Mitt Romney - Values Voters Summit - 09/19/09

Part 1

Part 2

Comments as prepared for delivery:

Thank you all very much. Tony, I appreciate your very kind words. And my thanks to all of you for the warm welcome. It’s good to see so many friends and leaders of the conservative movement from across America.
A year ago, there were quite a few people who were ready to write off this movement. They were enthralled by Barack Obama’s promise of near-Biblical transformations. Their legs were tingling.
He spoke majestically, framed by Greek columns. Well, he can still spin a speech, but he can’t spin his record. I’ll bet you never dreamed you’d look back at Jimmy Carter as the good old days.

I’ve had the pleasure of attending the Values Voters summit every year since 2004. I know that what brings us together is our allegiance to important and enduring values: the security of our country … the defense of freedom in the world … the success of our free enterprise system … and the fundamental rights of every person, including the right to life itself – these causes unite us…and they inspire us for the work ahead.

We know that America has always endured a chorus of critics, —people who claim that every ill, every failure in the world is America’s fault.
But it has never before had a President who was conducting that chorus.
He told an Arab TV station that America has dictated to other nations. No, Mr. President, America has freed other nations from dictators. He told the Europeans that America has been arrogant, dismissive and derisive. No, Mr. President, in defending liberty, America has been diligent, dedicated and decisive.

Sure, when an American president journeys abroad, it’s always nice to see him applauded and praised. But when the price for that adoration is one apology after another for alleged offenses by the United States of America, it’s not worth it. Frankly, I’d rather see a president greeted abroad by complete silence, as long as he is defending our country’s character and not playing to our country’s critics!

These are times that call for a strong America.

China is on track to become the largest economy in the world. Russia under Putin is edging back to its old totalitarian ways, killing journalists, harassing political enemies, and invading a sovereign neighbor. Jihadists murder and threaten innocent people in nations around the world, and plot to attack us here at home.
The regime in North Korea sacrifices its own people to serve its nuclear ambitions. The regime in Iran, too, is moving fast to develop a nuclear weapon. And all the while, our economy is reeling and our debts are mounting.

Let me say it again: these are times that call for a strong America.

We know the source of America’s strength.
It is the citizens of this country, and all that a free people can achieve.
Free, hard working, family oriented, risk taking, opportunity-seeking, patriotic American people have always been the source of our strength, and they always will be.

And here in Washington, the best policies are those that expand their freedoms, broaden their opportunities, allow them to keep more of what they earn, afford them better education, let them choose their own healthcare, and turn loose the free enterprise system to create more jobs.

What President Obama has done these last eight months, and what he is proposing for the next three years, would not strengthen America, it would weaken America. His so-called stimulus is a case in point. The President sold it as an immediate boost that would hold unemployment below eight percent, restore the economy and create jobs. Rather than bring back the economy, it brought back 30 years of failed liberal programs. And he rushed it through before anyone could even notice. But we did notice, and we’re not impressed!

The economy is still shrinking even as the government keeps growing. Unemployment blew past eight percent to nearly 10 percent – that’s millions and millions more Americans out of work.
Not one new job has been created. The numbers of Americans opposing the Obama agenda are growing. The voters will make that clear in the 2010 elections. Now that’s a “public option” I agree with.

The President’s spending and borrowing has also weakened the nation.
In the month of July alone, he added 330 billion dollars to the deficit. His plan is to add another trillion dollars in debt every year he is in office. He initially admitted that the cumulative deficit would swell by seven trillion dollars over the next ten years, but now he acknowledges that nine trillion is more like it.
He would double our national debt in just five years. These deficits, combined with our liabilities for entitlements, threaten to cause a global collapse of confidence in America and in the dollar, and to precipitate an even deeper financial crisis.

Putting such a spirit-crushing, back-breaking debt burden on our children is unworthy of our national character. That is why I believe that this spending and borrowing is not just economically irresponsible, it is morally wrong!

To strengthen the economy and to create jobs, the President must stop trying to borrow this country out of a debt problem. I know there are people who are now talking about another stimulus bill for the economy. That’s the wrong answer. The right answer is to fix the stimulus we have—throw out the liberal, big-government programs and substitute incentives that will stimulate the private sector and actually create jobs. Don’t repeat the stimulus, repair the stimulus!

Taking more money away from working Americans would make us a weaker nation. Candidate Obama promised not to raise taxes—“by one dime”—on people making less than 250 thousand dollars a year. The President’s cap and trade program demolished that promise. The Obama team had secretly calculated that his plan would cost the average American family $1,761 a year, the equivalent to a 15% income tax hike. It kills jobs. And because it will simply move greenhouse gas emitters from America to other nations like China, it won’t do a thing to affect climate change. Democrats keep talking about climate change.
I think they’re confusing global warming with all the heat they’ve been taking at town halls.

