U.S. Rep. Mike Pence contends that spending limits, a gold standard, and a flat tax will not be enough to restore America unless coupled with a return to honesty. The Indiana Republican, in a wide-ranging address to the Detroit Economic Club Tuesday, also touched on such things as the deficit, unemployment, and the auto industry.
The third-ranking House Republican and possible presidential nominee made it clear that the problems facing the country transcend government and business.
“To renew American exceptionalism, we have to recognize one more thing, we have to recognize that our present crisis is not merely economic and political but moral in nature,” he told the audience in Birmingham, Mich.
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"At the root of these recent times should be the realization that people in positions of authority from Washington to Wall Street have walked away from the timeless truths of honesty and integrity, an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay and the simple notion that you ought to treat the other guy the way you want to be treated,” Pence said.
The nation cannot be restored with public policy alone, he said, adding that “public virtue” also will be necessary.
“As we promote policies to restore American exceptionalism, we must also reaffirm our nation’s commitment to the values that have made our prosperity possible and nurture the institutions that nurture the character of our people. Those are traditional family and organized religion and they must be affirmed again.”
Pence, who noted that he opposed the bailouts to GM and Chrysler, nonetheless said he had a “lifelong love affair with the automobile.”
“But Detroit and America have seen better days, and I come to this storied podium to say after years of runaway federal spending, borrowing, and bailout by both political parties, that there is a better way, a way we can renew American exceptionalism by returning our nation to the practice and principles that built this great city and this great nation and can build it again.”
Taxpayer-funded bailouts are no substitute for economic policy, Pence said. It would have been better if GM had gone through an orderly reorganization bankruptcy without taxpayer support he said.
Pence’s plan for economic renewal includes:
• A spending limit amendment to the Constitution that would limit federal spending to 20 percent of the nation’s economy, with exceptions for such conditions as war and national emergencies.
• A sound monetary policy and a restoration of free-market principles that would include a “debate over gold and the proper role it should play in our nation’s affairs.”
• A flat tax so simple that people could file their taxes on a Blackberry, or by tweeting.
• An energy policy that promotes energy independence in an “environmentally responsible manner” and one that includes a “nuclear energy renaissance.”
• Regulatory relief and reform.
• Increased trade.
Pence painted a portrait of an American economy balanced on the wall that used to divide East and West Germany, teetering between “a free-market economy and a planned economy run by the state. Freedom and personal responsibility contrasted with socialism and decline.”
“I choose the West,” Pence said. “I choose limited government and freedom. I choose a free market, personal responsibility and equality of opportunity. In a word, I choose a boundless American future built on the timeless ideals of the American people.”
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