Weekly remarks: Pat Toomey on Democratic spending; Obama on protecting Social Security
Hi, I’m Pat Toomey from the great state of Pennsylvania, and I’m pleased to have this opportunity to share a few thoughts with you today.
Like a lot of Americans all around the country, I really believe America is at a crossroads. I’ll always be optimistic about America. We’re too strong a people and too good a country to be held back for long. But I am deeply concerned about the direction we’re heading in right now. That direction is being driven by extreme policies that are coming from one-party domination of government in Washington. And this extreme ideologically driven agenda is preventing the strong economic recovery and job creation that we should be having.
It’s time we put some real checks and balances back in place this November.
Let’s take a minute to review what’s happened in just the last 18 months. First, there were the ill-advised taxpayer funded bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the....
...car companies. Now, to be fair, the bailouts were begun under the previous administration; but the crew that’s in charge now ramped them up when it was perfectly clear that they were not accomplishing what they were supposed to.
Next, we had the so-called stimulus bill. Nearly a trillion dollars in new Washington spending, including some egregiously wasteful spending, like $2 million to study exotic ants and $30 million for a spring training baseball complex, among hundreds of other ridiculous items. Now we were told that this monster spending bill would create jobs and keep unemployment below 8%. Well, since then we’ve lost nearly 3 million more jobs and the unemployment rate hit 10%, and in some states it’s still well above that. Over 14 1/2 million Americans remain out of work.
But even that was not enough for the one-party extremists in Washington. After that, they went ahead and rammed through a $2-trillion healthcare bill, that even the official budget scorekeepers say will actually increase the cost of health insurance for individuals and families. And that’s not to mention the very serious consequences for healthcare quality of imposing government in between doctors and patients.
Now where do all these bailouts, takeovers and spending sprees leave us?
They leave us with a weak economy without job growth and with a mountain of debt for our kids.
Washington spending as a percentage of our country’s economic output has grown by 25%--practically overnight. That extravagant spending has caused a budget deficit for this year alone of $1 1/2 trillion dollars. That’s a staggering amount of debt. In fact, this Democratic administration is projected to create more debt than all the debt we accumulated in the entire history of our country from George Washington all the way through 2008, combined.
So where do we go from here?
Well, the first thing we need to do is eliminate the threats from further harmful legislation. Some elements of the Democrats’ extreme agenda have not yet been implemented, and if we want to create jobs, we need to keep it that way. For example, Democrats have tried unsuccessfully to impose a massive energy tax on all of us through a cap-and-trade bill and to take away workers’ rights with a Card Check bill. Well, first and foremost, Washington needs to stop causing even more harm.
Second, you know, there’s an old saying: When you’re in a hole, stop digging.
There are hundreds of billions of dollars that have not yet been spent in the bailout and stimulus programs. We should stop spending that now.
There are billions more in completely unnecessary and wasteful Washington spending that should stop immediately.
And finally, we need to offer American families and businesses the kind of tax cuts that will stimulate genuine private sector job growth, instead of the billions of tax increases the Democrats have already imposed and the more that they are threatening. To start, we should make the current tax rates permanent instead of raising them at the end of the year. And we should cut capital gains taxes to encourage business investment. Even prominent Democrats have recently said the last thing we should be doing in a recession is to raise taxes.
Now, I have every confidence that the 21st century can be another great American century. And I know we can have a booming economy. But to get there, we have to remember the source of our national strength. Our strength does not come from bailouts and government spending.
It comes from a free enterprise system and the hard-working honest citizens who make it run—the kind of industrious folks I see every day in Pennsylvania. When government lets these folks grow their businesses and work hard without putting obstacles in their way, that’s when we will achieve the flourishing recovery our country deserves. I’m Pat Toomey, and I thank you for listening.
Seventy-five years ago today, in the midst of the Great Depression, Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law, laying a cornerstone in the foundation of America’s middle class, and assuring generations of America’s seniors that after a lifetime of hard work, they’d have a chance to retire with dignity. We have an obligation to keep that promise; to safeguard Social Security for our seniors, people with disabilities, and all Americans – today, tomorrow, and forever.
Now, we’ve been talking for a long time about how to do that, about how to make sure Social Security is healthy enough to cover the higher costs that are kicking in now that baby boomers are retiring. And I’m committed to working with anyone, Democrat or Republican, who wants to strengthen Social Security. I’m also encouraged by the reports of serious bipartisan work being done on this and other issues in the fiscal commission that I set up several months ago.
One thing we can’t afford to do though is privatize Social Security -- an ill-conceived idea that would add trillions of dollars to our budget deficit while tying your benefits to the whims of Wall Street traders and the ups and downs of the stock market.
A few years ago, we had a debate about privatizing Social Security. And I’d have thought that debate would’ve been put to rest once and for all by the financial crisis we’ve just experienced. I’d have thought, after being reminded how quickly the stock market can tumble, after seeing the wealth people worked a lifetime to earn wiped out in a matter of days, that no one would want to place bets with Social Security on Wall Street, that everyone would understand why we need to be prudent about investing the retirement money of tens of millions of Americans.
But some Republican leaders in Congress don’t seem to have learned any lessons from the past few years. They’re pushing to make privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda if they win a majority in Congress this fall. It’s right up there on their to-do list with repealing some of the Medicare benefits and reforms that are adding at least a dozen years to the fiscal health of Medicare – the single longest extension in history.
That agenda is wrong for seniors, it’s wrong for America, and I won’t let it happen. Not while I’m president. I’ll fight with everything I’ve got to stop those who would gamble your Social Security on Wall Street. Because you shouldn’t be worried that a sudden downturn in the stock market will put all you’ve worked so hard for – all you’ve earned – at risk. You should have the peace of mind of knowing that after meeting your responsibilities and paying into the system all your lives, you’ll get the benefits you deserve.
Seventy-five years ago today, Franklin Roosevelt made a promise. He promised that from that day forward, we’d offer “some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against…poverty-stricken old age.” That’s a promise each generation of Americans has kept. And it’s a promise America will continue to keep so long as I have the honor of serving as president. Thanks for listening. Thanks for watching. And have a nice weekend. ####
Photos: Associated Press; Toomey's campaign; Pete Souza / White House.