Michele Bachmann photo

Address to the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C.

November 07, 2011

I'd like to thank Tony Perkins, Tom McClosky and the Family Research Council for hosting this event today. I can't think of a better place than the Family Research Council to discuss the core of my conviction that will guide how I govern if I were to become President of the United States. The Family Research Council has been a beacon of light in protecting the family unit, and I thank them for their leadership.

The most important promise that any president makes to the American people is this one: 'I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God.'

Too many actions by too many presidents demonstrate that this oath has meant little in recent years. Today, President Obama appears intent on stretching, bending, and ignoring the Constitution by abusing executive power and picking and choosing which laws he will enforce.

My explanation of constitutional government is for something far more important than a menu of policy details. I want you to know the principles that will govern my decision making as president. When events arise and facts change and Congress intervenes, policies have to adapt. Principles however, should be unchanging. They should be the core of one's conviction.

The purpose of government is to protect life, liberty, and property. President Obama believes the purpose of government is to provide for our needs and some of our wants. And he is willing to engage in massive redistribution of wealth and the politics of envy to achieve this purpose.

I will understand from day one what the current president does not: When the American people entrust someone with the awesome power of the presidency, they have given that person the privilege of serving under our Constitution, not a license to put themselves above it.

The president's economic policies, most notably Obamacare, represent the most ambitious social-economic engineering project in the history of this country. And they threaten to rewrite the fundamental assumptions of the role of government in American's lives since the New Deal and the Great Society. The 10th Commandment teaches those shall not covet thy neighbors' goods. It's time to act on this self-evident truth.

America needs to open its eyes. Look at Europe. Focus your attention on Greece. Socialism is unsustainable. There simply isn't enough money to pay for all the wants of all the people.

Yet, while Greece is crashing President Obama has called for more government welfare—more government funded student loans—more government mortgages—more government spending to create more government jobs.

President Obama doesn't merely have the wrong policies—he has the wrong principles.

But sadly far too many Republicans aspire to be frugal socialists. The reason President Obama and some Republicans can get behind socialized medicine is because they share the same core political philosophy about the purpose of government.

We cannot preserve liberty for ourselves and our posterity if the choice in next November is between a frugal socialist and an out-of-control socialist.

The government given to us was a constitutional republic where the elected legislators make all of the laws. In fact, the most important question for any organization is: Who makes the rules?

This is true of the NFL, a college student government, and it is certainly true of the United States. When President Obama issues executive orders about student loans, mortgages, green energy plans, or anything else that directly controls private people or private property—he is making laws.

The president or executive agencies should not make law.

One of the most serious problems with Obamacare is the number of times that the legislation says…the Secretary shall make rules…The rules on abortion funding, and countless other areas, are not found in the Obamacare bill itself—but in the reams of rules that have begun to emerge from the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

That is why I have been advocating for the repeal of Obamacare from almost the minute it was passed. Some have naively said they will issue waivers or executive orders to stop Obamacare, but only the full-scale repeal can stop the cancer of Obamacare from metastasizing across all of healthcare and our economy. We cannot afford to have a candidate who doesn't understand the complexity of Obamacare or the urgency of its repeal.

Congress needs to take back the responsibility to pass all the laws for our country. If the laws are bad, the voters need to be able to fire the people who wrote them. Likewise, the judiciary does not make the law.

President Obama believes judges can change the meaning of the Constitution by reinterpreting its words and by discovering new unwritten rights that the founders never contemplated including the use of UN treaties and other international law to interpret our Constitution.

A Supreme Court truly dedicated to original intent, would look to the original meaning of the Constitution, to the records of the Constitutional Convention, the Federalist Papers, and other contemporaneous legal sources.

The UN has nothing to say to us about the meaning of the United States Constitution. I guarantee that as President every single judicial nominee will have demonstrated to my satisfaction that they are unwaveringly committed to the rule of law—as that law was originally written.

President Obama has committed to the ratification of a number of UN treaties including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child when that would bind us to legal obligations internationally and domestically.

According to Article VI of the Constitution, once ratified, a treaty becomes a part of the supreme law of the land. Moreover, any state law that conflicts with a treaty is void.

Virtually all American law regarding parents and children is state law. And this UN treaty contains scores of rules that contradict existing American law regarding medical care, education, religion, and virtually every area of parental decision making. This treaty threatens the most basic unit of government that the Family Research Council and many of the organizations represented here today attempt to defend, the family.

As president, I will withdraw the signature of the United States from this treaty and every other unratified UN treaty of this type.

