Remarks to Freedom Summit, Manchester NH
It’s great to be in New Hampshire! I am so pleased to stand with the two great organizations hosting this Freedom Summit — Citizens United and Americans for Prosperity.
Citizens United fought to defend our right to free speech — and won a great victory in the United States Supreme Court.
And Americans for Prosperity is exercising that right to free speech to defend the values we all share — and with your help, we are going to win a great victory this November!
You might have noticed Harry Reid is a little upset with Americans for Prosperity. Let me tell you, when the Democrat leader is complaining about you on the Senate floor, you know you are doing something right.
Poor Harry! He’s not happy because he knows the same thing you and I do — two hundred and six days from now, we are going take back the U.S. Senate!
New Hampshire is one of the birthplaces of American freedom and independence — a place with a love and a passion for liberty.
That’s what separates American freedom from all other types of government on earth, a recognition and love of the divine gift of liberty.
The right of liberty is God-given and immortal. It cannot be regulated. Or controlled. It cannot be banned. And it must not be restricted.
Yet today in Washington, people are trying to do just that.
Six years ago, Barack Obama promised you his policies would fix the economy. You got an eight hundred billion dollar stimulus bill – and no new jobs.
He promised you could keep your doctor and your health plan. What we got was higher premiums, higher deductibles — and millions of Americans losing both their doctors and their health plans..
He promised you he’d rein in executive power. What we got was an Imperial President, who ignores the laws Congress passes, plays like he is king, and enacts what he wants by executive fiat.
Congress doesn’t pass suggestions, Mr. President. We pass laws. And it’s time you start following them.
These are all examples of a centralized government dictating to a free people and it is what our Founders fought against.
The Founders knew better than that.
You know better than that.
And here’s the good news: The American people know better than that.
This is what we do know: After six years of Barack Obama, Gallup recently found that 72 percent of Americans now say big government is the biggest threat to our country. 72 percent! That is the highest that number has been in half a century.
But here’s the fascinating part. Even 56 percent of Democrats now say big government is the biggest threat to our country.
Now, let me tell you: When even a majority of Democrats say government is too big, you know that government is too big.
Folks, one day soon, the Obama era will be over. And when people look back at his presidency, they will not say that this is the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow.
They will say it was the moment when support for big government began to slow.
It comes down to this: The other side fights for government.
We fight for people … We fight for opportunity … We fight for freedom.
So today, I want to talk to you about our fight for freedom — and the battle to expand opportunity to all our citizens.
Let me begin with a little story from back home.
Music is the soul of Tennessee. We play it loud … and we play it on Gibson guitars.
There’s nothing more American than a Gibson guitar.
Gibson builds guitars in Nashville and Memphis. They have factories that put hundreds of people to work, building products that bring people joy.
Well, the Feds didn’t see it that way. Armed federal marshals kicked down the doors of Gibson’s factories. They raided the place like Gibson was selling crack instead of building great guitars.
Do you know why?
Because they didn’t like the wood Gibson used in the neck of its guitars.
That’s all it took for the government to break in, confiscate their supplies, and bury them in fines.
A couple of years later, the Feds grumbled, admitted they were wrong, and gave the wood back.
Now the folks at Gibson have a sense of humor. They are using that wood for a new series of guitars — they call it the “Government series.”
Each one features a picture of an American eagle holding a Gibson guitar neck in its talons.
Well, it’s time for the federal government to get its talons off the necks of American entrepreneurs!
It doesn’t matter if it’s the EPA, or the IRS, or even the NSA … conservatives, each of you, refuse to allow your government to be used as a weapon against your fellow citizens.
So the question is: what are we going to do about it?
We have a choice. We can be proactive or we can be reactive.
We shouldn’t be responding to President Obama. He should be responding to us!
He should be reacting to our ideas.
… our ideas are proven.
… our ideas unlock American prosperity.
We need to fight for those ideas. Let me tell you how.
First, we need to fight to expand opportunity for every American.
Emerson wrote, “America is just another word for opportunity.” What a beautiful quote.
