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Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the Obama economy has been pretty rough on our Nation's young people. If you are a teenager looking for work over the summer break or if you are a high-schooler looking for a part-time job after school, good luck with that. The unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is 25 percent--25 percent--which is near historic highs. If you are a college graduate, things don't look much brighter. In fact, the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-olds is over 13 percent.
It hardly needs mentioning at this point that many Americans are likely to see their hours cut or their jobs disappear altogether as ObamaCare continues to come online. That is because so far we know that the President's new health care law will impose about 20,000 pages of onerous regulations and probably many more than that when all is said and done.
Many of these regulations will hit small businesses, which create the majority of new jobs in our country. Many of these regulations will hit part-time workers very hard. For instance, the law punishes businesses if they allow employees to work too many hours. So it is no surprise when we read any one of the numerous stories about companies slashing hours. It also punishes businesses if they dare to give jobs to too many people, so, of course, it will probably lead them to slash jobs or actually limit hiring.
I am sure the Washington Democrats who drafted ObamaCare thought they were striking some blow for ``fairness'' with these job-crushing ideas. Well, now the youth of our country are finding out what Democrats' so-called fairness means for them. It means smaller paychecks or no paychecks at all. It must seem pretty unfair from where they stand.
It actually gets a lot worse. Many experts predict that ObamaCare will also cause health care premiums to skyrocket, especially for younger Americans. Some studies show that young men in particular could see rate increases of 50 percent--50 percent--or more. Think about that. You work your tail off in high school just to get into a good college. You spend 4 years pulling all-nighters and cramming for finals, all for the privilege of putting on a gown, accepting your degree, and potentially spending who knows how long frantically searching to find work. Then, if you are lucky--if you are lucky--your hours get cut after you find a job or maybe your job gets cut altogether. You get a letter in the mail that says: Sorry, your premium is going up by double-digits. Can't pay the higher premium? Too bad. If you don't, Uncle Sam slaps you with a penalty tax. And for all the talk of subsidies, the studies indicate these payments from taxpayers might not even make up for the higher costs.
Look, I would be pretty disillusioned if I were in that position, and I think everyone else would be also. Well, it could get worse if Washington Democrats don't start getting serious about working with Republicans on student loans too. As I mentioned last week, President Obama and Republicans actually agree in broad terms on the way forward for student loan reform. As the President's Secretary of Education told Politico yesterday--this is the Obama administration's Secretary of Education:
My strong preference would be for a longer-term solution, and not to just keep solving it this year, and then the next year and then the next year.
So it is time for Senate Democrats to stop blocking us from enacting permanent reform because Federal rates for new student loans are set to double--double--if we don't act soon.
Several Senate Democratic leaders have basically already admitted to the media that they would rather have a failed bill they can morph into a campaign issue than a signed bill that can help 100 percent of students.
It is time for that to change, and they should not assume younger Americans will be that easily tricked one more time in 2014. These young men and women may be drowning in the Obama economy, but it is not because they are dumb or lazy or apathetic. It is because of policies dreamed up in Washington during the years of the Obama administration.
As the days go by, these young Americans are discovering just how unfairly Washington Democrats have treated them in the past few years.
KEEPING A COMMITMENT
Finally, Mr. President, we have been discussing on a daily basis whether the majority leader will keep the commitment he made at the beginning of the last two Congresses that no rules changes would be made other than by following the rules. In other words, the commitment was: I will not break the rules of the Senate in order to change the rules of the Senate.
My friend the majority leader has made that commitment on two occasions. He made it in January of 2011 for the next two Congresses. We are in the second Congress now. At the beginning of this Congress, we had an extensive discussion about rules changes, after which the vast majority of Senate Republicans supported two rules changes and two standing orders, and in return for those changes we made, the majority leader committed once again that for this Congress he would not pull the nuclear trigger, as we call it around here, use the nuclear option; in other words, turn the Senate into the House.
So the majority leader will be confronted with his promise, his commitment, on a daily basis until we understand fully that he intends to keep his commitment to the Senate and to the American people.
I yield the floor.
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