TOPICS > Politics

Steve Forbes on the Stump

February 29, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT


STEVE FORBES, Republican Presidential Candidate: This campaign in 1996 will be one of the most important in American history. It will define the direction not only of the Republican Party but also of America going into the next century and the next millennium. We will have three basic choices. We can follow the path that we’re on today, which is indecision, incoherence, drift, where the President of the United States gets up each morning, has to consult polls to see what he’s supposed to believe that day. That’s one direction. (applause)

What Clinton, what President Clinton does is the political equivalent of painting by the numbers. It’s not art and it’s not leadership. (applause)

But there’s a better direction for America. We don’t have to turn inward. We don’t have to fear the world. We don’t have to raise tariffs, which are a form of the sales tax, 20 to 40 percent tariffs are sales taxes. I see a different America. I see an America that is once again self-confident, dynamic, outward-looking, forward-looking, inventive, innovative, able to compete with the world and more importantly, ready to lead the world once again. That is the America I see, and that is the America that we can have in 1996. (applause)

America, my friends, has the potential for the greatest economic boom and spiritual renewal in our history. The real question in 1996 is: How do we fulfill our promise as a people and as a nation? I believe it is by returning to basic strengths of America, and that is less government and more freedom. The American people, whenever the American people have the power to control their own lives, America moves ahead. All of the proposals that I’m making in this campaign have the common thread and theme of giving individual Americans more opportunity, more responsibility, more control, more power over their lives. We’ve done this before, and when we have revived these basic traits of America, we can move forward again.

We have a chance to do it. Washington is in disarray. The Cold War is over. We are entering a new and exciting era that will alter the way we live and the way we work. The real question before us then is: How do we move ahead? What are the obstacles and barriers that stand in the way of America leading the world again? And the answer is very simple: There are a handful of things that stand in the way. Remove those obstacles and barriers, give us more freedom, return power, opportunity, responsibility to we, the people, and America’s best days are truly ahead.

To get America moving again, we must change Washington, we must strike up a source of power in Washington, which is the tax code. You know–(applause)–you know from your history books, you know from your history books that the power to tax is the power to destroy, the power to tax is the power to abuse. And for too many generations in Washington it’s been the habit of exchanging favors and loopholes for political support and contributions. That’s why the tax code today is nothing more than a cesspool of legalized corruption and special interest legislation. (applause)

We should replace this monstrosity with a simple flat tax that is a tax cut for all Americans. Now, the people in Washington don’t want you to know this, but a flat tax is a tax cut. There’s a tax cut for all families and all individual Americans, and that’s the way we get America moving again. The flat tax is simple. We can fill it out on a postcard. It removes millions of people from the tax rolls. This is a break for all Americans. This is a break for working Americans. (applause)

If you want to get America moving again, return resources to the American people. With a flat tax, with a flat tax you’ll keep more of what you earn or rip down barriers to job-creating investments so we can create more jobs and better-paying jobs too. This is the way to start to get America moving again. There are other reforms as well, including lower interest rates by making the dollar sound, respected again, not a yo-yo in value as it has been for the last 30 years. The dollar should be worth a dollar today; it should be worth a dollar tomorrow. Let’s take it out of the hands of the Washington politicians and return it as a fixed measure of value. Make it as good as gold again. (applause)

And there are other reforms as well. We must keep our current Social Security System for those who are on it in terms of benefits and those who are going to go on to it in the next twelve to fifteen years. But we know and younger Americans know that this system is going to be broke by the time they retire, so why don’t we do something right for once, before the disaster happens, and that is, and that is start a new system of Social Security for younger Americans, where a part of their payroll tax that now goes to Washington to subsidize that national debt would, instead, go to young people’s own, individual savings or retirement account. (applause)

That way–(applause)–that way, that way, they’ll have something when they retire, far more than they’re going to get under today’s system. The money is invested in America, which makes America stronger. It takes it out of the hands of the Washington political establishment, the ones who gave you the S&L’s and other disasters. Why not in education? Our education system in much of America is not doing the right job. Why not do the job right for once and return the control of our schools to parents by giving parents genuine choice? Bust up the monopoly of the NEA. (applause)

But all of these changes, all of these changes have the common thread and theme, these and other changes, including welfare reform, medical savings accounts to give the elderly more control, better coverage at less cost, all have the common thread and theme of returning power and responsibility to we, the people. This is the exciting promise in 1996. If we get the mandate, we can move together. We can make America once again that shining city on the Hill.