Jul 21 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the President’s first six months in office. The following are excerpts from his remarks:
“Today marks President Obama’s sixth month in office. The president began his term with an enormous amount of goodwill, high approval ratings, and pledges to work in a bipartisan way.
“In the earliest days, he reached out in a bipartisan way to secure passage of administration priorities…[b]ut the administration has become increasingly partisan in the months since then. The effectiveness of the president’s policies is increasingly questioned by the American people as spending and deficits have skyrocketed, unemployment has gotten much worse since he took office, and America’s interests abroad have been challenged with little response.”
“On the campaign trail and after his election, President Obama repeatedly promised ‘change we can believe in’ and the end of partisan politics in Washington. He pledged to bring Republicans and Democrats together.
“On election night he said, ‘Let us resist the temptation to fall back on…partisanship.’
“But partisan politics loom larger than ever. Congress is urged to rush costly legislation through, despite frequent Republican concerns about the price tag and efficacy. Indeed, the president’s budget and stimulus passed mainly on party lines.”
“And, six months later, the president continues to take unnecessary jabs at his predecessor.
“On his promise for ‘change,’ more government debt, government bailouts, and large transfers of the economy from the private to the public sector are not what Americans are looking for.
“Americans want the president and Congress to support the private sector to help the economy get back on track, without tidal waves of spending, debt, and new taxes. They want real healthcare reform without a government takeover. And they want the president lead us in this dangerous world, acknowledging the harsh reality that not every rogue regime will respond to smooth talk.
“In the next sixth months – and beyond – I hope the president will take a more sensible and bipartisan course, so we can all accomplish what the American people seek.”
On Domestic Policy: Spending and Debt
“President Obama’s first six months in office have been characterized by unprecedented spending and debt. In just six months, President Obama has put the country on course to spend more and accrue more debt than any president in history – in fact, to take on more debt than all the other presidents combined! The president has, at the same time, exercised the power of government in unprecedented ways.”
“Time after time, he’s pushed government intervention and takeovers and huge spending increases as the preferred solutions to various problems, whether it’s to stimulate the economy, reform healthcare reform, or bailout bankrupt car companies.
“The president cites the economic downturn as a reason to clear the way for more and more new spending. But we still don’t have any evidence that this record-breaking spending has helped the economy.”
On Healthcare Reform:
“The American people—and those of us in Congress—want healthcare reform. That’s not in question.
“But President Obama is proposing a trillion-dollar healthcare program that would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, cause millions of Americans to lose their current care by providing an incentive to employers to drop their healthcare coverage. “
“Does anyone really believe that creating a new trillion-dollar Washington-run healthcare bureaucracy will reduce costs? When in history has a new government program ever reduced deficits?”
“…the president doesn’t like the term ‘government-run healthcare’ because it’s not popular with Americans. But a plan administered by the government, with prices and policies and treatments evaluated and dictated by Washington bureaucrats, is government-run healthcare, plain and simple.”
On Cap and Trade:
“One of President Obama’s oft-repeated campaign pledges was that he would not raise taxes on middle-income Americans. But the cap-and-trade legislation he and congressional Democrats are backing would do just that.
“On June 26, the House of Representatives passed cap-and-trade legislation described by Harvard University economist Martin Feldstein as ‘a stealth strategy for a massive long-term tax increase.’
“The bill would implement a cap-and-trade program with the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. Cap-and-trade programs set strict, mandatory limits on carbon emissions from various sources, like electric utilities. Those sources would then either reduce carbon emissions or buy or trade emission allowances to achieve the required overall emissions reductions.”
“The energy bill would not directly raise taxes on Americans—that is, they won’t necessarily see a larger income tax bill at tax-time in April. Rather, cap-and-trade increases the cost of living for everyone by raising energy costs and consumer prices for virtually everything. The effect would be the same as if the IRS sent them a tax bill.”
