Address to the New Hampshire State House in Concord
Thank you Speaker O'Brien. It is an honor to speak to the nation's largest state legislature, the New Hampshire State House of Representatives. I am truly honored to speak in this historic setting, the oldest capitol building in the nation where legislators occupy the original chambers. Like you, I come from a state with a citizen-legislature. We meet 140 days every two years. Some Texans think we should meet two days every 140 years.
I am reminded of the great history of our nation in your midst today. Behind me are five portraits that paint a picture of brave and virtuous leadership, of individuals who remind me of one of my state's own legendary figures: Sam Houston, who lived by the motto, "do right, and risk consequences."
You have a portrait of our nation's first president, George Washington, who not only led us to victory in the American Revolution, but who voluntarily relinquished power after two terms in the vein of a true statesman.
New Hampshire's one and only native president adorns these historic walls: Franklin Pierce, who became president just eight years after my home state joined the union.
There is Daniel Webster, whose statue in Scott Circle in Washington, D.C. contains an inscription that reads, "Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable."
A voice of conscience is also displayed in this historic setting: Senator John P. Hale, the first United States Senator to speak out against the sin of slavery.
And finally, perhaps our nation's greatest president, who preserved the union and set the slaves free. Abraham Lincoln looks down upon us today.
They all sought a more perfect union, and leave legacies that transcend time because they stood on the foundation of moral courage.
Washington will always be remembered for leading us to our freedom, Hale for speaking out on the side of truth and justice more than 100 years before Congress truly established equal rights, and Lincoln, for liberating a people who had been deprived the freedom to live according to the ideals of our Constitution.
We are not a perfect union, but we are a more perfect union because all citizens regardless of tribe or tongue are given the promise of opportunity in America today.
However, I would not be running for president if I thought all is well with America today.
In fact, I am running because the promise of our founders is currently being wasted by Washington.
I am running because today's Washington politicians have acted like Black Friday consumers engaging in a spending spree that puts our children's future on layaway. We buy now, they pay later.
And I am running because we must no longer tolerate an America in which Main Street is allowed to crumble while Wall Street financiers and Beltway profiteers bilk the taxpayers.
What is wrong with America can be diagrammed on a map with one straight line connecting two dots between Washington and Wall Street.
The Washington politicians pressured Fannie, Freddie and the banks to provide easy lending to put more Americans in homes they could not afford. The sub-prime market exploded with risky loans. Americans were snookered into deals with zero down and balloon payment notes.
Regulators fell asleep at the switch. No one was watching as the rating agencies gave Triple A ratings to complex securities filled with high-risk loans. And the Wall Street high rollers hatched get rich schemes where they profited from betting against America. When the market crashed, those on Wall Street who saw it coming made millions, and those who did not got bailed out.
This week we learned that the $700 billion TARP bailout was paltry compared to secret loan guarantees of $7.7 trillion.
Those paying the price are not the large banks who were over-leveraged, not the insurance companies that took on too much risk, not even the executives who continued to reap large bonuses even after the walls came tumbling down.
No, the people who are paying the price are average Americans, Main Street businesses, and our children, who stand to inherit the worst fiscal mess of our lifetime. It's wrong. It's unfair. It's unjust.
We shouldn't be awarding taxpayer-funded bonuses to Wall Street executives who defrauded those very same taxpayers. We should be locking them up. And when I am president, we will clean up corruption from K Street to Wall Street so they can't gamble with our children's future again.
It starts with a simple promise. No more bailouts, whether we are talking about bankers in America or in Europe. It continues with my pledge to end wasteful earmarks. And I won't stop until Congress and the American People pass a balanced budget Amendment to the United States Constitution.
I believe there is a model for good governance that Washington should emulate. It is the model of the citizen-legislature that you have in New Hampshire today.
You take care of the people's business, pass a budget, and then go home and live under the laws you pass. Washington is broken because the professional political class consolidates more and more power and leaves the rest of us less freedom.
Our debt is now $15 trillion. 14 million Americans are out of work. One in eight Americans are on food stamps. And Washington's only answer is to spend more money and become more central in our lives.
