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Public Statements

Unemployment

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Today the President plans to travel to Austin, TX. I understand his trip includes a visit to a technical high school and a chat with workers. The idea, I presume, is to show folks that the White House has once again pivoted to jobs. If you are someone who is all about the visual, then, of course, putting on a pair of goggles or showing up at a factory is a great way to at least look as though you are doing something about the situation.

Whether that means you are actually getting the job done is a different story. Unfortunately, robust job creation has been talked about a lot in this administration, even as millions remain out of work or stuck in part-time jobs.

Take a look at last month's jobs report. It was touted by the White House as proof of an economy on the mend, and surely we on this side hope that will soon be the case. We are not there yet. We only have to drill down below the top line to find a lot to be concerned about. For instance, the unemployment rate technically edged down to 7.5 percent, but it actually moved up to 8 percent in my home State of Kentucky. While the Federal rate is still pretty high, even those numbers don't tell the full story. Because so many Americans have stopped looking for work altogether, we now have the lowest labor force participation rate since Jimmy Carter.

Our actual Federal unemployment rate is nearly 11 percent. That is quite a ways off from the 5 percent or so the administration boldly predicted we would have by now if only Congress would pass the stimulus.

Consider this. If all we did was match the average of recoveries since World War II, we would have about 4 million more private sector jobs than we do today. That is how much worse this recovery is than other recoveries since the war.

Unfortunately, that is the Obama economy. I hope the President is traveling to Austin today because he is finally serious about turning that around, about changing course and implementing policies that might actually work to get the economy moving again. Given that he will be in Texas, he might want to think about developing more jobs in the energy sector. It is a huge industry--huge--not just in Texas but all across our country. His administration has the power, if it chooses, to spur more job-creating energy resource exploration and development.

There is a lot more Texas is doing right too. That is why it has been touted as a national leader in job creation. One study showed Texas, with less than 10 percent of the population, accounted for almost one-third of private sector jobs created in high-paying sectors in recent years. If the President is interested in duplicating that success at the Federal level, he might take note of the fact that policymakers in Austin have taken a very different approach from Washington when it comes to how they tax and spend.

Basically, they do less of it with no income tax, for instance, and a low ratio of spending per capita. They don't ram through laws such as ObamaCare.

I hear the President plans to hold another event tomorrow where he will claim that ObamaCare is helping women. Let me tell a story of how ObamaCare is affecting one woman, and I am sure there are many more just like her.

The Wall Street Journal recently profiled a businesswoman named Elizabeth. She is in the clothing business, and she had been hoping to hire more employees. But thanks to ObamaCare, Elizabeth is now being forced to turn to independent contractors because if she brings on just a few more people and exceeds 50 employees, the government could punish her business.

There are many other small businesswomen who will see their dreams crushed under the weight of ObamaCare's nearly 20,000 pages of regulations. There are many women in their twenties and thirties who will be unable to afford the law's massive premium increases. There are many mothers who will not be able to get by if their employers cut their hours due to ObamaCare or if they lose their jobs because of it.

Here is something else to consider. This morning, Speaker Boehner and I informed the President we will not be recommending individuals to serve on the Independent Payment Advisory Board. The IPAB, as some call it, is a commission set up by ObamaCare that is charged with reducing Medicare payments to health care providers and determining what services should be available to seniors. Of course, we know that will lead to access problems, waiting lists, and denied care for seniors--what most people would call rationing. It threatens to disproportionately affect women too.

According to the Department of Labor, women make approximately 80 percent of health care decisions for their families and are more likely to be the caregivers when a family member falls ill. That family member could be a child, could be a spouse, or, more often these days, a parent who relies on Medicare. We want to know Medicare will be there to take care of them, and we want to know those decisions will be made between patients, their families, and their physicians, not an unaccountable board of bureaucrats such as the IPAB--one that even has the power to overrule payment decisions made by Congress and signed into law by the President. That is how powerful IPAB is.

So the President should rethink the purpose of this event. I hope he will use it instead as a platform to prepare women for the actual consequences many of them will soon face under ObamaCare.

More broadly, the President needs to get out in front of this train wreck before Americans--men and women alike--are completely blindsided by it. Polling suggests that almost half of Americans are unsure how ObamaCare will affect their families. So he really needs to get out there and prepare them for what is coming.

If the President is truly concerned about jobs, then it is time for him to admit ObamaCare was a mistake and work with Congress to repeal it because we need reforms that lower the cost of care. What we don't need is a 2,700-page law and a resulting tower of redtape that will continue to kill jobs and hurt our economy.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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