Honoring the Victims and Heroes of the Shooting on January 8, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: Jan. 26, 2011
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, first, I would like to express my strong support for the resolution on the floor honoring the victims and the heroes of the Tucson shooting, and I thank Senators Kyl and McCain for submitting it.

Let me take this opportunity to express once again my sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives that morning and to join with all those who are persevering in prayer for the injured, including Congresswoman Giffords, whose condition, thankfully, still appears to be improving day by day.

We will never forget the heroism of those who sacrificed their own safety that morning in Tucson for the good of those around them nor the dedication of those who attended to the wounded immediately after the shooting both at the scene and in the hospital rooms in the days that followed.

We thank all of them for giving us, in the midst of this horrific event, some reason for hope and a powerful example of service to follow.

It is my hope that today's resolution will help in some way to preserve the memory of the dead, the injured, and the heroes of Tucson.

Hopefully, out of this terrible national tragedy the rest of us can draw strength and inspiration, grow in concern for those around us, and deepen our sense of purpose about the work we do here every day.


Mr. President, for 2 years I have insisted again and again that the two parties can and should work together on legislation that would spur the economy, create an environment for good private sector jobs, and put our Nation on a stronger footing for the future. Last night, the President did the same. So this afternoon I would like to accept the President's offer to work together just as I did after last year's State of the Union.

I agree with the President that we can and should work together to increase, without Federal mandates, production of more domestic sources of energy, including nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas; on strengthening and protecting our borders and enforcing immigration laws; on increasing U.S. exports by completing free-trade agreements with South Korea but also Panama and Colombia; on medical liability reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits; on finding a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations of Americans; on finishing the job in Iraq and Afghanistan; and on simplifying the individual Tax Code and reducing our corporate tax rates, which are making it harder and harder for U.S. companies to compete around the world.

Working together in all these areas would help the economy by encouraging the creation of private sector jobs, improving security, and helping us keep our commitments to our children and our parents. I take the President at his word when he says he is eager to cooperate with us on doing all of it.

But achieving each of these things should be an end unto itself. It cannot be contingent on some cynical bargain whereby one party agrees to secure the border as long as the other party agrees to amnesty for illegal immigrants; where one side agrees to increase domestic energy exploration as long as the other side agrees to cripple the economy with higher fuel prices; where one side agrees to fight terror as long as the other side agrees to artificial timelines and preordained withdrawal dates--in other words, a bargain whereby the party offering to work together has no real intention of working together at all. And too often that has been the approach this President and his party have taken over the last 2 years.

Take health care. For more than a year, we offered to work with the White House and Democrats on a bill that would incorporate the best thinking on both sides. They refused every step of the way. In the end, they got the bill they wanted: a massive government-driven system that creates an unknowable number of new bureaucratic entities and two massive new government entitlements, which is already leading people to lose the care they like, which nearly two-thirds of U.S. doctors surveyed predict will lead to worse care, and which is causing already struggling businesses to struggle even more with a mountain--a mountain--of new mandates and fees. It is only after this disastrous bill has become law that the President says he is now interested in making it better, even as he belittles the legitimate concerns so many Americans continue to have about it.

He has taken the same approach to spending and debt. Two years ago, the President came to Congress and told the country we needed to invest in the future through a trillion-dollar stimulus that was supposed to be a model of transparency and efficiency. Within a year, this bill, which was sold to us as the answer to our Nation's economic woes, had become a national punch line, a tragic waste of money. And 2 years after that investment in our future was signed into law, what do we have? Nearly $3.5 trillion more in debt and nearly 3 million more Americans out of work.

These out-of-work Americans do not want to sit around and wait for the Democratic vision of the future to appear, compliments of the experts in Washington.

They are not particularly moved by someone's vision of what America could look like 40 years from now if only they hand over more of their paychecks or more of their freedoms now. They want a job. They want Washington to stop trying to help them and let them help themselves.

So the President talks a good game, but call us skeptical, because when all of the applause is over and the speeches are through, the debt is higher, more and more wasteful spending and job-stifling regulations come to light, and millions of Americans are still asking the same simple, persistent question: Mr. President, where are the jobs?

The President made some good suggestions on areas where we could work together, and we stand ready to do so, just as we have in the past. But we have now seen enough to know that what the President says and what the President does are two very different things. He has called for investments in energy before and we got the stimulus. He called for working with us on trade. We are still waiting. He said before we need to get serious about the debt, even as it reached dizzying new heights as a result of his policies. He speaks like one who recognizes that spending is out of control, and yet his response is to propose that we lock in spending levels we already know are completely unsustainable. This isn't progress. This is an admission of defeat. Americans don't want a spending freeze at unsustainable levels. They want cuts--dramatic cuts--and I hope the President will work with us on achieving them soon.

To put it simply, the President still sounds as though he is trying to have it both ways. His tone may be changing, but based on past performance we will remain skeptical until we see actual results. Republicans have pledged to the voters that we will do everything we can to cut wasteful government spending, work to lower the debt, get government out of the way of economic growth, and to work to repeal the health care bill, even as we replace that health care bill with the kind of commonsense reforms people actually want. The President has shown he is willing to talk about some of these things. Let's hope he surprises us by showing a new willingness to do more than that--to actually work with us on achieving real results.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.


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