Governor Scott delivered a powerful speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. this past weekend. In case you missed it, watch the video now or read the full text of his speech below.
It’s great to come to Washington in February – – to be reminded how great it is to live in Florida in February. But it’s not the weather that makes DC different from Florida or Ohio or Wisconsin. Today, states are leading the way, governing on Conservative principles. And that’s very different than Washington DC. But you know that, as you all are the bedrock of the conservative movement. You are the individuals who stay true to the core principles of conservatism and you are the ones who hold our leaders accountable, here in Washington, and around the country. Accountability is one of the primary themes of my Administration in Florida and one of the key themes of my campaign. That’s because I believe it is critical to success. So in speeches, during press conferences, and just when talking with people, I ask them every day to hold me accountable for delivering on the campaign promises I made, and as Governor to hold me accountable for making the right decisions. There is simply too much at stake to pass the buck to another generation. Livelihoods are on the line. The American way of life is threatened. How many of you have seen the potential of your job or your business choked, not by competition, but by a government that no longer has any idea how real people live? By a government that has forgotten that it works for Americans who are fed up with bail-outs, tax increases, deficits, unfunded programs, regulation, frivolous lawsuits and special interests. If you’ve ever created a job with your own money at risk; If you’ve ever imagined an idea for a business and bet everything to turn it into reality; If you’ve ever taken satisfaction in bringing about change that helped create opportunities for others; If you believe anything is possible in America, then you know what truly matters. These are the experiences and beliefs that propelled our nation to create hundreds of millions of jobs and build the mightiest economy in the history of the world. And you should also know this, if you have any experience creating real jobs, you have virtually nothing in common with the current occupant of the White House. I have been blessed to have seen the American dream from all sides. I am the adopted son of a truck driver, and I started school living in public housing. By the time I was eleven I was serving my schoolmates lunch in the cafeteria and washing their dishes just so I could get a hot meal. But even then, even in those most difficult times, an eleven-year-old boy believed in the American Dream and could sense the promise of this Great Country. I had faith then, and I have the certain knowledge now, that with enough hard work and the willingness to get up when we fall, the birthright of every American is to rise above his or her beginnings. I’ve learned that personal failure should not be an invitation for a government bailout, Just as personal success should not be an invitation for a government tax-grab. After more than 3 years of the present administration in Washington, it is time to reacquaint ourselves with the notion that the freedom to succeed also means the freedom to fail. It’s a tradeoff at the very core of a country founded on the sacred rights of the individual, the liberty of each and every American. It is government’s proper role to do what it can to equip everyone to compete and to offer a level playing field for the competitors. But it is not government’s proper role to pick the winners and losers. The policies of our next President will likely decide whether the United States remains the world’s largest economy or whether we fall behind china and begin a slow economic slide to global irrelevance. Thanks to President Obama, China doesn’t have to threaten us with missiles to become the dominant economic power in the world. They just have to threaten to cancel our national credit card. The borrowing spree cannot last. None of us believe we can run our personal lives in the same manner politicians are running our government. Why do politicians think they can run government with no accountability? It must be the mission of the next president to have the courage to stop this insanity and put America back on the right course. In this next election, the choices could not be clearer, or the stakes higher. The issues when I ran for Governor in Florida in 2010 were not much different from the issues this year. In fact, there is one issue that stands head and shoulders above everything else: creating jobs. I made that issue the central theme of my campaign: seven steps to seven hundred thousand jobs in seven years. I called it the 7-7-7 Plan. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So you can imagine how flattered I was when Herman Cain surged into the lead behind the power of his 9-9-9 Plan! In all seriousness, my 7-7-7 Plan is working. Unlike the Obama administration, which earned a downgrade in the Nation’s credit rating for the first time ever, in the Great State of Florida, the outlook for our credit rating was raised because of our responsible budgeting. For the first time in 20 years, Florida paid down its state debt. As a matter of fact it is the first time in 20 years we did not increase our state debt by over $1 billion. But that’s only the beginning. In my first year in office, unemployment has dropped more than 2 percentage points – down from 12 percent to 9.9%, the second largest drop in the nation! We shrank the size of government, reduced the government payroll and appointed agency heads who are helping Florida businesses get to work. And guess what…it works! In one year, Florida businesses created over 140,000 new jobs, well on the way to meeting my 700,000 job goal in seven years. But we didn’t stop there. My administration eliminated burdensome regulations to make it easier to do business in our state, and we are