Photo of Nikki Haley

Remarks at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire

September 22, 2023

When I announced my candidacy for President, I laid out a vision for a strong and proud America.

This isn't just a slogan. Strength and pride are essential to our national survival, especially in the face of Communist China.

China is an existential threat. It has spent half a century plotting to defeat us. It's taken our manufacturing jobs. It's taken our trade secrets. Now it's taking control of critical industries, from medicines to advanced technology. In record time, China has gone from an economically backward country to the second biggest economy on earth. It has every intention of being the first. And the Communist Party's motives are clear. They're building a massive, cutting-edge military, capable of threatening America and dominating Asia and beyond.

In some respects, China's military is already equal to the U.S. Armed Forces. In other areas, they're beating us. China's leaders are so confident, they're sending spy balloons into our skies and building a spy base just off our shores in Cuba.

Make no mistake: The Communist Party is preparing for war. And China's leaders intend to win.

My highest priority is keeping Americans safe. We must do everything in our power to prevent a war and keep the peace. That only happens when America is strong.

In this battle, now is the time to bring out our secret weapon . . . the force that produced the greatest economy in history and made Americans the envy of the world.

It's freedom.

Freedom is the engine behind our great middle class. And freedom made America the world's leader in innovation – doing more good for more people than any other country in world history.

Freedom has always been our secret weapon. It broke the Soviet Union's back without firing a shot. And freedom can lift America to new heights, leaving Chinese Communism on the ash-heap of history.

But today, we aren't moving toward freedom anymore. In fact, we're running away from it.

Joe Biden is building the biggest government in American history. He's swapping freedom for socialism. No one is happier than Communist China. Few things are more exciting for Xi Jinping than the prospect of four more years of Joe Biden. America will get weaker; China will grow stronger.

I'm running for President to save our country. We'll end Joe Biden's disastrous slide into socialism. We'll unlock the power of American freedom. And we'll move forward, together, into a future of prosperity and peace.

In two-and-a-half years, Joe Biden has done more damage than anyone thought possible.

Everything is more expensive than it was two years ago. It's not just gas and groceries. The price of used cars soared by 30%. Mortgage rates are nearly three times higher. Credit card debt is up 20% in just 12 months. And while prices have skyrocketed, real incomes have fallen. Sixty percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Half of families in America can't afford diapers.

Inflation hurts families, retirees, and the least fortunate the most – and Joe Biden's spending binge is to blame. He's spent nearly six trillion and counting, driving inflation higher with every cent. Yet rather than empower people to earn more, he's making us more dependent on government than ever before.

Under Joe Biden, we now have more than 42 million people on food stamps and nearly 100 million people on Medicaid. That's almost a third of the country. Biden sees that as an accomplishment. He actually blocked states from moving people from welfare to work. And he put 20 million people on Medicaid who aren't even eligible, then stopped states from taking them off. The president is milking taxpayers while pushing the truly vulnerable to the back of the line. In the name of helping the poor, he's making them poorer, pushing more people onto programs that make poverty permanent.

Biden is also throwing our tax dollars at another kind of welfare: Corporate welfare. He's opened the floodgates of taxpayer bailouts, handouts, and carveouts for special interests.

Now, I'm not talking about people who run honest businesses. America has a long history of entrepreneurs who do well by doing good, helping the rest of us lead better, happier, healthier lives. We should encourage more of that. Small businesses are the heartbeat of our economy.

But Joe Biden isn't supporting small businesses or big breakthroughs. He's propping up politically connected companies and left-wing cronies. Look at the grossly misnamed Inflation Reduction Act. Biden's signature "achievement" doled out hundreds of billions in blatant corporate welfare, while fueling inflation for everyone else.

The same goes for the so-called American Rescue Plan. It didn't rescue America. It rescued labor unions and blue states with tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.

And then there's the Biden bailout of Silicon Valley Bank. He shouldn't have put our tax dollars at risk. Taxpayers should not be on the hook when big banks take big risks. We need oversight – not bailouts!

Add it all up, and Joe Biden has created a political subsidy economy. That's what Bidenomics really is. The government is taking money from the middle class and giving it to everyone else. The well-connected are getting wealthier through corporate welfare, while the poor get trapped in regular welfare. That's called socialism. And as history shows, socialism kills the middle class.

This is the same federal government that can't build a bridge or pipeline in under a decade. Do you really think Washington knows how to pick the right winners in the economy? Of course not. It picks losers – and the taxpayer is the one who loses the most.

