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May 11, 2011

Solving Challenges

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Mr. McCONNELL. Madam President, later today the President is expected to speak in El Paso about our Nation's immigration policy. Getting immigration policy right is one of the more difficult challenges we face as a nation, and Republicans are committed to meeting it. As with most serious challenges, however, the only way we will make progress is by working on a solution that is acceptable to both parties. For Republicans, that means the President will have to present a plan that takes amnesty off the table and focuses instead on making a real commitment to border and internal security. If the President does these two things, he will find strong bipartisan support. If he doesn't, he won't.

Another difficult challenge we are solving only by working together is bringing down the Nation's debt. To that end, Members of both parties met with the Vice President last week at Blair House. The participants had what all sides agreed was a productive meeting, and they will meet again this afternoon. Unfortunately, there still seems to be a serious disconnect between the two parties on this issue. There are still those on the other side who think we can put off difficult decisions until after the next Presidential election or even beyond. Republicans strongly disagree. In our view, doing nothing about the debt would be far more dangerous in the long run than failing to raise the debt ceiling. I have said this before, and Speaker Boehner reiterated the point yesterday in New York. The warning bells are simply too loud to ignore this crisis any longer, and the debt limit debate presents us with a prime opportunity for meaningful, positive action.

If the last financial crisis taught us anything, it is that we can't afford to play with fire when it comes to economic forces this great. We need to get serious now before the crisis we know

[Page: S2816]  GPO's PDF
is coming. That means entitlement reform needs to be on the table. This is a serious crisis. We must do something serious. Entitlement reform needs to be a part of it. That is the only way we will send a message to the world that we are actually willing to make the tough decisions needed to get our fiscal house in order. That is the only way the markets, the American people, and the rest of the world--especially those who hold so much of our debt--will believe we are on the right track.

As we prepare for a second round of talks, I would renew the call to get serious about this looming crisis and do something serious. I renew my pledge this morning to do what it takes to make sure we avert it without raising taxes or building in automatic tax increases in the future which would only destroy jobs. We can avert this crisis without doing harm to the economy or slowing down any economic recovery. That means no tax hikes now, and it means not rewarding the failure of a future Congress with automatic access to more taxpayer dollars. Above all, it means serious reforms. We need to summon the courage to make some tough decisions right now.

Madam President, I yield the floor.

(Senate - May 10, 2011)

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