Portrait of Ron DeSantis

Remarks Unveiling a "Declaration of Economic Independence" in Rochester, New Hampshire

July 31, 2023

We appreciate everybody, for us to be able to advance a new direction to help America's economy. Our country is in decline right now. We see it with military decline and cultural decline, but we also see it in terms of economic decline.

I'm running for President because we cannot be satisfied with simply managing this decline a little bit better than the Democrats. I'm running for President because we need to reverse the decline of this country and restore our country to the greatness that it deserves. And that begins by restoring an American economy that actually works for American families again.

The reality is, have you seen over these many years, American families have been saddled with weak economic growth [and] high prices. Their quality of life has stagnated. We've seen our national debt explode, and the Chinese Communist Party continues to eat this country's lunch every single day. Economic policy needs to be focused on making the cost of living more affordable and the American dream more attainable for American working families. And if you don't get that right, you cannot be successful as a country. And we cannot allow the failed ruling class in this nation to dictate our nation's policies. We have to defeat those individuals and institutions that have caused our economic malaise.

We cannot have policy that cow towels to the largest corporations and Wall Street at the expense of small businesses and average Americans. There's a difference between a free market economy, which we want, and corporatism, in which the rules are jiggered to be able to help incumbent companies.

We also have to stop selling out this country's future to China. It is hurting our middle class and it is hurting our national security. We see for millions of Americans the American Dream slipping away. Costs of life's essentials have gone through the roof. Things like buying a home, purchasing a car, starting a family. Things that used to be the hallmark of the American Dream are now cost prohibitive for so many people throughout our country. Even getting groceries on a weekly basis has become a major challenge. Think about this. Today, the bottom half of households have less wealth than they did in 1989. Meanwhile, the top 10% have added $29 trillion in wealth.

COVID lockdowns accelerated that trend. It crippled the market share of small businesses and benefited the largest corporations. It diminished the purchasing power of our middle class and it up-ended our workforce such that millions of people left the workforce and still to this day have not returned. We now have 6 million or more prime-age men who are neither working nor looking for work at all. In 1953, the labor participation rate amongst that cohort was 98%. Today, it's 89%. And of course, we've seen mass illegal immigration undercut American jobs and wages, the rule of law and our very social fabric.

Meanwhile, Washington politicians have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on a broken university system which has churned out students deep in debt, and in positions where it's almost impossible for them to be successful and to start families. Deaths due to opioids, alcoholism and suicide have surged in this country, and depression and anxiety have risen even more due to recent lockdown COVID policies. Over the past decade, life expectancy in the United States has declined, and it's been declining for a number of years now.

This is not normal. This is not acceptable. And yet entrenched politicians in Washington refuse to change course. Why would they? Life for many of the people who are connected have never done better right now. Five of the eight wealthiest counties in the United States of America are suburbs of Washington DC. How does that happen? They're not producing anything of note other than a lot of debt and a lot of hot air. And yet there they go. Multinational corporations, particularly big tech companies have seen a massive surge in wealth while selling our assets and outsourcing our industrial base to China.

Since 2020, a handful of tech companies have increased their market capitalization by over $6 trillion. That's actually more than our entire nominal GDP has increased over that period of time. That is not a broad base, durable economy. So the elites in this country have failed time and time again. They've imposed policies that have proven short-sighted and are proven counterproductive.

Just look back a quarter of a century ago, with what we were told what happened with China. They said if you granted China special trading status and put them in the World Trade Organization, that China would become more democratic, that it would guard against forced transfers of technology, that you wouldn't have a mass relocation of American manufacturing to China, and that we would be safeguarded against surges of Chinese imports. What actually happened over these past 25 years, China has become more authoritarian, more powerful and more ambitious. We've seen our relationship marred by the theft of our intellectual property, trade dumping, currency manipulation, and espionage. Our industrial base here in the United States has hollowed out. We've developed a dangerous dependence on Chinese supply chains. And our companies have been exposed to a hostile security apparatus. The elites sold us a bill of goods when it came to China. They were wrong, and we need to get it right.

You also look at what happened in the aftermath of the Wall Street bailout in 2008. During the great financial crisis, those policies have proven very costly. To average Americans, when you have boom and bust cycles with monetary policies, the average person is the one that ends up holding the bag for that things like quantitative easing that became a mainstay of our monetary policy. It definitely made a wealthy people richer, but it neglected the middle class and they've not been able to get ahead. Meanwhile, large corporations have secured massive carve outs and bailouts. This has become a form of venture socialism in which gains are privatized at the top, whereas the losses are borne by you, the hardworking American taxpayer. And of course, when these companies mismanaged themselves, the leadership is able to avoid accountability for that mismanagement. So the idea of 'too big to fail' for big institutions has led to 'too difficult to succeed' for America's middle class.

