Michele Bachmann kicked off CPAC 2011 with a rousing speech, in which she emphasized the importance of liberty, the danger of our towering national debt, and the opportunities awaiting conservatives in the coming years. She displayed remarkable confidence, grace, and humor throughout, even joking about the camera problem that plagued her response to the President’s State of the Union speech, and the mileage Saturday Night Live got from it.
The representative from Minnesota began with a warm welcome for those who became deeply involved in politics for the first time, through the Tea Party and the great midterm election avalanche. Bachmann hailed their activism as “a down payment on restoring liberty,” and congratulated them for helping to “tie Nancy Pelosi’s hands.”
She also thanked conservatives for the great new representatives they sent to Congress, including Marco Rubio, Pat Toomey, Roy Blunt, Kelly Ayotte, and many others. Bachmann emphasized that achieving a conservative Senate in 2012 would “be a huge change from business as usual in Washington.” Also important are conservative gains at the state level, including the gain of 680 seats in state House and Senate chambers, and Republican occupation of 29 governor’s mansions. The advantage this will bring for the conservative movement through redistricting will be enormous.
“If there was ever a time to make a change,” declared Bachmann, “this was it, and you did it!” She traced the outline of the monstrous national debt towering over America, pointing out that it took us 230 years to reach an $8 trillion debt… but only four years for the Congress of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to jack it up by 75%, and hit the $14 trillion debt ceiling. She warned that if Barack Obama wins re-election and continues spending at his current rate, the national debt could reach $21 trillion by the end of his second term… a development that only “our friendly Chinese bankers” would welcome.
Bachmann described the grim consequences of unrestrained government spending on the next generation, speaking with special passion to the many college students in the audience. “In your peak earning years, you’ll pay 37% of your income to Social Security and Medicare, plus another 25% in federal income taxes,” she told them. Add in state and local burdens, and “up to 75% of college kids’ income could be taken in taxes” when they begin their professional lives. Bachmann asked how they could afford homes, cars, food, families, or even iTunes downloads, if they will be allowed to keep only 25% of their income.
She didn’t shy away from using strong language, saying that “we have seen President Obama usher in socialism over the last two years.” I’d say he not only ushered it in, he seated it at our dinner tables, placed a folded napkin in its lap, and asked if it would like fresh ground pepper on its salad. An experienced businesswoman herself, Bachmann denounced a future where “life and death decisions are made for us by bureaucrats” and insisted that “people across the country should be able to realize the dream of starting a business” without crushing government interference. She condemned the “egregious moral wrong” of a government that is “intentionally consuming the labor of future generations,” calling President Obama and his cohort “the most selfish generation ever” to occupy Washington.
Her recommendations for action included bringing a halt to economy-killing regulations like cap-and-trade, support for a balanced budget amendment, an energy policy that “actually increases America’s energy production,” and rolling back our federal regulatory nightmare. Above all, she emphasized the importance of repealing ObamaCare, and allowing “the free market to work” in reducing health care costs. She described it as “the never ending gift that keeps on giving to liberalism” – a 2,000 page bill that has already generated 6,000 pages of new rules. Since President Obama could support all of these initiatives, but supports none of them, Bachmann advised against taking his “hard pivots” to job creation and economic growth seriously.
Bachmann concluded by urging conservatives to go for the “Triple Crown of 2012” – hold the house, take the Senate, and put a conservative in the White House. She concluded by embracing the motto of New Hampshire: “Live free or die!” There really are no other choices before us, and there never were.