Principles of American Freedom, November 14, 1997

I’ve got the easy test this morning of introducing I don’t want to ever say that in traditional it doesn’t need an introduction but if anybody in this crowd doesn’t know who our speaker is tonight you’re in the wrong room and you should be right over there someplace we are Paul Coverdell was an old friend of this organization one of the original friends of this organization in 1992 as most of you know Georgia ran the longest Senate campaign in the history of Senate campaigns but it took four elections and but good things are hard to come by and we ended up with it with probably the best senator that we can possibly have and our senior senator is working himself to a bone I can promise you having been around the Senate once or twice the last week or two of his life has been hectic one of the biggest issues when he first got up there was health care some folks referred to it as Hillary’s health care but Paul got together with a couple of shy people phil gramm and john mccain and they went on the circuit around the country they met with groups of people probably as small as 10 and and as big as thousands so there was it was a heck of a job and they turned it he not only took the hill they shot the prisoners and I think that I think that it’s it’s really one of the one of the great great stories of of history really and in particularly history of turning around on a piece of legislation that would have cost the taxpayers billions and billions of dollars created 40 or 50 more bureaucracies and he’s still fighting these things he has been up there this week in the appeal of more and more of the the regulatory things see your savings account in education I think is probably one of the greatest things coming along and I hope we can do something with with that later this year the front lines are sometimes hard to define in the Senate just about time you think you’ve got the enemy zeroed in and they’re coming at you they’re right back there right behind you well Paul has learned all of the tricks he’s done all the the things he’s the fifth ranking person in the leadership and that’s an amazing thing for a freshman senator he’s he’s an integral part of the Senate leadership he said he never slows down he works all the time with it we’re very proud to have him with us today and I appreciate you being here Rogers I appreciate the introduction and of course I always welcome the opportunity to join the georgia public foundation policy foundation because I’m an admirer this kind of energy and wish that we had much more of it not only in our state around the country if we did things would be the vacuums that we struggle with would not be so immense and I compliment you and the staff and this institution for its work you’ve reminded me this morning in addition to the weather of the longest senate race in American history I wish you hadn’t done that I’ve not been in the Senate long there have been eighteen hundred Americans there it does provide a most unique window from which to see our great and vast land and I have sort of been a student of particularly in the last two years of freedom you know I was once director of the United States Peace Corps and it happened to be at just the time that the wall was coming down and that the Bob wire was being cut and we were the first Americans there and i’ll

never forget the faces of people who had not been free ever they are etched in my mind one night I was I decided to break away from our group and I walked back about five miles into a neighborhood and Sofia Bulgaria it was still communist and the thing that was so striking as you walk past person after person building after building the buildings were frozen in time nothing had changed since the day the Communist got there just locked like a still picture and the and the people never smiled of the hundreds of adults that I saw I never saw a single smile and then you come home and to the Senate and you look at this vast land and it comes to me that the genesis of All American glory is that we’ve been a free people everything that we are everything we’ve come to be in the world is rooted in the fact that we’ve been free people free people function very differently than those that are dependents or oppressed free people are confident they’re optimistic they believe in themselves therefore they build and dream I often talk of my father who began his business career as a coal truck driver and I’ve learned that if he’d been born in Poland he would have died a coal truck driver but he didn’t he was born in America where he could work save and build and it’s exactly what he did it’s the American story we’ve all heard it a thousand times people who are not free are avoidant paranoid fearful pessimistic so naturally societies that avoid of freedom are not builders nor dreamers those people function only as an attempt to survive now we evoke the word freedom often and Liberty you hear it all the time but I don’t know that we spend enough time thinking about the components of American freedom just what is it my guess is that if you talk to any civics class the description of it would be in our electoral process they would say we are a free society because we choose our political leaders well that is a component of freedom obviously a dictatorship in a democracy are quite different but there are other very important components of American freedom one is economic you know we fought the war of independence over economic freedom there have been serious erosion in my mind in the last half century in American freedom and who we are is not because of what’s in our genes we are vulnerable to the same behavioral changes if we are denied freedom as any people in the world and therefore we must be cautious and vigil about the components of freedom economic freedom I mentioned my father a moment ago he was born in 1912 over the course of his lifetime he kept eighty percent of his life times paychecks eighty percent his granddaughter my niece has just begun her business career if she’s lucky if she’s lucky she will keep forty percent of her lifetime paychecks now the way I see it she has half the options of her granddad and it will affect her behavior and the way she thinks and how she approaches housing and education and who she looks to to sustain her family in her dreams eighty percent to forty percent a component of American freedom is safety the protection of persons and property if you read any state constitution you will find in the first three paragraphs an allusion to the fact that the government’s principal responsibility is the protection of persons in property

