Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Conservative Political Action Conference
Gaylord National
National Harbor, MD
March 6, 2014

[DEMOCRACY IN ACTION transcript / video]

Good morning.  God bless CPAC.

Now I do have to start with a bit of bad news this morning.  I'm sorry to tell you that by virtue of your being here today, tomorrow morning each and every one of you is going to be audited by the IRS.  So I appreciate the courage of your convictions.  You know yesterday Lois Lerner went before Congress and yet again pleaded the Fifth.  And of course President Obama told Bill O'Reilly during the Super Bowl there's not a smidgen of corruption with the IRS.  It reminded me of one of my favorite movies.  [adopts accent] "You keep on using that word.  I do not think it means what you think it means." [from The Princese Bride]  Somehow my understanding of smidgen was a little different than his.

I want to thank you all for being here.  You are here today at CPAC because you understand the stakes in this country have never been higher.  You are here because you understand our country is at a crisis point.  We are at the edge of cliff.  Liberty is under assault.  And what I want to talk to y'all about this morning is how we win.

There are a lot of DC consultants that say there's a choice for Republicans to make.  We can either choose to keep our head down, to not rock the boat, to not stand for anything or we can stand for principle.  And they say if you stand for principle, you lose elections.  The way to do it, the smart way, the Washington way is don't stand against Obamacare, don't stand against the debt ceiling, don't stand against nothing.  I want to tell you something.  That is a false dichotomy.  You want to lose elections, stand for nothing.

Look at the last four congressional elections.  '06, 08, '10 and '12.  Three of the four we followed that strategy.  '06, '08 and '12.  We put our head down, we stood for nothing, and we got walloped.  The one election that was a tremendous election was 2010, when Republicans drew a line in the sand.  We said we stand unequivocally against Obamacare, against bankrupting the country, and we won an historic tidal wave of an election.

And then of course all of us remember President Dole and President McCain and President Romney.  Now look.  Those are good men; they're decent men.  But when you don't stand and draw a clear distinction, when you don't stand for principle, Democrats celebrate.

So I'm going to stand here today, and let's take, for an example, young people.  There any young people here today?  I've got to note by the way, everyone should be cheering at that.  Everyone is young at heart; if you are at CPAC by definition you are a young person because you believe in the future of America.  But I want to give you an example of how we win young people, and that's an example of how we win elections across the board.  I'm going to suggest a radical agenda to you.  Hope, and change.

You look at the last five years of President Obama as hope has diminished across the world.  As the people of Ukraine have seen Russian tanks move into their sovereign land.  As the nation of Israel has been left without its friend and ally the United States of America.  You look at home.  We have the lowest workforce participation since 1978.  Millions have lost hope because under President Obama the American Dream is harder and harder and harder for anyone to achieve.  And I got to tell you change, real change, is changing the corrupt and broken system that is here in Washington, DC.

How do you win young people?  Who are the two Republicans in modern times who have most energized young people?  Ronald Reagan and Ron Paul.  So apparently the key is being named Ronald.  But if you think of it, neither one of them were young, rugged, James Dean rebel-without-a-cause.  They were septuagenarians.  And yet what did they do?  They stood for principle.  They painted a bold, inspiring vision for America, for how all of us can be better, and young people came out by the millions and said that's the vision I want to be behind. 

If you were to sit down and try to design an agenda to hammer the living daylights out of young people, you couldn't do better than the Obama economic agenda.  Under President Obama we've had five years of the great stagnation.  No economic growth.  Which means one generation after another coming out of school can't find jobs.  You know economists are referring to this generation of young people as a lost generation.  Obamacare, one of the easiest ways to understand it, it's a massive wealth transfer from young healthy people to everybody else.  And then our national debt from $10 trillion to $17 trillion.  Who the heck do you think's going to pay for that? 

The Obama agenda has been horrible for young people, and yet how many Republicans said that?  Does anyone remember in the last election anyone going and making the case to young people about there is a better way, a brighter future.  How do we win; how do we inspire young people? 

Number one, we tell the truth.  This president seems to have a little problem with that.  Last fall Jay Leno said [adopts Leno voice], "So, uh, President Obama called me.  He said 'Jay. if you like your job, you can keep it.'  He followed that up a couple of weeks later; he said [adopts Leno voice], "So, uh, the holidays are coming up.  Thanksgiving.  You know the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrims said to the Indians, if you like your land, you can keep it."  We need to tell the truth. 

The truth is Washington is corrupt.  There is a corrupt and interlocking system of lobbyists and lawyers that are all, and consultants that are suckling off Washington enriching—  You are in the richest counties in the country.  Right now as more and more and more people are making great wealth in Washington, and Wall Street prospers and Main Street suffers, young people suffer, Hispanics suffer, African-Americans suffer, single moms suffer, everyone struggling to achieve the American Dream suffers. 

How do we win elections?  In the contrast between corrupt Washington and the American people, we stand with the American people.  We stand with a straightforward and bold positive agenda to inspire the young, to inspire women, to inspire Hispanics, to inspire everybody.

