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Stop the Student Loan Interest Rate Hike Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, before I was Republican leader, I was probably best known as a lonely warrior against campaign finance reform on the grounds that it violates the first amendment right to free speech. Before that, I was probably best known--at least in some quarters--for an ad that I ran in my first Senate campaign that featured a pack of bloodhounds running around looking for my opponent, who had missed so many votes giving paid speeches around the country that we thought we should call him out on it. Well, I can't help but think back on that ad when it comes to Senate Democrats and the Federal budget. Where in the world is it? Where is the budget?

We have a nearly $16 trillion debt. We are borrowing more than 40 cents of every dollar we spend. Entitlements are going broke. Millions are out of work. And Senate Democrats can't even put a plan on a piece of paper so we can have a vote. What are they doing over there? What are they doing?

Isn't anybody over there embarrassed by the fact that they haven't offered a budget in 3 years? It has been 3 years since the Democrat-led Senate felt it needed to put a budget together so the American people can see what their priorities are and what they plan to do to fix this mess, 3 years in which they have completely abdicated their responsibility as the majority party to show the American people what they stand for, to put their vision in black and white for all the world to see. The fact is they don't have it. They don't have a budget.

As far as I can tell, their only plan is to take shots at our plans and hope nobody notices that they don't have one of their own. They are so unserious, they won't even vote for a budget that was written by a President of their own party. It doesn't get more irresponsible than that.

I think Treasury Secretary Geithner summed it up pretty well when he was asked a few months ago what the administration planned to do to address entitlements--the single biggest driver of the national debt. Here is what the Secretary of the Treasury had to say:

We're not coming before you today to say we have a definite solution to that long-term problem. What we do know is, we don't like yours.

You have to give the guy points for candor--no plan of his own, but he doesn't like ours. What breathtaking disregard for the problems we face.

So if you are looking for a simple three-word description of the Democratic approach to the problems we face, it is this: Duck and cover. Duck and cover. They don't have a budget of their own. They are going to vote against their own President's budget later today, in all likelihood, and they are going to vote against every budget Republicans put up.

Now, the majority leader has tried to get around all this by suggesting that the Budget Control Act we negotiated last fall should count as a budget since it sets the top-line amount we are going to spend. But he knows as well as I do that is not a budget. A budget is a list of priorities. It reflects your values as a party. It shows the tough choices you are willing to make. It is not just dollar figures, it is a vision. It is the responsibility of any majority party to put one together, to stand and be counted. But since Democrats refuse to do their duty by the Nation, Republicans will attempt to do it for them.

Later today we will vote on five different budget proposals: the President's, Congressman Paul Ryan's, Senator Pat Toomey's, Senator Paul's, and Senator Mike Lee's. We will give Democrats a choice and see if they have the courage to get behind any of these proposals--or none of them--and we will learn a lot in the process.

By the end of the day we will know whether there is a budget that Washington Democrats support, and the American people will know without a doubt who is voting for solutions in this town and who isn't. They will know who has a plan to fix the mess we are in and who doesn't. They will know who would rather spend their time criticizing others than doing the hard work of setting priorities and making choices.

Senate Democrats do not want to explain how they will fix the fiscal mess we are in. They do not want to say how they will preserve and strengthen entitlements. What they want to do is complain about others. They are putting their desire for campaign material ahead of their responsibility to govern.

The tragedy is every year they do so, the problems we face only get worse. The debt gets bigger, entitlements get closer to insolvency, and the American people have to go another year wondering when things will ever change.

Some people up here think it is time to do something now and we will know who those people are by their votes.

Madam President, I now ask the Chair execute the order with respect to the five motions to proceed to the budget resolutions provided for under the order.


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