Thank you, Iowa. Thank you so much. The sign that says, “Thank you, Sarah,” no, I thank you. You are what keeps me going, keeps so many of us going. Your love of country keeps us going. Thank you so much. Iowa, you are good people. You are all good people who are here. Thank you.
It is an honor to be in the Heartland sharing this Labor Day weekend with you. And I thank you so much for the invitation, to these organizers who put so much work into all this. It’s so good to see the O4P and C4P people here today. Last night was fun – getting to run into some of you at that restaurant and to see so many different demographics represented and so many different states all across our great nation. We got to gather together last night – different demographics, different political parties even represented – and Todd reminded me as we walked out of that room, he said, “See, we’re not celebrating ‘red America’ or ‘blue America.’ We’re celebrating red, white, and blue America.”
So, what brought us here today out in this field? Why aren’t we catching a Cyclones game, or watching the Hawkeyes perhaps, or grilling up some venison and corn-on-the-cob, maybe some caribou with some friends on this Labor Day weekend? What brought us together is a love of country. And we see that America is hurting. We’re not willing to just sit back and watch her demise through some “fundamental transformation” of the greatest country on earth. We’re here to stop that transformation and to begin the restoration of the country that we love.
We’re here because America is at a tipping point. America faces a crisis. And it’s not a crisis like perhaps a Midwest summer storm – the kind that moves in and hits hard, but then it moves on. No, this kind will relentlessly rage until we do restore all that is free and good and right about America. It’s not just fear of a double dip recession. And it’s not even the shame of a credit downgrade for the first time in U.S. history. It’s deeper than that. This is a systemic crisis due to failed policies and incompetent leadership. And we’re going to speak truth today. It may be hard-hitting, but we’re going to speak truth today because we need to start talking about what hasn’t worked, and we’re going to start talking about what will work for America. We will talk truth.
Now, some of us saw this day coming. It was three years ago on this very day that I spoke at the GOP Convention where I was honored to be able to accept the nomination for vice president that night. And in my speech I asked America: “When the cloud of rhetoric has passed, when the roar of the crowd fades away….what exactly is [Barack Obama’s] plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet? The answer is to make government bigger, and take more of your money, and give you more orders from Washington, and to reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world.” I spoke of this, but back then it was only my words that you had to go by. Now you have seen the proof yourself. Candidate Obama didn’t have a record while he was in office, but President Obama sure does, and that’s why we’re here today.
Candidate Obama pledged to fundamentally transform America. And for all the failures and the broken promises, that’s the one thing he has delivered on. We’ve transformed from a country of hope to one of anxiety. Today, one in five working-age men are out of work. One in seven Americans are on food stamps. Thirty percent of our mortgages are underwater. In parts of Michigan and California, they’re suffering from unemployment numbers that are greater than during the depths of the Great Depression. Barack Obama promised to cut the deficit in half, and instead he turned around and he tripled it. And now our national debt is growing at $3 million a minute. That’s $4.25 billion a day.
President Obama, is this what you call “winning the future”? I call it losing – losing our country and with it the American dream. President Obama, these people – these Americans – feel that “fierce urgency of now.” But do you feel it, sir?
The Tea Party was borne of this urgency. It’s the same sense of urgency that propelled the Sons of Liberty during the Revolution. It’s the same sense of urgency that propelled the Abolitionists before the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement during the 20th Century. The Tea Party Movement is part of this noble American tradition. This movement isn’t simply a political awakening; it’s an American awakening. And it’s coming from ordinary Americans, not the politicos in the Beltway. No, it’s you who grow our food; you run our small businesses; you teach our children; you fight our wars. We are always proud of America. We love our country in good times and in bad, and we never apologize for America.
That is why the far left’s irresponsible and radical policies awakened a sleeping America so that we finally understood what it was that we were about to lose. We were about to lose the blessings of liberty and prosperity. So, the working men and women of this country, you got up off your couch, you came down from the deer stand, you came out of the duck blind, you got off the John Deere, and we took to the streets, and we took to the town halls, and we ended up at the ballot box. And as much as the media wants you to forget this, Tea Party Americans won an electoral victory of historic proportions in November. We the people, we rose up and we rejected the left’s big government agenda. We don’t want it. We can’t afford it. And we are unwilling to pay for it.
