POLITICS

Full text: Sen. Rand Paul’s remarks at the Reagan Library

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Charlie Spiering,Republican Party,Rand Paul

Last Friday night, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library about the future of the Republican Party. We’ve posted the full text from his speech below.

The other night, Jay Leno was describing the president’s new acting IRS commissioner.

“The reason they’re called ‘acting commissioner’ is because you have to ACT like the scandal doesn’t involve the White House.”

I hardly know where to start. It’s like the Old MacDonald’s Farm of scandals. Here a scandal. There a scandal. Everywhere a scandal.

The president has now asked Eric Holder to investigate — Eric Holder. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.

One example of how bad these scandals have become, is the story of Catherine Engelbrecht, a concerned citizen from Richmond, Texas. She and her husband have a small manufacturing business.

In the past few years she became interested in public policy and founded a Tea Party group, King Street Patriots. Her group wanted to get dead people off the rolls.  Seems reasonable to me …

But Big Brother had other ideas.

First the FBI came to interrogate her. Now, you would think the FBI would be more interested in the dead people who keep voting and collecting welfare. In the last five years, alone, the federal government paid $600 million to dead people.

But no, the FBI wanted this concerned citizen, so it returned again and again to interrogate her.  Then the IRS audited her business, then the FBI came back to ask about her Patriot group, then her personal taxes were audited, then the FBI returned to ask questions about her group that was trying to remove dead people from the voting rolls, then the FBI returned three more times, then the IRS came again, then the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco came, then OSHA came, then ATF instigated an audit.

I’m not making this up … this woman was put through hell.

Tell her that the power to tax is not the power to destroy. Imagine how this poor woman’s life had been upended. Imagine what hell her life must have been for the past two years.

Then realize that she may have been targeted because of her political beliefs.

I don’t care whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, there is something profoundly un-American about using the brute force of government to bully one’s political opponents.

If the president doesn’t hold someone accountable, and soon, I think  he will have lost the moral authority to govern effectively.

Today, I call on the president to step forward.  Take command of the situation, fire and prosecute anyone who used government power to punish political opponents.

This government of ours is out-of-control in so many ways. I remember Ronald Reagan speaking about this when I attended the 1976 Republican Convention. I was 13 years old. I remember him saying that the nearest thing to eternal life on this earth was a government program.

To illustrate how hard it was to end a government job he told the story of the British civil servant position created in 1803 that posted a man with a bell on the cliffs of Dover.  His job was turning the bell if he saw Napoleon coming. The British did finally eliminate the position …  in 1947.

Big government IS the problem, not the solution. The president says people who quote Reagan and talk of government tyranny — we need to get over it — but I tend to side with Thomas Paine: Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.

Whether it be indefinite detention of Americans or droning them it is not too much defense of liberty that is the problem, but rather too little.

Sometimes conservatives, though, get tagged as being against all government. I’m not against all government. I’m actually for $2.6 trillion dollars worth.  I’m for spending what comes in, but nothing in excess of what comes in.

Some of may you remember the San Bruno explosion that killed 8 people a few years back. Two Senators from California who will remained unnamed, tried to rush through pipeline regulations.

When I held up the regulations the media insinuated that I was somehow an uncaring Republican. The exact opposite was true. I insisted on having regulations that would prevent another explosion. The whole episode was a classic example of what’s wrong with big government.

Janet Greig and her 13-year-old daughter, Janessa, were tragically killed along with six other Californians. Their lives deserve more than feel-good legislation.

This tragedy occurred before I was elected.  But one Thursday night as I was boarding a plane in D.C. to return to Kentucky, the tragedy became personal for me.

In Congress’ usual haste to be seen as fixing a problem, Senate Democrats were trying to fast-track a new pipeline regulation bill. Fast-tracking is when they push through a bill at the end of the week as Senators are returning to their home states.

These bills are rarely read, and then are passed without debate. That bothers me.  I pledged to the voters of Kentucky to read the bills before I voted.

So, I held the bill.  The press was merciless.  I was called an obstructionist.  The authors of the bill accused me of being heartless, of not caring about the families of this terrible tragedy.

I just wanted to read the bill.  I wanted to see if it fixed the problem.  I also wanted to see if it placed any undue burdens on the economy.

My staff and I read the bill and we were shocked.  The National Safety Transportation Board hadn’t even released their yearlong investigation into the accident.  The bill was intended to fix the problem without ever reading the accident report.

I insisted we wait and read the accident report and the bill.  When we did, we discovered something even more incredible.  The new regulations in the bill would exempt older pipelines from testing.  So, the San Bruno line that had exploded would still be exempt even after the new regulations were put in place.  The bill would’ve fixed nothing.

