Congressman John Kasich
"First in the Nation Primary Kick Off Dinner"
Manchester, NH
May 2, 1999

Thank you very much. I want you all to know that I got into politics to change the world, to serve as a vehicle for easing the frustrations of everyday working people, people like you. You see I believe these frustrations develop from a lack of control. They develop from events that not only frustrate us, but they sap our spirit, they damage our idealism and they isolate us from one another.

Over the course of my career I have been involved in efforts which have made real progress against that frustration. We reformed the welfare system, a system that undermined the family, that fostered dependence and took unjustly from those who went to work every day. It was [word?] to the Congress that Republicans be elected in 1995 to fix that welfare system.

I led an effort to balance the budget, because I believe in a fundamental American value, that you should not spend more than you earn. And I've worked hard to cut taxes, including the capital gains taxes, and fought successfully to end many wasteful government programs. But still, ladies and gentlemen, we continue to be bombarded by a series of blows delivered by a top-down government that has been dominated by elites.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe it's a government that is making us more cynical; it's a government that has made us more isolated; it's a government that has made us more polarized.

This top-down approach has given us, unfortunately, the education system that's failing our kids, a Social Security system where 18-year olds believe they have a better chance of seeing an unidentified flying object that a Social Security check. It's given us a top-down regulatory system that punishes good people. It's given us a legal system that is no longer a center of justice. It's given us a foreign policy dominated by one man who is unable to determine our national interest and has been unable to define achievable goals for America around the world. It's given us a tax system that's too complicated; it takes too much from us.

It feeds a bureaucracy that's too wasteful, that doesn't think about the fact that people work hard every day to earn their money, and then it taxes us even when we die. And we must march to end this unjust tax system that penalizes marriage in America. And ladies and gentlemen we must end the top-down policies of our government that are degrading religion and people of faith. [applause].

I want to tell you, it's not about the problems that should move our party, it's about the solutions. You see, ladies and gentlemen, I believe that we can run America from our families and from our communities to the top rather than to be dictated from the top-down solutions in our society. And I believe ladies and gentlemen that if families and communities are empowered to develop solutions from the bottom up, it would give us a long way toward reducing our frustrations; it would give us our power back; it would restore a sense of control.

You see I believe that we should provide for school choice that will give parents the power to decide where their kids will receive their best education. [applause]. I've got to tell you, I believe competition, competition for the right to educate our children will do nothing but improve our public schools. Grown ups should fight for the right to teach our children the skills they need. [applause].

We should have [inaudible] Social Security reform so that the baby boomers and their kids can have more control over their retirement. You know Mom and Dad are going to be okay, but if we don't have the courage and the guts to change this system and create individual retirement accounts for the baby boomers and their children, they will get very little.

And ladies and gentlemen, we need a bottom-up, not a top-down regulatory policy so we can begin to meet the requirements where we live with our ideas and our innovations not dictated by a bunch of people who don't even know what area code we're in. [laughter, applause].

Ladies and gentlemen we need a loser-pays legal system. You know what, if you want to sue me and you lose, you pay my bills. And that [applause] would not only go a long way toward reestablishing a sense of justice in America, but if you are a small business today you live in fear of a lawsuit and if you're sued, they tell you to settle. Loser-pays would be the single biggest effort that we can make to help our small businesses.

And we need to fight for tax cuts every single day, and I will tell you, people take a poll saying people are happy with the level of taxes they pay. And for mothers and fathers to spend more time working to pay taxes than to buy food, clothing and shelter, we need to march as Republicans to cut taxes and cut spending every single day. [applause].

We need discipline to define our vital national interests and to determine our achievable goals around the world. And we need positive family legislation that would create flex time in the workplace, provide incentives for parents to be able to stay home and take care of their kids. We need to simplify the adoption laws.

And ladies and gentlemen we must encourage people of faith to engage in and help solve our toughest problems. They're the problems, ladies and gentlemen, that involve the changing of our hearts.

You see after all the solutions to the toughest problems come from change from the inside out, not the efforts of those in government to change us from the outside in. You see real solutions will never come from politicians in Washington who pass three laws and think they've changed the world. You see we can change the world, but it has to start from inside each one of us in this room tonight.

Because ultimately this is about us; this is about our leadership. You see this is about the examples that you and I set for our children and those who work near us. Love of profit should never be more important that love of country and love of family, whether it's selling sensitive technology to countries that would harm us or producing movies that glorify violence or being more concerned about a new BMW than a daughter's homework assignment. And you know something, ladies and gentlemen, it's not about what we say-- our kids hear what we say--but they want to know what we do, what examples we set boy our actions and it's those actions that I believe can restore the hope of the American dream.

And, ladies and gentlemen, it's about each of us using our God-given gifts to make a difference in the world. And we have a hero here tonight, Robert Plant from Lebanon, who raised $120,000 going door to door to fix cystic fibrosis research, and the fact is he's a hero. [applause]. But, ladies and gentlemen, we all have the ability to discover our own gifts and the courage to use them. Ladies and gentlemen, we do it to preserve the American dream not just for us and for our generation, but for our children and the next generation. I hope you'll join me in making a huge difference to shine up America for the next century. Thank you. [applause].