A day before Illinois voters hit the polls to vote in the statewide primaries, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney delivered a speech at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. Romney, who currently holds an 8.5 point median average in Illinois polls, discussed his economic policy and job creation program which he will enact if elected president. I was in attendance.
Romney opened up by pointing out how the University of Chicago was the birthplace of Milton Freidman’s school of free market economic theory. He also mentioned how his namesake, Milt Romney (his father’s first cousin), played quarterback at the University of Chicago in the early 1920s before ultimately playing for the Chicago Bears.
He then went on to detail his economic policy for the country geared towards startups, entrepreneurship, and job creation. He explained why the private sector has become overburdened with aggressive regulations, high tax rates, and an over-controlling and over-spending federal government. He also went on to discuss the special interests at work in Washington lobbying for subsidies and exemptions for their respective industries or causes, and pointed out how examples like Solyndra, Ener1, Fisker, and others lead to crony capitalism – where government picks winners and losers.
Some memorable lines were ones like, “America used to lead the world in public infrastructure development like the transcontinental railroad, the Hoover Dam, and the interstate highway system. Now we can’t even build a pipeline.” And, “today’s government regulators would’ve prevented the Wright brothers from completing their airplane because of ‘dust pollution.’ They also would have stopped production of the Edison light bulb because of… oh wait, they just did!” That got a big laugh.
But during the Q&A session, there was one question which really grabbed my attention, and the answer to which was even more intriguing. The question, which came from a student, was, “Gov. Romney, what can Washington do to help my generation have a future? Millennials are drowning in student debt and not finding much opportunity in the workforce upon graduation. Is the American dream out of reach for us?”
Romney responded with, “That’s an excellent question. Let me just start by saying this: with all due respect, I can’t understand why a young person would ever vote Democrat (laughs). But seriously though, I sincerely mean this. The Democratic Party is bankrupting the country with out-of-control levels of spending, unsustainable entitlement practices, and crushing record debt. They believe the stimulus was too little, not too big. They want to double down on spending. They won’t event touch entitlement reform, which are now taking up 65% of all U.S. tax dollars. The interest on the debt alone takes up another 10%.”
“Guess what? This isn’t my generation’s problem — it’s yours! We’re soaking up all the entitlement benefits dry and passing off the leftover debt onto you! Why young people would vote for a party that is bankrupting your finances and your future to take care of us is beyond me.”
The audience erupted with thunderous applause.
“Now the Republicans, on the other hand, are trying to cut spending, are trying to lower debt, and are presenting entitlement reforms so that they’re even still around when you’re eligible for them. We’re trying to secure a future for you guys so that you’ll even have economic opportunity once you graduate. That’s what I’m working towards, providing sustainability for your generation. And even if you don’t like my ideas, fine. But at least we’re bringing the discussion to the table instead of staying off the 3rd rail and doubling down on debt.”
That answer spoke volumes to me. I think it is something all millennials should keep in mind this year.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons