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Authors: Eric Cantor;Paul Ryan;Kevin McCarthy

Young Guns : A New Generation of Conservative Leaders (9 page)

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But Americans have been watching Washington as the
Democrats have exercised one-party rule over their government, and they’ve noticed a pattern. Remember how, at the beginning of his presidency, President Obama insisted he didn’t care if government was bigger or smaller, he just wanted it to be “smarter and more effective”? Well, it hasn’t escaped any of us that every proposal from the Obama administration for ostensibly “better and smarter” government has called for
bigger
government. There have been no instances in which the administration has equated more effective government with smaller government. As far as the Democrats are concerned, the causality only runs one way—to a European-style welfare state.

This pattern started with the disaster of the stimulus bill—and then it got markedly worse, if you can believe that. As small businesses and families across the country tightened their belts, President Obama pushed an additional $3.6 trillion spending plan through Congress in its 2009 budget.

Then the Democrats got in the auto business. Instead of allowing its union cronies and corporate CEOs to be held accountable for their poor decisions, they made the taxpayers accountable by buying Chrysler and General Motors. It was the bailout culture all over again, with Washington privatizing gains and socializing losses.

As work began on health care in the spring of 2009, their “big government is better government” approach to America’s problems came into sharp relief. Democrats and Republicans agree that our health-care system is broken in
fundamental ways. We agree that costs are too high, putting health care out of reach to millions of Americans without insurance, and endangering the coverage of millions of Americans with health care.

We disagree fundamentally, however, on how to fix our system. As Paul and Kevin will go into detail later, we believe the patient and her doctor should be the decision makers when it comes to health care, not a bureaucrat in the basement of the Health and Human Services building in Washington DC.

Many of those in power in Washington feel differently and, no surprise, their answer has been for more and more expensive government. Far from “bending the cost curve down,” their plan had a trillion-dollar price tag.

The result was, by June of 2009, President Obama and congressional Democrats had enacted or proposed policies that would accumulate more debt than was amassed by all the previous presidents in America’s 220-year history. They had put us on an unsustainable financial path, with the debt set to double over the next five years and triple in ten years. Under their out-of-control spending, within three years the federal government will spend
$1 billion a day just on interest on the debt.
Within ten years we will spend $2 billion a day, just to tread financial water and keep ourselves afloat.

Americans are genuinely—and rightly—concerned about the debt we are piling on future generations. They’re
concerned about the country’s financial future and their own financial future. But I believe this anxiety also captures a larger anxiety about the future of our country. When we debate issues like government spending and health care—or, worse, when we don’t debate them and the majority party just forces its will on the country—we are really debating what kind of country we want to have. Will it be a place where the freedoms that have made us great are preserved and adopted to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century? Or will it be a place we don’t recognize; a country whose citizens are so dependent on and enslaved by big government that we no longer control our own destinies? Will it be a country that keeps the playing field level and gives everyone the opportunity to work and succeed? Or will it be a place where our leaders rig the game in favor of the special interests who keep them in power?

These, I believe, were the fundamental questions on the minds of the voters as they went to the polls in the off-year elections in 2009 and the special Massachusetts election in early 2010. They were responding to the question, “What kind of country do we want to have?” And their answer was, simply, “Not the kind of country Washington has us headed toward today.”

Pro-market, limited government candidates won in New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts, not by running away from their principles and trying to pull a fast one on the voters, but by standing firm with their principles and offering
solutions based on them. Independent voters flocked to Gov. Chris Christie, Gov. Bob McDonnell, and Sen. Scott Brown because they talked about jobs and opportunity for citizens and restraint and accountability for government.

Watching the celebration of Inauguration Day 2009, there were few who would have predicted the outcomes of the elections in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts less than a year later. President Obama and the congressional Democrats sold themselves to the American people as their best bet for hope and change. And they have not delivered.

A year and a half later, two things are increasingly clear: first, the need for a fundamental change in America’s direction is more urgent than ever.

And second, there is a better way.

*
For a full list of members, see Appendix A.

CHAPTER THREE
A Better Way
 
 

Paul, Kevin, and I are unapologetic believers in the concept of American exceptionalism. America offers opportunity like no other nation, and with hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance, no one is limited. After all, where else could people from such humble beginnings as Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, and Ronald Reagan even dream of growing up to become president? Our country is built on the notion that hard work, creativity, and responsible risk taking are rewarded. This is what we are fighting so hard to preserve.

Yet today, America rests in the hands of a Democratic majority that views America differently. They love their country, but it seems to me that they tend to focus on its flaws rather than its greatness. They crave the approval of the very international elites whose nations have never
offered the opportunity that America has. And above all, they think America is an ordinary nation, not an exceptional nation in the way that tens of millions who risked their lives to come to our shores legally in search of the American dream saw it. They think America is just one nation among many, with few unique virtues, responsibilities, enemies, or destiny.