That victory, remember friends, was only one step in a long march towards saving our country.
We sent a new class of leaders to D.C., but immediately the permanent political class tried to co-opt them – because the reality is we are governed by a permanent political class, until we change that. They talk endlessly about cutting government spending, and yet they keep spending more. They talk about massive unsustainable debt, and yet they keep incurring more. They spend, they print, they borrow, they spend more, and then they stick us with the bill. Then they pat their own backs, and they claim that they faced and “solved” the debt crisis that they got us in, but when we were humiliated in front of the world with our country’s first credit downgrade, they promptly went on vacation.
No, they don’t feel the same urgency that we do. But why should they? For them business is good; business is very good. Seven of the ten wealthiest counties are suburbs of Washington, D.C. Polls there actually – and usually I say polls, eh, they’re for strippers and cross country skiers – but polls in those parts show that some people there believe that the economy has actually improved. See, there may not be a recession in Georgetown, but there is in the rest of America.
Yeah, the permanent political class – they’re doing just fine. Ever notice how so many of them arrive in Washington, D.C. of modest means and then miraculously throughout the years they end up becoming very, very wealthy? Well, it’s because they derive power and their wealth from their access to our money – to taxpayer dollars. They use it to bail out their friends on Wall Street and their corporate cronies, and to reward campaign contributors, and to buy votes via earmarks. There is so much waste. And there is a name for this: It’s called corporate crony capitalism. This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts, of waste and influence peddling and corporate welfare. This is the crony capitalism that destroyed Europe’s economies. It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest – to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners – the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70% of the jobs in America, it’s you who own these small businesses, you’re the economic engine, but you don’t grease the wheels of government power.
So, do you want to know why the permanent political class doesn’t really want to cut any spending? Do you want to know why nothing ever really gets done? It’s because there’s nothing in it for them. They’ve got a lot of mouths to feed – a lot of corporate lobbyists and a lot of special interests that are counting on them to keep the good times and the money rolling along.
It doesn’t surprise me. I’ve seen this kind of crony capitalism before. It’s is the same good old boy politics-as-usual that I fought and we defeated in my home state. I took on a corrupt and compromised political class and their backroom dealings with Big Oil. And I can tell you from experience that sudden and relentless reform never sits well with entrenched interests and power-brokers. So, please you must vet a candidate’s record. You must know their ability to successfully reform and actually fix problems that they’re going to claim that they inherited.
Real reform never sits well with the entrenched special interests, and that’s why the true voices of reform are so quickly demonized. Look what they say about you. You are concerned civilized citizens and look what they say about you. And just look what happened during the debt-ceiling debate. We’d been given warning after warning that our credit rating would be downgraded if politicians didn’t get serious about tackling the debt and deficit problem. But instead of making the real cuts that are necessary, they used Enron-like accounting gimmicks, and they promised that if they were just allowed to spend trillions more today, they’d cut billions ten years from now. By some magical thinking, they figured they could run up trillion dollar deficits year after year, yet still somehow avoid the unforgiving mathematics that led to the downgrade. Well, they got a rude awakening from the rest of the world, and that’s that even America isn’t “too big to fail.”
When we finally did get slapped with that inevitable downgraded, the politicians and the pundits turned around and blamed us – independent commonsense conservatives. We got blamed! They called us un-American and terrorists and suicide bombers and…hobbits…couldn’t understand that one.
And what is the President’s answer to this enormous debt problem? It’s just spend more money. Only you can’t call it “spending” now. Now you got to call it “investing.” Don’t call it “spending.” Call it “investing.” It’s kind of like what happens with FEMA and some of these other bureaucratic agencies that don’t really want to refer to our centralized federal government as “government.” Now it’s called the “federal family.” Am I too old to ask to be emancipated? Never thought I’d say it, but I want a divorce.
No, the President’s answer to our debt problem is: Incur more debt. Spend more money (only call it “investing”). Make more folks even more reliant on government to supply their every need. This is the antithesis of the pioneering American spirit that empowered the individual to work, to produce, to be able to thrive and succeed with fulfillment and with pride; and that in turn built our free and hope-filled and proud country.
