Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Statement at Yesterday's Americans for Prosperity Rally

I want to thank AFP for lending its voice and resources to some of the local battles at city hall.

There are parallels between the national and local situations. You have chief executives who said one thing as candidates, but did something else as elected chief executives. They take care of special interests while their fiscal situations spin out of control. And the only answer they offer is more government, pressing the Expand Government button. More spending, more taxes.

The focus today is Obama’s Failed Agenda. So what is a local, city-hall-focused advocacy group doing in this lineup? I’m here because one of the main issues in the national political conversation right now is: Who is the champion of small business and the middle class?

I use “small business” and “middle class” interchangeably because it’s the same group of people. Small business owners generally are middle class people. Their employees are middle class people. Roughly two-thirds of American jobs are generated by small business, and those jobs make possible a solid middle class standard of living. Small businesses and middle class families operate at the grassroots level where there isn’t much margin for error financially.

Who is the champion of small business and the middle class? It was a main focus of the first presidential candidate debate. President Obama raised it in his opening statement. Gov. Romney came right back and said the president’s policies “crushed” the middle class, and the battle for the middle class was on.

It came up during the vice presidential candidate debate. I’m sure it will come up in the presidential debate tonight.

I’m here to tell you, as an advocate for a small business organization, that the vice president was right recently when he said the middle class has been buried over the last 4 years. I realize he tried to walk it back and spin it into the Bush policies starting the avalanche that has buried the middle class over the last 4 years. In fairness, candidate Barack Obama railed against President Bush in 2008, accusing of him taking out a credit card from the Bank of China and burdening future generations with $4 trillion of debt over 8 years. That was a fair shot.

But in 3+ years as president, Obama has added $6 trillion to the debt, more than Bush did in 8 years. This has a paralyzing effect on small business. Small business generates the majority of the jobs that middle class people need. But small business sees a government borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends, driving the debt up to $16 trillion and counting, and still pushing the Expand Government button. The government is going to have to go somewhere to find the money to pay back the 40 cents on the dollar that it’s borrowing, and the government has shown that it sees the private sector as an ATM for government. I can’t expand my business and hire more people if I think the government is going to be shaking me down for more taxes.

And what new mandates will be imposed? We at the Alliance hear from small businesses who say there has been a serious uptick in bureaucratic harassment – fees, inspections, fines, changing guidelines, and so forth. But this administration has taken government domination to a whole new level.

Obamacare means I have to raise prices for my customers, or discontinue health care for my employees, or get rid of employees. All of this hammers the middle class, the people paying higher prices for goods and services, losing their employer-subsidized health insurance, maybe losing their jobs, or not being hired in the first place, because small businesses are frozen in fear at what the government might do next.

More government involvement in the health care industry has raised costs and made the system less friendly to patients and practitioners – but the answer is to have the government take over more of the health care industry?

Gas prices are gouging the middle class. So we throw billions of dollars down green-energy rat holes and hinder drilling for American oil?

AFP does not endorse candidates. Neither does the Omaha Alliance. But the great thing about the home stretch of a campaign season is that people are engaged, people are paying attention to issues that they might otherwise ignore. While we have the general public’s attention, we must make the arguments and deliver the messages people need to hear to be informed voters.

Those of us on the radio or leading advocacy groups do our thing, but sometimes I think the most important and convincing advocacy happens among families and friends. Please engage in the circles of life in which you travel. In your marriage. At your family dinner table. At work. At your favorite watering hole among friends. In your church group or civic club. On these phones at the AFP phone bank.

Don’t be shy. Don’t apologize for caring about the future of our country. And don’t ever think, “I’m not somebody qualified to talk about politics.” You are an American citizen in a self-governing democratic republic. You belong in the political conversation just as much as anybody else. It’s not just for the big shots. A word spoken by you to someone who knows you and trusts you will have 10 times more impact than all the words spoken by me or others of us in the public conversation.

Who is the champion of small business and the middle class? When it comes to candidates, you’ll have to answer that for yourself. One thing we know for sure is that AFP is a champion of small business and the middle class. Wherever the opportunities present themselves, make your voice heard and help make the case for policies that reflect the values promoted by Americans for Prosperity.

Thank you.

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