Sen. Jim DeMint

Since 1966, the opposition party has delivered a response to the State of the Union Address.

This year, I am delivering a Conservative Response not to oppose the President, but to compliment what the President has proposed.

The President last night took some bold positions and we will work to support his principled stands. But more must be done.

As a Senate conservative, I will work with my colleagues to put forth principled conservative ideas for action in Congress.

First, we must start with National Security. Our national defense is the best in the world, but we need to make sure it stays that way. We will propose that at least 4 percent of GDP be spent on national defense, to make sure our troops have the resources, training, and equipment they need to accomplish their mission.

The biggest issue on the minds of most Americans right now is our economy. And one of the top problems with our economy is out of control Federal spending. We are 17 trillion dollars in debt, and much of that debt is held by foreign nations such as China. Reform is needed. We will propose a balanced budget amendment, to make sure we do not spend more than we take in. This amendment will make it harder for politicians to raise the taxes of Americans by requiring a supermajority vote in Congress.

We will also provide a comprehensive global competitiveness program to bring back companies and jobs which have gone overseas. The job losses we have seen are not the fault of the American worker, they are the fault of Washington politicians who see their mission to tax, regulate, and harass businesses until they finally move overseas. Liberals prefer to complain about the jobs that have left. Conservatives will fight to get them back, by lowering taxes on American companies, cutting red tape, and providing other reforms that create a business environment that becomes a global magnet for high quality jobs.

We must secure our border and enforce our immigration laws, without providing amnesty for illegal aliens. We will offer legislation to fund the entire border fence, increase the number of border patrol agents and provide our law enforcement the tools to enforce our immigration laws.

We must reform the way Washington spends your money. Last year, Congress passed an appropriations bill that was approximately 2 feet tall, 3,417 pages long, contained an estimated 9,170 earmarks, with no debate and only 46 hours and 8 minutes to read the bill. The system is a national disgrace. I commend the President for moving the ball forward on this issue. Conservatives in the Senate will carry the President’s call for reform by putting forth earmark reform legislation to provide transparency, disclosure, and reduction of wasteful earmarks.

We will also propose fundamental tax reform. In the short term, we must support the President’s call to make the tax cuts permanent. We will also put forth a proposal to give all taxpayers the option of a flat tax. You can stay in the current system, or you can choose a flat tax with no deductions. It’s up to you, the taxpayer. In the long term, we want to scrap the current tax code altogether because it is loaded with special interest giveaways, loopholes, and complicated hidden taxes. It is time to move to a fair system that taxpayers can understand.

At the same time, we must deal with our entitlement system, which is in serious financial trouble. The first step to reforming Social Security is to stop the raid. The Social Security Trust Fund should have a massive surplus of funds paid by workers for their retirement. But, every year, Congress raids the trust fund to pay for wasteful spending and earmarks. If a business did this, they would be prosecuted. When politicians do it, they get re-elected. The public is starting to wake up to these accounting tricks, and with your help we will end them.

We must provide free market health care options for all Americans. Last night President Bush made it clear that he understands this. Today, many Americans cannot get health insurance due to a discriminatory tax system and burdensome state regulations that make quality plans unaffordable. We will offer legislation to expand the current tax deduction for all Americans, and allow individual Americans to buy insurance across state lines.

Today, too many of our education dollars are being wasted on meddlesome bureaucrats in Washington who provide no added value to local schools. We will provide education reform to give flexibility to states and localities, eliminate burdensome regulations, and ensure that nearly all of our Federal education funds are being spent in the classroom, and decisions are being made by school boards, teachers, and parents – not politicians and bureaucrats.

We will also reform the corrupt and ineffective bureaucracy known as the United Nations. American taxpayers pay the largest contribution to the UN, and what do we get for it? We must refuse to continue sending billions of taxpayer dollars to the UN until it reforms the way it does business.

Americans are tired of this broken government, and I want you to know that conservatives in Washington hear you and intend to work hard to restore this nation. But to succeed in this effort we need the help of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. I hope you will join us in demanding more from your elected politicians.