National Harbor, MD -- A small, but passionate wing of attendees stayed for the fourth day of the Conservative Political Action Conference, where the chairwoman of the House Republican Conference noted how she’s inspired to see all the young conservatives who came to the Washington D.C.-area for CPAC.
She assured the audience that the conservative movement is alive, strong, diverse, and most importantly growing. Given the Republican gains in the 2014 elections, it’s a valid point. She took pride in the fact that the Republican Party has a record majority in the House of Representatives.
The main focus of her speech was grounded in rebuilding the American dream, a point that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker–a potential 2016 presidential candidate–has been making across the country.
Rep. Rodgers said she couldn’t have fathomed being the 200th woman to serve in the House of Representatives, being that she grew up in a small town in eastern Washington, picking fruit on her family farm.
Right now, she said her desire to keep the American dream alive is what makes her proud to be a conservative. She said we must have a “bottom-up” style of conservatism that looks to the future not the past; that trusts the people, not the government with ensuring their financial security and economic stability.
She noted how job creation gives you opportunity, dignity, and a sense of purpose. It gives you something to be proud about.
“We’re defined by our potential,” she said.
She also mentioned that God not only gave all of us life, but liberty as well. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that government won’t try and infringe on those rights. This segued into Rep. Rodgers noting how the top-down, one-size fits all solution approach by liberals doesn’t work–and that the best solution for economic torpor comes from the people.
Rodgers said it’s our diversity that strengthens America. We all come from different backgrounds and life stories, but liberals always believe the answer is more government, and their solutions fall short.
“They’ve confused government with compassion,” she said.
One area of policy she cited in her address was the ABLE Act, a revision of the tax code to allow people with disabilities to establish a tax-free savings account (via the National Down Syndrome Society):
The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2013 (S. 313/H.R.647) was introduced in the 113th Congress by a bipartisan, bicameral set of Congressional Champions including Sens. Robert Casey, Jr., (D-PA) and Richard Burr (R-NC), and Reps. Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), and Pete Sessions (R-TX).
The ABLE Act would amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-free savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. The bill aims to ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making tax-free savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing, and transportation. The bill would supplement, but not supplant, benefits provided through private insurances, the Medicaid program, the supplemental security income program, the beneficiary’s employment, and other sources.
An ABLE account could fund a variety of essential expenses for individuals, including medical and dental care, education, community based supports, employment training, assistive technology, housing, and transportation. The ABLE Act provides individuals with disabilities the same types of flexible savings tools that all other Americans have through college savings accounts, health savings accounts, and individual retirement accounts. The legislation also contains Medicaid fraud protection against abuse and a Medicaid pay-back provision when the beneficiary passes away. It will eliminate barriers to work and saving by preventing dollars saved through ABLE accounts from counting against an individual’s eligibility for any federal benefits program.
This issue strikes at home since Rep. Rodgers has a son, Cole, who was born with Down syndrome.
Nevertheless, as she concluded her speech, the congresswoman wasn’t shy about hitting Barack Obama’s economic record, alleging that his policies have robbed millions of Americans from tremendous opportunities–like the Keystone XL Pipeline.