Thank you. I want to tell you it's pretty amazing for me to be here tonight. It's an honor and a privilege to be able to address you in this hall. I guess tonight in the short time that I have I want to tell you a little about who I am and what I am and what I've been all about in politics.
As many of you know, I was raised the son of a mailman in a blue-collar town outside of Pittsburgh. When I lived there I realized that I lived with a lot of people who didn't have a lot of power. They were people who if the wind blew the wrong way they found themselves out of work. And in the barbershops they read the paper and they'd complain and they'd say what they didn't like but they couldn't really figure out what to do about it. And I made up my mind as a young man that if I ever had an opportunity to stand up, I would stand up and represent those people who no one ever stands up and represents. And frankly, it's many of you here tonight who don't have the lawyers and the special interests being able to speak for you.
So what I decided in my mind's eye was to honor where I came from and that was to fight for people who normally don't get fought for. And do you know what it was all about? It was all about taking power from big institutions and giving it to people in every neighborhood, in every family, and in every community in the country. And I've got a little secret for you tonight. You know me as the guy that balanced the budget, but you know what? It's never been about balancing a budget, it's never been about numbers, it's never been about adding up columns. You see, I went to Washington to take the power, money, and influence that all of us sent and I'm trying to bring it back home so that all of us can have that power, money, and influence back in our communities where we live so we can begin to design the kind of America that we want.
Now I want to tell you I am very, very excited about the fact that we are going to have a balanced budget this year. It will be the first time we've had it since man walked on the moon, since 1969. And as a result, we are getting the benefits of it, the lower interest rate, it's easier to go to college, easier to buy a home, and we've had our economy growing and we ought to celebrate that. But frankly folks the balanced budget was just a start. That's why this year I went back to the House of Representatives and offered a budget that passed through the house two weeks ago that would cut a penny out of every dollar of federal spending. And we would take that money and we would use it to abolish the marriage penalty so that we can help every single family in America get ahead.
I want to tell you a little bit about the family because the last time I was in Iowa I was down in Davenport and I was in a Holiday Inn. And I was walking through that Holiday Inn and there was a door open and I looked in and I saw a family. And it kind of sent Johnny Kasich back to his childhood because I knew they were on vacation. You see in that Holiday Inn was a family, a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister and maybe an aunt and an uncle and the grandparents. And I thought back to when I went on vacation. You remember them, you spent the first 24 hours arguing where you were going to stay and the next twelve hours arguing that you should've stayed in the other place. And they were in this Holidome where they had that swimming pool where if you lay down your feet touches one side and your head touches the other. And you know what they were doing inside that Holiday Inn in that room? They were making sandwiches. Mom and Dad had gone down the street and they had bought the lunchmeat and the bread and there they were making sandwiches and the kids where going to swim and they were going to get together and have a great time. And it took me back to the days when I sat in a dusty parking lot and I told my dad, "I want that extra hamburger from McDonald's, Dad." And I remember that - Mom and Dad and my brother and my sister. And the memories that were going to happen in that hotel were going to be special for them. And you know what occurred to me? Why couldn't we cut the federal budget and give more to that family so instead of eating lunch meat in a room they could go to a restaurant. And they could be empowered as a family and begin to celebrate all of their hopes and dreams and share their love and compassion in a society that's desperately in need of it.
But even if in fact we can empower the family and keep trimming the government just marginally, it's not enough because let me tell you what in my opinion what's happened in our country. We are running America too much from the top down rather than bottom up. There's a handful of elitists who operate in a far away place. You know they don't even know the time zone in Cedar Rapids. And the fact is running America from the top down isn't going to get it done into the next century because we know the things that bother us the most are going to be solved by us where we in fact live. And I would argue that we ought to break the stranglehold of the elitists and get our power back in three simple areas to begin with.
One, education. Reggie White just told me about his article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. Let me just suggest to you that nothing should stand between us and the children of families who need to be set free so that mothers and fathers can be empowered to put their children in any educational setting where those kids are going to learn to get the skills so they can live their dreams and fly. That's what it's all about. It just shouldn't be rich people. It just shouldn't be people who live in the White House who can send their kids to a private school. Let's let everybody send their kids wherever they're going to get an education.
