Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) presented the tea party response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night.
His full remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
Good evening. My name is Curt Clawson. I’m both humbled and grateful to the Tea Party Express for this opportunity tonight. I’m also thankful for my Dad – and especially my Mom – my hero. I’m thankful for our veterans and men and women in uniform; defending our freedom and liberty all over the globe. Finally I give thanks to OUR God – for the blessings of this great nation – founded in liberty and opportunity for all. President Obama just presented his proposals for America – pretty much the same rhetoric we’ve heard for the past six years. I’m not here to pick apart his ideas one by one – but to offer a very different vision for our nation. Further burdening the American economy with even higher taxes is wrong. Just as more debt and more unfunded programs are wrong. The Tea Party Express and I see an America where solutions rest not in big government – but in personal liberties – in free enterprise – and in the opportunity for all to pursue their own American Dream – regardless of race, creed, or conditions of birth. To restore our nation to greatness – we need to empower and enable individual achievement. We need to get past the idea that Washington can solve all of our problems. Government and decisions must move closer to home – including more local and family choice on education and on healthcare. Our vision is NOT based on wealth redistribution – but on economic liberty, private enterprise, and wealth creation that benefits everyone. We believe that ALL Americans ultimately want the same things. We all want to achieve our own unique American Dream. We want opportunity for all – but favoritism for none! As Americans – we celebrate our diversity. We don’t always see things the same way. But we can and must respect and listen to each other. And when we disagree – we’ve got to do this without insulting each other. I never expected to be here addressing you at this critical time in our nation’s history. Just a year ago I was active in local politics because of my concerns about water resources in South Florida and preserving the Florida Everglades – a real national treasure. I ran for Congress because I was deeply concerned about the direction of our great nation. I saw an America deeply divided – bogged down in partisan bickering – with lobbyists and special interest groups lining their pockets at the expense of hard-working Americans. As we restore the voice of “we the people” – we need to grow the private sector – and shrink the size and reach of our federal government. I have joined a growing TEAM of newcomers to Washington who believe as I do. We’re bringing business experience to develop viable solutions to our economic problems. We believe in economic liberty and equal opportunity – not equal outcomes imposed by a bloated federal government. It’s really odd to me that these basic principles have somehow become “outsider” – or even radical views – as some suggest. Decades ago – I played basketball at Purdue for Coach Gene Keady – a mentor and a hero. I looked around that locker room and found a group of players from very different backgrounds. We had a guard from the West Coast, a forward from Gary, a post player from Cincinnati, a power forward from the West Side of Chicago, a center from Long Island, and me, an outside shooter from the cornfields of Indiana. We came to Purdue with diverse racial, religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. But Coach Keady quickly taught us the profound meaning of the word TEAM. In spite of our differences, he taught us to work together – and to always put the TEAM first. That’s how he got the best out of all of us. And I say that’s exactly what we need to do in America today! At Purdue, our biggest challenge was not the other TEAM. It was in our own locker room. To WIN – we had to learn to work together. That was true for the role players on the TEAM – like me – as well as for the stars. As Coach molded us – we learned to respect each other. Then we began to trust each other. Rely on each other. And finally we learned to truly care about each other. In my senior year, after being picked ninth in the Big Ten, we put our differences aside, played hard, put the TEAM first – and WON a share of the Big Ten championship! We won on the court by uniting in the locker-room. And we learned that we’re all the same. We’re all the same! Washington could benefit from Coach Keady’s advice. Now of course the enormous challenges facing our country are far more complex than bringing a diverse basketball TEAM together. But I say teamwork is essential in all walks of life. And I also say that liberty is the great equalizer. Economic liberty will bring America back to its destiny as the world’s beacon of light and opportunity. Economic liberty is the foundation of the American Dream. We can never compromise these conservative values. Dividing us – or punishing success in the name of fairness – will not unite Americans. In 2014 our economy continued sluggish growth – and millions of Americans are still out of work. As described in my economic plan, we should target growing this economy by 5% annually. A strong and vibrant economy will help businesses create millions of good-paying American jobs – while freeing millions from government dependency. To do this we’ve got to enable American companies to compete fairly in a global market. We’ve got to reduce burdensome regulations and reduce the business tax rate, currently the highest in the developed world. In 1962 – John F. Kennedy said: “There is no need for us to be satisfied with a rate of growth that keeps good men out of work and good capacity out of use.” A year later President Kennedy added: “The final and best means of strengthening demand among consumers and businesses is to reduce the burden on private income and reduce the deterrents to private initiative which are imposed by our present tax system” I say that we need to begin by cutting the small business and corporate tax rates in half – to 17.5% – and take out the loopholes! We also need to lift the economic shackles of ObamaCare. It makes us uncompetitive – and has not let us keep our plans, as we were promised. We can do better, ya’ll. We’ve got to replace ObamaCare with a fair, patient-focused, market-based system. And no one should lose their healthcare. We can’t expect to move America ahead by heaping higher taxes on achievement – or by the government printing or borrowing money and piling debt onto future generations. I say NO! We can’t spend our way to prosperity with more entitlements or more government handouts. Long-term sustainable solutions require an empowered private sector – led by small businesses and American innovation! That must include energy independence. A major step forward here would be for the President to approve the completion of the Keystone Pipeline. Success for our nation also means embracing diversity – including legal immigrants – and the millions waiting in line LEGALLY to begin their own American Dream. Legal immigration has long been and remains a key to America’s greatness! To those who speak Spanish, I say: Todos creemos en dios, la familia , el trabajo, y la libertad. Hay que respetar la ley. Pero, ustedes son bienvenidos con nosotros. Todos somos iguales. Por supuesto. Nuestra casa es su casa. "We all believe in God, the family, hard work, and liberty. The law must be followed. You are all welcome with us. We are all equal. Of course. Our house is your house." As we respect our immigration laws – we’ve also got to be fair to the more than 10 million Americans currently struggling to find good jobs! We all know who they are. They are our friends, family, and neighbors. To do this, we need to secure our borders first! This is important for fairness – and security – for all Americans. Finally, we must unite against the global terrorist threat of radical Islam. We must not shy away from calling this threat by its name. We must join with our partners in Muslim nations, our friends in Israel, and a coalition of freedom-loving nations around the world. America must lead this coalition – but we must end the disproportionate sacrifice of American blood and treasure. Our allies must step up and contribute more in this fight. And we’ve got to stop getting into BAD wars. Too much dying !!!
Today, the Light of the Statue of Liberty – a gift from our French partners for independence – shines across the Hudson to the footprint of the Twin Towers. Last week, leaders of the world gathered in Paris – to shine that light of liberty as a TEAM.
To our friends in the “City of Lights” I say:
You were our allies in America’s war for Independence. Now it’s our turn to side with you in this global battle against terrorism.
Together we’ve got to light the torch of freedom for the entire world. With our God and Liberty as partners on our TEAM – we will succeed.
Thank you. And may God continue to bless “America the Beautiful.”