Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said this morning on the floor of the upper chamber that the inauguration should be viewed as a time for new beginnings — starting with getting a handle on the national debt.
“I understand that the passions of an election can sometimes overshadow the business of governing. But the presidential campaign is now behind us,” McConnell said. “And so it’s my hope that the president will finally be willing to do what Republicans have been asking him to do since his first inauguration four years ago: and that’s to work with us on identifying durable solutions to problems that we can only solve together — to put aside those things we know we can’t agree on and focus on what we can.”
“And we should start with spending and debt; because if we don’t get a handle on that, nothing else matters.”
McConnell warned of bankrupt entitlement programs, which President Obama has warned are in danger from Republicans in Congress.
“It’s nice to say, as the president did yesterday, that these programs free us to take the risks that make our country great. But if we don’t act to strengthen and protect them now, in a few years they simply won’t be there in their current form,” McConnell said.
“In short, the debate we’re now engaged in over the growing federal debt is about much more than numbers on a page. It’s about the cost of inaction in terms of promises broken, jobs lost, and dreams deferred. And that’s why there’s simply no more time to waste,” he continued. “Over the past four years, while the president focused on re-election and too many Senate Democrats focused on avoiding tough decisions, the debt grew by more than six trillion dollars. We saw the president blast House Republicans for doing their job and passing a budget while Senate Democrats didn’t even propose one. And rather than work with us to save existing entitlements, we saw the president team up with Democrats in Congress to force through a brand new entitlement that will make it even harder to cover the cost of programs that we already have.”
He said once the debt limit bill comes from the House — a proposal for a short-term debit ceiling hike on the condition that Senate Democrats finally pass a budget — it should be taken up immediately by Harry Reid.
“If the Senate version is different than the one the House sends over, send it off to conference. That’s how things are supposed to work around here. We used to call it legislating,” McConnell said. “I know a lot of Democrats are afraid of a process that exposes their priorities, particularly on spending and debt. After nearly four years of refusing to pass a budget, they’ve only now reluctantly agreed to develop a spending plan for the coming fiscal year. All I would say to that is that, since the revenue question has been settled, I’m sure the American people are eager to see what other ideas Democrats might have to bring down our ruinous deficits.”
“And let me just say that one thing Americans will no longer tolerate is an attitude that says we can put off our work until the last minute. They’re tired of the eleventh hour deals, they’re tired of careening from crisis to crisis – and so am I.”