(INAUDIBLE) = Areas that could not be heard due to background noise, tape/phone line quality, muffled speaking, etc.
Good morning. Good morning everybody. And Bobby. Thank you all very much for coming on a beautiful Florida morning. I get to travel around all the places, last week I was in Las Vegas and uh they always talk about about dry heat like it's some really cool thing when it's 110 degrees. I kinda like I like humidity myself being from Florida and it's good to be back in Tallahassee to see so many friends. Where's Ed Burr the chairman of, I thought he was here, the chairman of FSU's Board of Trustees. I saw Allan Bense who was the former Chairman of the FSU Board of Trustees. Thank you Allan. Got a chance to see your great president, President Thrasher who is back there. It's good to be here. I'm really excited to be with my friends.
We're in the early days of a long campaign and I’m making my case to the voters all across the country, I’m having a blast doing it by the way. It is it is with such joy I get to campaign for the Presidency of the United States, the greatest country on the face of the earth. People are ready to choose a new President. Among Republicans, they've got a lot of choices to choose from. They wanna know, the voters do, what we believe but also what we've accomplished and for me that story begins right here in Tallahassee.
In my eight years in office, we just didn't mark time. We filled those years with hard work and real reform. It wasn't always a smooth path. In fact, we used to call this city Mount Tallahassee because it was remote from the people, caught up in the subtle ways of a comfortable establishment. I was a Governor who refused to go along with that establishment. I wasn't a member of the club and that made all the difference. Should I win this election, you won't find me deferring to the ways of Mount Washington. The overspending, the overreaching, the arrogance, the shear incompetence of the city are sometimes they're they're treated as though it's a fact of life that nothing can be done about it. But a President should never accept them and I will not. We need a President willing to challenge the whole culture in our nation's capitol, and I mean to do it.
Name any excess or abuse in the federal government. In these past six years it's gotten worse. The rush to take over health care when they couldn't even put up a lousy website to go along with it. And cannot even keep the basic commitments like caring for veterans at the VA. Veterans died while waiting for care at the VA Hospital last year, but only two people were fired for lying about the wait times. Two people. We trust veterans, we trusted them to fight for us, we should trust them to be able to choose their own doctor and reforming VA will be a high priority.
The partisan abuses of the IRS and the cover-up that followed, all of which to this day have gone unpunished. And then there's the wholesale loss of personnel records and security information to cyber hackers in China. Because the political hacks in charge of OPM ignored official warnings. Do you remember the Inspector General's reports that we always got in our departments? There was one for OPM and it said we have lack security challenges here that we're gonna have security breaches. It had already happened by the time that that report had taken place and today we now know that 22 million people were affected and that the information taken includes intrusive questionnaires used to vet people for security clearances. I found out that those vetting process is 100 pages long, with all sorts of information, treasure troves of information for a country seeking to gain an advantage over our country.
What does it say then with all of the resources that the federal government has that they can't even protect vital data from a hostile actor? Rarely has incompetence carried such a price in government. Ineptitude of this order is enough to sound the alarm all by itself. But when it comes to the norm, when there's no accountability and few even expect it anymore that's when we really need to worry. It's come to the point with the current administration and with the entire Washington establishment that it so perfectly represents that it's kind of like Alfred E. Neuman, "What - Me Worry?" It's always someone else's fault and that result is that we have a challenge in our country today that more and more people don't believe their government works for them. I believe it can and I will take the skills I learned with many of you in this room to make it so.
Don't get me wrong, I can I can I have not so fond memories but I certainly have memories during my time in government here when it wasn't perfect. But that's part of being a leader is to accept responsibilities when things go wrong. After the 2000 Presidential election recount, we moved decisively to improve our election laws and made our voting system the envy of the nation. When the tragedy of Rilya Wilson took place and exposed the shortcomings of our child welfare system, working with the Florida legislature, we stepped up our commitment to community-based care and made the system much more responsive to children in need. And when senior people in my administration violated the public trust, they were removed from their jobs. When these problems occurred, I took responsibility. That's what Floridians deserved and that's the kind of leadership that has been lacking in Washington and that is the kind of leadership that I will bring to Washington, D.C.
For anyone who wants to see the federal government even bigger and even further removed from those that it's supposed to serve, the other party will be offering that option. As for me, I'm offering a different agenda all together. It will be my intention not to preside over the establishment, but in every way I know to disrupt that establishment and make it more accountable for the people.