poised to get rid of nearly 1,000 more regulations in 2012. During my first year in office, we forced state government to do more with less. We balanced a budget while covering a 3.7 billion dollar shortfall. Facing that kind of deficit, I ignored the newspaper columnists and other so-called “experts” who advised “the only way to fix the situation was to raise taxes.” Most of us here know the last thing anyone needs is higher taxes. What our state budget needed was some good old-fashioned belt tightening – forcing our state government to live within its means just like every Florida family. And we bridged that $3.7 billion budget gap and balanced our budget without raising taxes. But I wasn’t satisfied with just that. The plan I campaigned on called for lower property taxes and a phase out of the business tax. I was elected to deliver on that promise, and I was not going to wait for the economy to get better before taking action. So last year, I signed into a law a tax cut that eliminated taxes for nearly half of Florida’s businesses, and we cut property taxes by more than $200 million. We did this because we understand it’s businesses that create new jobs, not government. It’s businesses who have built America into the number one economy in the world, not government. It’s businesses who hire individuals who, through their hard work, feed their families, purchase homes, and provide a safe, nurturing environment for their children. Our actions are positioning Florida to lead the nation in new job creation and economic growth. I won my campaign because Floridians were tired of politicians playing the blame game. They were tired of watching jobs go away and housing prices drop. They were tired of asking: Who will accept responsibility for making Florida the number one place in the world to start and grow a business? They asked, who will hold state government accountable? Who will keep a sharp eye on state spending? Who will help create the number one business environment in the world? In my state, that call was answered, loudly and clearly. I stood up and said I will! As Governor, job one for me is helping Floridians get back to work. That’s why when the employment numbers come out every month, the press doesn’t need to ask who should be held accountable. They know I will! Floridians don’t have to ask who will make the tough decisions that will balance the budget and hold state government accountable! They know I will! Nobody in Florida wonders who will stand up to defend taxpayers against pork-barrel spending. They know I will! And in Florida nobody wonders who will protect the rights of the unborn or the rights of citizens to own a gun. They know I will! I will make sure Florida children have an opportunity for a quality education, Floridians have an opportunity for a job and government does not raise the cost of living in my state. That is what leadership is about. Standing firm in your beliefs and convictions – not swaying in the wind subject to the latest public opinion poll. Floridians just voted in the Presidential Primary. I heard a lot about the candidates, and all of them have solid plans for ensuring American businesses are in the best position to succeed so they can hire more American workers. While many of you may differ on who your choice for President may be, I think there is one thing we can all agree on. Any one of these candidates have a superior plan to turn our economy around and would do a far better job than the current occupant of the White House. That’s why I’m excited about our chances this year. We all should be. The American economy is in trouble. The world economy is teetering on the edge of a cliff. We need to remember how this Great Country was built. Our President wants to grow the federal government. He has called for the creation of a gaggle of new federal agencies, yet there is no plan to reduce federal regulation. No plan to balance the federal budget. No plan to cut government spending. No plan to make American companies more competitive in the global marketplace. No plan to fix social security. No plan to stop ruining our credit. No plan to give Americans more choice as to how their hard-earned dollars are spent. We all know government should not bail out companies. We all know American companies cannot succeed against foreign competitors if America has higher taxes, more regulation and more litigation. Against this backdrop, people like you and I look around the Country and we ask, who will stop this from happening? Who will stand up and lead America into another generation of prosperity? Who will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to build their companies with American workers? Who will take responsibility for meeting America’s economic challenges head on? Who will stand up and be held accountable for protecting the job creators and the economic producers of our country? And I am encouraged by what I see. All of our presidential candidates this year have stood up and said: “I will!” We have some courageous candidates who are ready to lead. And ladies and gentlemen, you the folks in this very room, must hold all of our candidates, from the presidential race to your state and local leaders, accountable for making America the haven for individuals to live their version of the American dream. In less than 9 months, the fate of our nation will be decided. The fate of individual rights will be decided! The opportunity for American families …will be decided. It is up to all of us to do everything in our power to put America back on the path to prosperity. We have to put American businesses in a better position to succeed than businesses in any other country. That is how we will grow jobs in America. We, the conservative leaders of our nation, are accountable for what happens between Now and November. In November, when the political dust has settled, let it be us that answered the call of who will take responsibility for America’s future. Let each of us say: “I will.” Thank you and God Bless America.