mean we're all going to agree on the path forward. Americans expect a serious policy debate. They expect both parties to offer competing plans to preserve and protect long-term entitlement programs, and they expect both sides to propose different plans to get our fiscal house in order and our country back to economic health.
"Republicans have done their part. The budgets passed by House Republicans over the past couple of years contained fresh ideas that would help solve our fiscal crisis. And policymakers from both chambers -- and from statehouses across the country -- have put forward a number of their own ideas and proposals too.
"But from the Democrats? Crickets. Four years on, President Obama and Congressional Democrats still have yet to offer a serious plan to address the economic challenges we face. They've been content to wage political war instead.
"It's my hope, however, that the debate over the debt ceiling will finally move our friends on the other side beyond their preoccupation with the horse race. Already, Senate Democrats have committed to developing a budget this year, after years of ducking their responsibility to do so. Hopefully this will be a serious exercise, and not simply an excuse for them to try to raise taxes -- which, as we know, is just another way to avoid solving core problems.
"Last week, I came to the floor with a chart that showed that even if the President got every single tax increase he asked us for, we still would not even come close to solving this problem. Not even close. So let's not waste time with more pointless arguments about tax increases. We had that debate already; it's done, it's over.
"Instead, I call on Democrats to approach the spending debate with the seriousness it demands, and to do it through regular order. We have to break this penchant among Democrats for putting off all important work until the final hour. We need to get back to regular order, which takes time. And that's why we need to get started now. Let the tough work of developing a budget and putting together long-term policies to control government spending begin today, not one minute or one hour before we come up against a deadline, but today.
"Americans deserve better than what they've been getting from Washington these past few years. Democrats were re-elected, and I congratulate them. It's time now to get serious about actually governing."