A chance to heed the voters
When congressional leaders of both parties meet at the White House today, all of us will have an opportunity to show the American people that we got the message of the elections earlier this month.
Republicans heard the voters loud and clear. They want us to focus on preventing a tax hike on every taxpayer, reining in Washington spending and making it easier for employers to start hiring again. Today, Republican leaders renew our offer to work with anyone, from either party, who is ready to focus on the priorities of the American people.
The day after the election, President Obama seemed to acknowledge that a change in course is needed when he conceded that "the overwhelming message" he heard from the voters was "we want you to focus completely on jobs and the economy."
Despite what some Democrats in Congress have suggested, voters did not signal they wanted more cooperation on the Democrats' big-government policies that most Americans oppose. On the contrary, they want both parties to work together on policies that will help create the conditions for private-sector job growth. They want us to stop the spending binge, cut the deficit and send a clear message on taxes and regulations so small businesses can start hiring again.
Republicans got the message voters have been delivering for more than a year. That's why we made a pledge to America to cut spending, rein in government, and permanently extend the current tax rates so small-business owners won't get hit with a massive tax hike at the end of December. That's what Americans want. And that's the message Republicans will bring to the meeting today. In other words, you'll have a voice at that table.
We can work together and accomplish these things, but the White House and Democratic leaders in Congress first will have to prioritize. It's time to choose struggling middle-class families and small businesses over the demands of the liberal base. It's time to get serious.
While Americans have been asking "where are the jobs?" for more than two years, our friends across the aisle have clung for too long to the liberal wish list, including a job-killing health-care law, a "cap-and-trade" national energy tax and an out-of-control spending spree. The November elections represented a wholesale rejection of these policies.
Now we have a real chance to move away from the misplaced priorities of the past two years and work together on common-sense proposals that will build a foundation for the economic rebound we all want.
Despite the president's comments about focusing on job creation, Democrats in Congress are working feverishly to move legislation on everything except stopping the tax hikes and lowering spending. Their focus for the brief post-election "lame duck" session is on controversial items such as immigration, a repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," more spending and environmental regulations. Indeed, their actual legislative plan for the rest of the lame-duck session is to focus on anything but jobs.
Time is running out. This Friday, funding for the government runs out. And at the end of December, every single taxpayer will get hit with one of the largest tax hikes in American history - unless we put aside the controversial items and work together on the things we know Americans want and our struggling economy needs.
Together, we can focus on the things Americans want us to do - not on what government wants Americans to accept. The clock may be winding down on this session of Congress, but there is still time to do the right thing. If President Obama and Democratic leaders put forward a plan during the lame-duck session to cut spending and stop the tax hikes on all Americans, they can count on a positive response from Republicans. If the president and Democratic leaders don't act before the end of the year, however, House and Senate Republicans will work to get the job done in the new Congress. But we hope it doesn't come to that.
The voters want us to show that we heard them, and Republicans are ready to work with anyone who is willing to do just that.
John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, is the incoming House speaker. Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, is the Senate minority leader.