WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding the missed opportunity to propose serious solutions to our nation’s economic challenges during the President’s State of the Union address:
“I’d like to say a word about last night’s State of the Union.
“To me at least, the occasion cried out for bold and courageous leadership from a re-elected President who has run his last campaign it called for a President who was willing to stare down America's challenges, reject the easy choices, and step outside his political comfort zone — to unite a deeply divided public behind a common goal.
“Sadly, history will record no such moment.
“An opportunity to bring the country together instead became another retread of lip service and liberalism. For a Democratic President entering his second term, it was simply unequal to the moment.
“Following four years of this President’s unwillingness to challenge liberal dogma, we got more of the same.
“The President spoke about energy infrastructure but didn't mention the Keystone pipeline. He chose the nation's biggest stage to promote something that’s inefficient and costly, like solar panels, instead of something that’s proven and reliable — and domestically produced — like coal.
“He advocated tax reform, but mostly as a way to increase the size of government, not as a way to increase our competitiveness.
“He spoke of workers’ minimum wages, instead of their maximum potential.
“In short, with the exception of his impressive delivery and trademark style, last night's speech was pedestrian, liberal boilerplate that any Democratic lawmaker could have given at any time in recent memory.
“Gun control, cap-and-trade, tax increases, and spending programs are exactly what we’ve come to expect from a liberal President who seems perfectly content to preside over a divided country and a stagnant economy. Of course, everyone recognizes the President’s a good campaigner. We all acknowledge his skill in that area. He’ll be doing more of that today in North Carolina. But a State of the Union address should be about something bigger; instead of dividing Americans, it should unite them; instead of inflaming passions, it should show what’s possible when the two parties work together.
“Now, I’m glad he mentioned things like expanding trade opportunities with Asia and Europe. That’s an area where we can cooperate, and I look forward to working with colleagues from both parties to do just that. But overall, I’m disappointed. I’m especially disappointed he chose not to seriously address the transcendent issue of our time, which is finding a way to control our spiraling debt before it controls us. Because if we don’t do that, we won’t be able to leave our children the kind of country our parents left us. And that’s a goal all of us should share.
“Take the Obama sequester as just one example. The President had the chance last night to offer a thoughtful alternative to his sequester, one that could reduce spending in a smarter way. That’s what Republicans have been calling for all along, and it’s the kind of thing the House has already voted to do – twice. We want to work with him to make that happen. But, instead, we just got gimmicks and tax hikes. Just one more plan from the President that’s designed to fail – so he can blame others when it does.
“It’s too bad for our country. It really is.
“Look: the American people, in their collective judgment, decided to send a divided government to Washington. I’m sure the President wishes that weren’t so, but it’s the reality. And Americans look to him to use forums like the State of the Union to bring people together and get things done with the government we have, not the one the President wishes he had.
“That’s what Ronald Reagan did, and he accomplished great things. President Clinton was able to get quite a bit done with divided government too. So why is it that this President can’t seem to demonstrate the same kind of leadership? He says he wants ‘balance,’ but his approach so far has been anything but. Just as ‘investment’ has become a Washington code word for ‘more spending,’ ‘balance’ has now become code for ‘my way or the highway.’
“Remember: the President already got the additional revenue he wanted in January. He didn’t agree to a single cut then, just revenue. So obviously, the ‘balanced’ thing to do now would be to look at cuts. But last night, the President didn’t propose any real cuts. He just demanded more and more taxes. And, with a $16 trillion debt, he actually called for more spending, too—though he didn’t say how he would pay for it or even how much it would cost.
“Pretend, for a moment, that Republicans agreed to go along with all those taxes and all that spending. What do you think he’d demand the next time? And the time after that? More taxes and more spending. And we all know that Washington uses tax increases to fund even more spending – on things like robosquirrels, and Solyndra – not to reduce the deficit. That’s what history shows us. It’s how we got in this mess in the first place.
“So we’re not going to play that Washington game.
“The stakes for American families are too high to keep taking the easy way out with more taxes and more wasteful spending. Republicans believe that taking on this massive burden of debt should be more important in this town than winning the next election. That’s why we need common-sense reforms like a Balanced Budget Amendment. All Republicans support it, and Democrats should too. But we won’t get anywhere as a nation if the President refuses to lead. We just can’t.
“So the question is: will he lead? Or will he continue his endless campaign?
“Now I want to end on a positive note, so I would like to point out that there were areas of agreement last night. And I appreciated the President’s comments on Burma. And Senator Rubio did a great job with the Republican address.
“I hope the President will listen to some of the things he said, and I hope he will come back to the Congress with some different ideas. We can get important things done in his second term. And, if he’s ready to come to the center, we will.”