Opinion: Speaker John Boehner to CPAC: We’re not winning the future, we’re spending the future

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Remarks by House Speaker John Boehner to the Conservative Political Action Conference, as provided by his office

Thanks to David Keane for his leadership; congratulations to Al Cardenas, the new ACU chairman; and special thanks to Cleta Mitchell for her leadership and friendship. I’m honored by this recognition -– but as with the office I hold, this isn’t about me.

I wouldn’t be Speaker of the House if Americans last year had not stood up and reasserted control over their government. And many of the people in this room helped lead that uprising. So I should be thanking you. Our new majority is intent on honoring the commitment we made to the American people.

We pledged we would listen, and we pledged we would do things differently if given the opportunity to run the House. We pledged we would focus on....


...stopping the job-crushing spending binge in Washington. We pledged we would focus on jobs and spending, and stopping the Washington regulatory assault that has led to massive uncertainty in the private sector. We’re going to keep our word.

I’m a former small businessman. Ran a small business, met a payroll, created jobs. I’ve seen first-hand how government makes it harder for small businesses to create jobs and make ends meet. Excessive government regulation crushes jobs.

This is why our majority will pass a resolution to inventory and review federal agency rules and regulations that may be making it harder create jobs and grow the economy. This is why we’re going to pass Geoff Davis’ REINS Act, which requires congressional approval for any new regulation with an economic impact of more than $100 million.

Excessive government SPENDING crushes jobs, too. By printing and borrowing all this money, the government is creating uncertainty, and crowding private capital out of the market. Every tax dollar the government takes is a dollar that Americans are unable to invest in their families, their businesses, and our economy.

The American people fundamentally get this. When are the politicians in this town going to figure it out?

I want to read you a couple of quotes, which (giving credit where credit is due), I got from a great column by a gentleman named Jay Hartz, which I encourage you all to read. The quotes:

‘Unions [and their liberal allies] ... want more welfare, which would push up the deficit. They also want a national health program, which would push up the deficit borrowing ... This waste of investment hurts all Americans, but it hurts [workers] most of all. ‘Liberal economic theorists argue that a large budget deficit will stimulate the economy and produce jobs. In reality, however, large deficits destroy jobs.’

These comments could have come from me, or Eric Cantor, or Mitch McConnell on any given day right now. But they were actually uttered nearly 40 years ago, by the late great Congressman from my state of Ohio, John Ashbrook.

He was directing his comments not just at the Left, but also at some in his own party who had begun to subscribe to the Left’s way of thinking. A generation ago, John Ashbrook was taking on the establishment of his party, urging Republicans to reject the idea that we can borrow and spend our way back to prosperity.

The party ultimately heard John Ashbrook’s call. The result was the presidency of Ronald Reagan ... a new approach to governing ... and the largest peacetime economic expansion in our history.

Ashbrook -– and Reagan -– understood the American economy doesn’t run on government spending. It runs on freedom. ‘A generation later, we’re experiencing a similar realignment. And today it’s the tea party movement calling us to our senses.

Courtesy of President Obama, Americans have witnessed the grand failure of the notion that massive spending and borrowing by government will jump-start private-sector job creation. A trillion dollars in wasteful ‘stimulus’ spending left Americans asking: ‘Mr. President, where are the jobs?’

And now President Obama is asking us to raise the national debt ceiling –- without any commitment to cutting spending at the same time. Instead of offering a budget that ends the spending binge, the administration is preparing to offer a budget that will destroy jobs by spending too much, taxing too much, and borrowing too much.

With all due respect, this isn’t “winning the future.” It’s spending the future.

What we need is a path to prosperity –- one that unleashes the greatness of our people and the awesome potential of the American economy, by getting government out of the way. Americans see that the spending binge in Washington is hurting job creation -– not helping it. They’re calling on their leaders to stop the job-crushing spending binge and cut spending.

Based on his State of the Union address and his budget, it looks like the president still isn’t listening.

But we are. We’ve gotten the message. The American people have directed us to cut spending. We will. And there’s no limit to the amount we’re willing to cut to help get our economy moving again. Let me be very clear about this: we are going to exceed our Pledge to America. We are going to cut $100 billion in discretionary spending next week.

Write it down. $100 billion in discretionary spending.

And we aren’t going to stop there.

Once we’re done with the CR, we’re going to cut mandatory spending. And this isn’t just about how much we spend, but how we spend it. Every committee has been tasked with doing real oversight. And you’re going to see us fight to end taxpayer funding for abortion once and for all.

The other side says our spending cut plan, drafted by Paul Ryan, will cause ‘pain and suffering.’ Baloney.

What will truly cause pain and suffering is the status quo –- doing nothing -– leaving the spending process on autopilot and squandering our nation’s future.

Our majority will not stand for that. Our goal is to liberate our economy from the shackles of debt, excessive regulation, and over-taxation. As I told my colleagues –- this isn’t about us. It’s about the American people. Our job is to follow their will, as we said we would.

There’s another nice thing about an open process: it means Democrats can offer their amendments, too. If they’re good ideas, the House can incorporate them. And if they’re bad ideas, the House can defeat them.

Either way, both sides will have a chance to make an argument and the best ideas will win. That’s how it should be. I don’t think anyone in this room is afraid of the battle of ideas. I’m not.

Our last majority lost its way when it focused more on winning the vote than winning the argument. That’s how things like earmarks became a problem. That’s why spending kept growing. Let me be clear: we will not make the same mistake this time. Not on my watch.

When I spoke at CPAC last year, I said a new Republican majority would take on earmarks. Well, that was one of the first things we did. We banned them. I said we would post all bills online at least 72 hours before a vote and that we’d install cameras in the powerful Rules Committee. We did both.

I said that while others mock the Tea Party and call them names, we would listen to them, stand with them and walk among them. And that’s exactly what we’re doing.

But as we work to keep our Pledge, I’m going to need your support every step along the way. Remember: we only have a majority in one half of one branch of government. Right now, Washington is still a Democrat-run town.

To really make an impact going forward, we need to keep the momentum going. We need the American people to stay engaged in this fight. The federal government is as big as it is today, touching all areas of life, because the Left is determined.

Determined to spend more. Determined to tax more. And determined to keep growing the size of Washington. We need to be equally determined to stop them.

We need to be equally determined to build the smaller, less costly, more accountable government that the American people want and deserve.

I know I am. And I know you are. And I look forward to continuing to work with you on this journey. So thank you again for this honor. Thank you for all that you’ve done for our conservative cause, all that you’re doing, and all that I know you will do in the year ahead. God bless. ####