Speeches from the 2012 Presidential Campaign
Address on Free Enterprise
St. Louis, Missouri
June 7, 2012
Thank you. It is great to be here.
We launched this campaign a little over a year ago. It's been a remarkable journey. I've traveled across this great country and had the privilege to visit with Americans from every walk of life. As those of the traveling press corps can attest, we've brought our campaign to every kind of business imaginable, from factory floors to lumber yards to warehouses of every shape and size.
But whatever the business, everywhere I go, I hear frustration and disappointment in the lack of economic progress of the past three and a half years. Americans are tired of being tired. They're tired of working harder for less and now for the first time, more Americans are starting to think our future might not be as bright as our past. That lack of faith in the future is a bridge to despair that we cannot cross.
An America that does not believe that tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow will be better is not the America we know and love.
I've spoken often of the President's failures of policy. From the stimulus bill that gave us Solyndra but left us with record unemployment, to the job-crushing over-regulation of the EPA, to the smothering economic effects of Obamacare, this President's misguided policies have been muddled, confused and simply ineffective. When you look around at America's economy, three and half years into this presidency, it's painfully obvious that this inexperienced President was simply not up to the task of solving a great economic crisis.
But today I want to speak to the road ahead and why I believe the disappointments of the past years have been a breach of faith with the American people.
America is rightly heralded as the greatest experiment in self-governance in world history. We are all here today because of a startling conviction that free individuals could join together to decide their fate and that more freedom made us all stronger.
Our example – and commitment – to freedom has changed the world. But along with the genius of our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights, is the equal genius of our economic system. Our Founding Fathers endeavored to create a moral and just society like no other in history, and out of that grew a moral and just economic system the likes of which the world had never seen. Our freedom, what it means to be an American, has been defined and sustained by the liberating power of the free enterprise system.
That same system has helped lift more people out of poverty across the globe than any government program or competing economic system. The success of America's free enterprise system has been a bright beacon of freedom for the world. It has signaled to oppressed people to rise up against their oppressors, and given hope to the once hopeless.
It is called the Free Enterprise System because we are both free to engage in enterprises and through those enterprises we ensure our freedom.
But sadly, it has become clear that this President simply doesn't understand or appreciate these fundamental truths of our system. Over the last three and a half years, record numbers of Americans have lost their jobs or simply disappeared from the work force. Record numbers of Americans are living in poverty today – over 46 million of our fellow Americans are living below the poverty line.
This is not just a failure of policy; it is a moral failure of tragic proportions. Our government has an absolute moral commitment to help every American help themselves and today, that fundamental commitment has been broken.
I do not believe this has been done with evil intent or ill will. But for a family watching their house being sold at foreclosure, or the family that is forced to spend their kid's college savings just to make ends meet, the results are just as devastating.
These are not statistics, these are our fellow Americans. As your President, starting on Day One, I will do everything in my power to end these days of drift and disappointment. There is something fundamentally wrong when there are over 23 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed, or have stopped looking for work, and yet the President tells us he's doing a great job.
I will not be that President of deception and doubt. I will lead us to a better place.
For three and a half years, President Obama has expanded government instead of empowering the American people. He's put us deeper into debt. He's slowed the recovery and harmed our economy. And he has attacked the cornerstone of American prosperity: our economic freedom.
Today, government at all levels consumes 37 percent of the total economy or G.D.P. If Obamacare is allowed to stand, government will reach half of the American economy. And through the increasing controls government has imposed on industries like energy, financial services and automobiles, it will soon effectively control the majority of our economic activity.
One must ask whether we will still be a free enterprise nation and whether we will still have economic freedom. America is on the cusp of having a government-run economy. President Obama is transforming America into something very different than the land of the free and the land of opportunity.
We know where that transformation leads. There are other nations that have chosen that path. It leads to chronic high unemployment, crushing debt, and stagnant wages.
I don't want to transform America; I want to restore the values of economic freedom.
So for every government-spending proposal, I will ask the following question: "Is this program so important that it is worth borrowing more money from China to pay for it?" With our nation facing 16 trillion dollars in debt, most times the answer will be an easy and unqualified "no." We've seen how fast our debt can grow. It's time to see how fast our economy can grow, and the first step is spending discipline.
Instead of throwing more borrowed money at bad ideas, I will lower tax rates, simplify the tax code, and get the American economy running at full strength.
Under President Obama, a single, massive law has spread so much uncertainty across the economy, especially to the small companies that employ about half of America's workers and create most of our new jobs. They have no idea how many more taxes and regulations are coming. And they sense from Washington an outright hostility toward what they do and what they hope to achieve.
So, as president, I will begin with an equally big dose of certainty across our economy: By granting waivers to all fifty states, I will start the process of repealing Obamacare on Day One.
In a free-enterprise system, we don't measure our success in equal outcomes, but instead in how well we preserve and promote the equality of opportunity. And this system has resulted in unrivaled prosperity and made America the greatest nation in history.
President Obama's vision is very different – and deeply flawed. There is nothing fair about a government that favors political connections over honest competition and takes away your right to earn your own success. And there is nothing morally right about trying to turn government dependence into a substitute for the dignity of work.
Where my vision believes in the ingenuity of the American people, his vision trusts the wisdom of political appointees and boards, commissions and czars. It's one in which ordinary Americans must get permission from people in Washington before they can buy, build, invest or hire.
It's a world of federal mandates and waivers, tax credits and subsidies, federal grants and loan guarantees. It's an economy where a company's lobbyists will be more important than its engineers, and federal compliance lawyers will outnumber patent lawyers.
Business models based on building a better mousetrap will give way to those that seek the right mix of government subsidies, waivers and loan guarantees. And Chief Government Officers will join the ranks of Chief Financial Officers and Chief Operating Officers in corporate America's executive ranks.
President Obama trusts in the wisdom of government. I put my trust in the ingenuity and creativity and commitment to hard work of the American people.
Looking at the sorry economic record of this administration, it's easy to lose heart, and even to give up – as so many have in their search for a job. The President and his team would like us to believe that somehow it's the fault of the free market that things haven't gone right. That's just another way of saying that it's your fault, and not theirs, that the real recovery hasn't yet arrived.
We have waited, and waited, and waited for recovery. And enough time has passed to pronounce judgment on the economic policies of this administration. They have not worked. And you, the entrepreneurs and workers of America, have not failed these past three and a half years – your government has failed you.
Never before has federal policy run so contrary to the needs, ideals, and aspirations of the American entrepreneur. And with all that we've been through these past few years, the challenges can seem awfully big. Some might wonder if we have lost our confidence. But confidence is not what is missing – all that's lacking is direction and leadership.
This President believes in an America of limits, where it is more important to focus on allocating the rewards of success than helping everyone succeed. That is an America of diminished opportunity and increased disappointment, of long unemployment lines and small dreams.
I believe in a very different America. If we embrace the future with leadership that does everything possible to unlock the potential of our economic might, we can enter a new era of prosperity the likes of which we have never seen. We cannot shy away from greatness for fear that some might succeed more than others. Just as every American who can't find work makes our light shine a little less bright, success breeds success. It's not just our economy that is hurting -- it is our American spirit.
It doesn't have to be this way. These have been years of disappointment and decline, and soon we can put them behind us. We can prosper again, with the powerful recovery we have all been waiting for, the good jobs that so many still need, and, above all, the opportunities we owe to our children and grandchildren.
All of this can be more than our hope – it can be our future. It can begin this year, in the choice you make, so I ask for your help, your support, and your vote on the sixth of November.
Thank you all, and God bless America.
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