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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, over the past few weeks I have come to the floor to urge the President and Senate Democrats to act on the huge fiscal challenges facing our Nation, starting with the Obama sequester. Unless Senate Democrats allow a reasonable spending cut alternative to pass this Chamber before March 1, the President's plan will go into effect. The House passed legislation to avert the Obama sequester months ago, but Senate Democrats have yet to pass an alternative bill that could actually go to conference. In fact, it took until this week for them to even say they would do an alternative, and the alternative they have come up with is clearly--clearly--designed to fail. Look, they knew this was coming more than a year ago. Yet they still haven't put forward a serious proposal of replacement spending cuts. What a colossal waste of time.
At the beginning of the year Democrats promised that things would be different. They promised to get their work done ahead of time instead of 5 minutes before the deadline, that legislation would get committee consideration and that we were going to go through the regular order.
Instead, we find ourselves in sad and familiar territory. It goes something like this: Republicans identify a challenge and propose a solution well in advance. Democrats sit on their hands until the last minute, and then they offer some gimmicky bill designed to fail. Then comes the final act: President Obama rides in to blame everyone else. Obviously, tomorrow's State of the Union Address will provide a perfect forum for that, so we will see if history repeats itself. But, frankly, this whole routine is getting quite old. Maybe I am wrong. Maybe the President and his Democratic friends are willing to break the cycle this time. If so, my party has said from the beginning that we would much prefer to replace the Obama sequester with smarter spending cuts and reforms.
Even though Republicans already passed legislation to solve the problem a long time ago, if the President wants a different solution he can call his own, that is fine. We are happy to give him the credit. But however we get it done, the time has come to finally take on Washington's spending problem in a bipartisan way, and that means the President will actually have to move beyond the gimmicks and the taxes and propose real spending reductions because I assure you that my constituents in Kentucky will not accept a tax hike in place of spending cuts already agreed to by both parties.
Remember, we agreed to reduce this amount of spending in October 2011 without raising taxes. We have already made this agreement. The question is, What are we going to do about it? I think Democrats' continued avoidance of their responsibility to deal with the huge threats to our economy and our future lies ahead.
As I said, I strongly suspect that instead of bipartisan action, the White House will subject us to yet another campaign blitz. Frankly, I could write the scripts myself. We will all be told that the President's hands are tied by the very sequester he himself proposed, signed, and now refuses to get rid of. We will be told he has no choice but to furlough civilians throughout the Defense Department, to cut off training for forces next to deploy, and to order a battle carrier to stay at home, which would diminish our presence in the Persian Gulf, when the reality is that he has responsibilities as Commander in Chief.
Let's be clear about something: If the President does choose to strike fear into the hearts of folks whom he should be reassuring, then that decision will be his alone. And that is why the next time the President delivers some over-the-top speech, flanked by some pollster-approved voter group, I hope someone on the stage taps him on the shoulder and asks, Mr. President, if you are truly worried about this issue, why aren't you working with the Congress we elected to prevent it?
It is a good question, and it is one only he can answer. We will welcome him to Capitol Hill tomorrow, and I hope he will provide an answer. Will the President lay out a serious plan to avert the Obama sequester or will he simply use this as another excuse to fire up the campaign machine? If it is the latter, he will have to live with the consequences of his choice.
Another issue we have been reading a lot about lately relates to the consequences of ObamaCare. I could stand here and tell you that Republicans warned about most of these things until we were hoarse, that we saw it all coming and said so--the higher costs, the higher premiums, the tax hikes, the lost jobs, and the potential for millions to lose their plans. The President dismissed all of that, and he got his legislative win. The question is, What is he going to do to help folks now that our predictions are all coming true? Will he be open and honest with the American people about the consequences of ObamaCare? Will he use tomorrow's speech as an opportunity to prepare them or will he simply ignore it and hope people simply don't notice?
These are just a couple of the issues Americans are worried about right now. I hope the President addresses both of them tomorrow. There is pretty broad agreement that the President spent most of his first term avoiding the issues Americans cared about most. What I am suggesting is that he not do the same thing this time around.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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