And does anyone honestly believe that when Congress doles out trillions of dollars, they treat it like their own money? To them, it's pretend money that makes them feel powerful.

It gets worse. Joe Biden is pushing us to buy expensive electric cars and subsidizing car companies. Innovative electric car companies don't need subsidies. But beyond that, most EV batteries are made in China. Think about that: Our biggest enemy is getting our tax dollars – all while being the world's worst polluter. They're laughing all the way to the bank. Biden is paying billions to China while sticking Americans with billions in higher costs. It's the ultimate con job.

We're living through the biggest revolution since 1776 – and the polar opposite, too. We are led by a president and a party who believe Washington should have more power than the American people. We're told that central planners can run our lives better than we can. Entire industries now live, or die, based on the whims of Washington. Bidenomics is government control of everyone, from job creators to working families.

We hear similar foolishness from some Republicans. They want so-called "industrial policy" that bails out railroad unions or promotes the misnamed "stakeholder capitalism." That's little more than socialism lite. Republicans used to know that giving Washington more control isn't the solution. It's the problem. Government breaks more than it fixes.

Whether it's the big government right or the bigger government left, our leaders are insulting the American people. They're telling single moms – don't worry, just be dependent on welfare. They're telling college students – don't work hard, because the taxpayer is going to cancel your loans. They're telling business owners – don't serve your customers, just chase subsidies. Joe Biden is ultimately sending a message to every American: Don't bother to dream; don't bother to dare. Government's got this. Well, how's that going for us?

We became the greatest country the world has ever seen because we rejected that lie. Instead of giving power to government, we empowered the people. There's a name for that – freedom. And every generation of Americans has proven that free people achieve extraordinary things.

We're now losing that classic American spirit. Too many families think our best days are behind us. Nearly 80% of families say they don't believe our children will live as good of a life as we did. That is tragic. But it's only true if Washington keeps controlling us. It's time to return our country back to its rightful owners: Us – the American people. Our future depends on regaining our freedom.

Americans are tired of working for Washington. It's time for Washington to start working for us. That's why I'm unveiling my "Freedom Plan."    

I'll make Washington work for you, not the other way around. The American people are the only ones who will out-compete – and ultimately defeat – Communist China.

My plan starts by giving real relief and financial freedom to middle class Americans. Every middle-class family will get thousands of dollars in tax relief. No one knows how to use your money better than you – no one. When you make your own choices, you make our economy even stronger.

For starters, we'll completely eliminate the federal gas and diesel tax. That's 18 cents per gallon in savings on gas and 24 cents on diesel. That will help families struggling with record high gas prices. And we don't need a federal gas tax to fund our roads. We'll keep building our roads with the trillions Washington still has, and we'll stop diverting money to green giveaways. Road money should build roads, not bike paths and hiking trails.

But killing the gas tax is just a modest beginning. We'll cut income taxes for working families. The middle class should have fewer brackets and lower rates.

Washington likes to make everything more complicated than it should be. Our goal should be to get a tax code that's so simple, every family can understand it. The average taxpayer should not have to hire an accountant to do their taxes.

And we'll make the small business relief in the 2017 tax cuts permanent. It makes no sense that small businesses got temporary relief, while big businesses got permanent help. We need to help Main Street create more jobs, give bigger raises, and make our families strong again.

My tax cuts will put thousands of dollars in middle-class families' pockets.  

But there's another side of this. The tax code has too many distortions. Look at the SALT deduction. It mostly benefits high income people in high tax states. An honest and fair tax code would not do that. It's wrong for Washington to force a working-class family in Tennessee to subsidize a wealthy family in California. 

We should also eliminate Joe Biden's $500 billion in green energy subsidies. No more cash windfalls for China.

Tax cuts will give people greater control of their financial future. But none of us will have bright futures if we don't also end out-of-control spending. On our current path, we're headed toward a dangerous combination of massive tax hikes and a plummeting standard of living. I refuse to let that happen. I'll give you long-term relief by forcing Washington to live within its means.

Joe Biden is proving that reckless spending is the road to socialism. But he's not the only culprit. Joe Biden, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama added more to our national debt than the previous 42 presidents combined. They tripled the debt from $10 trillion to $33 trillion. We're now adding a trillion more every year, with no end in sight. Our children will never forgive us for this.