this is not just a function of caring this is a premise of Commerce and civil engagement among people what I mean well thank for a minute let’s go to some portion in your mind right now to this city that is not characterized as safe stand there and turn around and look at the Commerce that exists there it is a picture of closed buildings of boarded up buildings absent of people quiet and dangerous that is not a component of a free society now go to a portion of our city that is a converse that is considered to be safe and look at what you see rising structures new businesses cars shoppers vibrance activity you’re looking at what freedom produces entrepreneurialship ideas new shops new stores new services growth so you see safety is a fundamental component of American liberty education no uneducated people are free no uneducated people are free our forefathers and early leaders understood this as you moved west every state began to build a component of public education so that we would raise up a society that was educated educated to manage their families their communities and their businesses and their commerce people that can be free and builders an uneducated mind is denied the fundamental premises of American citizenship wherever that occurs on that point this morning four out of 10 students in the United States kindergarten through high school are frightened three out of ten will be robbed in school one out of ten will confront a deadly weapon one out of ten students in junior high in the United States are using illicit drugs regularly that means monthly and one out of four high school students is doing the same folks this is not an environment by which we produce the leaders of the new century and the caretakers of American liberty the fourth stanchion of American liberty is the Constitution of the United States this document was drawn not to protect us from foreign invasion it was drawn by people who understood the propensity of government to control to regulate and to not and to deny Liberty they were fearful of our own government and the stanchions and the construction of the document is designed to protect us from those general natures these were people that had seen what had happened in Europe in their former homelands and they set out to protect this society for me it’s probably best stated in the first amendment to the bill of rights which guarantees all Americans the right to speak as they will to worship to assemble and that is a very key component as we are here today and to petition their government without fear there has in erosion in each of the components that I’ve just described there may be other stanchions of American liberty but for me in the clutter of Washington I’ve boiled it down to these four beacons and it makes your decisions a lot easier first do everything we can to keep resources in the checking accounts of American workers and families and businesses it is unconscionable that

we’ve come to a point that over half the earnings of a person’s paycheck goes to the government I look at it this way if something marches through my paycheck and takes over half of what I’ve got it has more to do with my life than I do we must struggle to return working resources to working people in fact thank you we must dedicate ourselves to making America safe I don’t think many in our land understand that we are currently under siege by an international narcotic mafia that is the most sophisticated organized crime syndicate the United States has ever confronted now all of you look like someone who saw Godfather one two or three rank amateurs rank amateurs the bonanno’s the Gambino’s amateurs to what we’re confronting today and who are their victims children aged 8 to 14 are the primary narcotic target today go to any jail in America and seven out of ten of the prisoners there are there because of a direct or indirect involvement with narcotics if we’re going to deny the fuel to the crime chain we are going to have to break the back of this international mafia in our country and we can do it on education I don’t believe you’re going to recognize public nor private education in America in 10 years the American people will not accept a system that is graduating students that cannot care for themselves cannot get a job and cannot govern this country in the next century it is unconscionable that we have high school graduates a third of them who cannot effectively read you can smell it in the wind there’s a revolution coming coalition’s forming and we are going to overturn the status quo in American education and you can count me as one that so long as I am standing and have a breath to breathe will be defending the premise of the Constitution of the United States we must turn again to those principal documents and we must certify to ourselves that we are watchful as every generation of Americans has had to be and willful about protecting the fundamental ingredients of American liberty because I can assure you it is the only way the next century will be an American Century I’ve said here before and I say it again history is going to write a great deal about this generation of Americans we are having to make incredibly difficult decisions from time to time certain generations have been asked for extraordinary duty you are living in one of those generations and I believe America is the match of the problems it faces as it comes to the new century keep money in checking accounts keep people safe educate them and protect the Constitution and the American people we’ll take it from there thank you thank you you’re very generous Rogers said you wanted to take a question or two I’d be glad to do that yes sir sure Jerry did you bring that water I don’t need this for the question I don’t think the president will be

