Thanks to everyone who joined Team Mitch at CPAC 2012!
If you missed Senator McConnell’s speech, you can watch the whole thing right here and read the full text below.
Senator Mitch McConnell’s Address to CPAC 2012
To Al Cardenas and the ACU board, to the ACU staff and volunteers – thank you for this opportunity once again to gather as a movement, to share our ideas and our talents for the great cause of liberty.
Every year at CPAC, past meets present, and both gain new energy, enthusiasm, and allies for the fight. We have a chance to honor and to learn from the conservative giants of the past, and to size up new ones. And we get to hear from those who are leading the cause in statehouses across the country and here in Washington.
For those of you haven’t noticed, our ranks are growing. One of the great developments in Congress over the past few years is the emergence of so many strong, principled conservative leaders. You just heard from Senator Marco Rubio, one of the most inspiring young conservatives in America. Our numbers in Congress are expanding. And I can tell you this: I’m very happy to have the reinforcements. Now the trick is to stick together, and to keep our focus where it belongs…
I always love coming to CPAC.
Conservatives are just so much more fun than liberals.
There’s a reason for that, by the way … it’s because we’re right.
The reason liberals are wringing their hands all the time is that they know we’ve got better arguments than they do.
So they spend half their time thinking of how to convince people that what’s wrong is right – and the other half looking for conservatives to tear down – or CPAC conferences to disrupt.
You all know the liberal playbook: pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and then polarize it. But rarely have we seen those tactics employed with the kind of zeal we see today.
This White House and its lieutenants have made an art form out of the orchestrated attack. They’ve shown they’ll go after anybody or any organization they think is standing in their way.
We saw it last week, when one of the top Democrats in the Senate announced a plan to haul law-abiding citizens before a congressional panel just because they happen to support causes he doesn’t.
You know the drill: expose these folks to public view, release the liberal thugs on them, and then hope the public pressure or the unwanted attention scares them from supporting similar causes down the road.
For a President who spends so much time talking about fairness, there’s a serious shortage of it in the White House and among many of its closest allies these days.
Again and again this administration and its allies have used the resources of government to intimidate or silence those who question or oppose it, and to reward their friends and punish their enemies.
This is why an administration that claims to support private sector job creation ended up killing a pipeline project that promised to create tens of thousands of private-sector jobs.
And this is why a President who claims to value diversity is telling the men and women who run religious schools, hospitals, and charities in this country that they now face a choice that no one in the United States of America should ever have to make: violate your conscience, pay a penalty, or close yours doors.
We saw it during the health care debate when the Department of Health and Human Services issued a gag order on a private health insurer for the supposed offense of telling seniors what the President’s health care bill would mean for them.
And as Americans continue to struggle as a result of this President’s economic policies, we see it in the personal attacks on private citizens or industries that provide the administration with a convenient foil.
These things demean the office of the President. They corrode our democracy. And they need to stop.
If Democrats can’t convince people of the wisdom of their policies, they should change them.
But attacking private citizens or groups for the supposed crime of turning a profit or expressing an opinion that the administration doesn’t happen to share is not in the President’s job description.
The President’s job is to unite the country, not divide it … his job is to bridge differences, not aggravate them … to encourage success, not to condemn it … to encourage debate, not to suppress it. And to honor and embrace the free exercise of religion – enshrined in the First Amendment – not to suppress it.
This President seems to have forgotten that he was elected to lead all Americans – that he was elected to be president of the United States, not the Occupy Wall Street fan club.
I mean, I don’t know about you, but I think that the leader of the free world and his advisors have better things to do than to dig through other peoples’ tax returns.
At a time when nearly 13 million Americans are looking for a job and can’t find one, I think the President of the United States has higher priorities than picking on Fox News.
At a moment when the national debt makes us look more like a third world country than the last best hope on earth, I think our highest elected official should be looking for solutions instead of scapegoats.
But that’s what passes for leadership in the White House these days.
Here’s a President who spent two years reconfiguring the U.S. economy, who put the government in charge of banks, the auto industry, the insurance industry, the student loan business, and health care. Now we’re seeing the results, and he acts like he didn’t have anything to do with it.
