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Restoration Weekend: Reshaping the American Future By: Tom DeLay
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, December 01, 2003

I'm really pleased to be here with you at the Restoration Weekend. And so I say good afternoon to you, or as John Kerry would probably say, bonjour. 

It is great to be here with my hero, David Horowitz.  Once again, he's pulled together another successful Restoration Weekend, and I wish I could spend the whole weekend with you.  I had every plan to do that with my wife Christine, but I may have to go back to D.C. in the morning to work on the Medicare package. But it is a pleasure to be here with David, who is one of those, among many in this room, who will stand up against the odds for what he believes in and who won't worry about the press and won't worry about what people say about him but just stand on rights and principle, particularly in the war against the liberal intelligentsia in this country. It’s a war that all of us should be fighting, and we're going to join him in that fight in the future. It is great to be here with him. 

He reminds me, I've got to tell you, of when I first decided that if I really wanted to change things, I had to get involved.  Little did I know that I'd get this involved. 

When I decided to run for state representative, first time as a Republican in the state of Texas, it was pretty tough. In those days they shot Republicans; they didn't elect them.  I come from Fort Bend County, which is just outside of Houston.  I love Fort Bend County and its history.  It is the birthplace of Texas.  It's where Stephen F. Austin brought the original 300 colonists to Texas.  It's where we declared independence from Mexico. It has a wonderful history, but a tough one. 

I was the first Republican ever elected in the history of Fort Bend County. I was not a profile of courage.  I didn't tell anybody I was a Republican.  It wasn't on my literature at all. But after the primary, I had to start telling them because in Texas in those days, if you won the Democrat primary, you won the election.  There was no general election. 

Three weeks after the primary, I’m standing out in front of Howard's Cafeteria in July in downtown Rosenberg, Texas working the lunch crowd.  That's where all the business people and farmers and ranchers ate lunch.  You could get all you could eat for $3, and I learned very quickly you didn't get them going in.  They were hungry and mean.  You always waited till they came out. 

And this particular day, this huge Czech rice farmer came out. Fort Bend County rice farmers wore brown cowboy boots, brown khaki pants, and a brown khaki shirt.  I knew he was of Czech descent -- we've got a lot of Czechs in Fort Bend County -- because he was wearing the telltale little small square crown Czech cowboy hat.  He was at least 6'6", 280 pounds, all muscle.  But I walked up to him and I said, "Hi.  I'm Tom DeLay.  I'm running for state representative.  I'd like to talk to you about your vote."  He looked down at me kind of funny and looked me up and down.  Finally, he said, "I'm gonna tell you somethin', boy.  It'll be a cold day in hell before a Republican wins in this county."  As God is my witness, Election Day 1978 was one of the coldest days on record, and I got elected. 

And I think I got from that first election experience the tenacity and persistence of a David Horowitz in standing up for what you believe in and moving forward. And I've seen many more cold days in hell.  When I ran for Congress I was an exterminator.  Schwarzenegger's taken all my fire away.  He's the terminator, and I'm the ex-terminator.  When I ran, they made fun about the exterminator going to Washington.  It'd be a cold day in hell before he went to Washington.  I got elected in '84.  And then when we decided early on that we were going to take the House of Representatives and announced it to the pundits and the press of Washington that we were going to take the majority, they all laughed at us and said, "It would be a blizzard in hell before that happened," and yet we did.  In 1994, we won that wonderful election, and we became the majority for the first time in 40 years.  And there's been many more since then; many, many roadblocks put up against us. 

I just want to talk to you a little bit about the single-greatest question now facing the Republican Party and the conservative movement: What do we want America to look like 15 years from now?  Because the fact of the matter is that for the first time -- in my opinion, the first time in more than a century -- the Republican Party is in the position to reshape American politics and, therefore, reshape American society for more than a generation. 

For much of the Republican Party's nine years of Congressional control, the terms of our actions really have been dictated by history.  After passing the Contract with America -- 70 percent of it now being law -- balancing the budget, welfare reform, Congress was in short succession forced into an impeachment, sidelined by presidential politics, entrusted with the economic agenda of a new president, and thrust into a war. 

But I believe times have now changed and opportunities are wide open for us as a movement.  I believe we're entering into an era in which conservatives will turn that trend on its head so that instead of actions being dictated by the terms of history, the terms of history will be dictated by our actions.  It is that time, and I believe America and the world are going to change more in the next 15 years than they have in the last 50. 

