Thank you. Tony, I appreciate your kind introduction.
Welcome to the Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, President Obama farewell party. This has been a pretty tough year for those three-their numbers have gone down the chute faster than a Jet Blue flight attendant.
It wasn’t so long ago that they were flying high. The commentator’s legs at MSNBC were tingling. Time Magazine’s cover declared the Republican elephant to be an endangered species. The President felt so giddy that he was able to fit in 40 rounds golf. Mind you, maybe the country is better off when he’s taking advice from his caddy rather than from his economic advisers.
But laughs and high-fives in the elite corridors of power quieted down when Bob McDonnell won the Governor’s race in Virginia. The celebrations in the cloak room came to a halt when Chris Christie showed John Corzine the door in New Jersey. And when Scott Brown seized the “people’s seat” in Massachusetts, liberals went from back-slapping to back-stabbing. With thanks to Jackie Gleason, “How sweet it is!”
Of course Bob and Chris and Scott are just the beginning. America will soon be seeing a lot more of leaders like Governor Nikki Haley, Governor Susana Martinez and Senator Marco Rubio. Some pollsters are predicting that conservatives will enjoy a landmark victory. I can’t guarantee a specific outcome, but one thing I know: America will repudiate Obama-style liberalism.
Part of the reason is the abject failure of his first two years in office. The President incessantly reminds us that he inherited a recession. Of course, that’s why we argued during the campaign that it was no time for on the job training. If he or his economic advisors had any experience in the real economy, he would have known that the first three rules for any turnaround are focus, focus, and focus. But instead of focusing on jobs and the economy, he used the crisis as cover to push his liberal agenda, from cap and trade to an ill-conceived takeover of healthcare. America is sick and tired of an Administration that exploited the economic crisis instead of solving it.
But lack of focus wasn’t the only problem. Ronald Reagan used to say this about liberals: “It’s not that they’re ignorant, it’s that what they know is wrong.” And the Obama-Reid-Pelosi record is living proof.They said that they would help get families and businesses, big and small, back on their feet. But look at what they did and ask whether it helped or hurt the economy and jobs:
Raising taxes on small business, hurt.
Hiking some taxes on investment by almost 200%, hurt.
Pushing cap and trade, hurt.
Stalling agreements to expand trade, hurt.
Sharply slanting the playing field in favor of union CEO’s, hurt.
Handing General Motors to the UAW, hurt.
The federal takeover of healthcare, hurt.
Trillions of dollars of new debt, hurt.
Scapegoating and demonizing the very people who we need to invest in people and jobs, hurt.
This President and his fellow-travelers in Congress implemented the most anti-growth, anti-investment, anti-jobs measures we’ve seen in our lifetimes. He called it ambitious. It was reckless. He scared employers, so jobs are scarce. The uncertainty and lack of predictability he created has caused businesses to shrink from spending and from hiring. He hasn’t helped end the crisis, he made it deeper, longer and more painful. We have had governments declare war on poverty and war on drugs, but this is the first time our government has declared war on free enterprise.
Never before has federal policy been so hostile to the small businesses we count on to help us grow out of recession. Not only do small businesses suffer from higher taxes and regulation, they have to face thenew costs and rules of Obamacare. And unlike the Democrats who voted for the 2,700 page monstrosity, small businesses will actually have to read it to figure out what they have to do.
The White House tries to argue that their stimulus has helped. That’s a bit like saying that squirting water from a garden hose helps put out a forest fire. The question is not whether it helped a little, but rather, did it do the job, or do as well as it could have. And the answer is a resounding “no.” 8% predicted unemployment became 10%. Since the Obama stimulus was passed, 127,000 government jobs have been created, but more than 2.4 million private sector jobs have been lost. In Ohio, more than one in ten people are out of work. In California, the unemployment rate has hovered around 12% for more than a year. There are now nearly 15 million Americans that are out of work: if they stood in a single unemployment line, it would stretch from the coast of California to Washington D.C. and then back again! If that’s their vaunted “recovery summer,” heaven help us from their recovery winter!
Of course, the economy is slowly getting better and eventually it will right itself. It will be thanks to the hard work and innovation of the American people. Vice President Biden will say that he and the President deserve the credit. No, they have prolonged the recession, extended the pain of joblessness, and added to the burden of debt that will hang over the economy for generations. Their failure is one reason they will serve only one term. Isn’t it fitting that those who have such contempt for the private sector will soon find themselves back in it?
If only the President would have made the economy job one. If only he had listened to conservatives who called for less taxing, less spending, less borrowing and less government. If only he had crafted incentives for business to hire and invest. If only his stimulus had spent less to protect his government unions and more to protect our troops. If only he had confronted the growing threat from unfunded entitlements, unfunded pensions and gargantuan liabilities at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. If only hehad in fact been transparent and bipartisan and uniting, as he pledged in hiss campaign. Then, perhaps,he could have delivered on his promise of “yes we can.” Instead, America knows all too well that “no, he didn’t.”
And it’s ironic that a president who said he would unite the country has turned out to be one of the most divisive in history. But he HAS succeeded in one way — he has united most of the voters against him.
The President’s foreign policy has not compensated for his failure at home. Under his engagement policy, North Korea has tested nuclear weapons, launched long range missiles, and sunk a South Korean ship. And Iran has funded Yemeni insurgents, armed terrorists, and accelerated its nuclear program. He gave Russians their number one foreign policy objective-abandonment of our Eastern Europe missile defense-and got nothing in return. He insulted Israel at the United Nations and forgot to mention that Hamas has launched thousands of rockets into that country. Our success in Iraq is in spite of his policy preferences and thanks to those of his predecessor, George W. Bush. And his strategy in Afghanistan hasbeen needlessly muddled by announcing a withdrawal date, unfortunately putting domestic politics ahead of national purpose. Yes, we have serious enemies and growing threats around the world. Unfortunately, we have an Administration whose idea of a rogue state is Arizona.