And we ought to break the monopoly on retirement. We've got mom and dad here tonight, we've got the baby boomers and we've got the kids. We've got Mom and Dad's Social Security that needs to be taken care of. But you know what? We've got to give baby boomers more control over there payroll taxes so they can invest it just like federal employees so we can earn decent returns on our investments, so we can have a decent retirement when we come of age, and so our children won't be ripped off and they can have the type of investment opportunity and retirement. We are going to provide for our mothers and fathers. And you know what? We care more about our retirement than some bureaucrat in Washington does. Let us invest our own money. Don't you think it's time?
And finally, I was chairman of the conference that wrote the welfare bill. You know where I come from it's a sin to not help people who need help, but it's equally sinful to continue to help people who need to learn to help themselves. But I want to go beyond the current welfare system. I want to let you give five hundred dollars to Habitat for Humanity in your community rather than giving it to the Department of HUD in Washington. I want you to be able to give five hundred dollars to the Salvation Army rather than the Department of HHS. Do you know why? Because we can take care of people in our community because we care and we know that local solutions are the way to solve local problems.
I want a more deregulated society. I want more tax cuts. I want be set free to educate our children and change welfare and save the retirement system. It's about getting our power back. But I want to suggest that when we have our power back that's not enough. Because we're going to have to use our power to heal the challenges that we have in our communities. And how are we going to use this power once we get it? That's where faith and God come in. That's where we get the virtues that tell men and women how to live in peace and harmony. I think God gave us a road map at the beginning of time that if we follow, mankind will live in peace and harmony. And the virtues that we read in that good book are the virtues of peace and justice and compassion. And how we treat our spouse and how we treat our subordinates and how we treat that man who's laying on the street that everybody passes by. I have been in politics for twenty years and I realize that we are in an era where making more laws isn't going to fix the things that bother us the most. What's going to fix the things that bother us the most is for us to be able to exhibit individual restraint. To be healing agents wherever we are. Instead of making more laws, we can stand up and be of character and be of personal responsibility. And to love our neighbors and take care of our subordinates and those that are hated and we will be a freer society. Not only will be a freer society but we'll be a healthier society.
I believe the mission of the Republican Party is to break the stranglehold of the elite in government. I believe then we should get our power as individuals. In this country I believe we need to renew these virtues and replant them in our hearts and in our minds and pass them onto those who have never understood this. And then do you know what we need to do as a party? We need to instill confidence in every human being to make a difference.
I've finished a book that is coming out in August. It's called Courage is Contagious and maybe the star of the book is a man called Albert Lexy. In shop class he made a shoe shine kit. He dropped out of school at sixteen. Some might call him mentally retarded. Sixteen years ago he was now in his middle fifties. And he was watching a telethon and at the telethon he was so inspired by children's hospitals that he took seven hundred and fifty dollars out of his bank account and gave it to the children's hospitals. He asked them if he could shine shoes, which he's been doing for sixteen years at two dollars a pair. He's a place where people could go to lift their burdens under the difficulty of a children's hospital. He's donated over forty thousand dollars in tip money to the hospital fund to help mothers and fathers who don't have anything.
Now none of us can probably be as great as Albert Lexy, but I'm going to suggest this to you all of you. Because this is just not a political appearance and a speech to me but it's an opportunity for me to say to all of you and to myself we all need to be leaders. We need to be healing agents in any part of the world in which we work as a business person or as a senior citizen or as a young person who stands up for righteousness. The country is hungry for it. But we cannot get it done unless we take the power from the people in a far away place, put it in our hands, recognize the values that God gave us and stand up each and everyone of us. Starting tonight and heading into tomorrow and being the best leader we can be. We will build a better country, we will build a better state, we will build a better community, we will build a better family, and we ourselves will be better. And as a great nation of individuals, we will heal the world. Thank you very much and God bless you.