Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R -KY) took to the Senate floor this morning and gave alternatives to reducing government. (video above and transcript below):
“A year ago this week, millions of Americans were looking to Washington with the hope that always comes with a new beginning. In the midst of a terrible economic downturn, a new president was vowing to meet our problems head on.
“Americans hoped for every success. But in the twelve months that have passed since then, Americans haven’t seen the improvements they were hoping for — far from it. Since last January, nearly three and a half million Americans have lost their jobs and nearly three million have lost their homes. Americans are still struggling, and they’re still looking to Washington for the policies that will right our economic ship.
“To their credit, the President and his allies in Congress tried to do something about our economic situation. Unfortunately, their policies missed the mark, and 2009 was another very difficult year. Americans waited patiently for the administration and Congress to implement policies that would create the conditions for creating jobs, grow businesses, and help struggling middle class families weather the recession. Instead, they got policies that vastly increased government spending and put a crushing amount of debt onto the federal credit card. And then Americans looked on in disbelief as the administration spent almost an entire year pursuing a closed-door, partisan health care plan that would have raised their taxes and their health insurance premiums, and slashed Medicare for seniors in the middle of a recession.
“By the time November came around, Americans had clearly run out of patience — not with the President, who they like, but with this administration’s policies.
They rejected a trillion dollar stimulus bill that was supposed to stop unemployment at eight percent, but didn’t. They rejected a budget that will double the national debt in five years and triple it in 10. And they rejected a health care plan that would have led to higher costs, lower quality, and massive new government spending. The American people have spoken clearly: they want a new policy direction.
“This is why some of the comments we’ve been hearing from the administration about its plans for the year ahead are so distressing. The lesson of the last year should be crystal clear: Americans aren’t happy with the administration’s approach. They’re tired of the spending, debt, and government takeovers. They want a step-by-step approach to our problems, not grand government experiments and schemes.
“Yet some in the administration seem to believe that the message of Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts is something entirely different. They seem to think that voters are frustrated at nothing in particular, that they’re just angry in general.
“The proper response to these elections, the administration seems to think, is to retool its message, to make people believe that it’s finding new ways to help the economy even as it continues to pursue the same exact policies as before.
“One of the President’s top advisers insisted over the weekend, for example, that the administration will continue to pursue its plan for health care even as it works to retool its message on the economy. This is a clear sign that the administration hasn’t gotten the message, that it’s become too attached to its own pet goals, that it’s stuck in neutral when the American people are asking it to change direction. And then the administration said over the weekend that Americans won’t know what’s in the Democrat plan for health care unless and until it’s passed.
“But that’s precisely the problem: Americans don’t want to have to learn about what politicians in Washington are doing to their health care after the fact. They want to know the details before those changes are approved, not later. Americans aren’t frustrated in general; they’re frustrated with an administration that insists on taking them in a direction they don’t want to go, and which doesn’t seem to be interested in acknowledging the direction in which Americans actually want to go.
“These are some of the signs that the administration hasn’t gotten the message. But it’s not too late. Tomorrow night, the President will deliver his State of the Union Address. It’s my hope that he deals not in a retooled message but in a changed direction, and that he advances it with the same kind of enthusiasm and intensity that he attempted to advance his health care plan.
“Here are some things the President could do tomorrow night:
§ Put the 2,700-page Democrat health care plan on the shelf, and leave it there. The best first step we could take in righting our economic ship is to take this job-killing and tax increasing monstrosity off the table once and for all and move toward the kind of step-by-step approach Americans really want.
§ Declare that taxes will not go up at the end of the year, as they’re scheduled to for millions of American families and businesses. Even some Democrats are calling on the President to do this. Struggling small businesses are asking themselves whether they can hire new workers: the prospect of a massive tax hike makes it far less likely they will.
§ Return unused TARP money and put it towards paying down the deficit: Taxpayers who bailed out the banks last year are wondering why their money is still laying around unspent; money that’s come back to the Treasury should be used to pay down the deficit, not used on new spending programs
§ Jobs programs: The Stimulus was sold to the public on the promise that it would hold unemployment at 8%. A year later, unemployment’s at 10%, its highest level in a quarter century. At a time of trillion dollars deficits, the President should direct unspent Stimulus funds to pay down our debts right now, rather than have money spent out on questionable projects nine years down the road.
§ No more debt: Later this week, the administration, with an assist from Democrats in Congress, plans to increase the amount of money available on the federal credit card by nearly $2 trillion. In other words, they want to increase the amount of money we can borrow by an amount equivalent to what it cost to pay for the entire federal budget 10 years ago.
§ Explain to the American people how the Federal government will end its ownership of auto companies, insurance companies, and banks. Americans don’t think the U.S. government should be one of the largest shareholders of GM, Chrysler, and AIG.
§ Energy: Nuclear power is one of the cleanest, most efficient sources of energy. The President should commit to expanding it. And until these clean, green sites are up and running, he should allow the states to drill for oil and natural gas off their shores, if they want to.
“These are just a few concrete things the President could do to show the American people he’s committed to working with both parties to address the problems Americans are most concerned about, like doing whatever it takes to help create jobs and get people who’ve lost their jobs back to work.
“Americans aren’t looking for cosmetic proposals. They don’t want the administration to push sweeping changes that it wants but to nibble around the edges when it comes to changes the American people want. It’s time for the White House to show that it’s listening to the American people.
“If the President opts for solutions that reflect the real concerns of the American people, if he moves to the middle with common sense, bipartisan ideas on job creation, then he can expect the support of Republicans. It’s not too late to deliver the kind of common sense reforms Americans really want.”