impeached I’m not sure it would serve as well the cynicism about American government is at an all-time high and the company you know the soundbite policy I don’t know that the American people quite know who to believe my inclination now I could be wrong I mean there’s something I mean you know if we’re in an era where we find a used car in a junk car lot and open it up have a trunk of whitewater checks and papers it just becomes mind-boggling and it could be that there’s just something that will come forward that like the tapes but at this point the likely candidates for difficulty or people around the White House not not the first lady not the president and as I said I I think I’m of the mood let’s take this Congress let’s take the good spirited people we have in government and let’s keep trying to focus on the points that I’ve made and turned to the future we’re three years away from a new administration and focus on lifting the country up I’ve come to this decision over a period of time watching the hearings in the Senate I think the American people have a hard time accepting a Republican Congress attacking a Democrat president or vice versa they don’t it’s hard to know how to sort it out the Independent Counsel is more credible but I have to say I think most Americans would join me in this they have to have some ending I mean this thing’s been going on for years and when you do things that way people begin to lose heart about it bottom line is I I personally do think there will be an impeachment and I would hope we could start turning to solutions and and a new administration be here before the snap of a finger really yes sir thank you the education savings account is a passion of mine what we did was we took an IRA and we have a small IRA for upper education will upper education in America is the envy of the world it has a cost problem but it’s the envy of the world kindergarten through high school is a calamity they have some great schools but we have students that are in desperate situations so it allows a family to save up to 2,500 dollars and then that’s after tax and the interest buildup is tax-free if it’s used for a problem or an education problem the child has that means it will be very smart money because it will be mint money guided by the family to the exact deficiency the child suffers Matt needs a tutor no home computer a learning disability dyslexia whatever it takes the money and puts it right on the target it has a another unique feature in that it will allow sponsors to contribute to the account and the imagination goes wild with that an employer a neighbor and aunt grandparent friend a union a civic organization a church you name it and so what will happen is it begins to focus the family on the child’s education mentally it brings the community and the workplace to the child’s education and everybody wins everybody public education private education families the children we already estimate that half the families in America will use the account and about 20 to 25 million children it will be the single largest infusion of smart money behind education in a decade the president is opposing it on the premise that a statistically insignificant number of people will use the account to change from a public to a private school it is incredulous to me that he would deny 10.8 million families in public education the opportunity to use the account seventy percent of the money will go to support public

