(Senate - November 15, 2012)

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[Pages S6829-S6830]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I now move to proceed to Calendar No. 419, 
S. 3254.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will report the motion.
  The legislative clerk read as follows:

       Motion to proceed to the bill (S. 3254) to authorize 
     appropriations for fiscal year 2013 for military activities 
     of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and 
     for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to 
     prescribe military personnel strengths for such fiscal year, 
     and for other purposes.


  Mr. REID. Mr. President, the filing deadline for all second-degree 
amendments to S. 3525, the Sportsmen's Act, is 9:10 a.m. today. At 9:15 
a.m., there will be a cloture vote on S. 3525.
  I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order 
for the quorum call be rescinded.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so 

                   Recognition of the Minority Leader

  The Republican leader is recognized.

                              Fiscal Cliff

  Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, with the new year fast approaching, all 
eyes are on Washington and whether the two parties can come together 
and agree on a plan to avoid a massive year-end tax hike. I truly 
believe we can. I believe the two parties can avoid the so-called 
fiscal cliff, and in the process I even believe we can agree on a 
framework for a bipartisan plan to address the even bigger problem of 
our Nation's fiscal solvency.
  But there are clear obstacles to success. If we are going to succeed, 
if we want to avoid a job-killing tax hike and put the country on a 
path to solvency, we need to be clear about what the obstacles are.
  The first obstacle is a very vocal and very determined group of 
extremists on the left who are rooting for us to go off the fiscal 
cliff. They want this to happen. These are the folks the President 
invited to the White House earlier this week and who seem to have 
gotten a number of Democrats in the Senate to embrace this reckless 
idea themselves.
  Make no mistake, the goal of these folks is not to do what is best 
for the middle class. It is not to create jobs. It is not even to 
balance the books, since the taxes they would hike would not even come 
close to covering current spending.
  What they want is to sock it to those whom they define as rich, 
regardless of the impact on jobs or the broader economy. That is what 
motivates this crowd. They are not serious about tackling the Nation's 
fiscal problems. If we are serious about helping middle-class Americans 
and helping this economy grow, their radical approach, frankly, should 
be ignored.
  The other obstacle to success is a mindset that says the President of 
the United States is somehow a bit player in this whole thing, that he 
is just a bystander sitting around waiting on other people to act. This 
is a mindset that thinks leadership consists of telling other people to 
``work it out,'' while they continue to run a campaign to make sure 
they cannot.
  This is ludicrous. The only way--I repeat--the only way we are going 

[[Page S6830]]

solve this present crisis and get past the political stalemate is for 
the President himself to lead.
  To illustrate the point, let me remind everyone of something that 
happened just 2 years ago next month--just 2 years ago next month--
because it says a lot about the power of Presidential leadership in 
critical moments such as this. Less than 2 years ago, the President 
said he was not going to allow tax rates to go up on anyone because, as 
he put it, you do not raise taxes in the middle of a recession.
  So let's leave aside for a second that if it was a good idea then, it 
is an even better idea now, since the economy is growing even more 
slowly now than it was in late 2010. Let's leave that aside.
  The point is that the moment the President of the United States said 
those words--the moment he signaled he was OK to keep rates where they 
were--40 Democrats, including many who had spent the previous decade 
campaigning against them, got in line and followed his lead.
  That is an example of Presidential leadership, and that is just what 
is needed now. The President is the only person in America--the only 1 
out of 315 million--who can sign a bill into law. He is the only one 
who can lead the members of his own party to do something they would 
not ordinarily do. But first he needs to decide it is time to put away 
the talking points and do something good, something really good for the 
  Ronald Reagan understood this, Bill Clinton understood this, and 
President Obama seemed to understand it, too, in December 2010. So I 
will say it again. The only way we succeed is if the President steps up 
and leads. It starts by showing that he is serious about success.
  Let's be clear. An opening bid of $1.6 trillion in new taxes just is 
not serious. It is more than Simpson-Bowles or any other bipartisan 
commission has called for. It has been unanimously rejected in the 
House and Senate. It is twice as much as the White House seemed ready 
to agree to during last summer's debt ceiling talks and looked at in 
the context of the spending cuts that are yet to be enacted from the 
President's other proposals. It amounts to about 20 cents in cuts for 
every new dollar in tax hikes. In other words, no cuts at all. It is a 
joke--a joke.
  Look, people I talk to across Kentucky do not want any more political 
fights. They would like to see us get somewhere. They want the two 
parties to work together to find a solution to our fiscal problems, and 
that is just what we are proposing. Yesterday, the President said he 
had an open mind when it came to finding a solution to those things. He 
said he is happy to listen to other people's ideas. I think that is a 
good sign.
  If the President has an open mind, maybe he will see that Republicans 
are the ones who have expressed a willingness to step out of our 
comfort zone if it actually leads to a solution. We do not happen to 
think the government needs more revenue. The government spends too much 
as it is. But if Democrats are willing to reduce spending and 
strengthen entitlement programs, which we all know are on an 
unsustainable path that threatens their own long-term viability and the 
economic well-being of our children and grandchildren, then we will be 
  What we will not do is raise tax rates and kiss goodbye more than 
700,000 good jobs in the process. What we will not do is embrace a tax 
policy that disincentivises saving and work. What we will not do is 
agree to revenue in exchange for reforms that we know will not ever 
happen. That is not a good deal for anybody, certainly not the middle 
class, which the President says he has a mandate to protect.
  If the President wants to help the middle class, he will accept a 
basic outline that Speaker Boehner proposed last week and convince his 
fellow Democrats to do the same. Ignore the reckless voice of those on 
the far left who are calling for fiscal calamity. Ignore the extremists 
who want to cover their eyes and do nothing to protect and strengthen 
entitlement programs for the future and propose a plan that both sides 
can actually accept.
  That is how we get out of this. That is how we succeed. The scope of 
this challenge calls for Presidential leadership. That is what the 
American people should be able to expect. That is all Republicans are 
calling for. It is the President's turn to propose a specific plan that 
brings both parties together. That is what Presidents are elected to 
do. That is what he pledged to do. It is precisely the sort of 
leadership we need.
  I yield the floor.

                       Reservation of Leader Time

  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Under the previous order, the 
leadership time is reserved.