Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, tonight the President of the United States will come to the Capitol to give us his sense of the state of the Union. This is a venerable tradition, and we welcome him. Yet it is hard not to feel a sense of disappointment even before tonight's speech is delivered because while we do not yet know all the specifics, we do know the goal. Based on what the President's aides have been telling reporters, the goal is not to conquer the Nation's problems, it is to conquer Republicans. The goal is not to prevent gridlock but to guarantee it.
Here is how the New York Times summed up the President's election-year strategy in a recent article entitled ``Obama to Turn Up Attacks on Congress in Campaign.'' Here is the quote:
In terms of the president's relationship with Congress in 2012 ..... the president is no longer tied to Washington, D.C.
According to the story, winning a full-year extension of the cut in payroll taxes is the last--the last--``must do'' piece of legislation for the White House.
Here is how a White House aide described the President's election-year strategy just a couple of weeks ago, presumably just as tonight's speech was being drafted. Referring to past displays of bipartisanship, he said:
[Then] we were in a position of legislative compromise by necessity. That phase is behind us. .....
So, as I see it, the message from the White House is that the President has basically given up. He got nearly everything he wanted from Congress for the first 2 years of his Presidency. The results are in. It is not good. So he has decided to spend the rest of the year trying to convince folks that the results of the economic policies he put in place are somehow Congress's fault and not his.
Well, my message is this: This debate is not about what Congress may or may not do in the future, it is about what this President has already done. The President's policies are now firmly in place. It is his economy now. We are living under the Obama economy. The President may want to come here tonight and make it sound as if he just somehow walked in the door. A better approach is to admit that his 3-year experiment in big government has made our economy worse and our Nation's future more uncertain and it is time for a different approach. That is the message the American people delivered to the President in November of 2010, and they are still waiting.
The President will tell the American people tonight that he has a blueprint for the economy. What he will fail to mention is that we have been working off the President's blueprint now for 3 years--for 3 years. And what has it gotten us? Millions still looking for work, trillions in debt, and the first credit downgrade in U.S. history.
The President will propose ideas tonight that sound good and have bipartisan support. If he is serious about these proposals, if he really wants to enact them, he will encourage Democrats who run the Senate to keep them free from poison pills such as tax hikes on job creators that we know from past experience turn bipartisan support into bipartisan opposition.
If the President wants someone to blame for this economy, he should start with himself. The fact is, any CEO in America with a record like this after 3 years on the job would be graciously shown the door. This President blames the managers instead. He blames the folks on the shop floor. He blames the weather.
Well, you are certainly within your rights to walk away from the legislative process if you like, Mr. President. You can point the finger all you like. But you cannot walk away from your record.
I saw a survey the other day that contained a number of sobering findings. It was a poll of small business leaders. It said that more than 8 out of 10 of them now believe the U.S. economy is on the wrong track. Eight in ten said they would rather have Washington stay out of the way than try to help them. Nearly 9 out of 10 said they would rather have more certainty from Washington than assistance. And it said that nearly one-third of all those surveyed said they are not hiring on account of the health care bill. One-third of them said they were not hiring on account of the health care bill. What this survey says to me is that the policies of this administration are literally crushing--crushing--the private sector. They are stifling job creation, and they are holding the economy back.
Americans want Washington to get out of the way. Yet this President continues to have the same two-word answer he has always had for seemingly every single problem we face: more government. And this is the economy we have to show for it.
Last week, the President had an opportunity to do something on his own about the ongoing jobs crisis. The only thing that stood in the way of the single biggest shovel-ready infrastructure project in America was him. The Keystone Pipeline was just the kind of project he had been calling for in speeches for months, and he said no; that one could wait. Here is a project he knew would create thousands of jobs instantly. He said no. A project that would not have cost taxpayers a dime. He said no. That would have brought more energy from our ally Canada and less from the Middle East. He said no. It all came down to one question: Was the Keystone Pipeline in the national interest? He said no.
As one columnist put it, his own standard was not the national interest, it was his own political interest. Americans want jobs, and the President is studying an election that took place 60 years ago to see how he can save his own job.
He sided with the liberal environmental base over the energy and security interests of the American people.
That is exactly what we are now being told we can expect for the rest of the year.
In last year's State of the Union, the President talked about how we need to win the future--win the future. This year he just wants to win the next campaign. The President can decide he is not interested in working with Congress if his party only controls one-half of it. That is his prerogative. He can give up on bipartisanship, but we will not; our problems are too urgent. The economy is too weak. The future is too uncertain.
The President knows as well as I do that when he has called for action on things for which there exists bipartisan support, Republicans have been his strongest allies. Last year in the State of the Union, he called for free-trade agreements. We worked hard to get them done and we did. Since then he called for an extension of the highway and FAA bills and the jobs that come with them. We did both with strong bipartisan support. The President asked for patent reform. We got that done too.
The President knows as well as we do we are happy to work with him whenever he is willing to work with us. If he turns his back on that good-faith offer, as we expect he will this year, we will remind people the problems we face are not about what Congress may or may not do in the future but what this President has already done--what has already happened.
Let the President turn his back on bipartisanship, let the press cover every futile speech and every staged event, but we intend to do our jobs. We invite him to join us.
I yield the floor.