Time and again, they try to sell us on promises that just don’t add up. They tell us that we can give all Americans health-care coverage and still save money—without fixing the fundamental antimarket character of our health-care system. They tell us that government can reward irresponsible borrowing and financial behavior and not encourage more of it. They say that we can spend all we want today and somehow not burden future generations of Americans with higher taxes and lower prospects. And they employ the politics of fear against anyone who suggests reforming our broken entitlements, scaring seniors and the needy into being their unwitting partners in the destruction of the very programs they say they want to save.

For the good of this nation and its future, we must change course. No longer can we run up the national credit card—either by necessity or design—which results in government taking more of what we earn, impeding small businesses, and consigning our children and grandchildren to less opportunity than we’ve had. We’re headed for a country in which a paternalistic government that believes
it knows better than we do dictates our most intimate choices, whether it’s in our children’s classrooms, our doctors’ offices, or our family living rooms. It’s a dangerous path on which liberty is forgotten and opportunity is lost.

I have complete faith in the good judgment of the American people to choose a different course. They’re not only ready for adult leadership; they’re ready to be talked to like adults. All Americans understand that we face difficult and serious challenges. But in the effort to rise above these challenges, they don’t want their leaders to destroy our prized values and liberties; they want us to become more forceful advocates for them.

The good news is that there’s a new generation of limited government, free-market leaders ready to move the country forward in a more prosperous direction.

Over the past year and a half, we have fought to restore the American people’s trust by offering a policy-based alternative approach. In the face of a rigidly ideological Democratic agenda, we put forward principled opposition to drive the national debate back to the center—toward the commonsense solutions that this majority has eschewed.

These efforts have given the public a window on how we as a party will lead. Under a Republican Congress, Americans will see less Washington and more hope, opportunity, and freedom. We will present a positive agenda that harnesses this country’s greatness and looks to its bright future.

Simply put: there is a better way.

We are a new generation of Republican leaders eager to put our past sins behind us. We pledge to stand on principle, to lead as adults and—most of all—to serve as responsible stewards of the public trust by listening to the American people.

That means getting back to our core principles and applying a basic test to all our actions on behalf of the American people. When we consider a domestic policy, we will first ask: does it create jobs, strengthen our long-term economic footing, and take a responsible approach to spending while shifting focus away from Washington to the people? Washington should be working for the people, not the other way around. And on the foreign policy front: does it protect the safety, security, and sovereignty of America and its allies while assessing current and future threats and developing clear strategies for addressing them?

Paul, Kevin, and I believe these types of litmus tests would signal a welcome change from the misplaced priorities of the current president, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader Reid.

Take it from me, the past eighteen months have been busy ones in Washington. The president and the Democratic leadership have frantically produced and lobbied for plans to tax energy, create government health care, close Guantánamo Bay, bail out corporations, and, of course, spend lots and lots of your money. The one thing they
haven’t done much about is the most important issue for Americans: jobs.

A headline about an upcoming presidential trip in the April 7
Los Angeles Times
said it all: “Obama off to Prague to not talk U.S. jobs once more.”

Republicans began offering a better way to get America back to work when the administration pushed through its budget-busting $787 billion (that became $862 billion) so-called stimulus plan. As I’ve written, our alternative bill would have created twice the jobs at half the cost of the Democratic bill, which, it must be repeated, has failed even on its own terms.

As we’ve said, there is a better way to create jobs for Americans and secure our children’s future prosperity than taking more and more tax dollars out of the private sector and giving them to government to spend. Our jobs plan begins by rejecting this logic and reversing this trend. Small businessmen and -women tell me virtually every day that the threat of increased taxes, regulation, and government mandates are deterrents to business expansion and job growth. And they know of what they speak. During its first fifteen months, the Obama administration has considered more than one hundred separate regulations that would cost the economy—including small businesses—more than one million dollars each. Do you know any small businesses that can handle this type of crippling loss? Of course not.

For our economy to grow and create jobs, Washington needs to repeal any government regulation that will impose
an economic cost, trigger job losses, or disproportionately impact small businesses. Our rule should be, first, do no harm! The same goes for job-killing federal tax increases. It’s just common sense. You don’t raise taxes during a period of high unemployment. Period. And while we’re on the subject of taxes, the United States has the second highest tax in the world on the earnings of U.S. companies operating abroad. (This is actually describing two problems: we both have the second highest tax rate and we tax companies on their worldwide income as opposed to territorial income like most other countries.) Lowering that tax, even for a limited period of time, would encourage companies to bring their profits home and create new jobs instead of reinvesting them overseas.

BOOK: Young Guns : A New Generation of Conservative Leaders
10.34Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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