And then more recently, the lockdowns imposed on COVID-19 and the associated borrowing, printing, and spending of money has proved to be disastrous. The COVID lockdowns and the associated policies represented the largest transfer of wealth from working people [and] small businesses to large corporations, like Apple and Amazon and Facebook, than we've ever seen in the modern history of our country. It would be great if all we needed to do to reach prosperity is just borrow, print and spend with no end in sight. If you could do that, then heck, let's just borrow another 10 30, 50 billion. Why not? Let's keep the party going. But we all know that is not how the world works. Ultimately, the bill becomes due. And the bill has become due in the form of average Americans paying exorbitant prices for the necessities of life.

What Congress did, what the feds did, they effectively imposed a tax increase a massive tax increase on Americans. It was an invisible tax increase. It was an indirect tax increase, but their policies precipitated a massive decline in purchasing power and lower standard of living for people all throughout this country. Now, more recently on COVID, Florida, we said no to all this, and we really led the way in dragging this country out of perpetual lockdown. We protected our people's ability to earn a living, our businesses' ability to operate, our kids' ability to be in school in person five days a week. We bucked the elites when we did that. No Governor faced more incoming fire during those periods of time than I did because we were standing out and saying we're going to do what's right. We are not going to simply subcontract out our leadership to people like Dr. Fauci. We refuse to let Florida descend into some type of Fauci-an dystopia where people's livelihoods were ruined, and their freedoms were curtailed. We fought for Floridians who were being ignored by the elites, whose livelihoods hung in the balance and who did not have a voice. We were their voice, and we were their fighter, and the results are that Florida continues to lead the way.

Our economy is ranked number one amongst all 50 states by CNBC. We're ranked number one in new business formations. Number one in economic growth amongst large states, and our economy has grown way more than the nation's as a whole. Since I've been governor, we've actually paid down 25% of our state's total debt, and we run budget surpluses every year. Of course, the folks in the Live Free or Die state can appreciate this, we don't have an income tax. Some of your New England brethren may want to try that sometime. We've been able to attract more wealth and investment into the state of Florida since I've been governor than has ever gone to a single state in the United States in our country's history over a single period of time.

We're ranked number one in education by US News and World Report. We've led the nation in net in migration every year since I've been governor, and our crime rate is at a 50 year low. So leadership matters. We showed how to get it done. We beat the elites. We showed the way forward to restore freedom and opportunity for people all throughout this country and I will fight as president for the American people just like we fought for the people of Florida. Now, revitalizing economic freedom and opportunity will require building an economy where the concerns of average citizens are elevated over those deemed too big to fail. We are today declaring our economic independence from the failed elites and policies that have harmed this nation's middle class.

We will re-shore, we will diversify, and we will expand our economy. We will reward hard work and ingenuity. We will usher in a new era of growth, prosperity and civic pride. We are a nation with an economy, not the other way around. We are citizens of a Republic. We are not cogs in a global economic empire.

We reject the technocratic management of American decline. We reject fostering dependency on welfare programs. We will reverse the decline of this country. We will restore our country to the greatness that it deserves.

We want to be a country that makes things again. We want to be a country where you can raise a family on one sole income. We want to be a family where we're both inspiring, but also demanding loyalty from our elites. We want to be a country where young people feel they can develop skills and values to be able to build productive and fulfilling lives.

So, we will declare our economic independence from the failed elites that have orchestrated American decline, from the reckless federal spending that has inflated prices and plunged this nation to the brink of bankruptcy. We will declare our economic independence from the Chinese Communist Party. We will declare our economic independence from the central planners who seek to advance their political agenda at the expense of the wellbeing of average Americans. We will seek economic independence from destructive policies like the Green New Deal that seek to kneecap our domestic energy production. We will seek independence from a class of progressive corporations looking out for every interest under the sun except the interests of the American people.

The goal of our Declaration of Independence is simple. We, the American people, win. They lose.

So here's what we have to do to get this right. First, we have to restore the economic sovereignty of this country and take back control of our economy from China. This abusive relationship, the asymmetric relationship between our two countries, must come to an end. No more massive trade deficits. No more importing of goods with stolen intellectual property. No more preferential trade status. We need to incentivize the repatriation of American capital and investment here in the United States so we can recapture our supply chains and build a strong, durable industrial base. And in Florida, we've actually taken action against the CCP, we have banned the purchase of land and Florida by members of the Chinese Communist Party or its affiliates.

