Well thank you. It really is an honor to be here with you today. Being with a group of committed fellow conservatives who desire to return our country to founding principles, it just really excites me. But before coming up here on stage, I was talking to some folks out in the hall, and they were talking about being here in Washington, close to Washington, and really looking forward to doing that tour of the White House.
And of course you all know there is no tour to the White House right now because of the sequestration. The President has said no, the White House is closed down to our visitors. And you might be disappointed that it was you as visitors but also for us as congressman it has been closed down, and I was sorely disappointed in that because I really wanted to go over to the White House and show the President, give one of the fresh copies of the House GOP 2014 budget that actually balances. I didn't have the opportunity to do that.
I had thought while I was here that I would also give him one of the pocket Constitutions, I think he needs that. And I don't have it with me, but I have a hand calculator I was going to give him, too, so he could, for his budget, add everything up so we could get a balanced budget maybe from him for the first time ever.
I think this was mentioned in my introduction that I am a registered nurse. I am also a small business owner, and I am very proud to represent the good people of the sixth congressional district of Tennessee. , As I stand here before you today, I am a product of the American Dream. I was born and I'm going to tell you, so you can start figuring out how old I am. I was born in 1951. I am the middle daughter of very good parents who lived during the depression. And they have no more than a 9th grade education. So as a young girl, as I was growing up in the 1950s, on what some people may have called the other side of the town, I dreamed of a bright future, and for me and my family I actually believed in my heart that it was possible. And now several decades longer, my dream for a better life has been realized. I put myself through college, also nursing school. My husband and I have raised three beautiful children, who have given us six grandchildren, and I started my own business and finally I was elected in 2010 to be a congressman.
Now the beauty of growing up in America that many of you would probably also tell me, because my story is not terribly unusual, is that where you start in life does not predetermine where you end up. And achieving the American Dream has never and will never be easy and it is not guaranteed. But it is possible. And you know there is no limit to what free men and women can do to achieve their American Dream.
Now since our nation's inception, optimism has always defined and compelled America to dream bigger than any other people or any other nation. And of course over the history of our nation, the American Dream has become increasingly more attainable for more and more people because success in America is not a zero-sum game. It raises all boats—that's the beauty of it. And when more and more people are able to make their American Dream a reality, new doors and new windows open that previous generations never thought were even possible.
But today we're at a crossroads. We're at a crossroads of our nation's history. And the majority of American people believe that the future will not be better for their children and their grandchildren. How many of you in here believe that? That because of the course that we're on, that our children and grandchildren won't have the same opportunity that we had? How many of you? I see a great number of hands. Not unlike if you were to do a poll of the American people, you will see many, many American people feel that way and there's a growing sense that maybe this century will belong to someone else. Now this grim outlook about the future speaks volumes about our present circumstances, the direction of our nation and our current leadership in Washington.
In 2010, I decided to run for congress because I believe, like the majority of Americans do, that we're not going to leave our children and grandchildren a more prosperous nation with more opportunities than we had, unless we change the course. Now thankfully the Republicans did take back the House and they took away the President's one-party control of the government in 2010. I'm very proud to be a part of that class. But as you know, the President and the Senate Democrats still run Washington, and their reckless leadership continues to undermine the American Dream. And it's reckless to deprive our younger generation of the opportunity to pursue their own dream.
You know what, if I were born today, I don't know if I would be able to achieve my American Dream. I don't know if I would be the first person in my family to graduate from college, or I would have had the opportunity as a graduate from college to save lives in the emergency room as an emergency room nurse, or to start a business with my husband. Where we sat some 26 years ago, with four of us around the table, we're now proud to have 700 employees that we provide good jobs for. And I'm not sure that I would have the opportunity to have run for congress and be in a position to make a difference about changing the course of our country.
I have the opportunity to go out and talk with young people, small business owners and Americans in the middle class about the struggles that they're facing in this Obama era, big government, less freedom and fewer opportunities. And I'm more and more convinced that the President's policies would put my American Dream, like so many others, out of reach because the President's policies are an assault on the American dreams.
Consider what his policies mean for, I'm going to talk about the three E's: education, entrepreneurship and economy.