And in this moment, this crowded hour of foreign, domestic, and economic uncertainty, the American people have trusted the conservative movement, thereby the Republican Party, to set the course.  And with this conservative control of the House -- well, I shouldn't say conservative control of the House but Republican control of the House, the Senate, and the Executive branch -- as unprecedented in our lifetime and, I think, expanded in the year 2004 elections, we can now set the agenda and enact our ideas like never before. We can start that this coming year, looking forward to 2005 as our grand year of opportunity to do the things that we all work so hard to do. 

And as such, our attention must be on the important and not just on the urgent.  No longer must we react to history.  The time has come for us to shape history.  What do we want America to look like in 15 years?  The purpose of conferences like these is to answer that kind of question, and I have a few ideas I'd like to share with you about the course of America's economy, its security, and culture in the 21st century. 

For starters, I believe we can and should double the size of the American economy in the next 15 years: more jobs, higher [median] income, more accumulated wealth per household, and a job for everyone who wants one.  Doubling the size of the national economy in 15 years will require an annual growth rate of about 4.8 percent, and sustaining that kind of growth rate over so long an interval will require many things.  It will require not just tax relief.  It will require fundamental tax reform.  The internal revenue code, as we all know, is an abomination.  The bureaucracy that administers it is beyond repair.  The regulations that govern its applications silently choke off investment and innovation like a boa constrictor.  It's high time that the debate about the flat tax and a national consumption tax moved out -- moved out of Washington think tanks and into American living rooms. 

That's why I have signed on to the Congressional proposal to scrap the current tax code altogether and replace it with a 23-percent national sales tax.  The economic boom that such a simple and efficient tax system would spark, the business-to-business activity, the consumer spending, the investment, would make the late 1990s look like a neighborhood garage sale.  It's time to scrap the tax code and the IRS and have radical tax reform. 

But just as we are long overdue for tax reform, so are we overdue for a regulatory reform.  Estimates vary, but a recent Small Business Administration study reported the cost of the regulatory state to the American people had reached about $800 billion, or 8 percent of the GDP.  A typical American family today spends more on hidden regulatory costs than it spends on food, and unchecked, these numbers will only get worse over the next 15 years.  But conservatives have an opportunity now to finally do something about the skyrocketing costs and crippling economic effects of federal regulation.  If we bring the regulatory state under control and reform the tax code, the resulting economic expansion would be unlike anything that we've seen.  Jobs, wealth, and opportunity will be created, and the budget will be balanced.  We'll see fiscal responsibility returned, even in the face of our emerging entitlement crises. 

These crises are why Republicans have long advocated strengthening and reforming Medicare and Social Security with market-based reform.  We have no desire to destroy these programs, but they are in dire need of our attention.  If they are to survive the baby boomer's retirement, changes have to be made.  Just today, we are spending about $267 billion a year on Medicare.  In less than 10 years if nothing changes in Medicare, we will be spending over $400 billion a year, and 20 to 30 percent of our income will go just to pay for Medicare. 

So for the first time, conservatives have a chance to make those changes that bring common sense to our nation's entitlement programs.  Medicare, for instance, needs to be reformed to allow market competition and consumer choice.  It will strengthen healthcare for seniors, and we all know it. 

And Social Security?  Well, Social Security, some people claim, is an honorable program.  But given the pitiful rates of return of its participants' investment, I think we owe it to the American people to let them invest even a tiny fraction of their payroll taxes in the stock market. 

Once greater control of these programs is turned over to their consumers, there will be no limit to the improvements that can eventually be made to entitlements.  The money saved by making these modest reforms will unleash even more investment in the private sector and create even more jobs and economic growth. 

And as if it weren't good enough news, consider the changing face of free trade.  Fifteen years from now, we can expect a free trade zone encompassing the entire Western hemisphere, including post-Castro Cuba.  We can look forward to free trade with self-sufficient democracies in Taiwan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries.  Other nations now oppressed by terrorist regimes will also have been liberated from tyranny and welcomed into the community of free democracies.

