June 7, 2011
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid made the following remarks today on the Senate floor about Republicans’ political games with the economy and Medicare.
Mr. President, I welcome back my colleagues for what I hope will be a productive month.
This new month is not unlike last month, or the month before, or the month before that. Once again, our constituents are concerned with one thing above all: Jobs.
They’re concerned because of what the economy means for their families and their lives. They’re worried about paying the bills next month and sending their kids to school next year. Too many want to go to the bank and once again know the dignity of depositing a paycheck instead of an unemployment check.
Our constituents are also concerned because of what our economic future will mean for our nation. They’re afraid that ill-informed politicians might lead the country into a default crisis, and they fear all the terrible consequences that would have – consequences that would hurt us as a country, and also hurt families.
I heard these concerns last week in Nevada. We all heard them in each of our states. And we hear them loudly and clearly. So we’re going to focus our attention this week and month on jobs, just as we have all year.
I’m disappointed that our Republican colleagues seem determined to distract that focus. They want to spend the Senate’s time debating an extreme social agenda that would hurt families, seniors and our economy. They want to end Medicare in order to pay for more millionaires’ tax breaks. That’s not good policy, and it isn’t even good politics. The American people strongly oppose it, and so do Democrats in Congress.
But every day, Republicans prove that they’re not just tone deaf to Americans’ opinions. They’re also tone deaf to cold, hard economic facts.
Last week we got a discouraging jobs report. The economy added jobs, but not as many as we’d hoped. And Moody’s sent a clear warning that a default crisis would send our economy into a tailspin. There is no time to waste.
The longer Republicans insist on dismantling Medicare as a price for moving forward, the longer the unemployed will wait for good news – and the closer the nation will come to a default crisis.
Republicans’ ideology of obstruction isn’t limited to economics or seniors’ health. We also see it in their approach to performing the Senate’s Constitutional duty of confirming the President’s nominees for important positions.
A few weeks ago, Republicans blocked a well-qualified, fair-minded and widely respected legal scholar for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals.
Now they’re continuing these partisan antics by threatening to block two more non-controversial nominees. The first, Peter Diamond, is one of the nation’s top economists. He’s won the Nobel Prize. Not long ago, he had bipartisan support for his nomination to the Fed’s Board of Governors. All of a sudden, for no good reason, Republicans have decided to stand in the way.
The second, Don Verrilli, is the President’s nominee for Solicitor General. The Judiciary Committee approved him 17-1 – so in addition to being supremely qualified, he’s clearly not controversial. But now Republicans are threatening to block this nominee over requests for documents totally unrelated to him or his position. I hope they don’t.
Blocking every nominee, no matter the merits, is no way to govern or to lead. It is no way to move forward.
Mr. President, if we’re going to keep our economy upright – for families and for our nation as a whole – we have to recognize real problems and propose realistic solutions. We can’t hold one policy hostage to another, or be bound by ideology.
Every month we play these games guarantees that the following month will bring more of the same avoidable fights. For families worried about affording the basics, and for our nation’s fundamental economic strength, we need to get serious before it’s too late.