Look: Every new President faces challenges in office. Just ask Ronald Reagan. But once the oath of office has been taken, Americans expects their president to forge ahead and take responsibility for the policies they put in place.
Not this President. He wants to change the topic.
Well here’s my message to CPAC: We’re not going to let him get away with it.
Republicans are going to push hard to reform the tax code … we’re going to keep up the fight against a regulatory regime that’s suffocating free enterprise … we’ll keep pushing the White House to allow Americans to use American energy … and we will not let a single day pass from now until November without reminding the American people of what this President has done.
We’re going to remind folks that we’re not in this mess because of a tsunami in Japan, or a debt crisis in Europe. We’re in it because this President got nearly everything he wanted for two years. And I assure you this: when November rolls around, the American people will know who was in charge when the Stimulus was passed, they’ll know who was in charge when Obamacare became law; they’ll know who was in charge when America’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time ever.
They’ll know this President’s record.
And after that, he’ll be able to golf as much as he wants.
Let’s face it: the only reason we’re getting any positive economic news at all more than three years after this Presidency began is because the American people put a restraining order on him and Pelosi last November. Last week’s jobs report happened in spite of the President’s policies, not because of them.
It’s the Obama economy now. And we’re not going to let people forget it.
We’ll start with his promises.
It’s a long list, so I’ll just mention a couple.
Three years ago this month President Obama signed a trillion dollar Stimulus bill that we were told would keep unemployment below 8 percent and drop-kick us out of the recession.
How’d that work out?
Well, unemployment has now stood above eight percent for 36 months. Three years straight.
If you lose a job in the Obama economy, you can now expect to spend 40 weeks looking for a new one.
Fewer people have jobs today than when the Stimulus was signed.
And more than three years into this presidency, there are still 5.6 million fewer jobs in this country than when the Great Recession began.
Among African Americans, unemployment is nearly 14 percent.
Among Hispanics, it’s 10.5 percent
Among recent college grads, it’s more than 13 percent.
For those who need help the most, this President’s economic policies have done the least.
So if I were President Obama, I’d keep the champagne on ice.
This is not an economy to be proud of.
Shortly after the Stimulus bill was signed, President Obama made another promise – he said he’d cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term.
How’d that one turn out?
Well, last week the Congressional Budget Office said that the federal deficit for the coming year – Obama’s fourth in office – would be over a trillion dollars for the fourth consecutive year.
He hasn’t even come close.
On this issue – the debt – this President has been completely AWOL.
Republicans have had to fight tooth and nail for every dime in savings we’ve secured.
President Obama has ignored the advice of his own deficit commission.
He has ignored the dire warnings that come to us every single day from across the Atlantic.
And he has failed the American people who entrusted him with the stewardship of this country.
More spending, more debt, fewer jobs – that’s the sad legacy of this administration’s policies
That’s how historians will remember the Obama economy
That’s how they’ll remember this President’s three-year experiment in big government … as a colossal failure … that managed to bring about one good thing: a resurgence of common sense conservatism.
Thanks to the liberal overreach of the Obama Administration, countless Americans have rediscovered the constitutional principles that bind us. They have new appreciation for the fact that in this country, the government serves the people, not the other way around.
And that’s why, when the American people read that the compensation gap between federal and private workers has doubled over the past 10 years, and that the benefits for federal workers are about 60% higher than the taxpayers who pay for them, they have every reason to demand a federal pay freeze.
Right now, there are 2.2 million people in the federal workforce.
Yet, at a time when the federal government in Washington is routinely spending upwards of a trillion dollars a year more than it’s taking in, layoffs of federal workers have dropped to fewer than 300 a year. According to one analysis I read, that means that federal workers are 13 times more likely to die of natural causes than to be laid off. And this President has added nearly 150,000 more of them.
Now you tell me, what about the performance of the federal government over the past few years makes you believe that everyone who works for it is absolutely necessary? Look: the government is doing too much already. It’s time to stop hiring people to fill jobs in Washington that don’t need to be done.