Which brings me to security. What do we want American security to look like 15 years from now?  Now, the War on Terror may not even be over 15 years from now. We don't know. But it will have a very different emphasis. Rather than liberating people from terrorist regimes, the civilized world will instead focus on cultivating the fledgling democracies that will have replaced them.  Rather than being recruited by terrorist organizations, young men and women in nations like Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Iran will be recruited by businesses and universities. Rather than fearing a North Korean dictatorship, we'll be cheering a North Korean democracy. It's my opinion that in 15 years the Axis of Evil will simply no longer exist, that major state sponsorship of terrorism will be a thing of the past. We will have a global coalition of allies and a track record of successfully liberating oppressed people, helping them establish democratic institutions and welcoming them into the international community. And all of these things will happen because American conservatives are committed to absolute victory in the War on Terror, and we understand its terms, unlike our friends in the party of appeasers.

Freedom and self-determination are not political ideologies; they are human rights. Regimes that fail to recognize this fact and, thereby, threaten the security of the civilized world will fall from without or within, and no matter how long it takes, terrorism and its state sponsors will be destroyed. After more than a century of war, an era of peace will be won for the world. 

And if it goes back in the other direction, we've already had a glimpse of what it would be like.  The nine dwarfs running for president of the United States would turn over the War on Terror back to international countries.  They want to turn it over to the UN, to NATO, to France, to Germany, to Russia.  We would go back to the Clinton days of blowing holes in the desert and turning away every time America has been attacked.  That is not going to happen in our future with this movement.  No matter how long it takes, we will destroy terrorism and the states that support it. 

And just as we will foster an age of hope and freedom abroad, we will welcome and foster a culture of life here at home. We will protect the American family. In the last two weeks, President Bush signed into law the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, the first legislation since Roe v. Wade, to begin to curb the grisly excesses of three decades of abortion on demand in America. For the first time in a generation, the American people set aside the divisive politics of abortion and embraced the inclusive politics of life.  And what now can conservatives hope to achieve for the dignity of human life and the American family in the next 15 years?  Well, if we do nothing else, in my mind, first, we can end abortion as we know it because God will not allow this country to continue as a nation as long as we continue to kill the most innocent among us. 

We can empower working parents to choose the right education for their children against liberal academia. Rather than leaving such crucial decisions up to government bureaucrats, we can take on the liberal intelligentsia.  We can recognize the impact excessive violence and pornography in the media is having on our children.  And I’m not talking about so-called adult entertainment or late-night entertainment.  I'm talking about the trash that basic cable and broadcast networks are showing in primetime. 

You know, I got home early for a change a couple weeks ago, and I didn't turn on C-SPAN like I normally do or FOX News.  I was tired of all that, and so I started surfing. And I was amazed because I haven't been watching regular television lately.  The first thing I hit on was a program called Nip and Tuck.  I don't know if you've seen this, but on the screen, they were having an orgy, and soon after that they were glorifying the fact that a 16-year-old boy had been caught in bed with two 15-year-old girls.  That was primetime. 

Then I hit the button.  I didn't want to watch it anymore, and I hit MTV.  MTV is the most disgusting channel I've seen put to music.  It just amazed me. 

Then I hit the button, and I hit some guy named Howard Stern, the most unbelievable language, talking about some father having incest with his daughter, and they were on television and glorifying that.  It was unbelievable what they were talking about in prime time. 

American parents deserve better, and we can do something about it.  We can also reassert the legitimacy of faith in the public square and affirm that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.  We can permanently ban human cloning and the harvesting of human life for medical research.  We can reaffirm the dignity of marriage as a sacred covenant between a man and a woman and defend its unique status in American life.  And perhaps most importantly, we can explain to the federal judiciary which branch of government makes the laws and which branch of government merely interprets the law. 

And should any of our black-robed malcontents, like our friends on the Ninth Circuit of Appeals now attempting a hostile takeover of American morality, not respect the boundaries established by the Constitution, we will start to hold them accountable, too. 

These then are the terms of the opportunity now granted the Republican Party by the conservative movement and by the American people.  For the first time in a century, we can ask ourselves what we want our government and our country to look like 15 years hence and be able to realize those aspirations. 

We can double the size of the economy and vastly improve the standard of living for Americans on every income level.  We can transfer the tax code and bring balance to the regulatory state.  We can strengthen Social Security and Medicare and base their renewals on consumer-oriented reforms.  We can lead a global coalition of freedom to liberate oppressed nations and end state sponsorship of terror, and export the fundamental human rights of life, liberty, and self-determination to every corner of the globe.  And we can foster a cultural renaissance for the American people and the American family in which all branches of government respect parents, protect children, and defend the dignity of all human life. 