Number one.  Defend the Constitution.  All of it.  Defend the First Amendment.  The right to free speech, the right to a free press.  For all of our friends in the media, a free press means not having government monitors sitting in your newsroom.  The right to freedom of religion.  And that means among other things not having the IRS ask citizens, tell me the content of your prayers.  We need to stand for the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.  We need to stand for the Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights to privacy of every American.  How many of y'all have your cell phones?  I'm going to ask you to please leave them on.  I want to make sure President Obama hears everything I have to say this morning.

Number two.  We need to abolish the IRS.  We need to adopt a simple flat tax that is fair, that every American can fill out his taxes on a post card.

Number three.  We need to expand energy in this country and create high-paying jobs all over America.  President Obama talks about a $10 minimum wage.  The real minimum wage, with the lowest labor force participation since 1978 under Obama is zero for the millions who have lost their jobs in the failed Obama economy.  I'm much more interested in—  You know in North Dakota in the oil fields, the average wage is $45.90 an hour.  I want a lot more 40- and 50- and 60-dollar an hour jobs and not zero dollar an hour unemployment.

Number four.  We need to expand school choice.  Every child deserves an opportunity to have an excellent education regardless of your race, your class, your creed, where you come from; every child deserves a chance at the American Dream.

Number five.  We need to repeal Dodd-Frank.  Talk about a bill that you don't have to read any further than the title to know nothing good can come of this. 

Number six.  We need to audit the Federal Reserve.  Unaccountable power in Washington debasing our currency, driving up the cost of food and gas and the basic stuff of life is hurting Americans who are struggling across this country.  And I'll tell you what else it's doing.  It's fueling the abuse of power by petro-tyrants like Putin.

Number seven.  We need to pass a strong Balanced Budget Amendment.  We need to stop bankrupting our country.  You know right now our kids and grand kids are inheriting a country where the national debt is larger than the size of our entire economy.  And let me speak right now to everyone in the room who didn't applaud when I said are there any young people here.  What we're doing to our kids and grand kids is morally wrong.  It is an outrage.  If we keep on this road, they will spend their entire lives working not to meet the needs of the future, not to meet the needs of their priorities, but instead just working to pay off the debts that their deadbeat parents and grandparents stuck them with.  And our parents didn't do that to us.  Their parents didn't do that to them.  And the reason we are here today is we are not going to do it to the next generation; we are going to turn this around.

Number eight.  We need to repeal every single word of Obamacare.  When millions of Americans stood up last fall and said stop this train wreck, this disaster that is Obamacare, that is hurting millions of people, the Democrats said, the mainstream media said—although I repeat myself—they said this is hopeless.  Don't you understand?  Just move on.  Just accept it.  You can't do anything to stop this.  [voice from audience: Yes we can]  Yes we can.  You know along with hope and change, that pretty good.

Number nine.  We need to stop the lawlessness.  This president of the United States is the first president we've ever had who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore.  He announces just about every day one change after another after another in Obamacare.  It is utterly lawless.  It is inconsistent with our Constitution.  And it ought to trouble everyone— Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians.  Let me tell you something.  If you have a president who is picking and choosing which laws to follow and which laws to ignore, you no longer have a president.

And number ten.  We need to end the corruption.  We need to eliminate corporate welfare and crony capitalism.  If you come to Washington and serve in Congress there should be a lifetime ban on lobbying.  And we need to pass a strong constitutional amendment that puts into law term limits.

Now there are lots of voices in Washington that'll say, no, no, no, no.  This is too bold.  You can't stand against the IRS.  That's extreme.  You can't say repeal Obamacare.  That's really a bit much; let's just modify it.  You can't not bankrupt the country.  Let's just slow it down a little bit.  A fried of mine suggested a bumper sticker slogan.  "Republicans: We waste less."

You win elections by standing for principle and inspiring people that there is a better tomorrow.  These solutions will not come from Washington, but I'll tell you where they will come from, which is the American people.

So let me tell every one of you that took out your cell phones before, let me ask you if you want to join in the army—because we're tying to mobilize the people across this country, text the word "growth" to the number 33733.  Let me give that to you again.  text the word "growth," "growth" to the number 33733. Because what we're trying to do to turn this country around is mobilize and energize the American people all over this country, and tweet, if you're on Twitter, tweet the hash tag MakeDCListen.

I'm going to tell you, in conclusion, I have never been more inspired than I am right now.  Not inspired by Washington; I'm not inspired by the corruption, I'm not inspired by the mendacity in the White House.  I am inspired because all across this country the American people are waking up.  All across this country people are waking up and saying what we're doing is not working, people are hurting tragically, and we need to turn this country around.  We did it in 1980 with a grassroots movement that became the Reagan Revolution, and let me tell you the same thing is happening all over today.

I am inspired, I am honored to stand with you today because together if the American people continue to rise up, to speak out, to speak the truth we will get back to the free market principles, we will get back to the constitutional liberties that have made America the greatest nation in the history of the world.  We will bring back morning in America.  That's why we're here and that is the future for the young and everybody else in this country.  Thank you and God bless you.