The ultimate disruption is to reject as I do the whole idea that government forever growing more, borrowing more and spending more beyond anybody's ability to control it or even comprehend it is not the right way to go. I have no illusions about what reform really takes. The next President of the United States has got to confront the spending culture in Washington and I promise you I will do it. I think we've learned by now that you can have a fast growing economy or you can have a fast expanding government, but you can't have both. You have to choose as I did when we worked together when I was Governor of the now third largest state. In my time of office, Florida's economy expanded by 4.4 percent per year, more than 50 percent more than the national average. At the same time, government spending as a percentage of our state's economy went down. In fact that should be the aspirational goal for the United States of America and its federal budget. Economic growth growing far faster than the size and scope of Washington and its budget. We balanced our budget every year I was in office and increased our state's reserves by $8 billion. Who knows, maybe there was gonna be, who knows if there was gonna be a calamity of economic proportions or perhaps we'll have, occasionally we do have hurricanes here. To be able to reserve for a rainy day seemed to make sense at the time and we were rewarded for doing so by being upgraded to Triple A bond rating, and you compare that to the sorry state of affairs today where our great country's federal government has had a downgrade, the first one in its history.
I vetoed more than 2,500 spending items totaling $2 billion. Now that wasn't punitive, it wasn't a process to, in fact I think Speaker Thrasher and Speaker Bense and others might agree that I was an equal opportunity vetoer. I didn't pick out Democrat line items or you know reward my friends or anything. This was to create a process so that we could have $9 billion of reserves, where we could have a government that didn't grow faster than people's income in the state. It was a process based on conservative principles and we need the exact same thing in Washington. We should have you know the idea of Vito Corleone which was coined up by me, at first I thought it was somewhat of a an insult but the simple fact is I got to like it a lot. We need to bring that I think to DC.
I cut the state bureaucracy by more than 10 percent. Trying to live up to my promise in the second inaugural to make buildings around Tallahassee silent monuments to the time when government played a larger role than it deserved or could adequately fill, and I still believe that. A self-governing society doesn't need the kind of government that we need and if we reform how government works and build capacity for people to achieve earned success, by our very nature we'll all become conservatives, because the demands on government will subside. From the very offset as outset as President I would single a new direction by supporting fundamental reforms that go to the heart of the problem. First we have to confront and end the habitual practice of deficit spending. As long as deficits are an option, deficits will be the reality. The remedy that I will support as President is a balanced budget amendment. To be clear, to be clear it has to be properly designed so that it's a tool to limit government, not to raise taxes. Americans in every party are right to be worried about the fiscal integrity and solvency of our government. It needs to be fixed. I will urge Congress to submit a balanced budget amendment to the states and let the people decide.
Second, it is time to revive Vito Corleone. The President should be able to eliminate wasteful spending through a constitutionally sound line item veto such as the version that Paul Ryan has recommended to make sure that it that it abides by our Constitution. Overspending is one of those problems where the President has to assert a national interest, even if no one else will. The power to veto irresponsible spending is part of that duty and I know how to use it, trust me.
The third spending reform is government procurement. Federal agencies spend billions and billions of dollars every month on equipment and services following complicated procedures that no company would use in a competitive environment. The process is slow and too often it holds no one accountable for being over budget or behind schedule. One of the most tragic examples I've seen on the road is a hospital a VA Hospital that has been many years in the making that was supposed to cost $200 million and now I think the last estimate for its completion in Denver, Colorado is $1.8 billion. You can't make that up. It's really hard to imagine how incompetent and how complicated a process would be to yield that result. Military procurement is just one of many areas where our systems and processes are failing. The Defense Department is still operating by the procurement methods of the Cold War. In some cases by the time new equipment reaches our troops, it's almost obsolete. So here we are with a Pentagon that has to cut military equipment, pay, and health care all the while losing billions in backward wasteful procurement processes. The Pentagon's acquisition system is so swamped with regulations only a handful of giant defense contractors can actually compete for the larger contracts. That's why I support initiatives by the respected Chairman of the Senate and House Arms Services Committees John McCain, a real hero by the way. Senator McCain and Mac Thornberry in the House to reform defense procurement process to reform it to make it more transparent, more flexible, and more competitive. Competition reduces costs and insures our troops have quality equipment that keeps them safe. It's not too much to ask for the people to defend our country that we eliminate waste so that we can invest in them.
These problems are not unique to the military. The processes and procedures used to purchase information technology are fraught with cost overruns, delays and outright failures. Over the past five years the United States government accounting office has made more than 700 recommendations for reforming the system of procurement in Washington. Only 23 percent of them have been fully implemented.
We can apply these same principles that we use to fix defense acquisition to address the procurement failures of Washington on the civilian side as well. This is something that requires leadership. Not just filing an amendment and calling it success as some in the Senate do, but actually having the hands-on leadership skills to take an idea, to put it into reality, to make sure that there's accountability around it and to go from beginning to end to make sure that we transform how our government works. By the way I just got applauded by Ben Watkins who I think deserves a lot of credit. This is one state that has reduced its debt burden in a way that the rest of the country should follow, and Ben you've done a great job doing that along with Governor Scott. I do this because he's a great public servant and he's really embarrassed right now that I've mentioned him out loud.
