Kerry warns against a government 'too limited to have invented the Internet'

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) warned incoming Republicans Tuesday morning against cutting back the size of government so much that it cannot contribute to U.S. productivity.

"Do they want a government too limited to have invented the Internet, now a vital part of our commerce and communications?" he asked at one point.

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Kerry also argued that the government's bailout of U.S. auto companies was warranted, and said government-funded research programs should be spared.

"[Do they want a] government too small to give America’s auto industry and all its workers a second chance to fight for their survival? Taxes too low to invest in the research that creates jobs and industries and fills the Treasury with the revenue that educates our children, cures disease, and defends our country?" he said in remarks to the Center for American Progress.

"We have to get past slogans and soundbites, reason together and talk in real terms about how America can do its best," he added.

Much of the rest of Kerry's speech was devoted to the need to maintain federal spending on infrastructure; he said the U.S. is falling far behind China and other countries in ensuring updated airports, roads and seaports.

Speaking more generally, Kerry bemoaned the constant fighting between the parties, which he said has prevented them from working together on these issues.

"[T]he 21st century can be another American century — but only if we restore a larger sense of responsibility and replace the clattering cacophony of the perpetual campaign with a wider discussion of what is best for our country," he said.

While he said Republicans have used the filibuster too much as a tool to "undermine the presidency," he did not say in his prepared remarks that he supports changing the rules to make it easier to break a filibuster.

But in a question and answer session, he said he supports "the basics" of a proposal from Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) to rewrite the Senate's filibuster rules.

Kerry said the rights of the minority party need to be protected, but said the filibuster needs to change so it is not a "day-to-day tactic."

More specifically, he said senators currently do not have to explain why they are filibustering a bill, or even which senator is filibustering, and said he supports making the filibuster a "reasonable process."

This post was updated at 10:53 a.m.