It’s time to impose some balance between the public and the private sector.
Under this President, government spending has gone up more than 20%.
This is one of the reasons I never tire of telling people that the problem with our nation’s finances isn’t that government taxes too little, but that it spends too much.
And I don’t know about you, but the way I see it, until Washington proves it can spend money more wisely than it does right now, the taxpayers have no good reason to hand over another dime in higher taxes.
Until Washington puts a higher priority on using the money it gets on the things we need, instead of blowing it on solar panel companies, the American people should tell Congress it doesn’t need another cent.
And that leads to another thing that the American people have been reminded of over the past few years – that people should be rewarded for what they know rather than who they know.
Throughout the debate over health care, Americans saw the White House cut deals with special interests and lawmakers we later learned were in exchange for votes. Then, in the months that followed, they watched as it granted waivers to the very groups that lobbied for it most.
Well, most Americans don’t think that one group of Americans should be entitled to special treatment just because of their political sympathies. And that’s just one of the reasons we’re going to keep fighting to repeal this bill – so that everybody gets a waiver – not just the politically connected few.
That’s also why Republicans in Congress have joined together to fight the individual mandate in the courts, and why we’ll continue to do so, until this unconstitutional burden is overturned.
And then we’re going to replace it with the kind of common sense reforms that lower costs and that Americans really want.
But let me tell you what all these things have in common.
Every special favor or preference we’ve seen from this White House reveals the same thing: and that’s a lack of faith in the ability of Americans to figure things out on their own.
The roots of liberalism have always been the same.
What liberals just can’t seem to accept is the idea of free people and free institutions pursuing happiness as they see fit – with a deep respect for the rights and difference of others – without the heavy hand of government trying to direct their lives and their destinies for them.
The administration’s recent assault on religious liberty is a vivid and troubling example of this. What this White House is now saying is that the federal government will impose a fine on Catholic institutions for no other reason than that the religious beliefs of Catholics happen to run counter to those of a sitting president.
This means that for a place like the University of Notre Dame, the free exercise of religion will now cost about $10 million a year. For Catholic Charities, America’s largest private provider of social services to children, families, and the poor, the cost of religious freedom could now be as high as $100 million.
This is not an administration that welcomes diversity under the First Amendment. It’s an administration that fears it.
The Obama administration has crossed a dangerous line.
And we will fight this attack on the fundamental right to religious freedom until the courts overturn it or we’ve got a President who will reverse it.
Picking winners and losers… rewarding friends … punishing enemies…silencing critics
These things don’t just strike at the heart of conservatism. They strike at the heart of what America is all about.
They drive the Obama economy, and they drive an ideological agenda that, as we’ve seen again and again, has little regard for those who would dissent, or for a Constitution that’s meant to protect them.
So let me leave you with this: keep up the fight.
If some would use the powers of their office to curtail our freedoms or limit free enterprise, then we need to use our power as free citizens to restore them.
You know, before I became the Republican Leader in the Senate, I was best known for a very long fight I waged against campaign finance laws that, in my view, struck a serious blow to the right of free speech.
It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t win me a lot of friends, and that included my own party. The low-point came when I watched a Republican President sign into law a bill that I had been fighting for a decade.
Did I give up? Nope. I sued the government. I’m still fighting it to this day.
And I’ll continue to fight it through the constitutional channels that are my birthright as a citizen.
This is the great power the founders gave us.
Each and every one of us has the ability, and the right, to fight back against the infringement of our freedoms by the government.
No President – from either party – is more powerful than the Constitution of the United States.
You all know that your job is to share that message with others.
The theme of this year’s CPAC is a question that, for us, answers itself. “Do we still hold these truths?”
And rarely in my lifetime or yours have we had such an opportunity or an obligation to prove that we do.
So I want to thank you all for your devotion to the Constitution and to the principles that inform it.
I want to thank you for your determination and energy in supporting candidates who share our views.
It’s through your devotion and your commitment to the cause of liberty that liberty is preserved.
It won’t happen any other way.
As Reagan famously put it: ”Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
You are doing that necessary work.
And the rest of us are very grateful that you are.