Second thing we need to do, is we must achieve stronger economic growth. If you look at what's been the case over the past 10-15 years, growth has been substandard. We need to hit 3% or more. That's not only good for the economy, it's not only good for opportunity, standard of living, it'll also help us solve some of these budget problems, because we'll have a wider economic base. We are going to unleash American production, we're going to seek to increase productivity, and we will make sure our economic policies support families and small businesses. Bureaucracy and red tape are one of the leading drags on economic growth right now in our country. Not only does it inhibit our ability to grow, it gives a competitive advantage to the largest companies, because they can afford accountants and lawyers and navigate all that. It's the little guy, it's the budding entrepreneur, it's the small business, it's the medium-sized business who suffer the most at the hands of federal overreach. Biden's job crippling and ideological regulations and executive orders will be reversed by me on day one.

We showed how to do this in Florida. Not only has our economy in Florida grown much faster than the national average, our government footprint in Florida is the smallest per capita in the country in terms of our state workers, most of what's going on in DC is totally non-essential, and we need a major reduction in the bureaucracy that is impacting the American people.

We are also going to ensure that tax rates are low, that the tax code is simple, and that these policies are permanent, so that people are able to make decisions about how to deploy their resources. We want the full immediate expensing, we want territoriality, and we want to strengthen Base Erosion measures to ensure more investment in America.

We're proud in Florida to have the second lowest per capita tax and debt burden anywhere in the United States. Obviously, New Hampshire takes that very, very seriously. But we need to make sure that we are not killing businesses and opportunities with excessive regulation and excessive taxes.

Third thing we will do, we will achieve energy independence by using our domestic resources. The United States has the best oil and gas resources in the world, we have an incredible opportunity to leverage this competitive advantage for the good of our economy, for the good of the average citizen, because this will help drive down inflation and make things more affordable. It'll be good for our industrial base, but it will be good for our national security. We do not want to rely on hostile countries to meet this country's energy needs. We can do it ourselves, and we are going to reverse the policies of Biden that's trying to force Americans to buy electric vehicles. That's your choice if you want to do it. But I can tell you, most of the stuff that goes into those electric vehicles is made in China. Why would you want to knowingly make this country more dependent on what goes on in China? So we will make sure that we ditch those regs and we will save the American automobile in this country.

You're not going to have a strong economy if the economy is politicized. If companies feel like they have to take political positions on everything under the sun, so we're going to end the politicization of the economy by kneecapping things like ESG, they call it environment, social governance. The reality is, this is just a cover for people in large companies to depart from their obligations to their shareholders, and to use that financial power to advance an ideological or political agenda. It also represents an end run around our constitutional system, because what these companies are doing, especially when they collude to say, kneecap energy production, or people engaged in enforcing immigration laws, or people that may be involved in the firearm industry, they are doing or attempting to do through the economy, what they could never achieve at the ballot box. And it's an end run around the constitutional system where they're trying to change the policy of this country without we, the people, being able to hold them accountable at the ballot box. That is not the way you do this. So yes, as President, we're going to ensure that these businesses are actually meeting their fiduciary obligations to maximize value for shareholders or for beneficiaries. In Florida, we signed legislation nixing ESG from our pension fund, we nixed social credit scores in our banking industry, and we took $2 billion from our pension fund that was being managed by BlackRock, which is a big ESG company, and we took it away from them, because we don't want political agendas to interfere with the pensions of our teachers, our firefighters, and our police officers.

Fifth thing we will do is we will restore merit, and in the individual as the central criteria for economic advancement. The US Supreme Court recently issued a ruling on using race to determine who gets into college and who doesn't. That decision to nix that was correct. We got to judge people based on the content of their character not on the color of their skin. That ruling should apply across the board through our economy, and the so-called DEI programs that many corporations have embraced, those are discriminatory programs. If they have you go through a training and say somehow you have white privilege, that is wrong, that is judging somebody based on the color of their skin. And so we need to treat people as individuals, not as members of groups, and sometimes people will say things like DEI, think it's an ideological agenda, but even if you think some of these programs are well intentioned, my response to you would be to this: the way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race, and that's what we're going to do in this country.

