Sen. McConnell: White House AWOL On Debt Negotiations

In the midst of hammering out a deal with the Administration on the federal debt ceiling and the budget, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been blasting President Barack Obama, alleging the White House has been AWOL on deficit negotiations. This week, the Congressional Budget Office says Americas debt will hit 190% of GDP by 2035 (not counting Social Security and Medicare). Here are excerpts from Senator McConnells recent statements attacking the White House: For weeks, lawmakers have worked around the clock to hammer out a plan that would help us avert a crisis we all know is coming all the while knowing that at some point the President would have to sign it. So its worth asking: Where in the world has President Obama been for the past month? Hes in charge. I think most Americans think its about time he starts acting like it. Its not enough for the President to step in front of a microphone every once in a while and say a few words that someone hands him to say about jobs and the economy. Americans want to see that hes actually doing something about it. What they see instead is more bad economic news every day, a gathering crisis that threatens to make current problems even worse, and a President who is either unwilling or unable to recognize that our nations economy is in serious trouble. Hes the President. He needs to lead. Were not in the majority. We cant sign anything into law. Thats the Presidents job. Yet until now, hes stood in the background. Hes acted as if its not his problem. Well, it is. This is his problem to solve. America is waiting. Right now, ratings agencies are threatening to downgrade U.S. debt, putting us on red alert that the kind of economic crisis were seeing in parts of Europe could very quickly happen here. We know that failing to do something significant about our fiscal problems would be a serious drag on jobs and our economy. And thats why, over the past several weeks, Ive come to the floor of the Senate and spoken up at press conferences, with a now-familiar refrain: the time to act on significant reforms is now. And I have been crystal clear about what qualifies as significant. Above all, it means doing something to strengthen and preserve our long-term entitlement programs, so that we can actually keep our promises to those whove been paying into these programs for years and so these programs dont end up consuming every single dollar we take in. Entitlements are the biggest drivers of our debt. Everyone from the President on down has said that entitlements must be reformed if we have any chance of reining in our debt and strengthening our long-term fiscal health. In fact, three months ago, 31 Senate Democrats signed a letter to the President urging him to put together a plan to reduce the deficit a plan they said they hoped would include entitlement changes. Heres how Senator [Michael] Bennett (D-CO) put it recently: `I think its absolutely clear that we have to redesign our entitlement programs. Heres how Senator [Richard] Durbin (D-Ill.) put it a few weeks ago: `We have serious economic problems ahead of us if we dont have some reform in both Medicare and Social Security. This was from former President Bill Clinton after the recent congressional election in New York: `I dont think that the Democrats or the Republicans should conclude from the New York race that no changes can be made in Medicare, he said, `[or] that no changes can be made in Social Security, that no changes can be made that will deal with this long-term debt problem. Heres Presidents Obamas lead negotiator on the debt talks, Vice President Biden, from last January: `Everybody talks about we have to do something about Social Security and Medicare, and we do. Here are the two co-chairs of the Presidents debt commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson in a recent op-ed in `Politico: `A credible plan must address the growth of entitlement spending. Here is the President himself, about a month after he took office: `To preserve our long-term fiscal health we must address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. So its not exactly a groundbreaking observation that if these discussions are to mean anything they have to involve entitlement reform since no one believes we actually get at our fiscal problems without it. This is what serious people expect and are hoping for out of these talks. The moment requires, as I have said for weeks, three things: Real cuts in spending over the short term, that is, over the next two years not more spending increases or freezes; Real cuts over the medium-term, that is, over the next 10 years, with enforceable caps on spending. And meaningful reforms to entitlements, which are the major drivers of our debt.