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Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, tonight we will welcome the President to the Capitol to deliver his State of the Union Address.

As I mentioned yesterday, Republicans will be listening with great interest to see where the President plans to take the country over the coming year. Some media outlets are already reporting we will be subjected to another litany of leftwing proposals, with plenty of red meat for the President's base. I sure hope not. The campaign is over, and the fact is that if the President plans to accomplish anything good for the country in the coming months, he is going to have to go through a Republican-controlled House.

So this morning I would like to humbly suggest once again that it is time for the President to reach out to Congress, including Republicans, and make divided government work. That is how he will actually address the issues Americans are most concerned about right now, and it is the only way.

The first issue many of us will be listening for tonight is the President's plan for controlling spending and replacing the Obama sequester. The record is clear that the President and his aides came up with that sequester, and they got it. It is a little puzzling to see them now trying to pass it off like a hot potato.

Republicans have been very clear about the fact that we would rather enact smarter spending cuts. House Republicans even voted on the plan--not once but twice--to do just that. But Washington Democrats so far have failed to put forward a serious proposal of their own. They ignored the issue for more than 1 year before finally showing up to the debate last week with the usual gimmicks.

This is the President's chance to rally the American people around a real set of spending cuts and reforms. I will be interested to see what he plans to offer because what we have been hearing so far, frankly, isn't very encouraging. He needs to understand the American people will not accept attempts to replace deficit reduction both parties have already agreed to with tax hikes. We already agreed to reduce spending in the amount the sequester would reduce spending when we voted for the Budget Control Act back in August of 2011 and the President signed it.

What we expect the President will be offering are tax hikes we all know would be used to finance even more spending, when we promised the American people we would spend less. If the President does try to do that, then he shouldn't expect anyone else to go along, least of all the American people.

Many on both sides of the aisle support eliminating tax loopholes in the context of fundamental bipartisan tax simplification that lowers tax rates, and we hope to have a chance to do that in the months ahead. But it is bad policy to punish this industry or that one so Washington can fund 1 more week of government spending and cause more Americans to lose their jobs.

Remember, due to the operation of law, the President already got the tax increases he wanted back on January 1. Because the law expired, the President got the tax increases he wanted--not with any votes, but he got it by the operation of law. So we are done with that part of the equation. The tax issue is over.

If the President wants a balanced approach, now is the time to show his hand on the spending cuts and reforms he will accept. That is how compromise works. But when we hear the White House suggest the challenge of controlling spending is essentially complete or when we hear the House Democratic leader echo the President's claim that we don't have a spending problem, it is hard to know where to start after a ridiculous suggestion such as that.

Over the weekend I spent some time in Nelson County, KY, and I can assure everyone the folks I spoke with there strongly disagree with the President's assessment.

The truth is the President knows better than that himself. Deep down he knows spending is completely out of control. He knows the debt has already grown by $6 trillion over his 4 years in office. He knows that without spending reform, the national debt will increase to double the size of our economy in just a few decades. He knows something must be done now to save Medicare and Social Security before they go broke. Tonight is a chance to show it, to be straight with the American people, and to reveal what he plans to do about all this.

The good news is that many of the things we need to do to control spending and many of the things we need to do to get the economy moving again are all one and the same. So I was pleased to read the President might pivot to jobs again. Unfortunately, we have seen that headline so many times before. We will have to wait to see how serious it actually is. I have lost count of how many times the President has made one of those pivots. He has pivoted so many times, reporters covering the White House must be getting completely dizzy.

I also hope the President doesn't call for more Washington spending tonight. Not only is that an ineffective way to create jobs, but it is also the very reason our debt continues to climb to such completely unsustainable levels.

If the President does want to do something about job creation for a change, he should leave aside the things we know haven't worked and try some things that will, such as getting the government out of the way. Not only will that help jump-start the private economy, it will help us get spending under control at the same time. It would be a twofer. Jump-start the private economy and get spending under control at the same time is the best way to inprove this economy.

I also hope the President will use the big stage he will have tonight to finally level with the American people about the consequences of ObamaCare. They deserve to know what is about to hit them--the cost increases, the premium hikes, the taxes. They deserve to know that not only may they not be able to keep the health plan they have and like but that CBO tells us there will also be fewer jobs. I know these things will not be easy for him to say, but that is what it means to be a statesman; to be honest with the people you represent, to admit when something doesn't turn out the way you said it would.

Even if we don't hear the President speak directly to the issues Americans are most concerned about tonight, I am confident the man who is set to follow him with the Republican's response will do just that. In some ways, Senator Rubio embodies the American dream. As the child of immigrants, he is uniquely positioned to speak to the aspirations of the middle class. Unlike our rather easily distracted President, Senator Rubio has never had to pivot to jobs. He has kept a laser focus on job creation and the economy ever since he got here.

I have laid out the issues the President needs to address if he is interested in working with Republicans to get some good things done for the country in the days and months ahead. I sure hope he is listening.

I yield the floor.


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