Sixth thing, we are going to reform the education system in this country, and we're going to lower barriers of entry, particularly for blue collar workers. We need our schools from K-12 through university to focus on education, not indoctrination. We need to make sure that the rights of parents that direct the education and upbringing of their children, that those rights are respected and honored, like we have in Florida, and we need universal school choice so that parents have the right to send their kid to a school that works for them and works for their family.

We've done all of that in Florida, we need to do it nationwide. We also have to champion workforce education and technical training. A degree from a four-year, brick and ivy university is one way you can be successful, but it's not the only way you can be successful. And for many people, it's not the best way to be successful. So let's elevate opportunities for our young people to acquire tangible skills that they can then parlay into very successful careers. In Florida, we've doubled the number of apprenticeships that we have. We have workforce education now in our middle schools, and we've taken programs like commercial driver's license, producing truck drivers, where we used to do 600 a year, now Florida's producing 3500 a year. And guess what? Those guys can make six figures in their first job coming out, no debt, no millstone around their neck, they have the ability to succeed, and a lot of these guys, when they get skills in electrical things, they may work for four or five years and then they can start their own business with that. And in a growing state like Florida, there's a lot of opportunities to service some of these new communities. So it's really good for our students, and it's just important as president, I'm just going to send the message you are not less worthy because you didn't get a degree from a four year university. It's good if you did, God bless you, but that's not the only way to do success, and we understand that.

It's also going to be good for our economy. Because if we are going to do like we want to, become more industrial, to have more manufacturing, yes, you got to have good tax, regulatory... you got to have all those policies in place, but you need to have the skilled workforce that can power the manufacturing of the future, this will help us get that done. And then I look to see what's happened with a lot of college students. When I was growing up people said, "If you don't go to college, you can't be successful in this world." I think a lot of that was well-intentioned, I think people just wanted you to be able to advance yourself. But the reality is, we've had a generation of students go deep into debt, and some of them ended up with degrees and things like zombie studies, which are just not making a difference, and unfortunately, some of them end up in jobs they could have had right out of high school anyways. We just have to reorient this to yes, if you go in debt, to get an engineering degree from MIT, you're going to be fine, you're going to be good. I'm not going to quibble with that, but a lot of these degrees have not given people a pathway to success, and it's caused them to be deep in debt.

So what are you going to do about that? It's wrong to say that a truck driver should have to pay off the debt of somebody who got a degree in gender studies. This is not the taxpayers that should have to do that. At the same time, I have sympathy for some of these students, because I think they were sold a bill of goods, I think these universities knew that they could take all this federal loan money, and if you're there for six years, hey, that's more money for them, and they do it and they increase their administrative bloat, and they didn't make the instruction any better. And so what do you do? Well, I think the university should be responsible for the student debt, you produce somebody that can be successful, they pay off the loans, great. If you don't, then you're going to be on the hook. That will cause a change in the type of course programs that a lot of these universities are offering. They're not going to afford to be doing ideological studies, because they know that's not going to lead to gainful employment. I also think student loans should be dischargeable in bankruptcy, why they're not and other debts are? And so we need to do things to make it better for our students to be able to have pathways for success, but it starts with holding these universities accountable and we will absolutely do that as President

Seven, we need a strong and fair labor market. We have to secure our border, we have to stop illegal immigration, we need to end things like chain migration and the diversity visa lottery. We should not have massive amounts of unskilled migration coming into this country. What we want is immigration that benefits the average American. We don't want to be bringing people in on programs to undercut wages of American citizens. And so that has got to be our touchstone: what is benefiting the American worker and what is benefiting the wages of the average American.

Eighth, we need to rein in the Federal Reserve. It is not designed or supposed to be an economic central planner. It is not supposed to be indulging in social justice, or social engineering. It's got one job: maintain stable prices. And it has departed from that with what it's done over the last many years. We're now in a situation where they've raised interest rates, because they put us in this, and so now affording a home [or] your mortgage payment is twice as much as what it would have been four or five years ago for basically the same home, given how much interest rates have gone up. So the Fed needs to have a limited role in this country. It's not accountable to the electorate, so the idea that it's going to take all this power, and that we're all just going to be its guinea pigs, that doesn't work and a republic or a constitutional system. So I will appoint a chairman of the Federal Reserve who understands that, who understands the limited role that it has, and is going to focus on making sure the prices are stable for American businesses and consumers. We also will reject the Federal Reserve's attempt to impose a central bank digital currency on the American people.

