TOPICS > Politics

Phil Gramm in New Hampshire

February 5, 1996 at 12:00 AM EDT


SEN. PHIL GRAMM: If there’s one thing that Americans want, it is a President that they can trust, a President that they can go to bed at night and not wonder what he’s going to believe when he wakes up in the morning. One of my great strengths as a political leader is that I know who I am. I know what I believe in. And I’m not afraid to take on a tough issue when I believe I’m right, and when I believe it’s important to the future of America. I don’t judge what’s right and wrong, or what the best policy course is by licking my finger and sticking it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. (applause)

But I went to Washington to change America, and I went with a little shovel that the people of my little rural East Texas district gave me, and then I traded that in on a bigger shovel as a Senator, and I’ve come here today to ask you to give me the biggest shovel that we give a person to work on behalf of the working people of America, by making me President. I’m going to balance the federal budget as President of the United States. And I’m not going to do it in some fancy way, and let me be sure that I’m being clear. We can’t balance the budget by simply having some magic formula. There’s no magic way to put the federal government on a budget, but there’s a simple way that we all understand. Do it exactly the way you balance your family budget.

We have to set priorities. And I’m going to set those priorities based on the working American test. The last time I was in Manchester I stopped by the MacDonald’s on the airport and there was a guy in there who was drinking a cup of coffee, so I started talking to him, and he had been driving his truck with a snow plow on it for 24 hours straight, and that’s his second job. He was on his sixth cup of coffee. Now, here’s what I want to do. I want to look at every program in the federal government, from foreign aid to the National Endowment for the Arts, to subsidies to American business, and I want to look at that program and think about that man in Manchester who had just worked 24 hours a day and who was getting ready to get back in that truck and work some more, and I want to ask, are the benefits we’re getting by spending money on this program worth taking money away from that man on that snow plow to pay for it? Let me tell you something. There are not a lot of programs that’ll stand up to that test. For the last 25 years, on average, our government in Washington has borrowed 50 cents out of every dollar saved in America, for 25 years.

So for 25 years when people have tried to build and buy their own home, invest in their own business, borrow money to educate their children, buy a new car, they’ve been competing with the federal government for available funds. The government can print money. Needless to say, their credit is better than your credit, so for 25 years, they have borrowed 50 cents out of every dollar saved in America, and mortgage interest rates, and other interest rates have been about twice what they should have been. If 50 cents out of every dollar we save was not sent to Washington to pay for the deficit, if it were invested in the American economy, we could create 1.2 million more jobs every year. Now, it is true that when we balance a budget, we’re not going to have as much money for the government to spend as we’re spending now. That’s right. But what social program equals a job? I’m going to let Bill Clinton in this campaign tell the people all the social programs he’s going to give ’em I’m not going to give ’em. Then I’m going to explain that I want to create 1.2 million jobs a year more, and I’m going to let Bill Clinton tell ’em how great this social program that he’s going to provide is, and then I’m going to explain that I’m going to work to provide 1.2 million more jobs so that 1.2 million Americans can go to work and earn a paycheck and earn self-respect and take their paycheck to the grocery store and buy their own groceries and bring ’em home with pride to their family and put those groceries in the middle of their own kitchen table. That’s my social program. And I’m going to let people–(applause)–choose.

While I am from a different part of the country, and while I do speak with a different dialect than you do, we speak the same language, and it’s the language of freedom and opportunity. It’s the language of live free or die, and there’s no candidate in this race whose record is a record more committed to less government and more freedom, more committed to the principle that the government has too much to say about how your income is spent, how your business is run, how your land is used, how your children are educated, and I am committed as President to fighting to take that decision-making power back from the government and give it back to your family so that your family can make those decisions for itself again every night around your kitchen table. I am also committed to sitting down at the cabinet table as President and remembering the first economic lesson that I ever learned.

As some of you know, I have a Ph.D. in economics, after failing the third, seventh, and ninth grades. But the first economic lesson I ever learned was sitting around my mama’s kitchen table, watching my mama and my big brother go back and forth, trying to figure out how we were going to make ends meet, and what bill we could get by without paying that month. And I’ve never forgotten, though I’ve gotten a fancy education and become a congressman and a senator, and I hope and believe I’m going to become President of the United States, and so help me, God, when I am sitting at that cabinet table, I’m going to make the same kind of tough decisions that working parents make at their kitchen table every night in New Hampshire and all over America and when no is the right answer, so that yes can be the right answer around your kitchen table, I’m going to have the courage to say it.