education and seventy percent of the money will go to families 75,000 or less ultimately we’re going to win this battle you could tell by the other side filibustering me in the Senate two weeks ago that they’re not going to make it come februari will pass it in the Senate the president and I will meet and I have a belief as does my colleague on the other side of the aisle senator torricelli of New Jersey that the president when the end will will sign this legislation he’s been spun by his own spin monsters who argued that it was a voucher and it’s not thanks for the question Richard how are you steve forbes revealed revealed this in a in a way that has been somewhat confusing the current law and medicare denies any person in medicare from a private payment to a doctor that’s the current law the language you’re referring to was an attempt by Senator Kyl and myself and others to change the current law to allow choice we didn’t get it done because the administration said they would veto the balanced budget act if the language we inserted to provide the choice you’re looking for remained so it was removed except for the language you’re talking about which appears to be a new constriction it’s not it was an attempt to get rid of an old one subsequently we introduced the legislation free-standing it has a lot of support we could not get it passed in this log jam but it will be back before us in the spring so there’s an enormous attempt I have to say at this point it’s not very bipartisan by the Republicans to allow a doctrine patient beyond Medicare to arrive at a private financial arrangement you know that question brings so many of the arguments in Washington to mine the other side I believe feels that were born evil and have to be governed good that’s why this provision is there they assume every doctor’s a crook and that if you allow this private interaction a dumb citizen will be taken advantage of by a crooked doctor we believe based on American liberty and what we’ve achieved over the last 200 years that the citizen is generally smart enough to make the decision about whether this is a good or bad deal and that most doctors have taken the hypocritic oath and our good people you only have to govern the oddity not all of us and that is a classic example of the differences that are being debated in Washington yes sir well we were talking at our table here about it I remember talking to President Bush on the eve of the war as real interesting it was a prophetic phone call he said Paul I know what I have to do and there’s no doubt in my mind and days later of course the invasion had been launched it was successful because an unbelievable coalition of the world had been brought together an aligned against this evil force Saddam is a brilliant

evil force and he continues to test the fragility of the coalition he did it in northern Iraq and he’s doing it today because he knows our focus is on Commerce and other matters and the reason he keeps coming back is testing its resolve from my point of view the president’s ultimate task here is to continue to keep that coalition firm and solid and stare Saddam down if they ever let Saddam out of that box we will rue the day if Saddam Hussein ever has in his hand a button to a weapon of mass destruction the world will be changed and not for the better we thought and the CIA had told us that Saddam was ten years from a nuclear weapon it was six months we were six months away look at the decision you would have made if you were sending five hundred thousand American men and women at the doorstep of a man who had a nuclear weapon we better stand him down we should exhaust every option available but it should not be an option that he is successful in flaunting the world sanctions that were imposed by the Persian Gulf War unacceptable yes sir let me begin with this premise if we’ve come to a point that you need any citizen requires an accountant of some sort to do the tax return and then an attorney to defend him from what the accountant did we have a problem IRS in the sequence of events will be curtailed if we are successful in reversing the burden of proof so that they function as anyone any other citizen they have to prove it I can’t come down on you and make you prove you’re innocent that will be a huge fundamental change and then the second sequence will be the overhaul of the tax system which is coming the American people like on education are going to demand it and whether it be a simplified flat tax or consumption tax no one could predict right now I do have a warning do not be for a flat consumption tax if there is still an income tax because if you do you’ll have both last question back here hey Reverend just fine well I’ll go back to the premise a moment ago about a year ago senator Dole and I were sparring with one another and I said the institution that was having the most profound effect on the American family is not Hollywood it’s Uncle Sam and if if there were a graph behind me here and this were 1950 and this 1990 and you tracked the financial burden on American families from 50 to 90 of course it would just skyrocket goes from two cents at the federal level to 25 cents on the dollar and then you put

over that an overlay of decisions families were making about who was going to be in the workplace and every time we ratcheted up the economic pressure on the family thousands of additional American families made new decisions about where they were going to earn their income and we come to a point that not only are both spouses working but both spouses are working sometimes the teenage children and some of those passes about twenty percent of them have two jobs and teenage suicide has quadrupled and teenage pregnancy has quadrupled and we built a situation where the functions of managing the American family have been made in ordinate Lee difficult and so if we are conscious of that I don’t think you have to preach to families I think you have to give them the resources to do the things we expect them to do and then with moral leadership and community role models and working together they will they have in the past and they will again but if we continue to ratchet their resources down like I said earlier forty-seven cents on the family in Georgia makes about 45,000 now take over half of that away and what’s left how would you like to run your family on that it’s almost impossible and so we should not be surprised that we are creating certain dysfunctions among America’s middle class well you all have been just inordinate Lee patient and polite and I appreciate it very much it’s always you