President’s Latest Pivot Speech Long on Rhetoric, Short on Solutions

Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell made the following statement on the Senate floor today regarding the President’s latest pivot speech and the need for real solutions to grow the economy and create jobs:

“I’m glad to see that Senate Democrats have finally ended their obstruction of the bipartisan student loan bill. It’s been weeks since the Democrats blew past the July 1 deadline they kept warning about, and it’s been even longer since the House passed a bill similar to the one they’re actually now agreeing to. But at least Democrats have finally stopped obstructing, and arguing. At least now they’re ready to put their partisan political fix aside and join President Obama and Congressional Republicans in enacting real, permanent reform for all students – the only real reform on the table that’s designed to help every middle-class family.

“I’d like to thank the sponsors of this bill for all their hard work: Senators Manchin, King, Alexander, Burr and Coburn. They may come from different political parties, but they all really care about students. And this bill proves it. And there’s something else this bill proves too. That Democrats can work with Republicans when they actually want to do it – when they check their partisan, take-it-or-leave-it approaches at the door and actually talk with, rather than at, us.

“That’s why it’s really disheartening to hear about the partisan speech President Obama plans to give today. The one the White House can’t stop talking about. With all the buildup, you’d think the President was unveiling the next Bond film or something, but in all likelihood it will be more like a midday rerun of some 70s B movie. Because we’ve heard it all before. It’s old.

“These speeches are just so formulaic. And they’re usually more notable for what they leave out than what they contain.

“Here’s what I mean. We all know the President will bemoan the state of the economy in his speech, but he won’t take responsibility for it.

“He’ll criticize Republicans for not rubber-stamping his policies, but will leave out the fact that for two years Democrats did just that, and yet the economic recovery is still stagnant. He won’t talk about the fact that, since he lost control of the House and his ability to just have things his way, he’s refused to engage with seemingly anyone in Congress on ways to get the economy moving.

“A perfect illustration of that is the fact that instead of working with us on solutions, he’s out giving speeches. And here’s the kicker: instead of taking responsibility for his failure to lead, he’ll probably try and cast this as some titanic struggle between those who believe in quote-unquote “investing” in the country, and those who supposedly want to eliminate paved roads, or stop signs, or whatever ridiculous straw man he invents this time.

“Give me a break. There is a real philosophical debate going on in our country, but it’s not anything like how he imagines it.

“I’d say it’s more of a debate between those who believe in a government that’s smarter and more efficient, and some who just seem to believe in government, against all the evidence, between those who draw the obvious lessons from human tragedies in places like Greece and Detroit, and some who just can’t face up to the logical endpoints of their own ideology – who can’t accept the terrible pain their own ideas inevitably inflict on the weakest in society.

“And it’s between those who understand the necessity of empowering private enterprise if we’re ever going to drive a sustained recovery for middle-class families, and some who just can’t seem to let go of Ivory Tower economic theories. Even after four and a half years of an economy treading water.

“And speaking of Ivory Tower theories, here’s another difference. Some of us believe it’s actually possible to act as good stewards of the environment without declaring ‘War’ on vulnerable groups of Americans. I know there are a lot of people in D.C. who think of Appalachia as flyover country. But many in my state have another word for it: home. And when these struggling families hear one of the White House’s climate advisors say that a War on Coal is, quote, ’exactly what’s needed,’ can you imagine how that makes them feel? It makes them feel like they’re expendable. Like Washington just doesn’t understand them – and frankly doesn’t care.

“’[It’s like] go[ing] to some of these big cities and shut[ing] Wall Street down,’ is how a coal worker from Eastern Kentucky recently put it.

“’See how it affects everything,’ he said. ‘Coal is our Wall Street.’

“This is just one of the many reasons Republicans have long called for an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy. Because we understand that traditional sources can be developed in tandem with new alternative energies and technologies. And that there’s no other sane strategy anyway, since it’s basically physically impossible – even putting the catastrophic economic consequences aside here for a moment – to even come close to meeting our energy needs with renewables today.

“So, what are we going to do in the meantime: power our country with foreign energy, or American energy? This should be a no-brainer. But then again, we’re talking about Washington here. That’s why it’s so frustrating when the Administration drags its feet on projects like the Keystone Pipeline.

“The North American oil that Keystone would bring is basically going to come out of the ground whether we take it or not. So, will the Administration take it – and the jobs that would come along with it – or surrender it to places like China? The White House won’t say. The President’s spokesman was asked for a decision again just yesterday. And do you know what his answer was? Don’t look at us.

“Look: this pipeline has been under review for years and years and years. It’s basically being held up for one reason, and one reason only – because the President is afraid to stand up to some of the most radical elements of his base. The kind of people you’d find at one of those meetings of the ‘Flat Earth Society’ he likes to talk about.

“Well, it’s time for him to choose – between his political friends and the middle-class families who stand to benefit from the jobs, growth, and energy that Keystone would bring.

“Keystone is just one example of a project the President could work with both parties to implement right now that would help the economy. And there’s a lot more we could get done if he’d actually pick up the telephone and try to work with us every once in a while. I know Democrats would love to hear from him every now and then too. Because every time he goes out and gives one of these speeches, it generates little more than a collective bipartisan eye roll.

“It’s just such a colossal waste of time and energy – resources that would be better spent actually working with both parties in Congress to grow the economy and create jobs.

“I know that’s what my constituents in Kentucky expect – and they should.”

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