This is, ladies and gentlemen, the big picture, the coming age of prosperity, security, peace, and family.  It is ours for the taking and the making.  As conservatives and as Americans, if we are only willing to run with perseverance, the race is marked out for us.  The sun is dawning, ladies and gentlemen, on the great American miracle of the 21st century, and it's a beautiful morning.  And if we work hard, work together, and stay united, we'll see that morning and come into a new beautiful day, and I guarantee you that.  Thank you, and God bless you very much.

Unidentified Speaker:  Congressman, you didn't mention immigration.  What is Congress going to do about immigration reform?  Your colleague, Tom Pancrado, is all excited about this and keeps introducing proposals. 

Tom DeLay:  I'm going to give you the expert, Bob Goodlatte.  Come up here and answer that for me, Bob.

Bob Goodlatte:  Well, first of all, we do need to do some things about immigration.  And I introduced a bill, which I hope the Congress will take up.  We're garnering a lot of support to eliminate what's called the visa lottery.  This is an unbelievable program established by Ted Kennedy about 20 years ago where we give out 50,000 visas every year simply by putting your name in a hat.  And recently, the State Department -- and the State Department isn't always as strong as we'd like them to be on some national security issues -- they came out with a report that is scathing in its criticism of this program.  So there we could take care of 50,000 visas that we give out -- no family relationship, no need by any employer.  To solve this problem, simply eliminate it, and it's my hope that we'll take that up and deal with it. 

But the larger problem of immigration is one that I think will be with us for a long time.  We are a nation of immigrants, and we need to recognize that, and we need to recognize that we welcome people to this country for needs that we have, for relationships that families have, and so on, but we need to firmly and strongly support reform of our legal immigration laws and crack down on illegal immigration.  There's so much more that needs to be done to enforce those laws within our country.  And if we do that, we can have a good system that welcomes people to this country under appropriate circumstances but still recognizes the rule of law and the importance of the sanctity of our borders and that people have to respect them, and if they don't, there are severe consequences for doing that.

Unidentified Speaker:  Thank you.

Tom DeLay:  Excellent.

Unidentified Speaker:  Yes, sir?

Unidentified Speaker:  Tom, that was a terrific speech.  I liked what you had to say about tax reform and Social Security reform.  And, of course, the most important issue right in front of us now is the Medicare bill, which you touched on a little bit. 

I just wanted to urge you to fight for the medical savings accounts, which really is the way to reform the healthcare system, which is something we've been fighting for for 15 years, and, you know, fight for the premium supports as well that will move Medicare into a private system because, as you were saying, the cost of Medicare, of health insurance for families has doubled in five years, and until we inject competition and, you know, true market reforms in the system, millions of Americans are going to lose their health insurance.  So I hope you will, and I'm so reassured to know you're in the rung, you know, negotiating this compromise because you're the free market expert on this stuff.

Tom DeLay:  I appreciate it, for the opportunity to touch on Medicare a little bit.  This is a dilemma that our members are going through and, frankly, I’m personally going through.  If I were king, we wouldn't be in the mess that we're in right now, and we could fix it and fix it like most of us in this room would like to fix it. 

But I have found over the nine years that we've been in the majority that if you're going to fix things, you've got to take the opportunity that's presented to you and fix it the best way you can.  Welfare reform is a perfect example of that.  You know, if we could roll out repeal of welfare on the floor and repeal it, I think many, many families in this country would be better off than being dependent on welfare.  But we made a welfare reform that, frankly, had a lot of stuff in it that we don't particularly care for.  But over 10 million families now that were on welfare are off of welfare because we took the opportunity to change it, and we'll have another opportunity to change it.  And we took that opportunity.  We passed it in the House and sent it to the Senate. 

Medicare reform's the same way.  If we could radically change Medicare and have the votes for it, we'd do it in a minute, but this is such a grand opportunity that has been presented to us that I believe that if we don't take the opportunity, we won't see it again until that crisis hits.  And we're trying to put together the best bill that we can and pass it and get it to the President, which means we've got to make some compromises that none of us likes. 

Although I must say -- I'm very proud of Bill Thomas, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, in what he's been able to accomplish so far.  He's been able to put co-payments in, to try to move away from third party payment -- that's a conservative issue -- higher deductibles to make the consumer have a vested interest in the kind of healthcare they buy, means testing that will bend the growth curve of the outer -- the runaway costs, health savings accounts the way that we really like them, full-blown nationwide, so that people can start planning now at a young age for their retirement and the healthcare needs of the future, cost containment, probably not as good as we'd like, and then it comes down to what has become known premium support, and we're not going to get it. 

