I want to speak briefly about the issues at stake in this election, and about the choice that we face.
I have been called a maverick. Sometimes it is meant as a compliment and sometimes it is meant as a criticism. But what it really means is I understand who I work for. I don't work for a party. I don't work for a president. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you and for the country we love.
I spoke up against the administration for their mistakes in Iraq. I fought for the surge strategy that is going to bring our troops home with victory. I spoke up against my party for out of control spending. I spoke up against the administration and Congress ... and Senator Obama, when they gave us an energy bill with more give-aways to big oil and no real solution to our energy problems.
Now, I want to take a minute here on this issue, because I think Senator Obama is a little confused. Yesterday he accused me of having President Bush's policies on energy. That's odd, because he voted for the President's energy bill and I voted against it. I voted against it because it had 2.8 billion dollars in corporate welfare to oil companies that are already making record profits. Senator Obama voted for that bill and its big oil giveaways. I know he hasn't been in the Senate that long, but even in the real world voting for something means you support it, and voting against something means you oppose it.
Just like on the energy bill, I have argued for reform and change in Washington for years, and it hasn't always made me friends with the politicians and pundits. But I don't answer to them; I answer to you. You will always know exactly where I stand and you will always know, no matter what, I will always do what I believe is right for our country.
For his part, Senator Obama is an impressive orator. I applaud his talent and success. All Americans should be proud of his accomplishment. ... But Washington is full of talented talkers. And unfortunately, on issues big and small, what Senator Obama says and what he does are often two different things.
Senator Obama says he's going to change Washington. But his plan to raise your taxes and spend more of your money is not my idea of a solution to what troubles Washington. In fact, it sounds a lot like the problem. In the few years he's been in the Senate, he has requested nearly a billion dollars in pork barrel spending. That's a million dollars for every day he's been in office. We need to end this out of control spending in Washington, and when I am president it will stop.
Senator Obama says he will only raise taxes on the rich. But in the Senate, he voted for tax hikes that would have impacted those making just $42,000 per year. He has proposed tax increases on income taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes, Social Security taxes - pretty much anything that you can tax, he wants to tax more. We have the second highest business tax rate in the world, and Barack Obama thinks the way to keep jobs here at home is to make it higher. Raising taxes in a bad economy is about the worst thing you could do because it will kill even more jobs and send more jobs overseas. What we need are policies that create jobs. What we need today is an Economic Surge to keep jobs here at home and create new ones. We need to reduce the tax burden on businesses that choose to make their home in the U.S. We need to open new markets to U.S. products. We need to reduce the cost of healthcare. And we need to end the out of control spending in Washington that is putting our debt on the backs of our children.
Senator Obama says he wants energy independence, but he is opposed to new drilling at home; he is opposed to nuclear power. He has said the high cost of gasoline doesn't bother him; only that it rose too quickly. He actually thinks that raising taxes on oil is going to bring down the price at the pump. He is claiming that putting air in your tires is the equivalent of new offshore drilling... That's not an energy plan; that's a public service announcement. We all agree we need to aggressively develop advanced alternative energies like wind, solar, tidal and biofuels. But we also need to develop more existing energies like safe nuclear power and clean coal. And we need to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much, start drilling for more oil at home, and bring down the cost of gasoline that is killing our economy. If we are going to finally solve this problem, we need an "all of the above" approach.
On Iraq, Barack Obama says he wants peace, but even today he opposes the surge strategy that succeeded in Iraq and will succeed in Afghanistan. His policy of unconditional withdrawal - regardless of the facts on the ground - could result in renewed violence and a third Iraq war. I am going to end this war, but when I bring our troops home, they will come home with victory, leaving Iraq secured as a democratic ally in the Arab heartland.
Behind all the words, Senator Obama's agenda can be summarized as this: Government is too big, and he wants to grow it. Taxes are too high, and he wants to raise them. Congress spends too much, and he proposes more. We need more energy, and he's against producing it. We're finally winning in Iraq, and he wants to forfeit.
The bottom line is that Senator Obama's words, for all their eloquence and passion, don't mean all that much. And that's the problem with Washington. It is not just the Bush Administration, and it's not just the Democratic Congress. It's that everyone in Washington says whatever it takes to get elected or to score the political point of the day. If Senator Obama doesn't have the strength to speak openly and directly about how he will address the serious challenges confronting America, how will he be strong enough to really change Washington? We don't need another politician in Washington who puts self-interest and political expediency ahead of problem solving. We need to start putting our country first, and come together to keep American families safe and help them realize their dreams for a better life.