Robert Dole photo

Remarks to the Hudson, New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce

February 17, 1996

A few weeks ago, President Clinton looked America in the face and told us that the American economy was stronger than at any time in the past thirty years.

They were strong and encouraging words. And I wish they were true. But they aren't.

Yes, these are the best of times for many who work on Wall Street. But the facts leave no doubt that they are also the worst of times for many who live and work on Main Street, America.

Fact: From January 1995 to January 1996, 258,000 high-paying manufacturing job disappeared from the American economy.

Fact: In 1994 and 1995--a time when the economy was growing--American productivity rose by 2%, yet wages fell by more than 2%. In other words, Americans are working more and earning less.

Fact: Average hourly real wages are now 5% lower than they were a decade ago and they haven't increased one cent since President Clinton took office.

Fact: The overall American trade deficit is now nearly $163 billion--an all-time high, and jobs and wages are being lost because of it.

Those are the facts, and behind each of these facts are real people.

People like a father of four who lost his job and is struggling to make ends meet.

A mother of two who is worried her job may be next.

A man nearing the end of his career, who worries about losing his health insurance.

Countless mothers and fathers who are convinced that their sons and daughters will have a lower standard of living than the one they have now.

These are the Americans who for years have paid their taxes, played by the rules. and who have made sure that America's future was always better than her past.

This election is about many things, but most of all its about these Americans. And it's about the future of our children.

For all of his talk about change, President Clinton's actions of the past three years have made clear his vision of the future: More government, more mandates, more rules, more regulations, more spending, and more taxes.

The fact is that more government will not create more jobs. More government will not lead to more ingenuity and innovation. More government will not give America's middle income families the pay increase they deserve.

But more freedom will.

And from my first day as President, the definition of "Dolenomics" will be a policy that is dedicated to giving all Americans what I call the "Four Freedoms of Economic Security":

These four freedoms are Freedom from Deficits; Freedom from Unreasonable Taxation; Freedom From Excessive Regulations; and the Freedom to compete in a Fair Marketplace Let me briefly touch upon each of these four freedoms.

There has been a great deal of debate about a balanced budget, but there has been no debate over the benefits a balanced budget would bring: More jobs and more opportunity for all Americans--as well as more money in the pockets of America's families.

The Washington Post reported that the Republican plan to balance the budget over the next seven years would save the government $60 billion in interest payments every year. And those savings could translate into a $500 a year tax cut for every household.

Additionally, balancing the budget will also lead to a reduction of the interest rates Americans pay on loans, and put more money in the pocketbooks of American families.

For example, if you are paying an average thirty year adjustable rate home mortgage, a balanced budget would mean you could save nearly $1,250 a year.

If you took out a $15,000 loan to buy a new car, you would save $1,000 in interest payments over the life of the loan.

A balanced budget would result in over $2,000 in reduced interest payments over the life of a 10-year $11,000 college loan.

And a balanced budget would also lead to something on which we can't put a price: And that's a brighter future for our children and our children's children, who are in danger of losing the American dream to the American debt.

As Senate Majority Leader, I have produced the first balanced budget plan in a generation. As President, I will sign such a plan into law. I will insist that Congress send a Balanced Budget Constitutional Amendment to the states. And I will lead a nationwide effort to ensure that the amendment is ratified, and that it becomes part of our Constitution.

The second Freedom of Economic Security is freedom from unreasonable taxation.

If you go to any Main Street in America, and ask for a show of hands on who thinks our tax system is fine just as it is, not one hand will go up.

But if you go to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, you will get a different reaction. For three years, President Clinton has not proposed any dramatic changes in the tax code--with the exception of the largest tax increase in history.

And with the surcharges that were included in that tax increase, the top federal tax rate now stands at almost 40%. Add in state and local taxes in some locations, and the Social Security tax, and many Americans are paying tax rates of over 50%.

America fought a revolution fueled by the belief that "taxation without representation is tyranny. Over two centuries later, we have every reason to believe that taxation with representation isn't much better.

The complexity of the tax law forces Americans to waste billions of hours trying to comply with endless regulations and red tape, and--worst of all--it convinces many Americans that the tax system has been hijacked by special interests.

Deleting the whole twisted wreck of federal tax law and starting anew is the surest way I can imagine to deliver real and lasting economic change to the American people.

Let me state it as clearly as I can: as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, delivered the largest tax cut in history for President Ronald Reagan.

And when I sit in the Oval Office, I will deliver to the American people the most dramatic tax reform in history.

In place of our present tax system, I would provide the leadership needed to replace it with one that is fairer, flatter, and simpler ... One that rewards people for working hard, taking risks, and saving more.

I believe a family of four that is struggling just to make ends meet should pay little or no federal income tax. And I would create a system that would recognize that a family's most important responsibility is raising its children. It would respect their efforts in this regard. instead of penalizing them, as the current system does.

In designing a new tax system I will ensure that we do not increase the tax burden on the middle-class. Many of the flat tax and other reform proposals being considered sound great, but we must look to the details and determine whether they will actually hurt or help the middle-class.

