Jeff Sessions, the Senate’s indispensable man, delivered the Republicans’ radio address yesterday. In it, he focused on one of his favorite themes: it is conservative policies, not liberal ones, that are compassionate toward the poor, the disadvantaged, the downtrodden. Sessions argues that conservatives need to push back harder against the smug assurance of liberals that their policies are good for people, even as they keep people dependent, deprive them of opportunities for employment and wage growth, and steal away, on every front, the independence that lends dignity to every human life, no matter how seemingly ordinary. Here is Sessions’ radio address in its entirety:
Hello. I’m Jeff Sessions from Alabama, Ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. It’s my privilege to speak with you today before the Senate considers a budget plan next week. Congress has an obligation to adopt a budget that does the most good for the most people.
Washington, D.C. provides a troubling illustration of our challenges. No city in America relies more on the federal government than Washington. Federal money pours every single day into every part of the city.
Despite this fountain of federal funds, 1 in 3 children still live in poverty in our nation’s capital. Two in three children live in single parent homes. In nearby Baltimore—another city governed by liberal policies for decades—1 in 3 residents are on food stamps and in 1 in 3 youth live in poverty. Americans are committed to helping our sisters and brothers who are struggling, but we are seeing the damaging human consequences of our broken welfare state.
We spend a trillion dollars each year on federal poverty programs. That’s more than the budget for Social Security or Defense. But poverty seems only to increase. Something is wrong.
Compassion demands that we change.
Amazingly, the federal government says that the more people we have on food stamps, the more it grows the economy. The Department of Agriculture proudly declares: “Each $5 in new [food stamp] benefits generates almost twice that amount in economic activity for the community.” Our government is running food stamp promotions at foreign embassies. One worker was given an award for overcoming “mountain pride” and getting more people to sign up. Where I grew up in Alabama, all honest work, even the hardest, was honored. And pride, self-respect, and a desire to be independent was valued, not a thing to be overcome.
Isn’t it a better goal to help more Americans find good-paying jobs, to have the pride and self-respect that comes from that? Isn’t this a superior form of compassion that has a more solid moral foundation?
Yet every time lawmakers try to reform the bureaucracy to accomplish these goals, they meet with the same response: President Obama attacks the reformers, saying such ideas aren’t compassionate or fair. But what is truly unfair and lacking in compassion is to protect a federal bureaucracy that is failing those that need our help the most.
President Obama speaks of his deep concern for struggling Americans, yet his plans are focused on growing government—not the economy. He has no effective plan to create better jobs, more hiring or rising wages. That’s what’s missing.
Apparently, the federal government is perfect, requires no reform. That would explain why our Senate Democrats have refused to pass a legally-mandated 10-year budget plan in four years.
To compel Senate Democrats do their jobs, Republicans passed the No Budget, No Pay measure. Senate Democrats have then relented and agreed to work on a budget plan.
Senate Budget Chair Patty Murray, and her colleagues, will introduce the long-delayed Democrat plan on Wednesday. Right now, our massive debt is slowing the economy and depressing wages. We have a moral duty to balance the federal budget and bring the deficit down to zero. This is the great challenge of our time. And you may be surprised to learn that we can achieve this goal if we simply hold the annual growth of spending to 3.4 percent each year. But I fear the Democrat proposal will fail this defining test and will never achieve balance. I fear it will crush American workers and our economy with trillions in new taxes, spending and debt. I fear Chairman Murray will follow the President’s lead: raising taxes to enrich the bureaucracy at the expense of the people.
We need to grow the economy—not the government.
People are being hurt every day by the Washington establishment the Democrats are determined to shield from accountability. Government has never been bigger or more out of control. They say there is no problem with waste, fraud, and abuse; they say the problem is you; they say you are not sending them enough money; they say they have wisely spent every penny. So, you must just send them more. And, if you don’t? Well, they won’t stop spending, they’ll just borrow more. These destructive policies cannot continue. We are at the breaking point.
Instead, we must act to create more jobs and better pay. And we can do it without adding to the debt. Here’s how:
-Make welfare temporary and the welfare office an employment and job training office.
-Unlock America’s vast energy resources to create millions of good-paying jobs.
-Defend American workers from unfair foreign trade practices.
-Reform the tax code to make America globally competitive, creating more jobs here.
-Make government leaner, less wasteful so it produces greater results for the money you earned and sent here.
-Enforce an immigration policy that protects legal U.S. workers from unlawful competition.
-Eliminate every burdensome federal rule or regulation that isn’t needed and that destroys jobs.
-And, finally, we must balance the federal budget.
These steps will empower Americans—not the government. They will promote family—not bureaucracy. And they will help create a future in which the central bonds in our lives are not government rules but the love and loyalty we have for one another.
The policies the Democrats have pursued in recent years, especially those of the Obama administration, have blighted the lives of millions of Americans who have been unable to find full-time work, who have seen their wages stagnate, who have watched their children’s dreams fade asthey try to enter an economy that has little use for their skills, who have lost, or who fear losing, their health insurance due to costs that are being driven ever higher by Obamacare. Meanwhile, as ordinary Americans have suffered, Washington is the country’s last boom town. Bureaucrats are proliferating; lobbyists are getting rich; promoters who sell fraudulent “green energy” schemes to their cronies in the Obama administration make off with millions; the revolving door propels officials from federal agencies into the private sector, where they earn fabulous salaries advising giant banks and other corporations on how to collaborate with the Obama administration.
Obamanomics works great for some people: union bosses, scammers who sell “green” illusions, lobbyists, Obama administration cronies, bureaucrats, government contractors with pull. But Obamanomics, a deeply immoral system of institutionalized cronyism, is bad for nearly everyone else. This is the basic case that must be made over and over by conservative spokesmen.