We read further. We discovered that a deadly pipeline explosion occurred in my home state in 1985, killing two individuals, and that safety report said exactly the same thing the San Bruno report recommended:  New regulations should get rid of the grandfather clause that allowed older pipelines to avoid safety testing.

At my insistence, the Senate added my amendment to get rid of the grandfather clause, and an improved bill was passed.  Within weeks, further testing on the San Bruno line found another area of weakness, potentially saving lives in the process.

By delaying and reading this bill, by insisting on better regulations,  I was able to improve the law and save lives.

Is it too much to ask that we read the bills?  I refuse to rush through meaningless, feel-good legislation. I say, do it right or don’t do it at all.

I’ve introduced a bill that requires that we wait one day for each 20 pages of legislation. I figure, if we do that, at least no one can say they didn’t have time to read each bill.

The media often depicts conservatives as not caring about the environment or safety.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

I am a libertarian/conservative who spends most of my free time outdoors. I bike and hike and kayak. I compost. I plant trees. In fact, I have a giant Sequoia I’m trying to grow in Kentucky.

Republicans care just as deeply about the environment as Democrats, but we also care about jobs.  We want common-sense regulations to be balanced with economic growth and jobs.

Still, to win in California and other bluish states, Republicans will have to change current perceptions.

Last year I read Barbara Kingsolver’s book “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” about growing and harvesting one’s own food and buying locally. She writes that each food item in a typical U.S. meal travels an average of 1,500 miles.  If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week from locally raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels of oil a week.

My family and I try to do our part by shopping at our local farmer’s market.

Joel Salatin also writes about sustainable farming and buying locally in “Folks, This Ain’t Normal.”

Salatin writes of how government often passes regulations that impede small, sustainable farmers.  Last year, my son Robert and I visited his farm in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.  He grass-feeds his cows, chickens, and hogs.

He collects rainwater from the slopes of the mountain. Manure is his fertilizer. He avoids vaccines, antibiotics, and hormones.  His farm is idyllic and he trains interns on sustainable farming. He also sees the government as a troublesome meddler in the life of the small farmer.

Like many libertarians, he sees government regulations written to benefit the large corporate farmer but nearly impossible for the small farmer to follow. I hear the same stories from small banks, small medical practices, and small retailers.

The rules and regulations are complex and cumbersome and often big business becomes an accessory in creating a byzantine matrix that confounds the small guy.

When we as Republicans wake up and tell voters that we want to be the champion of the small farmer and the small businessman or woman, then we will thrive as a party.

To win in California, Republicans should side with voters that want to throw the bums out.  I’ve been to Washington, believe me, there is no monopoly on knowledge there.

We need more citizen-legislators. Congress has a 10 percent approval rating, and some say that’s higher than they deserve.  I say, let’s pass TERM LIMITS! Limit them all. Myself included.

To win in California, we need a party that wants to do nation building at home NOT overseas. Just last week a bridge collapsed in Washington state.  The president insists we don’t have the money to run self-guided tours at the White House much less build bridges at home, but then he sends $250 million to Egypt the same week.

That $250 million is on top of the $2 billion we send them annually. Instead of borrowing billions from China to give to Egypt, let’s spend it on infrastructure in California, Kentucky, Connecticut.  I say not one penny more to countries who are burning our flag.

Now some say, Republicans can’t win in California anymore. Surely, Californians can’t be that much different from the rest of us — you’re not are you? … I think a majority of Californians, like a majority of Americans, know we can’t continue to run trillion-dollar deficits.

Borrowing $20,000 per second hurts all Americans. California is no exception.

I don’t think we need to dilute our message of low taxes, less regulations, and balanced budgets to win in California.

California’s current corporate tax rate is 8.8%. Companies are fleeing to Texas and Nevada, where the individual and corporate taxes are substantially less.

Over-regulation makes California less competitive, particularly in the oil market.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that oil output in California has gone down 21% in the last decade. It isn’t because there isn’t enough oil. The Department of Energy estimated that California has double the amount as North Dakota, which surpassed your state in oil exports last year.

Why is North Dakota kicking California’s butt?  Because in California, the new hydraulic drilling process known as “fracking” is illegal. So, while California languishes, economies in states like North Dakota and Texas are booming.

For Republicans to compete in California, we must reach out to the Latino community.

Everywhere I go I try to bring the message of “welcome.”  My family immigrated to the United States. It wasn’t always easy.  My great-grandfather peddled vegetables and then began trucking the vegetables.  They distributed milk.  They were never rich but when he died, he owned five acres of land that he passed down to his five kids.

