Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, yesterday, we learned our economy contracted for the first time in more than 3 years. This news comes, of course, after President Obama spent an entire election promising Americans that a return to robust economic growth was right around the corner and little more than 1 week after the President said in his inaugural address that ``economic recovery has begun.''
I am not so sure the people of Kentucky would agree with that assessment, given that the unemployment rate there is still above 8 percent. But this is not the first or the second time this White House has oversold the recovery. It is not even the third or fourth time. A lot of us remember the ``summer of recovery.'' A lot of us also remember when the Vice President promised the stimulus would ``literally drop-kick'' us out of the recession.
Look, if the White House spent nearly as much time trying to actually fix the economy as it did claiming it was fixed--and then finding excuses and scapegoats when its premature pronouncements turned out to be false--I suspect the economy would actually be doing better than it is today. But the President seems not to have learned that lesson because, just yesterday, he tried to pin the latest negative economic news on congressional Republicans once again.
The President can make any excuse he wants, but it is not going to help Americans find jobs.
One thing the President could have done instead of wasting so much time blaming others would have been to convene the Jobs Council he created amidst so much fanfare. He has not done that for more than 1 year. In fact, from what I understand, the Council is expected to actually disband today after having met only four times since 2011.
We have had 4 years of the Obama economy. It has not worked. This would be the time to try something new. But the President seems content to simply double down on more of the same. He wants to spend more, which would only worsen our trillion-dollar deficits. The very same President who warned against raising taxes in a down economy is proposing to raise taxes in a down economy. He is clearly getting a big assist on that front from the chairwoman of the Budget Committee, who says she is going to include tax hikes in the Senate Democrats' budget plan. That is a bad enough idea to begin with, but it is especially counterproductive considering yesterday's dismal growth numbers, because there are two things we know about tax increases for sure; first, they reduce jobs and hurt economic growth; second, they distract us from addressing the real problem, which is spending.
As I have explained repeatedly on the floor over the past 2 weeks, government spending is completely out of control--completely out of control--and it is projected to get much worse in years to come. Even if the President got the additional tax increases he is asking for, we still would not even come close--not even close--to solving the problem. We certainly will not get there by wasting time on poll-tested PR gimmicks that will hardly bring in any revenue. Every minute the administration spends talking about corporate jets is 1 less minute we have to discuss serious ways to confront the challenges we face. Clearly, it is the spending we have to deal with, and now is the perfect time to do so.
The key to robust recovery is freeing the private sector to grow and to create jobs. We can do that by making government more efficient, by reforming spending, and by eliminating programs that do not work--which happens to be the very same things we need to do to get our fiscal house in order.
Economic growth and debt reduction can actually go hand in hand but only if we pursue the right policies. As a first step, let's stop making things worse than they already are. Threatening families and businesses with even more job-killing tax hikes is clearly counterproductive and so is trying to borrow more money from China to fund more failed stimulus packages.
The President and his allies have had 4 years--4--to put their ideas into practice. Those policies have failed. It is time for a new approach. If Democrats are ready to finally get serious--to end the blame game and pursue real growth policies--then Republicans are here to show them the way forward to a stronger economy and to a more secure future.