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February 11, 2013

McConnell on Obama: "This whole routine is getting old"

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Monday offered a scathing assessment of what expects Tuesday during President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech.

He called Democratic efforts to replace the automatic spending cuts due March 1 with a plan consisting of cuts and revenue "a colossal waste of time."

Earlier this year, the Kentucky Republican said, "Democrats promised things would be different. They promised to get their work done ahead of time, instead of five minutes before the deadline. Legislation would get committee consideration. We were going to go through regular order.

 “Instead, we again find ourselves in sad and familiar territory. It goes something like this. Republicans identify a challenge and propose a solution well in advance. Democrats sit on their hands until the last minute. Then they offer some gimmicky bill designed to fail.  And then comes the final act: President Obama rides in to blame everyone else."

The State of the Union address, McConnell said, "would provide a perfect forum for that. So we’ll see if history repeats itself once again. But frankly, this whole routine is getting old. Maybe I’m wrong.

 “Maybe the President and his Democrat friends are willing to break the cycle this time. Because, if so, my party has said from the beginning that we would much prefer to replace the Obama sequester with smarter spending cuts and reforms. Even though Republicans already passed legislation to solve the problem a long time ago, if the President wants a different solution he can call his own, that’s fine. We’re happy to give him the credit. But however we get it done, the time has come to finally take on Washington’s spending problem in a bipartisan way. And that means the President will actually have to move beyond the gimmicks and the taxes and propose real spending cuts.

“Because, I assure you, my constituents in Kentucky will not accept a tax hike in place of spending cuts already agreed to by both parties – I suspect none of our constituents would. And they won’t tolerate Democrats’ continued avoidance of their responsibility to deal with huge threats to our economy and our future."

Here's the rest of McConnell's remarks:

“As I said, I strongly suspect that instead of bipartisan action, the White House will subject us to yet another campaign blitz. I could write the scripts myself. We’ll all be told that the President’s hands are tied by the very sequester that he himself proposed, signed, and now refuses to get rid of. We’ll be told he has no choice but to furlough civilians throughout the Defense Department, and to cut off training for forces next to deploy, and to order a carrier battle group to stay at home station ­­– which would diminish our presence in the Persian Gulf – when the reality is that he has responsibilities as commander in chief.

“Let’s be clear about something: if the President does choose to strike fear into the hearts of folks he should be reassuring, then that decision will be his alone. And that’s why the next time the President delivers some over-the-top speech flanked by some pollster-approved voter group, I hope someone on the stage taps him on the shoulder and asks: Mr. President: If you’re truly worried about this issue, why aren’t you working with the Congress we elected to prevent it?

“It’s a good question, and it’s one only he can answer. And when we welcome him to the Capitol tomorrow, I hope he will.

“Will the President lay out a serious plan to avert the Obama sequester, or will he simply see this as another excuse to fire up the campaign machine? If it’s the latter, he’ll have to live with the consequences of his choice.

“Another issue we’ve been reading a lot about lately relates to the consequences of Obamacare. I could stand here and tell you that Republicans warned about most of these things until we were hoarse. That we saw it all coming and said so: the higher costs, the higher premiums, the tax hikes, the lost jobs, and the potential for millions to lose their plans. The President dismissed all that, and he got his legislative win. The question is, what’s he going to do to help folks now that our predictions are coming true?

“Will he be open and honest with the American people about the consequences of Obamacare? Will he use tomorrow’s speech as an opportunity to prepare them, or will he simply ignore it and hope people don’t notice?

“These are just a couple of the issues Americans are worried about right now. I hope the President addresses both of them tomorrow. There’s pretty broad agreement the President spent most of his first term avoiding the issues Americans’ cared about most. What I’m suggesting is that he not do the same thing this time around.”


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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