Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s speech.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate about how President Obama’s policies and regulations are the wrong prescription for our economy.
Transcript of his full remarks are below:
“Mr. President, it has been more than 30 years since I was in medical school, but I still remember the day when my classmates and I stood to recite the Hippocratic oath.
“That is an oath that has guided doctors for centuries.
“At its simplest, it can be boiled down to a single phrase: First, do no harm.
“I was reminded of that last week when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the Senate Banking Committee.
“Speaking about the approach that Washington should take toward healing our sick economy he said, ‘Do no harm.’
“Well, that's good advice for Senators and Presidents, just like its good advice for doctors.
“The problem is, we have a President in the White House, and Democrats in Congress, who don't believe it and don’t act that way.
“Day after day, as the President makes one policy decision after another, his policies do harm to the American economy and the American people.
“Just look at how sick our economy has gotten since President Obama has taken over.
“The Federal Reserve projects that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will grow by as slim as 1.6 percent this year.
“That's not nearly good enough to give us the healthy economy that we need.
“The other night the CBS Evening News opened with this summary: ‘This is the worst economic recovery America has ever had.’
“That’s what they said, ‘the worst.’
“Every other President has been able to bounce back from tough economic times. Not President Obama.
“Why is that? Well, why is our private sector economy today sicker now than it was when the President took his oath of office?
“Well, the Economist magazine put it this way—it gave a characterization of the President as someone ‘who has regulated to death a private sector he neither likes nor understands.’
“And I agree.
“Just look at the President's own words.
“He said that while government bureaucrats were struggling, he said that the private sector is doing just fine.
“Doing just fine? It's gotten worse.
“Because of President Obama’s failed economic policies, more than 23 million Americans are now either unemployed or underemployed.
“Now I think those 23 million people would say to President Obama: do no harm.
“We’ve had 41 straight months now of unemployment above 8 percent.
“Our economy created just 80,000 jobs last month—just 80,000 jobs.
“More people signed up for Social Security disability benefits than got a job.
“That’s not doing just fine.
“Look at what else the President said recently, about small business owners.
“He said, If you've got a business, you didn't build that. He went on to say, someone else made that happen.’
“I know a lot of small business owners who would say they worked extremely hard to build their own business.
“Farmers and ranchers who work from sunup to past sundown. And everyone in the family works to keep the operation going.
“And the corner dry cleaner who is trying to keep his doors open in a tough economic times.
“The florist who's trying to avoid laying off another salesperson in the shop.
“Where I live, in Casper Wyoming, most of the businesses we have are small businesses.
“They were started by men and women with dreams and with determination.
“These people aren't looking for a government handout, but they don’t want the government and don’t think their government should be hostile toward them.
“They work hard every day. They work hard to build their business, to try to expand, they create jobs in the community.
“President Obama doesn't seem to grasp that.
“That's why instead of doing all he can to help small businesses, he's burying them under more regulations, under more red tape, under threats of increased taxes.
“Democrats here in Washington like to say that they're in favor of creating jobs. Then they turn around and do the very things that hurt the people that create the jobs in this country.
“Washington has already put out more than 36,000 pages of new regulations, just since January of this year.
“If small business owners could talk to the President, I think they would tell him they don't need more paperwork.
“They would tell him: Mr. President Obama, do no harm.
“The damage President Obama's policies have done to our economy so far is terrible. And it’s likely to get worse.
“We know that the President's policies are holding back our economy from the type of normal recovery we've had from other recessions in the past.
“Even worse, he's paying for his failed policies by piling an unprecedented amount of debt on future generations.
“Today, our national debt is $16 trillion.
“In just three and a half years, President Obama has managed to waste more taxpayer money than any other President, in my opinion, in American history.
“Previous Presidents understood the danger of spending more than we can afford.
“John Kennedy, President Kennedy said: ‘Persistently large deficits would endanger our economic growth and our military defense commitments abroad.’
“Now President Kennedy made that statement 50 years ago, 1962. At the time he made that statement 50 years ago, Washington's budget deficit that year was $7 billion.
“So we’ve gone from 7 billion dollars 50 years ago, to a projected deficit of 1,200 billion dollars this year. From 7 billion to 1,200 billion. That is 170 times greater.
“Has anything else increased that fast in the past 50 years in terms of expenses on anything?
“A daily newspaper, or a bottle of Coke, that would have cost 10 cents in 1962. Well using this multiplier of 170 times, that would be $17 if it had increased at the same rate as our nation's deficit.
“Gasoline that went for about 30 cents a gallon back then, would have to be more than $50 a gallon today.
“Or look at it a different way. The share of Washington's total debt that is owed by every man, woman, and child in America today is almost $51,000.