And make no mistake about it, the fairer tax system I envision would cut capital gains tax rates. Today, we have the highest capital gains tax of any major industrialized country. When it comes to competition with countries like Germany and Japan--who hardly tax capital gains at all-we're tying the hands of some of the most productive, most innovative people in our economy.

And while I'm at it, I would also sip legislation that would end the IRS as we know it. Today, the IRS employs more than I 00,000 people at a cost of nearly $7 billion per year.

With an infinitely simpler tax system, the 1040 form would go the way of the Berlin Wall. Americans could file their tax returns on a post-card. And thousands of IRS agents, accountants, and tax lawyers would be able to utilize their talents in more productive ways.

And to ensure that Congress doesn't turn a flatter tax system into a political football, I would insist that Congress pass a constitutional amendment requiring a 3/5ths majority vote before congress can raise income tax rates. This would guard the reforms and generally keep Washington out of your wallets.

The third Freedom of Economic Security is freedom from excessive regulation.

Its worth noting that the Lord!s Prayer contains 57 words. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address has 266 words. The Ten Commandments are presented in just 297 words. The Declaration of Independence has only 300 words. And federal regulatory statutes and rules now total about 100 million words.

And, according to estimates by the National Association of Manufacturers, these 100 million words now cost a typical family nearly $6,000 a year, and they cost our economy $581 billion a year.

Our regulatory system has become an instruction manual. It tells local governments and businesses exactly what to do and how to do it. Detailed rule after detailed rule addresses every eventuality, or at least every situation that lawmakers and bureaucrats can think of. We have left no room for individual responsibility. And no room for common sense.

As Senate Majority Leader, I have fought for the most sweeping regulatory reform legislation in history. But President Clinton has stood in the way.

As President, I would direct every Department and every agency--and there would be a lot fewer of them in a Dole Administration--to ask a few questions before any new regulations are imposed on individuals and business.

Questions like: Is there a need for this regulation? Do the costs outweigh the benefits? And does this regulation make common sense? I fully expect that a large number of regulations would flunk this test.

The fourth and final Freedom of Economic Security is the freedom to compete in a free and fair international market.

The bottom line is that mammoth trade deficits siphon off our hard-earned wealth, and give it to other countries.

As President, I would ensure that America keeps her wealth, and the jobs that go with it, here at home.

We do not need to hunker down behind a wall around our country, however, as some have suggested. Protectionism and isolation are not the answer to competing against other thriving, successful economies in the world market. If our economy is to grow, then we must compete. We can't hide.

Others say we should leave the trade deficit alone, that it will take care of itself. This, too, is wrong. The trade deficit will not fix itself. It will take firm and decisive leadership. It will take a President who will aggressively fight for America!s right to compete everywhere in the world.

A Dole Administration will quickly declare an end to the Clinton trade policy of "surrender and sign on the dotted line." President Clinton says he has signed a record number of trade agreements with foreign countries. What has this blizzard of paper achieved? Markets remain closed to many U.S. products and services, and we are losing more jobs than ever.

President Clinton threatened a trade war with Japan, then hoisted the white flag. So now we have trading partners who refuse even to negotiate with us, so complete has been the collapse of U.S. credibility. Increasingly belligerent trading partners realize that the Clinton Administration will not use against them the market-opening tools Congress created.

The price for this policy is paid by American workers. It is their jobs that are at risk from unfairly-traded goods from abroad. It is their jobs that slip away as more and more companies find it difficult to withstand the assault.

The damaging drift must stop. And in a Dole Administration it would. Our trading partners would be put on notice: No more trade deals that are never lived up to. No more toleration of unfair trade barriers.

I will stand up for America when unfairly-traded goods undermine American jobs. I will vigorously defend American jobs and American workers against the relentless attack of unfair trade practices by other countries. I will use the tools that Congress has created to fight for U.S. trade interests in every country around the globe.

As I said, this election is more than a choice between candidates; it's a choice about what type of future we will create for our country and our children.

We can choose to leave our country and our children with an unrepayable deficit that stifles progress, growth, and jobs. Or we can choose to set a course for a balanced budget and free Americans from a tidal wave of red ink.

We can choose to leave our country and our children with a tax system that is excessive in the amount of money it requires of most working Americans, and the amount of confusion it imposes on our lives. Or we create a tax system that is lower, fairer, flatter, and much, much, simpler.

We can choose to leave our country and our children with a regulatory nightmare that stifles ingenuity and job creation, and that is completely devoid of common sense. Or we can operate on the premise that Americans can be trusted to do the right thing without Washington, D.C. telling us what to do.

We can choose to leave our country with a trade system that exports jobs rather than products. Or we can put our trade partners on notice that free trade means their free ride is over.

My friends, in each case, the choice is clear. We must choose the future rather than the past. We must free America from deficits. We must free America from unreasonable taxation . . We must free America from excessive regulation. And we must insist on the freedom to compete in a fair international marketplace.

By fighting for these four freedoms of economic security, we will put our economy back on track, and we will put Americans back to work.

Robert Dole, Remarks to the Hudson, New Hampshire Chamber of Commerce Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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