He wants to “Win The Future” by “investing” more of your hard-earned money in some harebrained ideas like more solar panels and really fast trains. These are things that venture capitalists will tell you are non-starters, yet he wants to do more of them. We’re flat broke, but he thinks these solar panels and really fast trains are going to magically save us. He’s shouting “all aboard Obama’s bullet train to bankruptcy.”
The only future that Barack Obama is trying to win is his own re-election, and he has shown that he’s perfectly willing to mortgage our children’s future to pay for it. And there is proof of this. Just look closely at where all that “green energy” stimulus money is “invested.” See a pattern. The President’s big campaign donors got nice returns for their “investments” in him to the tune of billions of your tax dollars in the form of “green energy” stimulus funds. The technical term for this is “pay-to-play.” Between bailouts for Wall Street cronies and stimulus projects for union bosses’ security and “green energy” giveaways, he took care of his friends. And now they’re on course to raise a billion dollars for his re-election bid so that they can do it all over again. Are you going to let them do it all over again? Are you willing to unite to do all we can to not let them do it again so we can save our country?
Now to be fair, some GOP candidates also raised mammoth amounts of cash, and we need to ask them, too: What, if anything, do their donors expect in return for their “investments”? We need to know this because our country can’t afford more trillion-dollar “thank you” notes to campaign backers. It is an important question, and it cuts to the heart of our problem. And I speak from experience in confronting the corruption and the crony capitalism since starting out in public office 20 years ago. I’ve been out-spent in my campaigns two to one, three to one, five to one. (And, by the way, I don’t play that game either of hiring expert political advisors just so they’ll say something nice about me on TV – if you ever wonder. You know how that game’s played too I’m sure.) But the reason is simple: It’s because like you, I’m not for sale. It’s because we believe in the free market. I believe in the free market, and that is why I detest crony capitalism. And Barack Obama has shown us cronyism on steroids. It will lead to our downfall if we don’t stop it now. It’s a root that grows our economic problems. Our unsustainable debt and our high unemployment numbers and a housing market that’s in the tank and a stagnant economy – these are all symptoms. Politicians are so focused on the symptoms and not the disease. We will not solve our economic problems until we confront the cronyism of our President and our permanent political class.
So, this is why we must remember that the challenge is not simply to replace Obama in 2012. The real challenge is who and what we will replace him with. It’s not enough to just change up the uniform. If we don’t change the team and the game plan, we won’t save our country.
Yes, we need sudden and relentless reform, and that will return power to “We the People.” This, of course, requires deeds, not just words. It’s not good enough for politicians to just be throwing our way some vague generalities, talking about some promises here and there. It’s time that we hold them accountable. It is amazing to me that even some good conservatives run away from being honest and straight up with us about what needs to be done. They don’t want to rock the boat. They can’t hurt future election prospects evidently. They just talk vaguely about cuts and then they move on. They’re too busy saying what they think we want to hear, but instead they should be telling us what needs to be said and what needs to be done. So, let us today in this field have that adult conversation about what needs to be done to restore America. Let’s do that now.
In five days time, our President will gift us with yet another speech. In his next speech he’ll reveal his latest new super-duper “jobs plan.” It will have more lofty goals and flowery rhetoric, more illogical economic fantasies and more continued blame and finger-pointing. But listen closely to what he says. All of his “solutions” will revolve around more of the same – more payoffs for his friends and supporters. His “plan” is the same as it’s always been, and that’s grow more government, increase more debt, take and give more of your hard-earned money to special interests. And this is such a problem. But you know what the problems are. We could go on all day about the problems caused by the status quo in Washington. Status quo I think is Latin for “more of the same mess that we’re in.” That status quo won’t work any more. We could go on all day about the problems, but you know them because you live them everyday. So, let’s talk about real solutions. I want to tell you what my plan is. My plan is a bona-fide pro-working man’s plan, and it deals in reality. It deals in the way that the world really works because we must talk about what really works in order to get America back to work.
My plan is about empowerment: empowerment of our states, empowerment of our entrepreneurs, most importantly empowerment of you – our hardworking individuals – because I have faith, I have trust, I have respect for you.
