A Time for Choosing: American voters must heed Reagan’s words and elect pro-growth politicians

Ronald Reagan Time for Choosing

On October 27, 1964, a well-known Hollywood actor delivered a speech that electrified and forever changed the nation.

The words within the speech coined the term “fiscal responsibility” and launched one of the most successful political debuts in the history of American politics by propelling the career of one of the country’s most beloved and celebrated statesman – Ronald Reagan.

Sixteen years after his “A Time for Choosing” speech, Reagan would himself stand in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol while outlining the modern conservative vision of a responsible and transparent government motivated by the wants and needs of the very people who elected him – the taxpayers.

Two short years into his presidency, Reagan recruited late industrialist J. Peter Grace to carry out his vision, known as the Grace Commission, in which he directed 161 corporate executives and community leaders to “be bold and work like tireless bloodhounds to root out government inefficiency and waste of tax dollars.”

As November 4, 2014 marks the 34th year since The Gipper’s presidential election, taxpayers are again faced with the choice to either return to the institutionalized belief of fiscal responsibility, or continue trudging through a dismal economic environment (thanks in large part to a government that mismanages their money through a bloated and incorrigible federal bureaucracy.)

During his “Time for Choosing” speech, President Reagan stated “This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government, or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”

Fifty years later, the issue remains the same as American taxpayers continuously fall victim to stifling regulations, higher taxes, limited individual freedom, and aberrant behavior. 

An alarming number of lawmakers erroneously waste billions of taxpayer’s hard-earned money on thousands of programs that duplicate other federal, state, and private efforts, and continue to support parochial interests disguised as earmarks even after the implementation of the 2010 Congressional earmark moratorium.

In fiscal year 2014, individual members of Congress requested 109 earmarks worth a total of $2.7 billion for pet projects that included $21 million for the National Exercise Program to “assess and improve the nation’s preparedness and resiliency”, and $15 million to protect and restore Pacific salmon populations.

Unfortunately, the egregious examples of government waste don’t stop there.

In his Wastebook 2014, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) detailed 100 instances of the federal government’s most unnecessary, duplicative, and low-priority programs totaling $25 billion. Such examples included $90 million that the State Department spent on cultural exchange programs to help promote nose flutists, an eight-month $856,000 National Science Foundation study that taught three captive mountain lions to use a treadmill, and a $387,000 research grant to study how Swedish massages affected 18 New Zealand white rabbits – which were later euthanized upon the study’s completion.

Such displays of fiscal negligence prove that far too many lawmakers not only support spendthrift behavior, but fail to think about the concerns of their constituents before satisfying their own special interests. In 2013, less than one percent of Congress’s 535 members consistently voted to defend taxpayer interests in regards to tax, spending, transparency, and accountability measures – even when 70 percent of registered voters claim the economy and balancing the budget are the most important problems currently facing the country.

At a time when the national debt stands at a staggering $17.9 trillion and climbing, income tax collections remain at an all-time high of $1.3 trillion, the federal government spends 20.5 percent of America’s gross domestic product, and 13 million more Americans have entered poverty since 2009. Is this a country that Reagan would still be proud of?

A rich and thriving economy ultimately begins with pro-taxpayer leaders who believe individual freedom and government accountability are the keys to creating a more prosperous and optimistic America. It is not a question of whether or not is time to choose a different path, but whether taxpayers truly believe they deserve lawmakers who will fight for fiscal restraint, smaller government, and increased transparency and accountability.

As he stood before the nation to accept his nomination 34 years ago, President Reagan stated, “I am not frightened by what lies ahead and I don’t believe the American people are frightened by what lies ahead. Together, we’re going to do what has to be done.”

This Election Day, taxpayers should raise their voices loud and clear to do what has to be done by electing lawmakers who understand the values that make America exceptional as well as the actions that must be taken to keep it that way.

Every American must ask themselves if the candidates they intend to cast their votes for will work on behalf of taxpayers to decrease the nation’s debt, enact plausible pro-growth economic policies, put millions of unemployed Americans back to work, and revive a government that has no other source of power except the sovereignty of its people.

Is America ready to choose?  One can only hope – the very future of this nation depends on it.

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