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Public Statements

Recognition of the Minority Leader

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, today, the President will continue his campaign road tour in Chattanooga. We hear he plans to make an announcement about corporate taxes. And while I understand he is looking for headlines here, reports indicate that the policy he intends to announce doesn't exactly qualify as news. It is just a further-left version of a widely panned plan he already proposed 2 years ago--this time with extra goodies for tax-and-spend liberals.

The plan, which I just learned about last night, lacks meaningful bipartisan input, and the tax hike it includes is going to dampen any boost businesses might otherwise get to help our economy. In fact, it could actually hurt small businesses. And it represents an unmistakable signal that the President has literally backed away from his campaign-era promise to corporate America that tax reform would be revenue neutral to them.

Not only is this a rebuke to one of his party's most senior Senators--the Finance Committee Chairman--it also represents a serious blow to one of the best chances for true bipartisan action in Washington. I truly hope the President reconsiders this plan and consults with Congress before moving any further.

Two summers ago, Republicans and Democrats came together to agree on a set of spending caps for the following decade. President Obama agreed to it, as did the leaders of both parties in the Senate and the House.

It was essentially a promise made to the American people that Washington would reduce spending by $2.1 trillion, and I was happy to help lead the effort.

Well, 2 years later Democrats are now trying to find ways to walk away from it.

They are pressing to abandon the 2011 agreement in favor of higher spending, as evidenced by appropriations bills like the one we're considering this week--which hikes up spending by double digits. And the President is now actually threatening to veto bills that live up to that commitment we all made.

Let me repeat that: The President of the United States who, during the campaign, took credit for the very savings Democrats now want to walk away from, is threatening to veto spending bills that would actually follow the law and live up to the commitment he himself signed.

This represents a stunning shift for Democrats, who just recently were warning against breaking the agreement. The Chairwoman of the Budget Committee said last year that we have to be able to count on agreements that have been made, instead of threatening a Government shutdown. Yet that is just what she and her party are now threatening to do--to shut down the Government unless an agreement we all made is torn up and thrown away.

So if Democrats want to shut down the Government because they can't wiggle their way out of a deal they agreed to, I guess there is not much we can do to stop them. But Republicans intend to stick by the commitments made to our constituents.

That said, there is also this to remember: Republicans have always said that there may be more effective ways to achieve comparable spending reductions. If Democrats want to propose smarter spending cuts that achieve the same kind of savings they committed to in 2011, we are ready to listen. Comprehensive Government spending reforms would be a good place to start.

Because Republicans understand that America's largest fiscal challenges stem from the fact that programs our fellow Americans hope to rely on in their most vulnerable years are going bankrupt. And Republicans are saying that the only way to avert the kind of panicked, poorly thought out spending cuts and tax increases we have seen in Europe is to implement forward-looking reforms today. That is why it is always so amusing when the President and his allies try to brand the kind of innovative government spending reforms we favor as ``European-style austerity,'' as he implied again this weekend.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, what the Europeans are doing in response to the threats from their creditors is essentially the opposite of the approach favored by Republicans. The type of long-term spending reforms we envision are often the only antidote against the kind of austerity we see in Europe. Because European austerity is not about protecting future generations from spending cuts, it is about staying afloat today. And the tax increases Europeans enact under duress--and the kind of pain Detroiters experience under bankruptcy--these are exactly the things Republicans aim to avoid. And we aim to avoid those things by acting intelligently today, while we still have time.

Unlike Democrats, Republicans are not looking for some colorless discussion about raising taxes here or snipping there or moving numbers around on a budget chart. We would rather have a more holistic, forward-looking conversation, one about modernizing Government to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Where we ask questions like:

How do we modernize entitlement programs so they'll actually be accessible to Americans when they need them?

Which government programs should be reformed, updated, or no longer make sense in a 21st Century economy? How can services be delivered in the most efficient and technologically savvy way?

And what structural reforms can we implement to ensure the most robust economic growth and job creation for this generation and those to come?

By addressing the big questions now--by identifying and implementing forward-looking reforms today--we can do a lot more than just reduce the deficit in the short term. We can also create jobs now, grow the economy now, make Government work better now, and eliminate the threat of a debt crisis everyone knows is coming, a debt crisis that would usher in the very kind of European-style austerity Democrats claim not to like, but keep accelerating towards.

But in order for this to happen, Democrats need to work with us.

As a first step, they should step back from the brink with their plan to shut down the Government. And they need to stop threatening to tear up agreements we all previously assented to. The Budget Control Act might not be perfect, but at least we were able to secure important spending control for the American people. And if Democrats want to trade some savings for innovative reforms that can serve our country even better over the long term, then there are policymakers ready to talk.

But Republicans are not going to just give up on the commitments made to our constituents. Not only would that be a betrayal of a promise we all made, but we have already seen where the Democrats' left-leaning policies and European-inspired ideas lead.

More of that is the last thing our country needs right now.

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