WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the need for the President to address the consequences of Obamacare and make the case for spending cuts in his State of the Union address tonight:
“Tonight, we’ll 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 that we’ll be subjected to another litany of left-wing proposals, with plenty of red meat for the President’s base. I hope not. The campaign is over, and the fact is, if the President plans to accomplish anything good for the country in the coming months, he’s going to have to go through a Republican-controlled House.
“So this morning I’d like to humbly suggest once again that it’s time for the President to reach out to Congress, including Republicans, and make divided government work. That’s how he’ll actually address the issues Americans are most concerned about right now. It’s the only way.
“The first thing 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, so it’s a little puzzling to see them now try to pass it off like a hot potato. Republicans have been very clear about the fact that we’d rather enact smarter spending cuts. House Republicans even voted on a plan – 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 a year before finally showing up to the debate last week with the usual gimmicks.
“So this is the President’s chance to rally the American people around a real set of spending cuts and reforms.
“I’ll be interested to see what he plans to offer, because what we’ve been hearing so far isn’t encouraging.
“He needs to understand that the American people will not accept attempts to replace deficit reduction both parties have already agreed to with tax hikes – tax hikes that we all know Democrats would use to finance even more spending. 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 just that in the months ahead.
“But it’s bad policy to punish this industry or that one so that Washington can fund one more week of government spending – and cause more Americans can lose their jobs. And remember: due to the operation of law, the President already got the tax increases he wanted on January 1.
“So we’re done with the tax part of the equation.
“If the President really wants a ‘balanced’ approach, now’s the time to show his hand on the spending cuts and reforms he’ll accept. That’s how compromise works. But when we hear the White House suggest that the challenge of controlling spending is essentially complete, or when we hear the House Democrat leader echo the President’s claim that we don’t have a spending problem – well, it’s hard to know where to start.
“Over the weekend, I spent some time in Nelson County, Kentucky, and I can assure you that the folks I spoke with strongly disagree with the President’s assessment. And the truth of the matter is, the President knows better too. Deep down, he knows spending is completely out of control. He knows that the debt’s already grown by $6 trillion over his four 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 that something must be done now to save Medicare and Social Security before they go broke. And tonight is his 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 one in the same. So I was pleased to read that the President might ‘pivot’ to jobs tonight.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen that headline so many times before, we’ll have to wait to see how serious it is. I’ve lost count of how many times the President’s made one of these ‘pivots.’
“I mean, he’s pivoted so many times, reporters covering the White House must be getting 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 unsustainable levels. If the President really does want to do something about job creation for a change, he should leave aside the things that we know haven’t worked, and try some things that will: like getting government out of the way. Not only will that help jumpstart the private economy, it will help us get spending under control at the same time. So it would be a two-fer.
“I also hope the President will use the big stage he’ll have tonight to finally level with the American people about the consequences of ObamaCare. They deserve to know what’s about to hit them – the cost increases, the premium hikes, the taxes. And they deserve to know that not only may they not be able to keep the health plan they like, but that CBO tells us there will also be fewer jobs. I know those things won’t be easy for him to say. But that’s 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.
“Now, even if we don’t hear the President doesn’t speak directly to the issues Americans are most concerned about tonight, I’m confident the man who is set to follow him with the Republican response will.
“In some ways, Senator Rubio embodies the American dream. As the child of immigrants, he’s uniquely positioned to speak to the aspirations of the middle class. And unlike our rather easily distracted President, Senator Rubio has never had to ‘pivot’ to jobs.
“He’s kept a laser-focus on job creation and the economy ever since he got here.
“So, I’ve laid out the things the President needs to address if he’s interested in working with Republicans to get some good things done for our country in the days and months ahead.
“I hope he’s listening.”