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Public Statements

Buffett Rule

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, if there is one thing on which every American can agree right now it is that we have serious challenges in this country and that time is not on our side. Action needs to be taken soon. To cite a few things, everybody is holding their breath waiting for the Federal debt to catch up with us. It is not a question of if, it is a question of when. Many young people are basically giving up on the American dream. Seniors and those approaching retirement are concerned about the safety and sustainability of entitlements. Working Americans and those who employ them are frustrated by the growth and the reach of government. And nearly 14 million Americans who cannot find work are wondering how it got so hard to land a good-paying job in what is supposed to be the most prosperous economy on Earth. All these people know we are in rough shape. They live it every day and, frankly, a lot of them have given up hope that lawmakers here in Washington are interested in doing anything at all that would help.

But the truth is that there is some good news to report out of Washington; that is, the growing bipartisan consensus not only about the existence of these problems but also about the proper solution. Just about everybody agrees that comprehensive tax reform would help turn this economy around, strengthen entitlements, spur innovation and economic growth, and create jobs.

The problem is that we have a President who seems more interested in pitting people against each other than he is in actually doing what it takes to face these challenges head on and to solve them in a bipartisan manner. And if anybody had any doubt about that, the President's relentless focus on this so-called Buffett tax over the past few weeks should have dispelled it.

This entire debate has been very illuminating for a lot of folks. It has revealed a lot about this President. By wasting so much time on this political gimmick that even Democrats admit will not solve our larger problems, it has shown that the President is actually more interested in misleading people than he is in leading. I know that may sound a little strong to some, but just step back and think about what is going on here. We have a $15 trillion debt. Some call it the most predictable crisis in history. We have the largest tax increase in the history of the country looming that will hit every single American who pays income taxes in less than 9 months from today.

Well, President Obama looked at the options in front of him, sat down with his political advisers, and said: You know what, let's go with a poll-tested tax increase on investment and job creation that will not fix anything and will not pass anyway, instead of actually doing something about the debt and the deficit. It is the same thing on gas prices; the President looked at $4-a-gallon gasoline and said: Let's go with a poll-tested tax on energy manufacturers, which would increase the price at the pump instead of actually doing something to solve the problem. Is this not precisely the kind of thing President Obama campaigned against in the first place--politics as usual? But that is all we get. The worse our problems get, the less serious he becomes. The more people coalesce around a bipartisan solution, the more he focuses on something that is completely irrelevant or that has absolutely no chance of passing.

We are in a crisis here and, sadly, it is all politics all the time. Somewhere along the way this President seems to have forgotten why he was elected. For him, it is not about jobs or the economy, it is about his idea of fairness, about imposing it on others. And if we lose more jobs in the process, oh, well, so be it.

Just take the Buffett tax. Anytime the President proposed anything in the past, he told us how many jobs it would create, whether it was the FAA bill, the highway bill, the stimulus--you name it. Apparently, those days are over. Nobody is even claiming this creates jobs. It is all about the President's idea of fairness now.

I think Americans are tired of the blame game. They want their President to solve problems, not point fingers. They think their President should spend his time working on a solution between the two parties instead of running around the country trying to distract people from his own inability to get the job done, instead of running around lecturing everybody on fairness.

The President is using two arguments in favor of the Buffett tax. First, he says it is a matter of fairness. Second, he thinks the government would do a better job of investing the money than the people he hopes to take it from. First, it is a matter of fairness and, second, he assumes the government would do a better job of using that money than the people he is taking it from.

On the first point, I think most people have heard enough about the President's notion of fairness to know it does not match up with theirs. To most people, what is fair about America is that they can earn their success--earn their success--and expect to be rewarded for it. Nobody ever crossed an ocean or a desert to come here for government health care. People come here because they think everybody has a shot at something more than that.

It is a point my colleague, the junior Senator from Wyoming, hit home pretty well this morning in an op-ed he wrote for Investor's Business Daily. It is entitled ``Buffett Tax Divides Americans, But Solves Nothing.''

I ask unanimous consent that be printed in the Record.


Mr. McCONNELL. Here is some of what he wrote. This is Senator Barrasso:

President Obama thinks it's fair that our children and grandchildren will be burdened with debt because of his unprecedented reckless spending. Washington borrows 42 cents of every dollar it spends.

The President thinks that is fair.

He thinks it's fair to pile another $40,000 of debt onto every household in the U.S. over the last three years.

The President thinks that is fair.

He thinks it's fair to use college students as props for his campaign-style rallies, without explaining how his bad policies will leave them in debt.

He thinks it's fair to force hardworking taxpayers to subsidize a wealthy person's purchase of a hybrid luxury car--because it fits his idea for American energy.

He thinks it's fair to hand out hundreds of millions of tax dollars to politically connected solar energy companies that then go bankrupt.

He thinks it's fair to tell thousands of workers they won't have jobs because he blocked the Keystone XL pipeline--to solidify the support of a few far left environmentalists.

And apparently, President Obama thinks it's fair that three years of his policies have left us with more people on food stamps, more people in poverty, lower home values, higher gas prices, and higher unemployment.

Senator Barrasso then explained what he thinks Americans actually think fairness consists of: equality of opportunity and freedom for everybody to pursue their dreams without government blocking the way.

For the President, fairness is about taking from some and giving it to others. It is about taking from taxpayers and giving it to solar companies. It is about taking from the private economy and giving it to government workers so they can blow it on an $823,000 awards dinner for themselves. It is anything but fair.

As for the President's second argument--well, you tell me. What about the way government spends the money it gets from taxpayers makes anybody think they would do a better job with the money they hope to get from this tax? Does anybody seriously think the government would do a better job spending this money than the people from whom they would extract this additional tax? It is completely ludicrous. Until Washington can show that it is a better steward of taxpayer dollars, or that it knows how to invest in a winner, it should not expect people to hand over another penny.

Here is my point: We have serious problems to address, and the President is not behaving seriously. There is a need and a growing desire on both sides of the aisle to do something. The President needs to step up and provide the serious leadership he promised the American people, and our folks--all 306 million people in this country--have every right to expect something better.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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