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Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I am going to take another opportunity to congratulate the Louisville Cardinals for an incredible championship win last night. It was a truly exciting game. I know my colleagues from Michigan take great pride in the fact that not just one but two of their schools were in the Sweet 16.

But you know we Americans love a story about somebody getting knocked down and picking themselves up again. That is why it was such a great moment to see Kevin Ware cut the net last night. They had to lower the rim a bit, as I am sure it is difficult to climb a ladder with a cast on your right leg, but let me just say to him and to the entire University of Louisville, my undergraduate alma mater: Well done. You have truly made our State proud.


Today, Mr. President, I plan to talk about the President's budget, but first I also wish to say a word about Margaret Thatcher.

Margaret Thatcher was one of the most transformative political figures of the 20th century. She was a revolutionary, a tireless tribune for what she called ``popular capitalism''--her ``crusade to enfranchise the many.'' Thatcher's methods were razor-sharp wit and the force of her will, which had toughened through decades of literally plowing through obstacles.

A woman of humble beginnings, she charged headfirst against a cross-partisan ruling class that had become calcified in office, an elite clique that had grown impotent in the face of the sort of postwar economic challenges that have long since drained the vitality from Western democracies that never had a leader like her.

The starched dukes and faceless union men who traditionally alternated the reins of British power sneered at ``that woman,'' as they called her--the ``grocer's daughter'' who knew nothing of their ways, whose middle-class instincts were unsuited to the business of governing. Yet she outmaneuvered them all.

When Margaret Thatcher finally wrested the keys of office from those who had made peace with Britain's decline in a way she never could and never would, she set in motion a whirlwind of reforms.

None of those were easy. The vested interests opposed her every move. But in the teeth of fierce opposition, she ignited what could best be described as a political and economic earthquake--one with a tide of global reverberations.

The kind of policies and ideas she inspired saw dictatorships and entrenched bureaucracies come crashing down, grinding poverty lose its grip, and the fossils of socialism recede into the surf. In the wake of this wave of reform stood freer people with a greater say over their own lives and a greater hope for the future.

That is Margaret Thatcher's legacy. In some ways, the parallels to our own day are hard to escape.

When Margaret Thatcher took office, Britain was gripped by wrenching economic turmoil--turmoil of a somewhat different kind than, but not entirely dissimilar to, our own. But through unbending confidence in the power of free markets and in the power of free people to order their lives more intelligently than centralized elites, she literally turned the tide.

So we mourn her passing, but we still have much to learn from her courage and example. Because in the years ahead, we will need to draw from it as conservatives look to turn the tide in the United States and to set about a renewal of our own.


Tomorrow the President is set to unveil his budget--the details of his plan for America's future. Is it going to be a visionary blueprint that focuses on growing the economy instead of the government, a budget that can help, rather than continue to hurt, job creation? Is it going to be a budget that balances 10 years from now, 20 years from now, ever? Is it going to be a reformist document that makes bold choices? Will he finally drop the tax hike fanaticism that is, frankly, starting to enter the realm of the absurd?

From what we have heard so far, the prospects do not look all that great. We hear that, just like the Senate Democratic budget, it will never balance--ever. We hear it contains only about $600 billion or less in deficit savings over 10 years, which is roughly the level of the deficit in the first 6 months of this fiscal year. We hear it contains new spending proposals and does little to address the drivers of our debt. We hear it contains tax hike upon tax hike upon tax hike--and, in fact, all the deficit reduction I just mentioned would be derived from myriad tax increases rather than spending reductions.

So apart from reports of a modest entitlement change--and we will need to see the details on that--it sounds as if the White House just tossed last year's budget in the microwave.

Look, this budget is already 2 months late, so I sincerely hope it is not the case that it is just a warmed-over version of last year. Because if it is, what a colossal waste of time and what a disappointment. The American people deserve a lot better than that.

In a statement released yesterday, President Obama said Margaret Thatcher taught us that ``we are not simply carried along by the currents of history ..... [that] we can shape them with moral conviction, unyielding courage and iron will.''

What I am saying this morning is that this is your moment to do just that, Mr. President--your moment.

Lady Thatcher did not save her country from the abyss by taking half-measures or tiptoeing around special interest groups. She pushed through groundbreaking reform after groundbreaking reform, usually under heavy fire from all sides, and often over the objections of powerful leaders in her own party and Cabinet.

Had she governed by opinion poll, I am sure she would have been a lot more popular while in office, and Britain would have never recovered from the abysmal state in which she found it.

So, Mr. President, if you are ready to embrace bold reform, to take the steps that are needed to make our entitlement programs permanently solvent and grow the economy, then Republicans are ready to work with you because the time for pretending America's challenges can be solved with more of the same is over--over. The time has come to summon the political courage to move beyond the status quo, to put the tax hikes and the poll-tested gimmicks aside, and to do finally what must be done.

I yield the floor.

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