Last Friday and Saturday over two thousand defenders of free markets and capitalism traveled to the Washington area to meet at the Americans for Prosperity Foundation’s Defending the American Dream summit. It was an action-packed two days, so I’ll report on just a few personal highlights.
One of the speakers in the general session was Stephen Moore of the Wall Street Journal. He said that global warming is the “greatest hoax of the last century.” The cap-and-trade bill, besides not having an effect on global temperatures, should really be named the “China and India Full Employment Act.” Jobs will flee the United States for these countries, as they will not agree to reduce their carbon emissions.
Our national debt is another grave concern. “What happens if the Chinese, Asians, and the Arabs stop buying our debt?”
After Moore’s talk I asked if he agreed with the assessment of some economists that we’re coming our of the recession. He said that the national debt, the threat of higher taxes, the threat of cap-and-trade, plus the threat of government takeover of our health care system is crippling the jobs market. The real sickness in our economy, he said, is that small businesses have no incentive to grow. “We spent $3 trillion, but we have done nothing to help small businesses. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create 3 out of every 5 new jobs. So how are you going to get a jobs recovery if you don’t have small businesses that are healthy, vibrant, and growing?”
I asked about the tone of the national debate, how the left uses ridicule instead of facing issues squarely. Moore said the we need to maintain the high ground. We have some big advantages over the left, including that we’re right. We have empirical evidence and the Constitution on our side. The left doesn’t want to debate the issues. They don’t want to post bills three days before they’re voted on because they don’t want people to know what’s in the bills, he said.
He added that health care, cap-and-trade, and the budget are important issues we need to watch out for in the next eight weeks.
The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund reminded us that most of the provisions of the current health care bill don’t take effect for four years. So why, he asked, must we pass it in the next four weeks? I asked him if we’ve seen the worst of the revelations we’re likely to see about ACORN. He replied no, there’s more — and worse — to come.
After the closing reception, I spoke with AFP Foundation President Tim Phillips. He said that 2,100 people attended the summit. What’s the message the rest of the country should get from this summit? “It’s the determination and commitment of free markets and conservative folks to stay though this thing, to not lose interest, to not grow weary. We’re in it for the long haul. Today’s a good example of it. We don’t want to lose. This is not just gamesmanship — these are real issues.”
I reminded him that opponents of capitalism and free markets point to the events of the last year as failure of these things. He said “Only in Washington would you have liberals like Barney Frank and other politicians run the housing market into the ground with federal regulation and then call it a free market failure. It’s obviously wrong.”