First, let's talk about education. Studies and experience show us that access to a good education is a key to reaching one's full potential and moving up the ladder. However, the administration's irresponsible fiscal policies are driving up college tuition costs, and this is forcing more and more students from the low and middle income households with an impossible choice: either borrow thousands and thousands of dollars in loans or don't go to college at all. You all may know this, but statistics now show us that the average college student graduates with $27,000 of debt, which is compounded by the fact that this Obama economy, with underemployment for our recent graduates is more than 50 percent, making loan repayment even more intimidating. Also, due to Obamacare, thousands of the full-time workers are now becoming part-time workers, as employers have been forced to find ways to cut costs under the new healthcare mandates. Look, I worked my way through college, but for many Americans today that is not an option. They're working two jobs in this Obama economy just to be able to pay the bills of today, and there is no time for night school to get ready for tomorrow because you're working so hard to pay the bills of today.
What about entrepreneurs? I'm an entrepreneur. I bet a lot of you in this audience are entrepreneurs. But this administration is making it more and more difficult to start a small business. For those aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses, the President's policies such as the Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Law are making it nearly impossible to get capital to start and grow a business. And Obamacare, and countless other costly regulations and mandates, are just crushing this weak economy, most of all small businesses that are the engine of our economy. And the administrations maze of new regulations, you probably all saw that big pile down in the lower lobby of the new regulations for Obamacare, which are a lot taller than myself at 5 foot 2. I think there around 6 foot something, twenty-eight thousand pages. These new regulations and higher taxes are forcing job creators to spend their valuable time and their resources on compliance instead of growing their businesses and creating more jobs.
What about the economy? The President's record levels of debt and higher taxes are bad news for all Americans—all Americans—but the poor and the middle class are really bearing the brunt of these failed policies. Now as Ronald Reagan, who was a hero for many of us here in this room once said, and I quote, "The government's view of the economy can be summed up in a few short phrases. If it moves, tax it; if it keeps on moving, regulate it; and if it stops moving, subsidize it." This sums up our current President's economic policies quite well. Now in four years, the President has introduced four budgets unlike the budgets we have that actually balance, that we've never balanced. And they would add trillions of dollars to our national debt, which has already been done. And to do nothing to save our bankrupt entitlement programs from fiscal collapse, is accelerating America's march towards debt crisis which will further devalue the dollar, depress wages and drive up interest rates, making the purchase of a car, a home, a college education out of reach for millions of low and middle income Americans.
The emerging Obama debt crisis is a regressive tax. Let me say that again. The emerging Obama debt crisis is a regressive tax that hurts low and middle income Americans most of all. And you all may hear when this President gives his speeches, he incessantly talks about the importance of investing in the future. We all agree that we need to invest in the future. But for him it is, in other words, spending more money that we do not have, to expand the government at the expense of the private sector growth and job creation as if this is going to help our low and middle income Americans.
Now I realize that the President has never run a business, and it's probably been awhile since he's had an economics class. But this is simple math, guys. Spending money that we do not have is not an investment. It is generational theft. It is devastating to the American Dream. Under President Obama nearly 23 million Americans are still struggling to find work, and the number of food stamp recipients has increased by nearly 17 billion during his time in office. We should measure government's failure by the increase in food stamps we distribute, and we should measure government success by the number of Americans who are able to get back to work in the private sector. The President simply fails to recognize the best investment we can make for our children and grandchildren is for government to stop spending money we do not have. We have got to stop spending money we do not have.
The further our nation gets away government, from freedom, from individual responsibility, and a vibrant free-enterprise system, the less attainable the American Dream becomes for more and more Americans. We all agree. I know everybody in this room agrees with this: limited government, freedom, opportunity, economic mobility, and the power of the individuals over the government to create, produce and innovate. These are the principles that unite us as conservatives, and these are the principles that made the American Dream possible.
We are the greater opportunity party. We are. We are the greater opportunity party. We believe in economic mobility for everyone. But more importantly, we stand for the principles and the solutions that will allow our economy to come roaring back and will put America back on the path to a prosperous future filled with opportunity and not limited by debt and unmet obligations.
To ensure that we save and strengthen the American Dream for current and future generations, we must change course while there is still time, and I believe that we can and will do what needs to be done to restore the principles that made this country the most exceptional nation on earth. America is a nation and an ideal propelled by the truth that there is no limit to what free men and women can do to reach achievement. You know American has cheated history many times in the past, and we can do it again.
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.