Confronting Fiscal Challengesby Senator Mitch McConnell
Posted on 2013-01-24
McCONNELL. Mr. President, I do not know if you know anyone who
has climbed to the top of Mount Everest, but I am told it is quite an
undertaking. It apparently took Sir Edmund Hillary several weeks to do
it back in the 1950s. I am told my friends across the aisle could have
scaled Everest almost 300 times in the nearly 4 years
that have gone by since they last passed a budget. They could have
taken 179 trips to the Moon or built three Pentagons.
Well, today it looks like that is all about to change. It is nice to see that after years of playing budget peekaboo, Senate Democrats are finally ready to take up their most basic of responsibilities--and only a few weeks after the chairwoman of the Budget Committee indicated they might skip it, for the fourth year in a row.
There is an indication now that the majority is committed to passing a budget. What is unfortunate is that it has required so much pressure for them to do so. It is in stark contrast to the House of Representatives, who have taken their duties very seriously.
Over there, committee hearings have been held, budget resolutions have been marked up, amendments have been considered. More importantly, the House has passed serious budgets annually, as the law requires. They have laid out their priorities for the public to see: their plans to control spending, to save our most important social programs from collapse, to reform an outdated anticompetitive Tax Code, and to streamline government bureaucracies that are literally suffocating job creation.
They have done their jobs while Senate Democrats have tried to keep their priorities a secret.
We know Senate Democrats do not like the House budgets. And we know they do not even support the President's budgets--at least not with their votes. What we have not known for nearly 4 years is what they are for because they have refused to put their plans for the country down on paper and actually vote for them.
It is my hope the Democrats' sudden interest in passing a budget is not just another attempt to actually raise taxes. As I have said repeatedly, we are done with the revenue issue. The President has already said the so-called rich are now paying their ``fair share,'' and, of course, middle-income families are already on the hook for new taxes as a result of ObamaCare.
So the question is, Who would be in the firing line this time? And at what cost? Look, struggling families should not have to pick up the tab again for Washington's inability to live within its means. We need to start solving the actual problem, which is spending, and we need to do it together.
So if--and I say if--Democrats are finally ready to confront the massive fiscal and economic challenges facing our country, and to do so in a serious way, I assure them they will find partners on this side of the aisle.
As for the debt limit, there is no need to wait for final resolution of the House's short-term legislation before we start putting a long- term debt reduction solution together in the Senate. If the bill the House passed yesterday is signed into law, Congress will have another 3 months to take the debt challenge--to take it on seriously--but that does not mean we should wait a minute longer to start working on it. There is no reason, for instance, that the Finance Committee should not begin preparing the critical spending reforms that will be necessary, for example, to get my vote and the vote of many of my colleagues for any kind of long-term increase in the debt ceiling.
So let's get the process moving. No more brinksmanship. No more last- minute deals. The American people have already had to wait 4 years--4 years--for a budget from Senate Democrats. They should not have to wait nearly as long for us to confront a debt that threatens the economy, our jobs, and the future of our Nation.
Yesterday I laid out the realities of the fiscal challenges we face as a country. We have delayed facing them long enough. Let's put the politics aside and finally do the work we were sent here to do.
Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.