RED OAK, Iowa - In the five weeks since she won the Republican nomination for Iowa’s open Senate seat, Joni Ernst has talked about bringing “iowa Values” to Washington.
On Saturday, an address from the state senator from Red Oak had a wider audience. Ernst delivered the Republican response to the President’s traditional weekly address to the nation.
A complete transcript is below:
“Hello, this is Joni Ernst.
I’m a mother and grandmother, a soldier, and proud to be Iowa’s Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.
I get asked all the time what made me want to join the military. And the answer is simple.
When I was attending college, I went on an agricultural exchange to the Soviet Union. And I saw with my own eyes what a nation without freedom looks like. I saw what happens to people when they lose their liberty.
When I came home, I decided that it wasn’t enough for me to simply enjoy freedom and liberty. I had to do my part to protect and preserve it.
Decades later, I am a Lt. Colonel and battalion commander in the Iowa Army National Guard. In fact I am recording this message a few days early, and by the time you hear this, I will be on active duty leading my troops for the next two weeks.
Growing up on a farm in a small town in Iowa, I learned that America’s greatness comes from people, not government. The problem in America today is that Washington is full of liberals who think government is the solution to every problem. They think that nothing can be solved unless Washington is involved.
And so they grow our government, every year making it more intrusive and more involved in our lives. Today government tells us what doctors to see, what kinds of light bulbs to use, and in some places, even how much soda we can drink.
I wake up at night worried that the failed policies coming out of Washington pose a grave threat to our ability to pass along the same great nation we once inherited to our children - like my teenage daughter - and future generations to come. But as Republicans, it’s not enough to simply say “no”. We need to provide solutions and be able to explain what we would do differently.
First, we believe we need a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to force Washington to stop spending more than it takes in. That is how we run our households and we should expect nothing less from Washington. It is simply irresponsible to saddle our kids with a debt averaging $55,000 for every one of America’s youth.
Speaking of our children, we need an economy that is growing and providing better paying jobs. We need the government to get out of the way and foster an economic environment that encourages real, lasting growth.
We believe by safely and responsibly tapping into America’s domestic energy supply we can create hundreds of thousands of new, good-paying jobs in our communities while also strengthening our national security.
We believe Obamacare is not improving healthcare in America, but making it worse. We need, and must demand, more individual control over our health care decisions, not less. Parents and doctors know what’s best when it comes to the health of their child - not the government. We need to start over and create real, meaningful heath care reform that allows us- Americans to choose the plans they want, the doctors they need, at a cost they can afford.
We believe we must preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare and keep our promise to today’s seniors. But we also believe, as do some of our friends in the Democratic Party, that these programs must be reformed so America not only keeps its promise to today’s seniors but is also able to guarantee a safety net is available for our children and grandchildren.
We believe strong schools are critical for the future success of our nation. I send my own daughter to the very same public school that I graduated from. To strengthen local schools, we believe we need to take power and money away from Washington politicians and bureaucrats, and give it to local parents, teachers and administrators, so they can decide what’s best for their children’s education.
We know, and we believe that Americans know what’s best for their communities more than Washington bureaucrats.
And part of that bureaucracy is failing our veterans, and the stories we’ve heard about the failures of the VA are heartbreaking. As an active member of the Iowa National Guard and the wife of a retired U.S. Army ranger, I believe this isn’t a partisan issue. It’s an American problem that must be solved.
Growing up on that southwest Iowa farm, my family didn’t have much. My mother canned our food and made our clothes - teaching us the lessons of not spending what you don’t have. In our small town, we relied on each other - our neighbors lent us a helping hand when we needed it and we would do the same in their time of need. Today, to get America back on track it is going to take each of us working together to advance real solutions to our problems - not more tired rhetoric.
Again, this is Joni Ernst. Thank you. God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.”