RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman's Speech to The Latino Coalition Small Business Conference
In 1979, an ex FDR Democrat named Ronald Reagan predicted that others would soon follow his path, “Hispanics are Republicans, they just don’t know it yet,” he said
Twenty-five years later, more and more Hispanics do in fact know that their political home is in the Republican Party.
They do so not because the president can speak Spanish...but because he can speak common sense. He shares Hispanic American values...and he values Hispanic Americans.
And what are the bedrock principles that the party of Lincoln shares with Hispanics? First, in America, your aspirations matter more than your origins. We are not defined by our race, our religion, our national origin. We are united by something more important: our commitment to freedom and opportunity.
Our second principle is that freedom must constantly be expanded and extended. Every generation of Americans has recognized this principle. Americans have never been satisfied with the way freedom was defined yesterday. From our nation’s founding to the end of slavery, from women’s suffrage to civil rights, each generation’s legacy has been to expand freedom’s scope for tomorrow.
And today, President Bush and the party of Lincoln continue this proud tradition. Our mission is to expand freedom and opportunity across America.
Our opportunity agenda starts with equal opportunity in education. Every child in every neighborhood, every ghetto, every barrio and every rural community deserves a first rate education. Yet in 2000, too many children were being left behind. One out of four white children, two thirds of African Americans, and 58% of Latino fourth graders unable to read at the 4th grade level.
The President signed the most comprehensive education reform in 40 years, guaranteeing the equal opportunity of high standards and accountability to every child. President Bush increased funding in education more in his first 4 years than in all of Bill Clinton’s 8 years.
And increased funding was just the beginning. Educational success is now measured for every child, every year in every school. And schools are accountable for high standards because there are consequences. Schools where children are learning are praised. And children who are not learning receive special attention, and their parents are given charters and real choice.
Expanded opportunity requires good jobs at good wages, and that means more small businesses in America. Small businesses have always provided the road to economic opportunity in America. Today is no different. 70% of jobs are created by small businesses today. Over 1 million Hispanic owned small businesses employ almost 1.4 million people.
President Bush is helping these entrepreneurs by reducing the burden of taxation, regulation, and litigation. The President passed two of the largest tax cuts in history. We reduced frivolous lawsuits by reforming class action laws.
There’s a reason the Party of Lincoln favors tax relief. We respect how hard people work today. We don’t believe that politicians in Washington should choose between a carpenter in Cleveland, taxi driver in El Paso, or accountant in Chicago as to who can keep more of their money. They all work hard. They’ve all earned it. And we need to let all of them keep more, which is why we need to make all of their tax relief permanent.
Making the President’s tax relief permanent is just the beginning. We won’t have 21st century jobs in America with a 20th century tax code. We need fundamental tax reform.
Our opportunity agenda builds on the important work of civil rights heroes. More than forty years ago, black and white Americans of good conscience staged sit-ins to integrate lunch counters. Today, we will work for more minorities to own the restaurant and other small businesses.
Forty years ago, Congress passed an open housing law to end legal discrimination in where people could live. President Bush’s policies have helped create 1.9 million new minority homeowners since 2002 and will close the gap between minorities and non-minorities in home ownership by 2010. Just this past quarter, minority home ownership in America reached an all time high.
Our opportunity agenda means we must ensure Americans will have security and dignity when they retire. In just 3 years, the baby boomers will start to retire. Our retirement and health care systems were created in the middle of the 20th century. We must modernize them for the world our families will face in the 21st century.
We began this process last year: America’s seniors will for the first time have access to prescription drug coverage and a reformed Medicare system that empowers patients.
Now we must modernize Social Security. Democrats and Republicans agree on this need. In 1998, President Clinton said, “This fiscal crisis in Social Security affects every American” and that “it would be unconscionable if we failed to act, and act now.” Senator Harry Reid said, “We’ve got to do something about Social Security.”
President Clinton’s solution to Social Security solvency in 1998 included government investment of Social Security Trust Fund in the stock market. President Bush agrees with President Clinton that the higher return from market investment should be part of modernizing Social Security.
Everyone who works for the federal government, including every Member of Congress, has the choice to set up a personal retirement account so they have a more secure retirement. They’re not alone. AARP’s website encourages’ its members to “take advantage of the power of compounding, which is essentially the build up of investment gains on previous gains over time. Albert Einstein reportedly called compounding the ‘most powerful force on earth.’”
All Americans should have the same choice of personal retirement accounts. If its good enough for federal employees, and makes sense for AARP members, then all workers should be able to choose “the most powerful force on earth” for a more secure retirement.
Personal retirement accounts will also expand economic equality.
For workers who live paycheck to paycheck and can never get ahead, an IRA or 401K plan is not a realistic choice. Forty-one percent of Latino seniors live entirely on their Social Security check because they never had the chance to set aside a nest egg and save for their retirement. Why? Because family needs consumed their whole paycheck.
A personal retirement account would allow future generations to get ahead: to set aside a nest egg for their own retirement while still paying for immediate family needs. And when they retire, these hard working Americans could count on 2 checks—a Social Security check because the program would be solvent and a second check so they could have more security in their golden years.
Modernizing Social Security is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. But so far today’s Democrat leaders propose nothing—no plans, no solutions, no proposals—to save a Social Security system they admit will go bankrupt.
The father of Social Security, Franklin Roosevelt, offered “nothing to fear but fear itself.” Today’s Democrat leaders have nothing to offer but fear itself.
For the sake of younger workers, Democrats should end their obstructionism. For the sake of fairness, they should allow every worker in America the same opportunity to choose a personal retirement accounts that today is only available to a select few. And for the sake of more economic equality for America’s hardest workers, Democrats should join with the President in saving Social Security and offering a better deal for the future.
On June 12, 1999, Governor George W. Bush first announced his campaign for presidency in Iowa. A simple theme wove together the various pieces of his speech. And that theme was, "The American Dream is for you."
For five years now, President Bush has been as good as his word. In his appointments of more Latinos to top posts than any president in history to his policies of economic growth and empowerment, President Bush has proven that the American dream is indeed for all Americans.
The party of Lincoln will build on this progress. Today I am pleased to announce the RNC will establish a national Hispanic Advisory Committee, made up of respected community leaders from around the nation who will develop and execute our plan to earn the Latino vote.
We will meet each month to develop and execute strategies to involve more Latino Americans in making policy. We will work to identify, recruit, and support more Latino candidates. We will register Latino Republicans and persuade Latino independents and discerning Democrats. We will recruit and mobilize Latino volunteers and we will hold conversations with Latino communities throughout this country. We will listen. We will learn. We will help.
And we will share this message:
Your interests are our interests...your cause is our cause.
We share your pride in your country, your love for your family, and your faith in your God. We welcome your culture and your contributions...your gifts and your goodwill.
We know that the old saying is still true: "E Pluribus Unum," out of many, one. Here in America, we are diverse, but never divided; we are all unique, but we remain one in the same. As the poet William Butler Yeats wrote, though the leaves are many, the root is one.
And so it is with our party. We welcome any and all Americans who share our values and our vision for the future. After all, we believe the American dream is for every American.
Thank you very much.
I love Republican speeches... so brimming with the American dream, so inclusive of ALL people. Later on I am going to post a recent speech from a top Dummycrat and see how it measures up.