We are borrowing money just to pay our interest payments. In just a few years, we'll spend more money paying interest than paying for national defense. America will be like a family that's maxed out its credit cards. We won't have any money for national emergencies. We'll be too busy paying countries like, you guessed it, Communist China, which owns some of our debt.

Enough is enough. Politicians can't spend their way to socialism if they don't have the cash. We need to cut up the credit card – now.

Every family and small business must balance their budget. I balanced the budget as Governor of South Carolina. Why is Congress the only place that refuses to do it? I won't rest until they do. And I will veto any budget that doesn't address our debt crisis.

Some say this can't be done. They're mostly people who work in Washington. But that's what Washington wants you to think. It makes it easier for them and prevents them from changing.

Here's how to do it.

I will veto any spending bill that doesn't take us back to pre-COVID spending levels. We're not talking about 1950s spending levels. We're talking about just four years ago! We had a massive – and in many ways a foolish – explosion in spending during the pandemic. But the pandemic is over. It's absurd to keep spending at those same crazy levels.  

Second, let's put in place a real limit on what Washington can spend. Federal spending should not rise to larger percentages of our economy. If a business kept spending more than it made, it would go broke. I refuse to let Congress spend America into bankruptcy.

And when I'm President, special interests won't get a penny in taxpayer bailouts.

The taxpayer deserves transparency and accountability. Our national security demands it. Joe Biden's debt and deficits are weakening the dollar and empowering Communist China. I believe in a strong dollar. Spending discipline, together with restrained monetary policy, will make our currency and economy dominant once more.

Congress won't like this tough love, but they need it. In the past 40 years, Congress has passed a pathetic four budgets on time. And when they do take up a spending bill, they do it all wrong. They write five-thousand-page bills behind closed doors, then pass it in a day. Most don't even read what they're voting on. They just pass the same old spending bill, with even more money added.

No more. I'll fight for zero-based budgeting. Congress will start from scratch every year, looking at what we have to have rather than what we've always spent. No more pork. No more autopilot programs that have no purpose but still get billions. We elect our lawmakers to make hard choices. It's time they did their job. And if Congress fails to pass a budget, they will fail to get a paycheck. No budget, no pay – that's a no-brainer.

You know what else is common sense? We need to slow the biggest drivers of our national debt. Democrats and Republicans don't want to admit it, but Americans deserve the truth. Entitlement spending is unsustainable. We need reform. The longer we wait, the harder it gets, and the more painful it will be.

I will protect those receiving Social Security and Medicare – that's a promise. We'll keep these programs the same for anyone who's in their 40s, 50s, 60s, or older, period. And we'll preserve Social Security and Medicare for the next generation. I'll limit benefits for wealthy people. I'll expand the Medicare Advantage plans that seniors love, and increase competition. And I'll raise the retirement age – only for younger people who are just entering the system. Americans are living 15 years longer than they were in the 1930s. If we don't get out of the 20th Century mindset, Social Security and Medicare won't survive the first half of the 21st Century.

I recognize that Social Security and Medicare are the last thing the political class wants to talk about. Well, I just did. Any candidate who refuses to address them should be disqualified. They'll take your vote and leave you broke. If we do nothing, Social Security will be bankrupt in ten years. Medicare will be bankrupt in eight years. We need leaders who fight for you – not themselves.

For that matter, we need a leader who will stand up to Democrats and Republicans. Republicans talk a big game, but they're nearly as reckless as Democrats on spending. Donald Trump added $8 trillion to the national debt. And Republicans in Congress brought back earmarks and pork projects only 10 years after killing them. Republicans put $7.4 billion in special-interest earmarks into the 2024 spending bills. Democrats put in $2.8 billion. Who are the big spenders now? All of them. And I will hold them all accountable.

As Governor of South Carolina, I fought Republicans and Democrats to bring fiscal transparency and discipline to our state. They didn't like it, but we did it anyway. It's time to do the same in Washington. When I pick a fight, the people always win!

Fiscal sanity and tax relief will empower every American to charter a better future. Yet the Freedom Plan doesn't stop there. I will stop Washington from controlling you ever again.

I want to be clear on what I mean. Republicans always talk about cutting red tape, but we're way past that now. We need to take more drastic measures. The federal bureaucracy is unelected, unaccountable, and running riot over our rights. We have to put the people back in charge.