The way forward is no more politics as usual. We must stop expanding an out-of-control and out-of-touch federal government. This is first: All power not specifically delegated to the federal government by our Constitution is reserved for the states and for we the people. So, let’s enforce the 10th Amendment and devolve powers back locally where the Founders intended them to be.
Second, what happened to all those promises about staying committed to repealing the mother of all big government unfunded mandates? We must repeal Obamacare! And rein in burdensome regulations that are a boot on our neck. Get government out of the way. Let the private sector breathe and grow. This will allow the confidence that businesses need in order to expand and hire more people.
Third, no more run away debt. We must prioritize and cut. Cancel unused stimulus funds, and have that come to Jesus moment where we own up to the debt challenge that is entitlement reform. See, the reality is we will have entitlement reform; it’s just a matter of how we’re going to get there. We either do it ourselves or the world’s capital markets are going to shove it down our throats, and we’ll have no choice but to reform our entitlement programs. The status quo is no longer an option. Entitlement reform is our duty now, and it must be done in a way that honors our commitment to our esteemed elders today, while keeping faith with future generations. I don’t think anything has irked me more than this nonsense coming from the White House about maybe not sending our seniors their checks. It’s their money! They have paid into Social Security all of their working lives; and for the President to say, “ah, we may not be able to cut their checks,” ah, well, where did all their money go, politicians? It’s like the Commander-in-Chief being willing to throw our military under the bus by threatening that their paychecks may not arrive. But the politicians will still get their checks and their secure retirements, and he’ll still get his posh vacations. Aren’t you just sick to death of those skewed priorities? It’s all backwards. Our seniors and our brave men and women in uniform being used as pawns – I say it’s shameful, and enough is enough. No more.
Fourth, it is time for America to become the energy superpower. The real stimulus that we’ve been waiting for is robust and responsible domestic energy production. We have the resources. Affordable and secure energy is the key to any thriving economy, and it must be our foundation. So, I would do the opposite of Obama’s manipulation of U.S. supplies of energy. Drill here, drill now. Let the refineries and the pipelines be built. Stop kowtowing to foreign countries and dictators asking them to ramp up production and industry for us, promising them that we’ll be their greatest customer. No, not when we have the resources here. We need to move on tapping our own God-given natural resources. I promise you that this will bring real job growth, not the politicians’ phony “green jobs” fairy dust sprinkled with wishes and glitter… No, a hardcore all-of-the-above energy policy that builds this indestructible link between made-in-America energy and our prosperity and our security. You know, there are enough large conventional natural resource development projects waiting for government approval that could potentially create more than a million high-paying jobs all across the country. And this is true stimulus. It wouldn’t cost government a dime to allow the private sector to do these. In fact, these projects will generate billions of dollars in revenue. Can you imagine that: a stimulus project that actually helps dig us out of debt instead of digging us further into it! And these are good-paying jobs, and I know that from experience. For years my own family was supported (as Todd worked up on the North Slope) by a good energy sector job. America’s economic revival starts with America’s energy revival.
Fifth, we can and we will make America the most attractive country on earth to do business in. Here’s how we’re going to do this. Right now, we have the highest federal corporate income tax rate in the industrialized world. Did you know our rates are higher than China and communist Cuba? This doesn’t generate as much revenue as you would think, though, because many big corporations skirt federal taxes because they have the friends in D.C. who right the rules for the rest of us. This makes us less competitive and restrains our engine of prosperity. Heck, some businesses spend more time trying to figure out how to hide their profits than they do in generating more profits so that they can expand and hire more of us. So, to make America the most attractive and competitive place to do business, to set up shop here and hire people here, to attract capital from all over the globe that will lead to an explosion of growth, instead of chasing industry offshore, I propose to eliminate all federal corporate income tax. And hear me out on this. This is how we create millions of high-paying jobs. This is how we increase opportunity and prosperity for all.
But here’s the best part: To balance out any loss of federal revenue from this tax cut, we eliminate corporate welfare and all the loopholes and we eliminate bailouts. This is how we break the back of crony capitalism because it feeds off corporate welfare, which is just socialism for the very rich. We can change all of that. The message then to job-creating corporations is: We’ll unshackle you from the world’s highest federal corporate income tax rate, but you will stand or fall on your own, just like all the rest of us out on main street.
