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Public Statements

Defense Sequester

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, 4 years after the great recession began, millions of Americans are still looking for work, millions more have literally dropped out of the workforce altogether, and uncertainty about our Nation's future continues to spread. The stories of disappointment and of loss haven't diminished; they have, in fact, multiplied.

What is worse, a President who was elected on a pledge that he would turn all those things around is still pointing the finger at his predecessor. Three and a half years after he took office, he is acting as though he just showed up. I think most Americans are smart enough to know he has made things worse. He has hammered small businesses with a barrage of new regulations, with dozens more in the pipeline. He expects them to plan for the future without even knowing what their tax and health care liabilities will be. Last week he even spearheaded a legislative effort to take even more of what nearly 1 million of these small businesses earn, and then he told Republicans that if we don't go along with it, he will raise taxes on everybody else.

That was the message last week: Either give me what I want--raise taxes on 1 million of our most successful small businesses--or we will let everybody's taxes go up, is what he said at the end of the week. In other words, he used small businesses as little more than a bargaining chip. The week before that he told business owners that they are not really responsible for what they have built. Listen to that. To business owners, the President said: You are not really responsible for what you have built. No amount of White House spin or manufactured outrage can change what the

President said in Roanoke, and no amount of finger-pointing can change the fact that his policies have actually made things worse.

But what is most upsetting to a lot of us is the fact that the administration pretends its policies would help the economy or create jobs when it knows they won't. It knows these policies are not going to create any jobs. What is most upsetting is the deception that lies at the heart of so many of the sales jobs, from health care to the stimulus.

Americans wanted the President to focus on jobs, and he focused on a health care bill that we now learn not only includes a tax on the middle class but will lead to hundreds of thousands of fewer jobs. Now the President claims he is fighting for the middle class, but 3 1/2 years into his Presidency their wages are still stagnant while their dependency on government assistance actually continues to rise. Wages are stagnant, and dependence on government assistance continues to rise.

In some cases the President doesn't even bother with the sales jobs; he just keeps his plans a secret. That is what we are now seeing with the defense cuts he demanded during last year's budget negotiations. Literally for weeks, Republicans asked the President to tell the American people how he planned to carry out these cuts. He refused.

Mr. President, the Senate is not in order.

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senate will be in order.

The Republican leader.

Mr. McCONNELL. As I was saying, for weeks Republicans asked the President to tell the American people how he plans to carry out these cuts. He simply refused to do so. So last week Congress passed legislation requiring him to do so. In fact, it cleared the Senate, I believe, unanimously.

Then yesterday there was this: An Assistant Secretary down at the Department of Labor is now telling people they are under no legal obligation to let employees know if they will lose their jobs as a result of these cuts. Let me say that again. We have an Assistant Secretary of Labor who just yesterday said that employers are under no legal obligation to tell their employees they may lose their jobs as a result of these cuts. In other words, the President is trying to keep those folks in the dark about whether they can expect to lose their jobs. Why? Well, I think it is pretty obvious: to insulate himself from the political fallout that will result. The President doesn't want people reading about pink slips in the weeks before his election, so the White House is telling people to keep the effects of these cuts a secret--don't tell anybody, he says, keep it a secret--until, of course, after the election. Once again, a President who holds himself out as a great defender of the middle class and the goals of organized labor is putting his own political goals ahead of the hard-working Americans who will be affected by these policies. Rather than let those who will be affected by the cuts know about them, he will make everybody nervous.

For 3 1/2 years--3 1/2 long years--this President has pushed an ideological agenda without regard for the consequences it would have on the very middle-class Americans he purports to defend.

The President may not want to admit it, but the economic mess we are in is his legacy--his legacy. After 3 1/2 years of finger-pointing--3 1/2 years of finger-pointing--he owes it to the American people to be straight about it.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.

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