We're not going to get it -- we're going to get a demonstration project, if we get anything. That allows us to pick parts of the country to show that market principles do work.  And the reason we're not going to get it is the Republicans, as well as the Democrats in the Senate, are opposed to it categorically, and we have gotten them to the point that we've gotten them now, and, frankly, I’m surprised that they're even buying into what we've got. 

So we're at a dilemma, and, frankly, that's why I have to go back in the morning is that we've got to decide whether we have no bill at all or we have this bill I just described, and that's a big decision that we're going to have to make. 

Unidentified Speaker:  Congressman, I think it was Wednesday in the Washington Post this week, and the -- I didn't read the article in great depth.  I brought it with me to study this weekend, but it talked about how discretionary spending under a Republican White House, Republican Congress, has gone up, what, 12.5 percent in the last year, 27 percent in the last few years.  Your comments?

Tom DeLay:  It's true.  And if we've failed at anything, we have not been very good at holding down spending.  We have -- now, it sounds terrible, but it is true.  We've held it down to a slower growth than if you had a Democrat House, but we did take this year as the first year to stop that growth. 

And next week, we will show you that we have held down total discretionary spending, including the Defense Bill, to a 4.4-percent increase at the most, and we're trying to get it down to a 3-percent increase.  That's the lowest rate of growth in the last 10 or 15 years.  And we know that we have to show some fiscal responsibility; we have to show some fiscal discipline. 

The President is providing that discipline, and we hope by the end of the week we'll show you that we can do it, and we can turn that curve down and slow the rate of growth of this government, hopefully, to less than the rate of -- than the rate of inflation.  You know, we'd all like to just cut the spending, but you give me five more senators in the -- five or six more senators in the Senate and give me about 10 more House members, and you'll see us cut spending.  That's it.  Enjoy your afternoon -- well, we've got one more. 

Unidentified Speaker:  You've alluded, at least three times now, to members in the House and also the Senate that aren't with us who are Republicans.  Excuse my naivete --

Tom DeLay:  That's all right.

Unidentified Speaker:  -- but from the perspective of the average person on the street and the average activists who are loyal to seeing Republicans elected, if you understand that there are members out there who are not supportive, who are blocking and obstructing, what is the obstruction that you -- members of the House and the Senate face in helping to elect people who are with us?  What prevents you from doing that?

Tom DeLay:  Well, that is a tightrope that we walk.  We could spend the rest -- like we spent 40 years of being in the minority and not being able to accomplish anything, or we can spend -- what we did do over the last nine years, building a majority, that allows us to accomplish some pretty amazing things that we've been able to accomplish in the last nine years, pretty amazing things. 

And you've got to look at it -- I'll give you a couple of them.  You know, in my opinion, it is more important to have a majority in the House than it is to have a majority in the Senate or even the president of the United States.  I want all three.  But I can show you over history whoever controls the House controls the destiny of this country because we control the purse strings; that controls everything. 

And you can take Ronald Reagan -- as wonderful a president as he was, as great a man as he was, as effective as he was, he got about 25 to 30 percent of what he wanted.  Why?  Because throughout his whole eight years, there was a Democrat House of Representatives. 

Bill Clinton, from 1995 to the end of his presidency, got nothing, zero.  I defy anybody to show me one thing that he -- one bill that he initiated that he got to sign.  And what happened in his presidency that he fought us on every step of the way while he took credit for it?  We cut taxes.  Now, the House of Representatives has passed tax relief every year we've been in the majority.  Some of it's become law; some of it hasn't.  And every year that we stay in the majority, we will continue to cut taxes.  But the opposite is also true.  It has been nine years since the federal government has raised a dime in taxes.  Why?  Because of the House of Representatives. 

And I could go on.  We are the ones that balanced the budget during Clinton's administration because we made him sign the Balanced Budget Act of 1997.  We are the ones who did welfare reform, and I could go on and on and on, because we had the House of Representatives. 

So it is a constant question in our minds, weighing principle versus having the majority.  And right now, you have to have moderate Republicans to have a majority, or you can't get anything done if you don't have the majority.  So that is what we walk.  And certainly we'd like more conservatives elected as Republicans, but we'll take what we can get and keep the majority and keep the country going in the right direction the best we can.

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