Good afternoon, everyone. It is great to be here great to see all of you.
You know, I am always inspired when I see so many young conservatives who have come to Washington, D.C., come to our nation's capital. You are good for my heart. So just a, just a, such a great reminder and is really one that Washington needs – that the conservative movement, it is not only alive it is strong, it is diverse and it is the growing.
Now, if you listen to some of those talk shows and some of the mainstream media folk, you might think that America wants these big, government, one-size-fits-all solutions but you know better. We know better. It's why you come here every year to share your ideas, share your enthusiasm with other conservatives from around the country.
So I wanted to share just a little bit of my story. For the last two years now I've been serving as the chair the House Republican Conference. It's quite an honor at a time that we have a record majority in the House of Representatives.
You know, but, if you would have told me as a little girl that I would one day put my hand on the Bible and be sworn in as the two hundredth woman to ever serve in the House of Representatives, I wouldn't have thought possible.
I grew up working on my family's orchard, at a fruit stand, you know it was in Kettle Falls, Washington. It's a small town in eastern Washington. Getting up before dawn with my brother to help pick the apples. My dad drove a school bus; my mom was a part-time bookkeeper.
You know but they always taught me to work hard, help others, and to always, always dream for more. I was the first in my family to graduate from college. It meant working those odd jobs at the local motel and at McDonald's drive-thru and work-study in order to pay my way through.
But you know what – from the McDonalds drive-thru to the halls of Congress so many years later, I'm still driven by the same thing: my desire to keep the American Dream alive. That's what I want for my kids, that's what I want for you and that is why I am proud to be a conservative.
So today I wanted to talk a little bit about a more hopeful, conservative vision for America. It's a vision that comes from the bottom up, not the top down. It's a vision that looks to the future, not the past It's a vision that trusts people to make the best decisions for themselves, not a government that decides for you.
You know, I've lived the American Dream. But sadly, for too many, the American Dream is fading. It is our task to revive that American Dream for a new generation. It's really our sacred trust. It's passed down from one generation to the next in America – to keep the dream alive, to advance opportunity, and to live free.
As Thomas Jefferson said: the god who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time. No government can take that away. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that some governments haven't tried.The Obama administration – they have regulated us, they've taxed us, they've limited us.
And you know, it's the old liberal playbook, but we know it's failing. We know that no one policy, no one program, no one policy is why America is the greatest country in the world.
It really is our diversity. It's the fact that we come from different backgrounds, we face different challenges, we seek different goals that makes America so extraordinary.
We know that a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work and we have years – decades – of experience that solutions don't come from Washington. The best ones come from you. They come from leaders that reject the notion that bureaucrats somehow know better what's best for our communities, for our family and ourselves.
We know that the best solutions empower you instead of limit you. They make your life easier, not harder, and they expand your opportunity to succeed, not restrict it.
Liberals, really, they believe the opposite. They believe there is an answer and the answer is always more government. It's why the liberal prescription for the economy, for job creation, for prosperity always fall short. It's because they think know better than you. They've confused government with compassion, and history has shown us that's the wrong approach.
It's why we continue to focus on creating jobs, on a healthy economy, because a job is so much more than a paycheck. A job is what gives you purpose, it give you dignity. It's the opportunity for a better life. The job is the opportunity. And the jobs that have been lost in this weak economy are just part of the plan, the pain. The president's policies have robbed millions of Americans of tremendous opportunities.
Now liberals, they like to define people by their challenges. You think about it. They define the poor, and then they give you a poverty program. They define you by race, and they give you quotas and regulations. They define you by gender, and they give you a war on women.
But we say we are not defined by our differences or our limits. We are defined by our potential.
And that's why I am proud to have championed policies that improve people's lives by empowering them and I just wanted to share one example.
You know, last year I cosponsored some legislation to help people with disabilities, and we didn't propose a new big government or another handout. We passed and got signed into law the Able Act, and it's simply creates tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. It's similar to the college savings accounts that many families have used.
Now, the old, outdated, liberal solution would have been to take money and higher taxes and then redistribute it through government programs. The ABLE Act lets us keep our savings tax free and use it to take care of our families. It actually empowers individuals to have an opportunity to work and to live independently.
And this is just one example. Positive, conservative changes like the ABLE Act just the beginning.
Now you know what, in some ways we all have challenges and we're all striving to fulfill our potential. It is conservative solutions that offer the most opportunity to get there.
Now I know that you've all come to CPAC. You're armed with knowledge and lessons that you've worked on, advancing conservative solutions in your communities and on your college campuses and in your state capitals. Your solutions aren't all the same because your challenges aren't all the same.
But if you look at the foundation, there remains a belief in the potential of every person. That's really what makes America exceptional and that's why we are going to continue to focus on an opportunity economy, an opportunity nation. With opportunity, your circumstance doesn't have to be your fate. Nothing can hold you back.
Thanks for being here. You are a testament to the conservative vision that government by the people empowers us. Government for the people fosters opportunity and a government of the people cherishes freedom.
Neither the Catt Center nor Iowa State University is affiliated with any individual in the Archives or any political party. Inclusion in the Archives is not an endorsement by the center or the university.