Latinos will come to the GOP when we  treat them with dignity,  when we  embrace immigrants as hard workers who are an asset to our country.

Today, after four years of President Obama’s policies, one in six Americans live in poverty, more than at any other time in the past several decades.

The poor have grown poorer under President Obama.  Using taxes to punish the rich, in reality, punishes everyone.   High taxes and excessive regulation and massive debt are not working.  The economy is still struggling.

Big government and debt are not a friend to the working poor.

Debt shrinks the value of the dollar and pushes up prices.  When  the Joneses can’t afford the high price of gas and have to skip their family vacation, they need to know that Democrat deficits are to blame.

If you are struggling to get ahead,  if you have school loans and personal debt, you should choose a political party that wants to leave more money in the private sector so you will get a job when the time comes.

I got into politics because I abhorred a government that took from the middle class to bail out big banks. I hate the concept of legalized privilege.  As a Republican, I fight each day to end welfare to big business to end special breaks that only apply to the rich.

When I hear that one of the richest men in the world was given a $500-million, taxpayer-financed loan, I am horrified.

We will win in California when we become the champions of better education, of better public schools.

The educational establishment has given up on many blacks and Latinos. The story of Jaime Escalante is telling. Jaime was an extraordinary math teacher, but when he came to East L.A.  his fellow teachers told him it would be impossible to teach calculus to bunch of illiterate immigrants.

He refused to give up. He challenged his students like only an exceptional teacher can, and by the end of the year, something extraordinary happened.  A large number of  poor Latino students passed the Advanced Placement test for calculus.

It was so extraordinary that the testing agency made the kids retake the test only to find that, yes, Latino students can thrive and achieve along with any students given the opportunity.

Republicans, like myself, are open and excited about education reform, about school choice, about fixing what has become horribly broken.

Democrats, by and large, resist change. They resist charter schools.

They resist school choice.  Parents and teachers need to look to Republicans to fix this mess. Decisions about education should be made at the local level, NOT in Washington.

Just ask the kids who got vouchers whether it made a difference.

Edna was a fifth-grader who couldn’t even speak English. Through a voucher program, Edna attended a private school, Notre Dame Middle School in Milwaukee, went to a Catholic high school, attended Marquette University, and eventually got a job as a patent engineer for a law firm.

Edna was one of the first voucher students in the country. Her middle school principal said, “Edna is a miracle, and we couldn’t have done it without school choice …”

Republicans will begin to gain African-American support when we go into every community and fight for better schools.

Republicans need to shout to anyone who will listen. More freedom and less government means more jobs, more wealth, and a better life for everyone.

The American painter Robert Henri wrote, “You should paint like a man coming over a hill singing.”

The Republican Party needs to proclaim like a man coming over a hill singing.

The image that comes to mind is of the Von Trapp family coming over the Alps singing, triumphant, optimistic, and hopeful.

I think of Reagan, who said that we should paint in bold colors, not pastels. We need to be the party of passion.

When I think of a man coming over the hill singing, I think of the passion of Patrick Henry — “Give me Liberty or Give me death” — combined with the energy of the Proclaimers song:  “I will walk 500 miles, and I will walk five hundred more/  Just to be the guy who walked a thousand miles to fall down at your door.”

That kind of passion and courage is embodied by a Boston policeman I met recently.  He was a first responder to the Boston Marathon bombing.

He passionately described the desperation of the victims and his desire to see the bombers punished, but he said what separates us from them is that we didn’t drag the bomber through the streets and beat him to death with tire irons.  We didn’t lynch him.  We didn’t send him to Guantanamo Bay.

We treated the bomber’s wounds.  This is who we are.  This sets America apart. It’s what separates us from them.

We read him his Miranda rights, and he will stand trial with a lawyer before a jury, and he will be punished.

That is who we are as Americans. As Republicans, we are the party that passionately defends the Bill of Rights.

We don’t need to dilute what we believe.  We need to convince everyone, the haves and those-who-don’t-yet-have, that our policies will provide the greatest good for the most people.

If we want to win nationally again, we will have to reach out to a diverse nation and welcome African-Americans, Asians, Latinos into our party. When the Republican Party looks like the rest of America, we will win again.  When we have people with tattoos and without tattoos, with ties and without ties, with suits and in blue jeans, then we win nationally.

But above all else, we must believe in ourselves again, believe in our founding documents, believe in an economic system that has made America the beacon of the world  — then … we will again see a thriving America.

The GOP will dominate in California, and nationally, when we become the party that proclaims like a man coming over a mountain singing.

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