You know who understood that? Ronald Reagan.
At the 1980 Republican convention in Detroit, then-Governor Reagan made this solemn promise: “For those without job opportunities, we’ll stimulate new opportunities, where they live … For those who have abandoned hope, we’ll restore hope and we’ll welcome them into a great national crusade to make America great again.”
“We have to move ahead,” Reagan said, “but we’re not going to leave anyone behind.”
And he didn’t.
He unleashed the power of opportunity for all our citizens, and that made America great again.
Here’s a shocking statistic: Today just 15 percent of American adults believe that children today will enjoy a better life than their parents did.
The greatest gift our parents ever gave us was the gift of opportunity — shame on us if we don’t pass that gift on to our children!
If we want to pass that gift on, we need to remove obstacles to economic growth and upward mobility. And one of the greatest obstacles is the tax code.
Imagine all the incredible things each of you here today could do if you weren’t held down by heavy taxes.
This is what our tax policy needs to be: Lower taxes at every opportunity, no matter what, no matter how, no matter where, and whenever it’s possible.
I think something’s wrong when we have Americans struggling to live within their means – just so they can pay taxes to a Government that refuses to live within its means.
Now look. We’re Americans. We look out for each other. We’re compassionate.
Helping people is in our DNA.
And poverty has no greater enemy than freedom and free markets.
Here is a fact you I would hope you can use. According to the American Enterprise Institute, in 1970, more than one in four people around the world lived on a dollar a day or less. Today, it’s one in twenty. That is an 80 percent reduction in extreme poverty.
So how did it happen?
It wasn’t a stimulus spending bill. It wasn’t “shovel ready projects.”
It was the expansion of freedom and free markets.
So if freedom and free markets can reduce poverty by 80 percent around the world, why on earth would we turn to government do the job here at home?
The best help you can give someone is a hand up, not a hammock.
If we want to help the poor — if we want to lift millions of our citizens out of government dependence — then the best thing we can do is to fight for the free enterprise system.
Second, we need to fight to expand opportunity for women.
You heard it all the time during the last campaign.
President Obama says that conservatives hate women, that there’s a war on women, and that the only thing that women care about is birth control.
Oh, Mr. President bless your heart.
Which man in your administration came up with that one?
Women aren’t a cheap date. Women want a little more out of life than contraceptives.
Just the other day I got a call from a friend back home. She’s 64-years-old. She told me her insurance company contacted her to say that under Obamacare they would pay for contraceptives but not for her blood pressure medication. She told them to put it in writing so she could share it with her congressman.
What women want is not free contraceptives.
We want opportunity.
We want all the potential of the American economy unlocked for us.
We want the government to stay out of our way … stay out of our wallets … and stay out of our emails.
We want to have choice. Not the type of choice that men in the Democratic Party talk about, but real choice.
We want options, equal access and a level playing field.
And as conservatives, it is our job to fight to give women those opportunities.
We want more women entrepreneurs! We want more women CEOs! We want women to lead our party … lead our country … and lead in innovation!
Third, we need to fight to expand opportunity for our children.
We need a dynamic education system that brings out the absolute best in our children.
Let’s transform the way they learn, nurture their skills, that identifies and cultivates their talents, and gives them opportunities that we adults could only dream of.
We want a system that gives parents a choice to leave a bad school — and allows more charter schools to bring their spirit of innovation and excellence to struggling communities.
Here’s a fact: A recent study of charter schools in Florida and Chicago found that students attending a public charter high school are 7 to 11 percentage points more likely to graduate than their peers in traditional public schools. They are also 10 and 11 percentage points more likely to enroll in college. And their annual earnings right after graduation are about 12.7 percent higher than for comparable students who attended a traditional public high school.
Charter schools mean a better future for our children.
The teachers unions oppose charter schools. They oppose choice, innovation and reform. They want a Happy Meal education, a dumbed-down, one-size fits all, equal portions for everyone plan.
They want a system that doesn’t test children on their skills, but on their obedience to Washington standards.
We need to stand up to the teachers unions!
We need to fight for charter schools!
