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Public Statements

Playing by the Rules

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, later today the House of Representatives will take an important vote. At bottom, it is a vote on whether lawmakers in Washington should continue to be exempt from the rules.

Over the past 2 years, millions of Americans have lost jobs and homes. Tragically, many have stopped looking for work altogether. They think the situation won't improve. When one considers how Democrats in Washington have responded to this historic jobs crisis, it is no wonder. For 2 years, Democrats in Washington have pushed one proposal after another that has kept the economy from growing and stifled the creation of good private sector jobs. They have tried to tax energy consumption. They have picked winners and losers in industry. They have handcuffed small business owners with a mountain of stifling regulations, including a health care bill that nonpartisan experts predict could lead to hundreds of thousands of more lost jobs. Earlier this month, at a time when economists say rising gas prices could delay an economic recovery even longer, Democrats proposed--get this--a change in the current tax laws that would amount to a new tax on everyone who drives a car or truck in America--a minivan tax.

While the American people have been begging lawmakers to remove the burdens of government so they can do the work of growing the economy and creating private sector jobs, Democrats in Washington have been focused single-mindedly on growing government instead. In order to do it, they have basically exempted themselves from the rules. They have said that while the rest of the country has had to tighten its belt in a down economy, Washington can continue on its spending binge in order to grow the government. They have said that while American families have had to pay off their credit cards, Washington can continue to rack up debt. They have said that while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, they don't have to. That is what this afternoon's vote in the House is all about.

This bill should not be controversial. It has only become controversial because Democratic leaders in Congress have resisted every effort--every effort--to rein in their spending bills. This bill proposes to cut spending for the next 2 weeks by $4 billion, and they have fought it tooth and nail. They refuse to admit that Washington has a spending problem. But the verdict is in. For 2 years, Democrats in Washington have spent trillions more than we had in the Treasury. And if expanding the size and scope of government was the goal, it was a big success. But if helping the economy and helping people find jobs was the goal, it has been a disaster. What has $3 trillion more in debt gotten us? Three million more lost jobs.

Tonight's vote is an opportunity for House Democrats to admit the status quo isn't working. It is a chance to take a small first step toward growing the economy and helping create jobs. Then, later this week, Democrats in the Senate will have the same opportunity to show that they get it. Americans are watching. They want us to acknowledge that we need to play by the same rules they do. They want us to tighten our belts, too, and show we are in this together.


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