If we're going to make good budget decisions, we need to deal with real numbers. The trick in D.C. now is called baseline budgeting. It means that the current year level of spending is the starting point for future spending. Baseline here like in your kitchen budget looks like this right? Baseline in Washington is like this, that it automatically grows unless something happens. The minute you suggest that you curb the growth in spending, you're an evil person trying to take away something from somebody else. That whole system is designed for making government grow at a rate that is far more than our ability to pay for it. We no longer can afford using that as the assumption and I'll work with Congress to change it. You know you've got a problem when standard accounting principles seem like a subversive idea, and that's how it is with federal budgeting. It's a rigged system to make government grow. Meanwhile, all the taxpayers who underwrite the spending have to live in the real world where you start with zero, you define your priorities and you observe boundaries. It's not as fun as working with make believe numbers, I got that. But it can get you out of trouble. Real world budgeting would mark a big step towards national solvency, and in my administration it will be the rule rather than the exception.
You may remember some of this that's coming up. When a given agency asks for more budget authority, they should be required to support with detailed justifications why they need it and also to propose offsetting cuts. The short of it is we're going to turn off the automatic switch of discretionary spending increases and weigh budgets only its merits. Too much in the federal government runs on automatic, which usually means that things are happening with no one stopping to ask why. We see this in the way the civil service system operates. People are hired, they're promoted, they're given pay increases, often without regard to performance. More than ever it's a system in the old ways, ruled by inertia and unaccountable to the people. And with two million, over two million government employees on the on the federal payroll, these programs and these problems carry a heavy cost and a few serious reforms will go a long way.
My first reform will be to place a freeze on federal hiring. We can expect that more than 10 percent of all current, the current workforce will retire over the next five years. It's a fairly safe bet that not everyone who leaves needs to be replaced. We will go with a simple three out, one in rule across the federal workforce with exceptions for critical positions related to our security and to our safety. Only one new hire for every three who leave. This policy can, on its own, reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy by 10 percent over five years. With other reforms which are more than possible as well, we could reduce the bureaucracy by more than 10 percent within four years, my first term as President of the United States, saving tens of billions of dollars without adding to unemployment. We made those tough cuts in Florida and under our reforms we also made top level management more accountable by defining them as at will employees. We insured that employees at every level could be let go if they weren't doing a good job. The effect to up everybody's game. Attract new talent. And above all to remind public employees that they're there to serve, whether it's the company's employees we're talking about or a government workforce, the whole idea of management is to reward good performance and make the best the standard. And that's not the system we have in Washington, D.C. right now. Much of what we have is a relic of the 1970's during the Carter administration. And let's just say they didn't have the taxpayers interest foremost in mind. It's not a partisan issue by the way. We have structural deficits now that we have to address, it doesn't matter who's the cause of all this, it's time to reform all of these things to make government smaller so that we can rise up as a nation again.
The system they have left us rewards longevity instead of performance. Many federal employees are paid far more than their private sector counterparts. Compared to private sector employees, federal employees earn a little over $1,500 more per year in wages and nearly $16,000 a year in benefits. There are a lot of exemplary employees in the federal government but they're treated no better than the bad ones. And the bad ones are almost impossible to effectively discipline or remove. Job security is one thing, job entitlement is another. And every time a federal employee needs to be moved along it shouldn’t be a federal case. The system is so broken that in 2013 the number of federal employees terminated for cause actually fell to .18 percent. One, you know one fifth of one percent. So I will put in motion some long overdue reforms. Obviously, federal employees should retain civil rights and whistleblower protections, but beyond that the time it takes to remove an unproductive employee should be measured in weeks rather than years.
Just like in the real world, compensation should depend on the type of work and the quality of the work. If the aim is to bring out the best in public servants and to improve morale across the federal workforce then we've got to get the incentives right. No more dolling out raises across the board. If we respect and recognize skill and dedication when we see them, then I promise you we'll see a lot more excellence in the ranks of the civil service and we'll attract new talent as well. I will also propose along with merit pay, enhanced financial incentives for managers whose skill and careful planning actually reduce spending. When federal employees are found squandering public money, we should call them out on it. And when they find ways to save money, we should reward them for it. Here in Florida, you all know very well the Davis Productivity Awards which is a great model that we should bring to Washington, D.C. to reward people that are focusing on shrinking government.
Of course the surest way to protect the taxpayers money is not to take so much of it in the first place. The best way to keep government accountable is to limit its power to regulate our economy and our lives. And in the coming months I will be setting forth my plans for tax and regulatory reform on a scale we haven't seen since the Reagan years. And I will be outlining my ideas to reform the major entitlement programs and provide a replacement for ObamaCare. Not to keep you in suspense, but the objective in both cases is to bring government back within the consent of the governed so that it truly serves the national interest instead of catering all too often to special interest.