Now, what the Fed has said is, 'well, we're going to consult with the legislature, we'll consult with the executive and ideally, we would get authorization from Congress,' I think is what they said. No, it's not ideal. You cannot do this unless Congress authorizes, [and] I don't think Congress would authorize it. I would certainly veto that if I were president. But why do they want this? They want to go to a cashless society. They want to eliminate cryptocurrency, and they want all the transactions to go through this central bank digital currency.

Now, why do they want to do that? Well China wants to do it, because they impose a social credit system on that. People at the World Economic Forum in Davos, you know, some of these elites, they've said if you have central bank digital currency, it allows elites to circumscribe purchases that they don't like, like ammunition, like energy, like all these different things. And so sometimes you have things that are proposed by policymakers that are kind of like a wolf in sheep's clothing, that it may look okay on the surface, but underneath it, you can see that it's a threat to liberty. Central Bank Digital Currency is not that. Central Bank Digital Currency is a wolf coming as a wolf. If you think that you can trust unaccountable elites to centrally plan our economy and have oversight over your economic decisions, and that's not going to end up being abused, then I've got some oceanfront property in Arizona I would like to sell you. So we see that this is a threat. In Florida, we've seen them talking about it, so I actually signed legislation where we don't recognize central bank digital currency. Now Congress could override us on that, but the Fed unilaterally, I don't think they could override us on that. So we've protected Floridians. But as President, on day one CBDC goes into the trash can. We're not going to allow it. We are going to let Americans invest in things like Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. No one's forcing you to do it. If you want to do it, you can do it. Biden's war on Bitcoin and cryptocurrency will come to an end when I become president.

Number nine, ensure that bad economic actors are held responsible for their decisions. No more socialism for the wealthy and rugged individualism for small businesses and for individuals. and for working class people. Part of having a good economy is that there can be cycles in the economy. People make bad decisions, there's a response, and then they do better next time. When elites get bailed out from their bad decisions, that really distorts how an economy is supposed to work. Of course, the people that are not politically connected get left holding the bag. If you think like a community bank here in New Hampshire would have been bailed out the way Silicon Valley Bank was, that's very politically connected, I got some more stuff to sell you if you believe that. We know that that's not the case, so we're not going to allow that to happen going forward.

And finally, number 10. We need to rein in Congress's spending habits. They are spending us into oblivion. I believe we need structural reforms, like a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution and term limits for members of Congress. But I also think as a president, you've got to be willing to lean in and use the veto pen to be able to battle against this excessive spending. And our debt, even five or six years ago was like 20, 21 trillion. Now it's 32 trillion. Just in the last month or so they've added another trillion to our national debt, and it's all because Congress, it's easier for them to put it on the credit card than to actually have to make tough decisions. And so we're going to be a force against that. In Florida, we run big budget surpluses, we've paid down debt. I vetoed billions and billions of dollars of excessive spending since I've been governor to keep everything in line and to keep things going in a good direction. And we really haven't had a president since Ronald Reagan who leaned in against Congress overspending, and so I will be that president that will do that and will stand up for taxpayers and will stand up for the next generation.

So at the end of the day, economic policy is really not even as much about dollars and cents, obviously, it is. But the bigger question is, what kind of a country do we want to have? And I want a country where Americans that work hard, Americans that get the most out of their God-given ability, are able to get ahead in this country, they're able to raise a family, and they're able to lead fulfilling and productive lives. And if we can't get that right, then we are not going to succeed as a country. So that is going to be our focal point.

And I understand there's a lot of pessimism in the air about the direction of our country. We seem to have gone off the rails on so many different things. I think people want to see a restoration of sanity to this society. They want to see a restoration of normalcy to communities, and they're looking for that direction.

It can be done. Our decline is a choice. At the end of the day, we will make that choice over the next 18 months with our presidential election, but also, in other things that we do as Americans.

Success for this country is attainable. Freedom that we've been bequeathed by prior generations is worth fighting for. And we have everything we need to be successful.

We have the people, we have the natural resources, we have the ingenuity, and no matter how bad things get, we will always have that can-do American spirit. You can never kill it. It's always there. We just have to bring it to the to the surface. And we need the will to force Washington DC to once again work for the American people.

And my promise is this. As President, I'm not going to sit there like a wallflower. I am going to fight for our people. I am going to fight for our families, I am going to fight for our future, and I am gonna fight for our way of life. I will never back down. I will stand my ground. We will take back control of our national destiny, and we will ensure that this country enjoys a new birth of freedom. Thank you so much. God bless you all. Thank you.

Ron DeSantis, Remarks Unveiling a "Declaration of Economic Independence" in Rochester, New Hampshire Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/364053

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