“Proponents of the cap-and-trade proposal argue that job losses will be offset by the creation of new, ‘green’ jobs. But it’s not at all certain those jobs will materialize, let alone make up for the jobs that are lost. In Spain, whose government has invested heavily in ‘green’ jobs, two jobs are lost for every green job created, according to Spanish economist, Gabriel Calzada.”
“Especially at a time when the economy is shaky and unemployment has reached a 25-year high, I am disappointed that the president is promoting this legislation that not only would violate his campaign promise, but would cost taxpayers billions of dollars and harm jobs.”
On the Administration’s handling of Iran:
“There are few regions of the world as volatile as the Middle East, yet the administration’s approach to Iran has been regrettable, to say the least.
“When pro-democracy demonstrations were being suppressed in Tehran, the president offered barely a word of support for the people putting their lives on the line for freedom.”
“The president likes to say ‘words matter.’ Very true. But his initial statement referring to ‘deep concerns about the election’ failed to condemn the Iranian theocracy and lacked moral fortitude. And even as pressure rose on the president to take a stronger stand, he declined to provide the leadership that the world expects from America, the standard bearer for freedom and democracy.”
“The United States should be lending full-throated voice to the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people, while seeking to impose sanctions on their oppressors. It is not ‘meddling’ for the world’s oldest and greatest democracy to stand with them.”
“The administration’s Iran policy was flawed from the beginning. It came into office with the ideas that it could negotiate a ‘grand bargain’ with the mullahs on Iran’s nuclear program and would meet with its rogue leader without preconditions. With the mullah’s repression of dissent following Iran’s flawed elections, that has all gone by the boards. Of course, it was always destined to fail.”
“What’s more, what message do we send to the Iranian people, many of whom have been arrested, tortured, and had family members killed, by negotiating with this regime while it robs its own people of their fundamental rights? I do not believe the United States can deal in good faith with a regime that so violently suppresses its own citizens. I hope the president will come to agree.”
On the Administration’s handling of North Korea:
“The administration’s reaction to North Korea’s recent activity also concerns me. As Pyongyang prepares for the transition of power from Kim Jong Il to his son Kim Jong Un, the regime’s behavior has become increasingly belligerent and unpredictable.
“North Korea has pulled out of the Six-Party negotiations, restarted its nuclear program, test-launched several ballistic missiles and conducted a suspected underground nuclear test. The regime even declared that it has now abandoned the armistice that brought a cease fire to the Korean War.
“What has the Obama administration done in response to this threat to the security of other nations in the region, and indeed the very security of the United States? The answer is disappointing: It has cut missile defense.”
“The president’s budget cut the Missile Defense Agency’s budget for fiscal year 2010 by $1.2 billion and decreased the planned number of Ground-Based Interceptor missiles in Alaska from 44 to 30.
These proposals amount to almost a 15 percent cut in the Missile Defense Agency’s budget and a major reduction in our missile defense portfolio—at the very moment we should be increasing our capability to defend ourselves and our allies from the North Korean threat.”
On the proposed closure of Guantanamo Bay:
“…Congress has refused to support President Obama’s arbitrary deadline to close the facility, without a plan, for example, showing where he will relocate the terrorists. The administration has convinced Palau and Bermuda to take a few detainees, but this isn’t much of a solution if the president is determined to close the facility in another six months. Where will the rest of the detainees still housed at Guantanamo Bay go? We still don’t know.
“Ultimately, the debate over Guantanamo has become a debate over geography. Both the new attorney general and the new solicitor general have endorsed the government's right to detain suspected terrorists indefinitely. Whether we detain them at Guantanamo or at prisons on U.S. soil does not change the fundamental reality that this administration, like its predecessor, will be holding certain individuals without trial. We have been told that Guantanamo must be closed for symbolic reasons. But America should never make national-security decisions based on symbolism—or false moral arguments.”
Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his website at www.kyl.senate.gov.