See, when we empower the job-creators, our economy will soar; Americans will get back to work.
This plan is a first step in a long march towards fundamental restoration of a strong and free market economy. And it represents the kind of real reform that we need. And, folks, it must come from you. It must come from the American people. Real hope is in you. It’s not that hopey-changey “stuff” that we heard about back in 2008. We’ve all learned that. And real hope isn’t in an individual. It’s not in a politician certainly. And that hopey-changey stuff that was put in an individual back when Barack Obama was a candidate – that hopey-changey stuff didn’t create one job in August, did it? That’s the first time that’s happened in the United States since World War II. Real hope comes from you. Real hope comes from realizing that we the people can make the difference. And you don’t need a title to make a difference. We can get this country back on the right track. We can do it by empowering the people and realizing that God has richly blessed this most exceptional nation, and then we do something about that realization.
Don’t wait for the permanent political class to reform anything for you. They won’t. They can’t. They can’t even take responsibility for their own actions. Our credit is downgraded, but it’s not their fault. Our economy’s in turmoil, but it’s not his fault. It’s the tsunami in Japan or the Middle East uprising. It’s Irene. It’s those doggone ATM machines.
Folks, the truth is Barack Obama is adrift with no plan because his “fundamental transformation” is at odds with everything that made this country great. It doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t make sense. Unbelievably our President declares that he “believes in American Exceptionalism… just as the Greeks believe in Greek Exceptionalism.” Well, the path he has us on will make us just as “exceptional” as Greece, alright – with the debt crisis and the stagnation and the unemployment and uprisings and all.
Friends, you are better than that. Our country is better than that. We’ve got to unite. We’ve got to stand together. We can confront the problem and we can achieve lasting reform. And I can tell you from hard-earned experience with bumps and bruises along the way, that the road ahead is not easy. You will be demonized. They’ll mock you. They’ll make things up. They’ll tell you to “go to hell.” But we’ll bite our tongue, we’ll keep it classy, and we won’t respond—as tempting as it is—to anyone who just has such disdain for our free market economy and for individual initiative and responsibility. We won’t say, “No, you go to hell.” No, we won’t say that. You know why we don’t have to say that? Because when we have time-tested truth and logic on our side, we win. And when we refuse to retreat because we know that our children’s future is at stake, we win.
No, the road isn’t easy, but it’s nothing compared to the suffering and sacrifice of those who came before us.
A few weeks ago, after my visit to the Iowa State Fair, I took my daughter Piper and my niece McKinley with us to the World War I Liberty Memorial in Kansas City. And standing in the rain, reading the inscriptions on the Memorial about the honor in one’s dedication to God and country, I thought of all those young patriots who suffered and died so far from home. And revering our vets there with the next generation by my side, there was such clarity – clarity in our calling, patriotic Constitutionalists. We have a duty not just to the living, but also to those who came and died before us and to the generations yet to be born. Our freedom was purchased by millions of men now long-forgotten throughout history who charged the bayonets, and they charged the cannons; they knew they were going to die, but it was worth it for them sacrificing for future generations’ freedom. They’re the ones who prayed in the trenches and suffered in the P.O.W. camps. They gave their lives so that we could be here today.
You and I are blessed to be “born the heirs of freedom.” As President John F. Kennedy said, “We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution.” We are the heirs of those who froze with Washington at Valley Forge and who held the line at Gettysburg, who freed the slaves to close a shameful chapter, and who carved a nation out of the wilderness. We are the sons and daughters of those who stormed the beaches of Normandy and raised the flag at Iwo Jima and made America the strongest, the most prosperous, the greatest nation on earth forever in mankind’s history – the greatest, most exceptional nation.
America, we will always endure. We will always come through. We will never give up. We shall endure because we live by that moral strength that we call grace. Because though we’ve often skirted a precipice, a Providential Hand has always guided us to a better future. So, let us seek that Hand once more. Our Ronald Reagan said, “If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, we will be a nation gone under.” Yes, He shed his grace on thee, America! We will not squander what we have been given! We will fight for freedom. We will fight for America. We are at the tipping point. United we must stand. And we shall nobly save, not meanly lose, this last best hope on earth.
So, God bless you, Iowa! God bless the United States of America!