And we need to replace Common Core with some common sense!
Finally, we need to fight for our men and women in uniform — and a national security policy that preserves freedom and opportunity.
Now I don’t know about you, but – no matter who the President is – I don’t like it when America looks weak.
I like it when our enemies fear us, and I like it when our allies respect us.
That’s because history taught us one hard lesson that never changes…
… and Reagan had this down to a ‘T’ so listen up.
Our liberty needs two things: a small government to keep Americans free, and a strong military that keeps Americans safe.
I wish we could pack things up, duck back behind the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, and just mind our own business. I really do.
But folks, in the 21st century, we can’t escape the world, no matter how hard we try.
Our parents and grandparents worked hard, they sweated and spilled blood, to stand America up on a great bright pedestal.
They stood America up and dared the rest of the world to follow our lead.
They wanted the world to be a product of this great experiment in freedom that is America.
I want the world to keep following us. Instead, America is “leading from behind.” Or as we call it in Tennessee, “following.”
Somebody asked me what President Obama’s foreign policy was.
It’s simple. You take the idea of an exceptional America and you make it average.
You take a beautiful, shining city on the Hill, and turn it into just another dull bulb lighting the halls of the United Nations.
You take a mountain top America, and put it down in the foothills somewhere between Belarus and Bolivia.
The world used to fear and respect us. Now our allies are asking “where have you been,” and our rivals are wondering how far they can push us.
I want peace. Everyone in this room wants peace.
But the world gets a say in things. China’s beating their chest, Russia thinks the end of the Cold War was only half-time, and Iran wants nuclear weapons.
Al-Qaeda has spread out of Pakistan, and cyber attacks hit our servers thousands of times a day.
America is up to these challenges. We can beat them back. We always have.
Every time America has been challenged, we’ve won and we’ve come out stronger.
My friend Johnny Cash would belt it out: “steel is strong because it knew the hammer and white heat.”
That’s America. This country is like a metal that gets stronger under pressure.
We need to fight for a strong military — because our military strength is the surest path to peace.
And we need to fight for a strong America — a land growing in freedom and opportunity for all.
We can win these fights — because our ideas work…. Their ideas just don’t work.
Don’t take my word for it. Just look at what is happening in the states.
You’ve seen California and Illinois.
You’ve also see Republican governors all over this great Republic, showing Washington how you get things done.
In states where our ideas are being tried we see balanced budgets, jobs being created, and economies that are finally turning a corner.
In states where the Obama approach is being tried, we see higher taxes, higher debt, and higher unemployment.
So the question is: Do we want America to be more like California and Illinois? Or do we want America to be more like the Red States — a place where freedom and free markets are unleashing opportunity and putting people to work?
The answer is obvious.
When you oppose free markets, when you oppose freedom and you punish independence, you feed the rot that is seeping out of the deep Blue States.
Wishful thinking is not an economic policy. Jealousy is not a prescription for growth. Dependence is not a prescription for hope.
In the past 237 years, who has ever gained by betting against America?
Our best days are right in front of us!
We do not send people to Washington to oversee the decline of America.
We send them to fight for bigger ideas and bigger dreams. Because we stand for bigger things.
If you’re a person of faith, we stand for you.
If you love and defend freedom… we stand for you.
If you believe in the hope and beauty of the American dream… we stand for you.
If you believe in opportunity, to live a better life, to dream a little bigger… we stand for you.
So let’s stand together and fight for America! Let’s fight for the Constitution! Let’s fight for a future of freedom and opportunity for all our fellow citizens!
This battle can be won. When I was in the Tennessee State Senate, and a Republican Governor proposed a state income tax, everyone said it was a done deal. I refused to go along. I led the fight to defeat it. And we won.
If we stand together, and stand on principle, we can do it again. We can take on the powers-that-be in Washington, DC. We can defeat the tax-raising, big government, politicians on Capitol Hill. We can elect a conservative majority in the United States Senate.
We’ve got two hundred and six days to do it.
We need your energy … we need your enthusiasm. America is yours. Go out there and take it back!