Archive for April, 2013

A Conservative's View on Gay Marriage

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

I was raised conservative and I have spent much of my adult life advocating for conservative values, chief among them: smaller government and economic freedom. As a conservative, I’ve always thought of marriage as between a man and a woman, but I also recognize that in a free society we often disagree. Disagreement is an inherent and vital component to democratic society, along with our most essential ideal — freedom. America is a free country where people should be able to live their lives the way they choose. Allowing same-sex couples to marry is not a threat to our overall value system or our country. If two people love each other, our government has no place standing in the middle and denying them their basic rights. There are many arenas where our government exerts control but it should play no role in the lives of private, law-abiding Americans.

 

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My Remarks at the Hispanic Leadership Network Conference – Miami, FL 4/19/13

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Thank you, Jenny. I appreciate your kind words. It is an honor for me to join you again in another HLN annual conference here in Miami. I am proud of how far we have come as an organization but, as Jenny just alluded to, we have a lot of work ahead of us.

From immigration and Medicare reform to jobs and the economy, Hispanics will play a key role in deciding the path forward for our country. And right now, that path looks to be leading in only one direction – away from conservative values. We must change that. And to do so, we need you to join our fight.

Consider immigration reform…poll after poll suggests that a vast majority of conservatives will support a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in our country. That is…as long as we talk about that process in a way in which we highlight the conditions attached to it, including the need for applicants to pass a background check and pay back taxes.

It is important that we communicate that the process, which will take at least 13 years for completion, will be fair to all involved, especially to those who have been waiting in line after legally applying for citizenship. Like Jenny said, what we say is as important as how we say it.

We cannot afford to lose the immigration debate on semantics. We need to be strategic, proactive, and relentless in educating Hispanics nationwide about the principles we believe in and will defend during the public policy debate about immigration reform.

The conversations we will have here today on immigration, the economy, education, and healthcare will hopefully arm you with the tools you need to help us amplify our message. From immigration reform to jump-starting our economy, Latinos must not and should not settle for less than what they deserve.

Since President Obama took office, for example, the Hispanic unemployment rate has remained above 9 percent. For young Hispanics, those 18 to 29 years old, the March unemployment rate figure is a staggering 12.6 percent. That is simply unacceptable. The White House speaks of an economic recovery. What recovery?

To make matters worse, under the president’s budget for FY2014, the national debt would grow to over $25 trillion by 2023. This would further slow the economy and threaten the possibility of a sovereign debt crisis.

I can go on and on, but you get my point. There is a better way forward. Our task, after today, is to ensure that we actively and efficiently communicate that alternative to Hispanics nationwide. We sincerely hope that all of you answer our call to do so.

A man who will be instrumental in ensuring that conservative values prevail and that elected officials are held accountable for their actions during the upcoming public debate on immigration reform is someone who has served the Hispanic community and this country well for more than a decade. He is a tireless advocate for Latinos nationwide and the former Secretary of Commerce of the United States. Mi amigo, and yours, Carlos Gutierrez.

 

Setting the Table in Washington

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

As President Obama hosts yet another bipartisan dinner — one in early March and the latest, a steak and greens feast at the White House, last Wednesday— I can’t help but recall that over the years, I too have hosted many similar dinners at my home. Most often these dinners are with our elected officials from both sides of the aisle. The idea is a good one: it encourages substantive dialogue, can often form friendships and can show us that a lot of the time, we might not disagree as much as we lead on.

But, to be frank, a few nice dinners between Republicans and Democrats isn’t enough to bridge the divides that exist in American politics today.

At my most recent dinner, I found myself having the same conversation over and over again with Republicans and Democrats alike. First, they’re all torn between the constituents who voted them into office, and Washington, where business continues as usual. Second, a lot of times they are torn between trying to govern and risking a backlash from extremists in their own party.

While engaging in dialogue over dinner once or twice every few months is a positive, our leaders in the Executive Branch and Congress need to reinstate a process that affords policy makers the opportunity to deliberate and engage in a legislative structure aligned with what our founders intended.

We need to reexamine what our committee structure has become. I believe the best bills for the most amount of people follow a grassroots approach, arising first from the subcommittee level and working from the bottom up, not the top down. Working from the rank and file legislators on up develops in-depth policy knowledge from committee members and allows for committee chairs and ranking members to exert influence over topics that they know more intimately than party leadership.

Even as the leader of the House, Speaker Boehner often speaks about restoring order to this process. We need more of that willingness from more members. Both parties will often recall the days where committee chairs and members of the Executive branch enjoyed great relationships, even in a divided government. That sort of thing is non-existent today.

The continuous campaign remains one of the deepest thorns in the side of bipartisanship. The looming threat from each side makes it almost impossible to take political risks and the very foundation for bipartisanship, trusting relationships across the aisle, is becoming a thing of the past.

The Executive branch must build better relations on Capitol Hill. Over the past twenty years, both parties have done a poor job of this while in the White House. Better relations between the two bodies are essential to promoting understanding and trust, which will lead toward more meaningful dialogue.

Hopefully President Obama will invite not only Republicans but his cabinet members to the table as well. He must encourage his cabinet to have better relationships with Congress and more of them. Those same cabinet members must also be willing to visit the hill and advocate on his behalf. If he wants to pass any considerable policy in the next three years, he has no other choice.

Setting the table is one thing, keeping people at it for the hard work is entirely another.  Dinner is a start but a restored legislative process with an engaged president and cabinet will be required before we finally address our nation’s problems in a meaningful way.