As the state that lives by the motto, "live free or die," you have demonstrated a better way where spending is kept under control, budgets are balanced and residents are freed from the burden of paying either a state income tax or a state sales tax. And if you ever doubt the power of taxation to dictate consumer decisions, look at how many Boston workers have moved their homes across the border to the Granite State.
If you pass into law a right to work law, you may just join my home state in creating more jobs than any other state in America.
Unions have a proper role in America, but you shouldn't be forced to join one to feed your family.
I am here to say to every American frustrated by the excess spending, by this faltering economy, by the Washington and Wall Street Corruption: you have a choice this election.
You don't have to sit back and take it anymore. You don't have to resign yourself to choosing between Washington Insiders. You don't have to settle for modest reform that amounts to a reshuffling of the status quo. You can reach beyond the confines of the Beltway and choose bold change from a true Washington Outsider.
We don't need to tinker around the margins as our country drowns in debt and unemployment. We need to overhaul Washington. To me, it starts with creating a part-time Congress. Cut their pay in half, cut their office budgets in half, and cut their time in Washington in half.
Let's free up employers from the heavy hand of regulation. I will freeze every pending regulation and review every enacted one since 2008. And if they kill jobs, they are gone.
To jolt our economy, let's stop debating temporary tax cuts financed by permanent tax hikes to the same failed system. Let's give Americans the option of junking the tax code and paying a simple flat tax.
My plan is so simple you can file it on a postcard. In fact, it's so simple Timothy Geithner can pay his taxes on time.
And my plan goes further. It closes the corporate loopholes, ends the corporate carve-outs and stops the gravy train of tax lawyers and lobbyists at the Washington trough.
The premise of my plan to uproot and overhaul Washington goes back to our founders and the notion that the people are not the subjects of government but instead government should be subject to the people.
In his eulogy to John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Webster said, and I quote:
"And now, fellow-citizens, let us not retire from this occasion without a deep and solemn conviction of the duties which have developed upon us. The dear purchase of our fathers are ours. Ours to enjoy, ours to preserve, ours to transmit. Generations past and generations to come hold us responsible for this sacred trust. Our fathers, from behind, admonish us. Posterity calls out to us. All conjure us to act wisely and faithfully in the relation which we sustain. We can never, indeed, pay the debt which is upon us, but by virtue, by morality, by religion, by the cultivation of every good principle and every good habit we may hope to enjoy the blessing through our day and to leave it unimpaired to our children."
Daniel Webster knew that responsibility implicit to every generation of Americans, to leave a country better, stronger and freer than the one given to them at great cost. The future of America is too important to be left in the hands of the Washington politicians.
I have talked a lot about the mess we are in, but I want you to know I remain an optimist at heart. Washington may be broken, but the American People are not. I know, because I have traveled this country. I have spoken to the corn farmers in Iowa, to the blue collar manufacturing workers in South Carolina, to the town hall inquisitors in New Hampshire. Yes, they can be pretty direct.
These Americans haven't quit. They aren't buying into the idea that our best days are behind us. They simply want their country back.
I know this is still the America where the son of tenant farmers can become governor of our second largest state and run for president. This is still the America I volunteered to serve in the United States Air Force in 1972, the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known.
This is still the America where there are no artificial barriers posed by class, but an all-encompassing promise to those who dream big and work hard that you can achieve success, and most certainly significance. What's wrong with America has nothing to do with the idealism and values of the American People, which remain virtuous.
It is about how broken Washington is. If we clean up our nation's capital, America will get off the mat again. Our people will dream again. Employers will invest again. Our economy will grow again.
The America I learned to love on that small cotton farm is still there ready to be awakened once again. The freedoms written into this Constitution are not just words on paper. They are ideals inscribed on the hearts of every American who yearns to be free.
Let's set them free. Let's make America, America again. Let's rein in Washington.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.
NOTE: Gov. Perry sometimes deviates from prepared remarks.
Rick Perry, Address to the New Hampshire State House in Concord Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/298083