Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called on Congress on Saturday to halt the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts.
In the Republicans’ weekly radio address, the Kentucky Republican said that “the single best thing we could do in Washington” to create jobs and stimulate the economy “is to prevent a tax hike that’s about to hit every taxpayer and hundreds of thousands of small businesses” on Dec. 31.
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama in his weekly address asked the Senate to approve the START nuclear weapons treaty with Russia, calling it “fundamental” to America’s national security.
McConnell’s emphasis on job creation noted a difficult period as the country celebrates Thanksgiving.  “We are experiencing what can only be described as a jobs crisis, a sustained period of chronic unemployment; and two years of policies that have vastly increased the size and scope of government and added trillions to the debt and have done little to alleviate this problem.”
The tax cuts were set to expire on couples with an annual income of more than $250,000.
McConnell slammed Democrats for focusing on issues such as immigration, don’t ask, don’t tell, and increased environmental regulations over policies that could create jobs. He also criticized the stimulus package, saying that “since Democrats passed it nearly two years ago, more than 3 million people have lost jobs and the economy barely has a pulse.”
In contrast, McConnell said, “the bill that job creators and out-of-work Americans need us to pass is the one that ensures taxes won’t go up — one that says Americans and small business owners won’t get hit with more bad news at the end of the year.”
Obama focused on national security, citing former President Ronald Reagan’s progress in helping to reduce the world’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Obama cited progress in moving the talks forward: “After nearly a full year of negotiations, we completed an agreement earlier this year that cuts by a third the number of long-range nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles that the United States and Russia can deploy, while ensuring that America retains a strong nuclear deterrent, and can put inspectors back on the ground in Russia.”
He added, “The treaty also helped us reset our relations with Russia, which led to concrete benefits. For instance, Russia has been indispensable to our efforts to enforce strong sanctions on Iran, to secure loose nuclear material from terrorists, and to equip our troops in Afghanistan.” But, he said, “All of this will be put to risk if the Senate does not pass the New START Treaty.”
Obama noted bipartisan support for the new treaty and said, “If the Senate doesn’t act this year — after six months, 18 hearings, and nearly a thousand questions answered — it would have to start over from scratch in January.”