After all it's the relentless expansion of government that made lobbying Washington's premier growth industry. Spending on lobbying has risen by more than 45 percent in the past decade, translating to get this, $12.5 million per member of Congress at last count. Yeah exactly. Restrain federal spending and the bureaucratic meddling and we'll disrupt the culture that thrives on big government. I know how that culture works. I saw it here in Tallahassee. Over time lobbyists and legislatures grew a little too comfortable in each other's company, cutting deals that didn't have much to do with the public interest. So along with the other changes we made, the Florida legislature passed a law that I signed into law that created the strictest lobbying reforms in the country and I was proud to sign that into law and I think the system is significantly better after that law was passed. Even before I took office, I signaled a new way of doing business by forbidding lobbying by any member of my transition team. As Governor we ended the practice of lawmakers accepting gifts from lobbyists. The reforms I signed into law also required lobbyists to disclose information about their clients and their compensation. The lobbyists here were a little grumpy to begin with but now I've noticed that it's actually turned into a competitive deal. Where they show that they have more business, I think and they're proud of the fact that they have a thriving business. It's kind of interesting how markets work.
In that spirit we need to reform disclosure laws in Washington as well. Here's what I propose, every time a lobbyist meets with any member of Congress, that should be reported online every week. On the member's official website. That should include by the way the ambiguous class of consultants who lobby but call it something else. The definition of the term lobbyist should be expanded to address the cadre of government relations and government affairs specialists now populating the capital as well.
Then there's the pattern of so many outgoing members of Congress who quickly become lobbyists themselves. As if merely moving onto the business end of the same enterprise. We need to help politicians to rediscover life outside of Washington, D.C., which who knows might even be a pleasant surprise for them. Look, the great majority of the people that serve in these positions do it with great talent and they do it with integrity, and they can make a huge contribution to the communities in which they were serving. And I believe that they should be doing that rather than translating this and staying in Washington and trying to translate their experience into high gain. If I’m elected President, I will use all of my influence to enact into law an immediate, unequivocal six year ban on lobbying a full Senate term for ex-members of the House in the United States Senate.
And will take similar measures at the White House. I will strengthen existing prohibitions that prevent departing Executive Branch employees from lobbying members of my administration.
In all of these reforms it matters what example is set by those in elected office. It's easy for elected officials to lay out standards of performance for others. But what are the high standards worth if they're not applied to themselves? Consider a pattern in Congress of members who sometimes seem to regard attendance and voting as optional. Something to do as time permits. The reality is that Congress is in session for typically three days a week when they're up there. So it's not asking too much that every member be there and work on those days, and if it's an incentive they need, how about the one that pretty much every worker in America has in their job? You don't show up, you don't get paid for the time that you missed. A bill to doc pay of absentee members might not pass the House or Senate, I don't know, maybe it could. But at least it would get them all there for a vote. If we can't always get them on the job, let's at least get them on the record. If I've learned anything as Governor of Florida it was never to take time for granted. I even kept on my desk where I always could see it a digital clock counting down the time left in my term to the last hour. I might just bring that clock along should I have the honor of serving the 1,461 days of the next Presidential term.
Our leaders can be so immersed in coming campaigns and far off legacies as to lose sight of the present challenges and work needs to be done right now. Things delayed in Washington have a tendency to never get done at all, but in this era of excuses we're drawing it to an end. There's no way to make up for lost time, we have to do it ourselves. We can no longer excuse away why our system doesn't work. More and more people are completely disaffected by Washington, D.C. and I completely get this and understand it because all of us feel that way. But we can fix these things. I know it because we did it together here in Tallahassee. I know in my heart that real sustained economic growth is possible. I have set an aspirational goal of four percent per year as far as the eye can see. I believe that this country will be the first country, so called developed country, which means flat line, to be able to renew ourselves and grow at a sustained rate where people can be lifted out of poverty and where the great middle that defines our country will get a raise for the first time in 15 years. But the driving force of this is gonna be Presidential level leadership to challenge the culture of spending and to reform the things that are broken in Washington, D.C. This is essential and I believe it's achievable in one term. Don't let anybody else tell you otherwise. Don't let the cynics narrow down our aspirations, we should have high and lofty aspirations and then challenge everything that we do to make sure that we make it happen.
All of this is part of the case I intend to make across the state, Florida is hugely important in case you didn't know in the primary, and the general and of course in our country. I'm giving this race my all, speaking to every voter of every background and being true to what I believe. Here's what I believe and here's what I know, for all of us the coming years can be and will be the best time ever to be alive in this country of ours and I’m ready for the challenge. I am ready for the challenge, I’m asking for your vote and I am asking for your help. God Bless you all, it's great to be back in Tallahassee. Thank you.