“The President is saddling our children with debt—to pay bills we can't afford, for policies that don't work, and goals the American people don't support.
“The President demonstrates no sincere interest in cutting government spending—even as the federal government has grown less efficient, less effective, and less accountable.
“The American people look at Washington's out-of-control spending and debt.
“And their message to President Obama – Please Mr. President, stop doing harm.
“Remember, President Obama has been quite clear. He doesn’t respect small businesses, and he thinks the private sector is doing fine.
“He has increased red tape, increased bureaucracy.
“He has mortgaged America's future, to give taxpayer dollars to his campaign contributors at companies like Solyndra.
“When he's borrowed all he can—lots of it from China—he still doesn’t slow down his spending.
“He says he needs to raise taxes to spend even more.
“The President already raised taxes through his health care plan. He pushed through half a trillion dollars in taxes and fees. He pushed his individual mandate tax to force people to buy insurance.
“Now he's pushing again, to impose massive new tax hikes on millions of successful families and small businesses.
“The additional damage President Obama would do to our economy with his proposals to raise additional taxes would be enormous.
“That's not just my opinion—it is my opinion, but others agree. That comes from the accounting firm of Ernst and Young.
“They did a study on the President's plan, and found it would wipe out 710,000 jobs.
“Middle class workers who keep their jobs, would see their wages go down.
“2.1 million business owners would be hit with higher taxes. That means less money left to expand, less money left to hire additional workers.
“Again, you can't be for jobs and against the people who create jobs.
“In short, as weak as our economic recovery has been these past three years—the worst ever, as reported in the news—the President's tax increases would make matters worse.
“Just look again at the difference between President Obama and a different Democratic President, John Kennedy.
“John Kennedy said that: ‘The largest single barrier to full employment of our manpower and resources, and to a higher rate of economic growth, is the unrealistically heavy drag of federal income taxes on private purchasing power, initiative, and incentive.’
“Now this lesson from President Kennedy is lost on President Obama.
“The only solution that President Obama seems to see is to raise taxes, and to raise them most on the very people and businesses that we need to lead us to prosperity and economic recovery.
“Remember the words that President Obama used when he was running for President in 2008.
“He said that even if his tax increases led to less revenue for the government, that he would raise taxes anyway, as a matter of fairness.
“Fairness? Fairness? What about doing what's best for the country?
“As an orthopedic surgeon, when someone came to me with a broken leg, I would fix it. You don't break someone else's leg so that the two people would then be equal and both have broken legs.
“The President is promoting his vision of fairness over good common sense.
“The American people know that those who work hard and take risks should be free to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
“They should not have to suffer more angry attacks by the President, and by Democrats in Washington. The American way should be to promote success, not to punish it.
“President Obama should abandon his misguided agenda to replace the long-held American value of equal opportunity with the President’s own desire for equal outcomes, regardless of effort.
“But before he makes things even worse, he should stop and he should do no harm.
“Finally, I just want to address one last issue, where I think that the Democrats in Congress and the White House need to reverse course.
“Our country faces what has been called a fiscal cliff.
“Unless Washington acts, in January taxes will increase across the board. Not just on small businesses, but on middle class families, and even low-income people.
“Republicans in the House have already voted to approve long-term spending cuts.
“This month, they will vote to stop the tax increases.
“Republicans have a plan to create a healthier economy by making our tax code simpler, flatter, and fairer for all Americans.
“What happens next is in the hands of the Democrats in the Senate.
“Financial experts have warned that if Senate Democrats do not act by the end of this year, they could create a worldwide recession.
“This is very serious harm.
“Democrats appear to be ready to do it.
“The Senate Democratic leadership has made clear that they would let the country go over the fiscal cliff, rather than compromise on tax hikes.
“President Obama recently said the same thing.
“He said if Congress passes reasonable regulation that keeps tax rates where they are—even temporarily he said, while we sort out long-term tax reform –well, he said he’d veto that.
“He would raise everyone's taxes, and risk another worldwide recession.
“Mr. President, look at what you're saying.
“Stop threatening grave damage to America, in reckless pursuit of your political agenda.
“Mr. President, do no harm.
“Those words, that sum up the Hippocratic oath, they ring true for so many people across America today.
“For people who believe, as Ronald Reagan said, that government should ‘stand by our side, not ride on our back.’
“It’s time for Washington to change direction.
“To lower taxes not raise them.
“To reduce red tape, not increase it.
“To control our spending, not just rack up more debt.
“To free the entrepreneurial spirit, not stifle it.
“First—before all else—if we are to heal our sick economy, it is a time for Washington to do no harm.”