WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today delivered the keynote address at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) 2013 Manufacturing Summit. Boehner discussed the Republican Plan for Economic Growth & Jobs, and how to make America a Nation of Builders once again. The full text of his remarks as prepared are below:
Thank you, Jay. Let me begin by saying how glad I am to be here.
I’ve been coming to NAM summits now for many years … always appreciate the chance to talk with people who deal with the number one issue on the minds of Americans, and that’s jobs and our economy.
When you look at where we are, we’re still not seeing real growth … robust growth.
A lot of this has to do with policies that are holding us back, but it isn’t just that right now.
In America, the people have always had a healthy skepticism about their government.
But lately, they’ve had more reason than usual to be skeptical.
They read about the IRS abusing its power and targeting Americans for their political beliefs.
They wonder about what happened in Benghazi, where four Americans were killed.
They see reports that journalists had their phones monitored. They ask if it could happen to them and their families.
Meanwhile, here in Washington, there has been no accountability – no buck-stops-here – only an arrogance of power that puts politics ahead of doing the right thing.
When government is out of control like this … at odds with the people it’s supposed to serve – it makes it that much harder to do our work … to grow our economy.
The arrogance we’re seeing now is the same arrogance that has left our economy plodding along.
After four years of Washington-knows-best and you-didn’t-build-that, our economy is recovering at the slowest rate since World War II.
Quarter after quarter, the growth numbers barely move, unemployment stays about the same, and we’re told not to read too much into it.
Experts call our condition “the new normal.” Some even argue it is good enough for now.
Well it is not good enough for me – not nearly good enough – and I know it is not good enough for you.
How can any of us stand pat with growth that keeps nearly 12 million Americans out of work and threatens our children’s future?
We should be doing much better.
We are not a people who hobble along … hoping someday, somewhere down the line, things will get better.
We are a people who chart our own course, who take matters into our own hands.
That’s why I’m here today – because the people in this room represent so much of our nation’s economic success and our potential.
Manufacturing, of course, also represents where things have gone wrong in recent years.
America’s greatness has always rested on our ability to build and produce things.
We built the steam engine and the Model T … steel mills and skyscrapers … pioneered aerospace and cyberspace.
We are a nation of builders.
Our vision is of a country where everyone has the opportunity to build something from nothing … a business, a charity, a church, a gadget, a website, a home.
It’s because we’re a nation of builders that we have created more prosperity than anyone, anywhere.
And it’s because we’re a nation of builders that we’ve been able to pass on to our children a bright future and a better life.
Under the Obama administration, however, it’s become harder than ever to build in this country.
Red tape, an outdated tax code, and shortsighted policies are driving up the cost of everything, stifling innovation, and sending jobs and opportunities to competitors like China.
Politicians and bureaucrats bet taxpayer money on pet projects like Solyndra while blocking private initiatives like the Keystone pipeline.
Meanwhile, the Hoover Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, or even our highway system would be almost impossible to build in today’s regulatory environment.
This administration would have us believe we can build a great nation on reams of red tape while operating a service economy with things built by earlier generations.
Now, this is not an issue of Republicans versus Democrats.
It’s about America and the world.
Our competitors have detailed strategies for growth and high-wage jobs … competitive tax codes … cooperation between the government and the private sector.
As a result, we are now being displaced in the global economy.
China now consumes more energy than we do, now produces more coal than we do – and is now the world’s leading manufacturer.
Our economy has been growing so slowly because we’ve been investing in government instead of ourselves and the resources we’ve been blessed with.
We need a new approach that revives tried and true habits … an approach that removes obstacles to growth and prosperity … an approach that encourages every firm, every small business, and every person to create wealth and contribute to growth.
We need to unleash our Nation of Builders.
To become a nation of builders again, we have to stop picking winners and losers and focus on expanding opportunity for everyone.
So we start at the foundation, by giving more of our kids a chance at a good education.
Let’s empower parents with choice and opportunity – and improve access to higher education and job training – so students are ready for tomorrow’s job market.
To become a nation of builders again, we need to simplify our tax code.
If we clear out all these loopholes, make the code fairer, make it easier to understand … we’ll be creating more incentives to bring jobs home and keep ideas and resources here.
We need to expand markets for American-made goods too.
This will help lower prices for consumers, create better, higher-paying jobs for workers, and attract new investments to our shores.
To become a nation of builders again, we need to reform our immigration system.
Because securing our borders, enforcing our laws, and making the process of becoming a legal immigrant fairer will help America remain a magnet for the brightest minds and hardest workers.
Being a nation of builders means fostering innovation and keeping the Internet free for coders, developers, and engineers.
No, they don’t build road and bridges, but they build the hardware, software, and the innovations that power our modern economy.
And becoming a nation of builders again means finally pursuing a true “all of the above” energy strategy.
Developing North America’s energy resources is, in my view, one of our best opportunities for robust and sustained growth.
It’s our new economic frontier, just as the Internet was in the 1990s.
America now has more combined oil, coal, and natural gas resources than any other nation on Earth. We’re sitting on the gateway to prosperity.
And on state and private lands, free from the heavy hand of federal regulation, an oil and natural gas renaissance is in full swing.
Here in Washington, however, we have an administration that won’t even let the Keystone XL pipeline be built – that instead employs an endless chain of reviews and excuses.
Think about it this way.
Imagine if the Clinton Administration back in the mid-1990s had told budding tech companies in places like Silicon Valley and Reston, Virginia that they needed to hold off on their plans indefinitely because the federal government – even after years of review – hadn’t yet determined that the internet was safe to develop.
Imagine that even after years of study, the administration had told America’s private-sector innovators that they needed to hold off on harnessing the Internet because one federal department deemed the review of another department to be “insufficient.”
Other nations would have laughed at us – all the way to the bank.
Just as they are now while our resources remain under lock and key.
Instead of restricting development, we need to green-light the Keystone pipeline and we need to expand production of our resources – onshore and offshore.
That’s how we become a nation of builders again.
All of these are the types of policies that can bring us out of the “new normal”, help create jobs, and deliver sustained economic growth.
And they’re all part of Republicans’ Plan for Economic Growth.
I encourage you to go online, visit gop.gov/jobs and get all the details.
While my colleagues and I don’t have the majority here in Washington, we will continue to pursue our plan.
And I ask you to challenge members of both parties to join us.
For me, Nation of Builders is not a slogan.
I was born in 1949, when America was entering the post-World War II boom.
By that point, my grandfather had opened a bar, Andy’s Café.
My dad took it over. I worked there growing up, and I went on to run a small business of my own.
We always knew if we worked hard and sacrificed … that was the key to a better life.
Our young people today can’t count on this vision.
Because of the lack of leadership in Washington, it’s slipping away from them … from us.
Well, it doesn’t have to be like that. It’s time we come together, it’s time we lead together.
The times we live in and the competition we face demand nothing less.
So let’s rise above the troubles of the moment – and become the greatest, most prosperous, and most respected nation in the world again.
Let’s restore our Nation of Builders.
God bless you all, and good luck.
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