These are among the reasons why liberals will have a bad November. Of course, the pundits will be right that this will not be the first time that power has been taken away from one political party and given to the other. But what is occurring in America today is different than simply a shift in seats. And it is not merely the result of disappointment or anger, though there may well be reason for both.
What is being felt in America today is more profound than that, more solemn, more sober. Americans believe that Washington is threatening the very foundations of what has made America, America. Washington is assaulting America’s values. It is endeavoring to change what this nation has been, to change what it is, and to change what it is destined to become.
This room is filled every year by citizens-modern patriots-who are passionate about America’s values.These values include the sanctity of life and the preservation of marriage. But the Obama Administration has taken its assault to even more American values. The American people have finally seen Obama liberalism for what it is; they have seen the counterfeit values that underlie it, and they want none of it! The liberals’ values include spending and borrowing on behalf of my generation even though it will bankrupt my children’s and grandchildren’s generations.
They believe that the rule of law should be subordinate to their view of the greater good.
They believe that government knows best how to care for your health — not you, not your doctor.
They believe that the rewards of success should be taken from the person who created them and given to those who did not.
They believe that workers shouldn’t have the right to vote by secret ballot as to whether or not they want a union.
And even though one half of the children in our cities do not graduate from high school, they believe that parental choice and teacher accountability should bow to the interests of union bosses.
In fact, I’m afraid that some in Washington today are driven by such different values that they wouldchange the very character of America. Let me explain what I mean with a personal observation.
At Christmas-time, I was in Wal-Mart to buy some toys for my grandkids. As I waited in the check-outline, I took a good look around the store. I thought to myself: this store reminds me of Sam Walton. I never met him, but what I read about him was that he was passionate about low prices, on everything people might want. And he was somewhat impetuous. His stores are a lot like him: low prices, tons of different items, and a store that isn’t, well, terribly well organized. It’s not like a Target, for instance,where everything lines up just so.
And then I thought about other enterprises I know, and how much their founders have shaped them. Microsoft is a reflection of Bill Gates, just as Apple is of Steve Jobs. In some ways, Disneyland is a physical legacy of Walt Disney himself-imaginative, creative and whimsical. Virgin Airlines is as irreverent and edgy as its founder, Richard Branson.
I’ve found that it’s not just businesses that are shaped by their founders; it’s true of institutions of allkinds-schools, universities, charities, even churches.
It’s also true of countries: countries are shaped by their founders and by those who have led them, oftenfor many centuries after those founders are gone.
I’ve often imagined what it must have been like for those first people who left Europe to immigrate to America. They left behind home, family, security and predictability in exchange for a life-threatening ocean passage, the possibility of hostile indigenous people, and uncertain shelter, food and climate.
Some who came here sought fortune. Others sought the right to practice their religion according to the dictates of their conscience. In almost every heart, it was a strain of liberty that drew them here-religious liberty, economic liberty, freedom to pioneer, or freedom from oppression. The thirst for freedom drove these American colonists. It has been a quintessential American value from the beginning.
The founders who drafted the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution made a trade very much like the first colonists. They could have chosen the predictable and secure path, following the commands of the Crown. They could have established their own form of monarchy: a powerful, autocratic government that would likewise tell people what to make, where to sell it, and how much they would earn.
But instead, they choose freedom. Just as the people would be free to choose their government, they would be free to choose their occupations and their life’s course-to pursue happiness according to their own dreams.
That choice by the founding parents has made all the difference. People from all over the world who prized freedom-the innovators, the pioneers, the dreamers-came to America. This is who we are as a people-it is in our DNA. It is this love of liberty and the accompanying spirit of invention, creativity,daring-do, and pioneering that have propelled America to become the most powerful nation in the history of the world.
This course for America, chosen by the founders, has been settled for over 200 years. Ours is the creed of the pioneer, the innovator, the striver who expects no guarantee of success, but asks only to live andwork in freedom. This creed, this value, is under assault in Washington today. Liberals are convinced that government knows better than the people how to run our businesses, how to choose winning technologies, how to manage healthcare, how to grow an economy, and how to order our very lives.They want to gain through government takeover what they could never achieve in the competitive economy-power and control over the people of America. If they were to succeed, they would smother the very spirit that has built the nation-the liberating, innovating, inventing, creating, independent current that runs from coast to coast. The Obama Administration promised that they would “fundamentally change the way Washington works.” They misled us. They are trying to change the way America works, And we must not let them!
This Administration does not lack for confidence. But confidence in yourself is not the same as confidence in your country. And believing in the power of government is not the same as believing in the power of the governed.
In a world where others have lost their liberty by trading it away for the false promises of the state, we choose to hold to our founding values. We will stop these power-seekers where they stand. We will preserve America’s character as the land of liberty. We welcome those who seek and will defend freedom; we admire the entrepreneur, the inventor, the innovator. We will insist on greatness from every one of our citizens, and rather than apologizing for who we are or for what we have accomplished,we will celebrate our nation’s strength and goodness. American patriots have defeated tyrants, liberated the oppressed, and rescued the afflicted. America’s model of innovation, capitalism and free enterprise has lifted literally billions of the world’s poor out of poverty. America has been a force for good like no other in this world, and for that we make no apology.