In the Declaration of Independence, the founders accused King George of sending "swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance." But the British had nothing on Joe Biden. He's trying to control the light bulbs we use, the cars we drive, the stoves we buy, and countless other parts of our daily lives. Biden's regulatory avalanche has already cost families and job creators more than $400 billion in higher prices, with billions more on the way.

But not for long.

Under my plan, we won't just have term limits for politicians. We will limit bureaucrats too. No bureaucrat should hold the same position for more than five years. This will make them better public servants and avoid the politics and power fiefdoms that corrupt our government. And we should be able to fire those who are not performing. Public service is a privilege, not a right. And no one has a right to roll back your freedom.

I'll force Congress to vote on every rule and regulation, period. When politicians have to vote on every price-hiking, job-destroying, family-crushing mandate, you can bet we'll see a lot fewer rules coming down.

And we'll reduce the size of the federal government by pushing programs and authority back to the states. I'm talking welfare, health care, education, infrastructure.

Presidents typically meet with the governors once a year, and there's often not a lot of listening that goes on in those meetings. I will meet with governors once a quarter and encourage states on ways to empower their people.

These reforms will finally make government work for the people, not against us. And when that happens, there's no limit to what we'll achieve.

Here's just one example. Imagine if Washington supported American energy, instead of stifling it. We'll build pipelines that bring clean, affordable gas to every home in the country. And we'll approve them in days, not years or decades. We'll drill so much oil and gas, families will save big on their utility bills. Energy independence is just the start. We'll be energy dominant. We won't play by the rules of oil dictators from Russia, Iran, or Venezuela – because they'll be playing by our rules!

It's not just energy. When we restore Washington to its rightful place, we'll enter a national renaissance. The American people are infinitely creative, and fundamentally trustworthy. In every era, we've defied the odds, achieved the impossible, and then done it again the very next day. We made our nation the richest and most successful country on earth, not by believing in government, but by believing in ourselves and one another.

Joe Biden thinks he's protecting you from yourself. I trust you. I believe in you. A citizen of the United States is the most inspiring and impressive person in the world. You deserve the freedom to prove it once again.

The Freedom Plan will bring America back. It will usher in a booming economy, the kind Communist China can never compete with, much less defeat. I know it will work, because it already has.

When I look at the struggles facing America today, they remind me of the challenges facing South Carolina a few decades ago.

Since the 1800s, my home state was the beating heart of our country's textile industry. We manufactured clothes for America and much of the world. The mills provided jobs to thousands of people, supporting them and their families from one generation to the next.

But it didn't last. One by one, our mills closed. The jobs went overseas, and so did part of our people's pride. South Carolina was devastated. Communities fell apart. Families were suffering and looking for answers.

As a state, we had a choice to make. We could have propped up the textile industry with government subsidies on the backs of taxpayers. We could have told people that welfare and handouts were their only hope. That's the Biden way.

But we chose freedom. We made our government fiscally accountable. We cut taxes on families and job creators. We protected workplace freedom, with the right to work. And we put our government on the side of the people. Guess what? They rose to the occasion, like Americans always do.

Today, the same towns that once had shuttered mills now build planes, cars, tires, and medical devices. When I finished my time as governor, we'd moved 35,000 people from welfare to work. We taught inmates skills and we now have the lowest recidivism rate in the country. Unemployment fell from 11 to 4%. More South Carolinians were working than ever before. We were referred to by trade magazines as the "Beast of the Southeast," which I loved.

I know in my heart: If we did it there, we can do it across our entire country. We just need vision, discipline, and determination. I'll do my part as president. And I know the American people will join me – and inspire the world all over again.

Together, we'll move forward, into a new era of big ideas, better jobs, and the boundless optimism that lifts up everyone, not just a select few. The dark days of Bidenomics, with its sky-high inflation and interest rates, struggling families, special-interest handouts, and failed socialism will fade into a distant memory as a hard lesson learned.

A new birth of freedom will benefit every American. Yet the most important benefit will be greater safety and security. Communist China is the biggest threat we've faced in decades, yet it's only been able to compete with us because our leaders have forgotten who we are, and what we stand for. They've zapped the source of our strength and our pride. It's up to us to bring it back.

I know we can. Freedom is still our secret weapon. If we unlock it, Communist China doesn't stand a chance, because nothing is more powerful than the American people. I ask you to join me in saving our freedom and securing our future – a future of peace, opportunity, and prosperity for all.

When we join together in this effort, I know our best days are still to come.

Thank you.

Nikki Haley, Remarks at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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