CAMBRIDGE, MA – Today, Congressman Eric Cantor (VA-07) will deliver a speech at the Harvard Kennedy School outlining the Republican vision for growing the economy. Here are highlights of his speech (as prepared for delivery):
America has a rich history of taking on challenges and propelling ourselves forward. Whether it was the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution or the Internet Revolution: we are unique in our ability to apply creativity, intellect and leadership to solve any problem. We haven’t always done everything perfectly and we have stumbled along the way, but in the end we held on to our convictions that led to great progress over the years. Now we face new obstacles as this country finds itself at a crossroads. Before us, is a choice about who we want to be as a country – and believe me, there is a choice.
Not long ago, in streets of both Greece and France, we saw young people protesting against the government’s decision to rein in retirement benefits - even though they were years away from receiving them. Translation: very early in their lives, these individuals were conditioned to rely and depend on the government for their livelihood, for their future. Meanwhile, last year in America people from a wide array of political backgrounds took to town halls to demand an end to the explosive growth of government. Their desire: For our government to do less, not more. The contrast was astonishing and the message clear: on one side of the Atlantic people expected a government-funded future, while on the other they wanted it to stop.
Why do the world’s most innovative companies - from Google to Apple to Facebook to Biogen Idec – come out of America? The answer starts at world-renowned institutions like Harvard that give their students and faculty the freedom and encouragement to harness their creative energy, test ideas, think critically and solve problems.
The environment here fosters the creative spirit that has made America the crucible of innovation – the place where things are invented that change the world. America has always been the land of unparalleled achievement. Our people start businesses. We come up with ideas. And we pursue those ideas even though we know we might fail in the process. This is who we are as a people. America was built on a culture of opportunity. We are a people who are desirous of assuming responsibility and earning success.
I am worried, however, that Washington has forgotten that this is the strength of our people, the backbone of our culture and the engine that drives prosperity nationwide. My concern is we are becoming a country more concerned about government-sponsored financial security than individual-driven opportunity. That to me threatens the American ideal and jeopardizes the notion that each generation can live better than the last. Government cannot guarantee that and we are fooling ourselves if we believe it can. So what must we do to preserve our future, and to give the next generation the best possible platform to succeed? I believe it lies in the success of our private sector.
I meet with business leaders almost every day and you know what they say?: “When you get serious in Washington about putting your fiscal house in order, we’ll feel better about our future and with that certainty, we’ll feel more confident about investing and creating jobs here in America.” “And please get your spending under control! If our balance sheets looked like yours we’d be finished.” Above all, they say, “we can out-innovate and out-compete any country in the world if we are given a fair shot but Washington doesn’t seem to get that.”
I tell these businessmen and women that we are ready to listen and are committed to changing the culture in Washington in order to create an environment where they can compete and grow – lifting this economy, lifting our country and its people out from under the veil of uncertainty that clouds our future. But there’s a central starting point to doing this: the government must stop spending money it doesn’t have or we will erode the necessary foundation for short-term and long-term growth.
Reducing spending is a necessary element for long-term growth, but there is more we can do to reduce unemployment and improve the global competitiveness of American businesses. We are initiating a comprehensive assessment of federal policies and regulations aiming to remove those that are redundant and harmful to private sector investment and job creation.
We are initiating a comprehensive assessment of federal policies and regulations aiming to remove those that are redundant and harmful to private sector investment and job creation. Included will be a discussion about a better way to reform our health care system – with an eye on solutions that focus first and foremost on cost containment. We will explore ways to reform our tax code, to broaden the base and reduce rates. We will work to jumpstart more free and fair trade for our exporters, and identify ways to make it easier for intellectual capital and innovation to flourish again. In the end, we know that long-term job growth will come when there are more for-hire signs in Silicon Valley and Boston; Seattle and Chicago; San Diego and Kansas City not Washington, DC.
We have a choice to make today about the future of our country. In order to protect our way of life, the choice we must make is about changing course, and renewing our commitment to what makes America unique: innovation, creative thinking, problem solving, entrepreneurship, individual liberty and economic freedom. Our renewed focus must be driven by the sense that we have a limitless future in America and every one of us has a fair shot at earning success.