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Public Statements

Broken Promises

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it is no secret that most Americans are tired of candidates for political office who make promises they don't keep. And who can blame them? For years, politicians have been going to Washington promising to make government more effective, more efficient, to balance the books, make life more secure, and restore Americans' confidence in their country again. And time and time again, they have either failed to get it done or didn't even make an effort in the first place.

Frankly, it is hard to think of any politician who has promised more and delivered less than our current President. He was the one who would erase old divisions and bring people together. He was the one who would rise above politics as usual and usher in a new era of bipartisan harmony. A lot of people believed him. Naturally, a lot of them are even more jaded now than ever. They are jaded because a candidate who said he was different turned out to be just another politician who seems more concerned with reelection than reform. Not only has he failed to step up to the challenges we face, he has actually aggravated them. Social Security, for example, is now expected to go broke 3 years sooner than we expected. The Tax Code is more complicated than ever. The national debt is bigger than any of us could have imagined. Health care costs are higher. Gas prices are up. Millions cannot find work. And even most college graduates--those best equipped to step into the modern economy--either cannot find work to match their skills or can't find any work at all.

Instead of fixing problems, he has made them worse.

What is he doing now? Well, the President who was supposed to change the direction of the country now wants to change the subject. He spends his days running around the country blaming whatever doesn't happen to poll well that day for the consequences of his own policies. He spent 2 years expanding government and constricting free enterprise, and now that the results are in he spends his time pointing the finger at others for problems that originated right in his White House. It is the millionaires; it is the banks; it is big oil; it is the weather; it is Fox News; it is anything but him. And it's absurd.

I mean, if you believe that a President who got everything he wanted for 2 years--2 whole years--has nothing to do with the problems we face, then I have a solar panel company to sell you.

The President spent 2 years reshaping America in the image of Western Europe, and now he wants us to believe our economy is performing as if a Western European economy has nothing to do with it.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the challenges facing the young people in America today. As we all know, one of the defining characteristics of Western European economies is the high unemployment rate, particularly among young people and recent college graduates. Sluggish growth and inflexible labor laws are two of the main reasons young people have been locked out of the labor market in those countries literally for years. Today unemployment is above 20 percent among young people in the European Union. In Spain the unemployment rate among people under the age of 25 is a staggering 50 percent.

Some of this is no doubt a result of the European debt crisis, but the more fundamental problem is decades of policies rooted in the same big government vision the President has been busy imposing right here in the United States. It is hardly a coincidence that as President Obama has tried to reshape the United States in the image of Western Europe, our own youth unemployment rate has been stubbornly high. That is what happens when you increase regulations on businesses that hire college graduates. That is what happens when you impose health care mandates on them. That is what happens when you impose new labor rules, such as the one Senator Enzi is leading the charge against this week that makes it even costlier for businesses to hire. We see the long-term effects of these things in Europe, and unless this President changes course we will see the same lack of opportunity for young people right here.

So today the President will bring his latest poll-tested message to the students at the University of North Carolina, and I am sure he will give a very rousing speech full of straw men and villains who stand in the way of their dreams. I am sure he will also express his strong support for things on which all of us already agree. But what he will not talk about is the extent to which the decisions he has made are limiting their opportunities in the years ahead.

Some of them already see this. I mean, you have to think most of these students are sharp enough to put this President's rhetoric up against his record and to conclude that it simply doesn't add up. As the promises of this President's campaign collide with real life, I think young people across the country will realize they got sold a bill of goods. The next time they are promised change, they will know enough to kick the tires first.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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