The UN is not the only threat to the American family. Some American officials have also gone too far in invading the legitimate decisions of American parents like being told by their doctors and insurance companies, that federal HIPAA regulations prevent them from obtaining their children's medical records and even medical test results. This is ridiculous!

I was an early co-sponsor of the Parental Rights Amendment and I will assure passage of this as president.

In Troxel v. Granville—Justice Scalia recently wrote that until parental rights are written into the actual text of the Constitution, there is no basis for a judge to protect parental rights. While he is just one justice, the lower federal courts are in disarray with far too many federal judges rejecting the idea that parental rights are fundamental.

Judges may be confused about the importance of parents in the life of a child. I don't share their confusion. Make no mistake, while not always possible, children are best served when they are raised in a home with a mom and a dad—I will fight to protect the rights of parents, the family and the institution of marriage—those are at the core of my conviction.

The misinterpretation of the Commerce Clause and the General Welfare Clause in the constitution are chiefly responsible for the runaway debt and regulatory chaos that threaten to crush our economy and curtail our liberty.

For example, Congress used the Commerce Clause to close all of the incandescent light bulb factories in the United States and replace them with so-called environmentally friendly bulbs. In response, I introduced the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act.

But this wasn't just about the right to choose what light bulb you wished—it was about our fundamental rights as citizens to not have the government tell us how we are to live out our daily lives. At my core is the belief that it is the American people and not the government who know what is best for their lives and that government exists to protect that right to liberty and not to diminish it.

I believe the Constitution assigns one and only one level of government to deal with each area of policy. The federal government has exclusive jurisdiction over foreign policy, military affairs, the protection of our borders, the minting of our money, and a few other topics.

States have exclusive jurisdiction over health, education, welfare, family law, and the vast majority of criminal law. The Tenth Amendment tells us that if the subject is not assigned to Congress, it remains by default with the states.

The people do not get double or triple the services when multiple layers of government address the same issue—we get conflict, confusion, and unnecessary expense.

As president, I guarantee you two things. First, I will veto every new law from Congress that seeks to add yet another layer of unconstitutional regulation under the guise of the Commerce Clause. Second, I will begin the process of reversing the damage from decades of Great Society-type programs.

I will draw a line in the sand and do only what the Constitution allows. One of the keys to Steve Jobs' success was that he said no to 1,000 things. I guess he learned that wise principle from the founders.

The government should do what it does best, protect the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and the private sector in what should be freest society on the face of earth should do what it does best—nurture the engine of economic growth that has made us the most prosperous nation on the face of the earth.

We are nearly $15 trillion in debt because of an improper view of the General Welfare Clause. The current view is that Congress can spend unlimited money on any fool thing it wants. Congress believes that the Constitution imposes no limit on its spending.

I beg to differ. And I would point out that the Founding Fathers also beg to differ.

In Butler v. United States the Supreme Court addressed the question: What limits on federal spending are imposed by the Constitution?

The Court pointed out that there was a dispute between Alexander Hamilton and James Madison on this issue. Madison thought the spending power was strictly limited to enumerated powers, while Hamilton believed that there was additional power to spend in the General Welfare Clause itself.

But Hamilton's view was not the same as the theory in vogue in Washington today. Hamilton believed: Congress can spend money on programs that are truly in the national interest, but only for purposes that are beyond the jurisdiction of the states.

Here is a practical example from history. Thomas Jefferson worried that his Louisiana Purchase was unconstitutional because there was no enumerated power to make land purchases to expand the nation. But Hamilton believed the Louisiana Purchase was justified by the General Welfare Clause because it was beyond the power of the states to make such purchases.

Like the Louisiana Purchase, today's space program also passes this constitution's two-part test for federal spending: 1) It is for the general welfare and 2) It is beyond the jurisdiction of the states.

By contrast, social welfare programs are within the jurisdiction of the states. Both Hamilton and Madison would agree that the federal government couldn't spend money on welfare programs.

Education also belongs to the states. The federal government has no constitutional jurisdiction to spend money on education programs. I'll repeal federal education law, close the Department of Education and let the states keep the money they've been sending to the federal government to fuel the leviathan bureaucracy of the department of education where its employees make nearly double what the average teacher in the classroom makes.

Our founding fathers were really very efficient political planners. They gave each area of government responsibility to one and only one level of government.

Unless we want to go the way of Greece, we have to adhere to the organizational structure of the Constitution and stop the federal government from spending for purposes that are only within the jurisdiction of the states.