I think we can all agree that it is a good idea to reform healthcare. Healthier Americans will make a stronger nation. Insurance companies shouldn’t drop people when they get sick.
We need to help people with pre-existing conditions. I think insurance should be portable and affordable. Republicans have proposed several healthcare reform bills. And this Republican worked to reform healthcare in my own state. Not every feature of our plan is perfect, but the lesson it teaches is this:
We can get everyone insured, without breaking the bank and without a government option—there is no government insurance in my Massachusetts reform. The right answer for health care is not more government, it’s less government.

President Obama says he wants “public option government insurance,” to give people “greater choice.” But what he doesn’t tell you is that there are more than a thousand insurance companies.

He says he wants an option that doesn’t have the burden of corporate profits. But what he doesn’t tell you is that there are plenty of major insurance companies that are not-for-profit.

He says he’d be satisfied with co-ops. But what he doesn’t tell you is that there are already co-ops and no legislation is needed to form more of them.

What he won’t say is what he really wants: a public option that over time becomes the only option. And if he gets what he wants, we know exactly where it would inevitably lead: to an entitlement with massive liability, to more borrowing, to denial of care or rationing just as they experience in Europe, and to the creation of dozens of government bureaucracies reaching into every hospital, every doctor’s office and every home. He’s not going to get his way, thanks to millions of Americas who have stepped up in town halls and tea parties across the country.
The Democrats call them a mob, crazies, trash—
I call them patriots.

I for one was not unhappy that the President chose to address our schoolchildren. The Heritage Foundation, in a January letter to the President, reminded him that he is in a unique position to help our children keep from making a critical and life-altering mistake. And that is having children before they are married. Forty percent of all children are now born out-of-wedlock. Of course, there are wonderful single parents who do a heroic job raising children in difficult circumstances.
But for the nation as a whole, we raise a stronger generation when they are raised by a Mom and a Dad.

A strong America depends on a strong defense. Rivals are pursuing designs and purposes very different from our own. We must never cut corners in funding and equipping the military and the intelligence services that defend our country. More than 150,000 of our people in uniform are still deployed in theaters of war. Nothing on the agenda of the President or Congress must come before the needs of our troops and the absolute necessity of their victory.

In the face of Iran’s rush to become a nuclear power, the President’s decision this week to walk away from our commitment to missile defense in Europe is alarming and dangerous. They say that Iran isn’t as close to becoming a nuclear threat as they once thought.
How can they possibly know that? They say this is a token of goodwill for Russia to get them to support sanctions on Iran. But the first rule of negotiation is this: only give something away when you get something.

From Israel, to Honduras, to the Czech Republic and Poland, it’s time the President treated our friends better than he does our foes.

We need to urge
pro-defense members of Congress – Democrats and Republicans alike – to hold firm, and to make the case for a military that is second to none. Those pro-defense congressmen and senators might feel outnumbered right now. But they shouldn’t lose hope, because we’re going to send them some reinforcements in next year’s election.

We’ve now gone eight years and eight days without being hit again at home. And over on the Left, they want very hard for us to believe that this fact has nothing whatever to do with the intensive interrogation of terrorists. You could listen all day long to the outpourings of the far left and never hear that obvious connection.

The administration plays right along. And now they’re actually talking about prosecuting the very intelligence officers who protected us by asking questions and getting answers. These intelligence officers don’t deserve to be hounded and lectured by the Left wing – they deserve the respect and thanks of every American, starting with the commander in chief.

We’re at a critical time in our nation’s history. America must not lose faith in the values and virtues that made the American way of life possible.
We must not allow big government activists to exploit the financial crisis that they themselves unknowingly enabled – to substitute their ideology for the wisdom and good sense of the American people.

There’s something else that should concern us when the federal government expands at such a rate. When government is trying to take over health care, buying car companies, bailing out banks, and giving half the White House staff the title of czar – we have every good reason to be alarmed and to speak our mind!

The current economic crisis was the result of many failures. Important guardrails were allowed to collapse, leaving many Americans unprotected from the descent of the financial and job markets. The last thing we need now is a collapse of even more guardrails, leaving us unprotected from the overreach of government.

Let me make a prediction, for our cause, and for all those who speak for it with no apology, we’re about to see a comeback.
Voters in New Jersey have just about had it with the high-taxers in charge of their state. And just across the Potomac River, the signs are good that we’re about to see a low-tax,
pro-growth, pro-life governor of Virginia.

Nothing is certain in politics, but we can be certain about this: our belief in the greatness of America and our dedication to keeping this nation strong are needed today as much as they have ever been needed in our past.

I don’t deny that America’s challenges are great, or that overcoming them will require the best that we have to give.
But I know as well that times of difficulty always bring out the essential character of our fellow citizens. When I was a boy, my dad used to say that the pursuit of the difficult makes you strong. Well, the pursuit of the difficult will make America strong. We welcome the challenge. It will call on us, once again, to draw on the incredible resilience, ingenuity, and faith of the free men and women of the United States.

We don’t get to choose the tests and trials ahead. But we’re entirely free, you and I, to choose how we will meet those tests. We will meet them as conservatives have done before. We will find strength in each other, and answer our opponents with good will and honest words.

And we will go forward – committed to our ideals, confident of victories to come, and certain that God does indeed bless America.

Thank you.

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