As president I will veto all new spending for new programs that properly belong to the states and I will begin the systematic process of dismantling the current duplication.

I want to say one very important thing about Article IV of the Constitution. This article says that Congress has the duty to guarantee a republican form of government.

The principle of self-government that there should be no taxation without representation was the rallying cry—and that principle lies at the heart of what it means to have a republican form of government.

We are violating the constitutional commitment to self-government for our posterity by imposing a crushing burden of federal debt on our children, grandchildren, and the generations beyond. George Washington warned against the 'progressive accumulation of debt which must ultimately endanger all governments.'

For every $143 of federal spending we are only paying for $100 with current taxes. We are sending the bill for the other $43, with compounding interest, to the generations yet to come.

Future citizens will be taxed tomorrow for money that's already been spent to finance a welfare state lurching towards decline. Yet, future generations had no vote on whether to spend this money.

That is an immoral act and, it is an unconstitutional taxation without representation. It is unconscionable that we continue to borrow from future prosperity to live more comfortable today.

Much of that spending and taxing occurs because government does what both the constitution and decent morality prohibit, that is cronyism capitalism, or forcefully taking your money for the purpose of paying off a politician's political friends. The problem is one set of standards for individual Americans and another set of standards for those who make political donations to candidates. This practice whether at the state level or the federal level is letting the interest of the few outweigh the majority of Americans who don't have access to the system. I will end this system of political pay for play that is out of control in Washington.

The solution is beyond obvious. What we all know what Greece must do, we must do ourselves, and immediately.

I will honor the Constitution by never sending Congress an unbalanced budget for their consideration—except in times of declared war. And if Congress passes an unbalanced budget, they better have two-thirds of both houses behind their extravagance, because I promise you that I will veto such spending every time.

In fiscal year 2010, the United States gave away $1.4 billion to countries like China, Mexico, Egypt, and other nations each of whom own at least $10 billion in U.S. treasury bonds. China owns over $1.2 trillion in these bonds. This is a significant portion of our national debt.

Giving money away for free to the nations that own our debt instruments is like giving your banker a large gift while he still holds your unpaid mortgage.

I will stop such foreign aid at once. If these nations are rich enough to loan us money, they don't need our aid and we can't afford it. The financial gifts we are making to China and these others will come to a screeching halt of the day I am sworn into office.

My concern for children is not limited to protecting them from financial bondage. First and foremost, I believe that every child has the right to life because every child is made in the image and likeness of a Holy God.

I am not confused by what it means to be 100 percent pro-life. I am both personally and publicly pro-life. I believe it is the role of government to protect life from conception to natural death. I'll never be confused about that issue and you won't find you tube clips with me advocating otherwise. For starters, Planned Parenthood will be zeroed out if I am president.

I will also work to protect the American family from activist judges who are trying to dismantle marriage as a legal institution solely between one man and one woman.

Some Republican candidates seem confused about this issue. I am not—it is the core of my conviction.

I want a Federal Marriage Amendment so the courts cannot impose their will on us. When one state's judiciary legalizes same sex marriage, the legal pressure on every state to recognize such marriages is profound. One federal judge has already ruled that the voters in California violated the federal Constitution by voting to limit marriage to one man and one woman. And President Obama has ordered his justice department not to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act.

That flawed analysis will be the path of future activist courts and an example for future president's to overrun the will of the people and the legislative branch for their own will. Only a federal marriage amendment can prevent the courts of one state from imposing same-sex marriage on us all. One year from yesterday, the American public will make a decision about the future direction of our country. We will decide what kind of nation we want to be.

I believe this election is the last exit ramp to regain our constitutional heritage. After that Obamacare will be impossible to repeal. Do we want to be a free nation—a nation that aspires to protect life, liberty, and property? Or, do we want to be a socialist nation—committed to centralized government providing all needs for all people?

This election season has been full of surprises. I can assure you there are no surprises with me. I am far from a perfect person, but I know who I am and I will never deviate from the principles that I have fought for all of my life. I understand the challenges this nation faces, both domestic and foreign and I understand who are our enemies and our allies, and I'm prepared to face them.

If we want to have a real choice next November—the bold colors of difference that Reagan described—then it is crucial that the Republican Party choose a candidate in January, February, and March who is committed as I am to liberty and who has demonstrated a life long commitment to fighting to protect constitutional government.

I am the candidate you can trust in office because as president I am and will be truly committed to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. That commitment is the core of my conviction.

I will be such a president.

Michele Bachmann, Address to the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/298820

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