A picture of Representative Kerry L. Bentivolio
Kerry B.
Former Republican MI 11
About Rep. Kerry
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    Battles Worth Fighting

    by Former Representative Kerry L. Bentivolio

    Posted on 2014-12-16

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    BENTIVOLIO of michigan in the house of representatives Tuesday, December 16, 2014 Mr. BENTIVOLIO. Mr. Speaker, a war is raging for the soul of America. It is not a war of steel and cartridge. It is a conflict of ideas, fought not in trenches, jungles or a desert; instead, it is played out in town halls, roundtables, tea party and Liberty groups all across the nation. Instead of cannonades, there are editorials; instead of bombs, there are speeches; instead of rifle volleys, there is education on the benefits of Liberty ordained by God protected by a United States Constitution.

    There is a genuine feeling today, especially among people who attend the various Tea Party and Liberty Groups that we, our country more specifically, may not make it. Many people consider these folks, the common everyday people who attend the Tea Party meetings `fringe, ring wing nut cases and extremists'. Many of the people who attend the Tea Party meetings, sometimes weekly, most commonly monthly, and more attend intermittently, sense something is drastically wrong. For the most part, they sense it and yet cannot firmly point their finger and claim what exactly is the cause of their discontent, the uneasiness; the fear danger is lurking just around the corner. It is not necessarily a feeling of doom from a nuclear, biological or chemical attack on our country from some foreign enemy or terrorism either. It is more serious than any violence a bad actor can bring. It is something more innate, a sense that they somehow lost something but can't remember what it was, like when you know you lost something important, an item you need to accomplish a task but can't remember what it is and where you placed it. You know it's around somewhere and if you looked hard enough you'll see it and you can continue with your task.

    What is missing, what they are looking for, is our capacity for governing. Today, in Washington, D.C. we have a President inept in offering any sort of cooperative government. According to the President the House of Representatives is a non-entity. As President he has a pen and a phone to make the changes he sees as necessary to move his political agenda and the People's house has no say in the matter. But, the great threat to our country, our Constitutional government, is not entirely the President. It is easy to blame him for our dysfunctional government. Rather, the blame lies entirely with the system itself. We have created by our apathy a system that has normalized a process that distorts the will of the people by an economy of influence. A system designed to make those most connected rich. Our system of government created a class of rich whose wealth does not come from innovation, creativity or hard work, instead a new class of rich who secured their wealth through the manipulation of politicians and government agencies. The great new classes of wealth are a breed of financial politicians who could not secure their power by traditional methods that instead turned to the massive wealth directed by our government as the means to secure wealth and power for themselves and their circle of supporters.

    Our enemy is not simply a Democrat or a Republican; it is a new breed in thousand dollar suits. They have changed laws agreeable to their business interests, bought and paid for politicians, judges, the media and skirted criminal laws and for the most part they are engaged in bad government and fail to actively track the will of the people. To them Democracy is a charade, only rhetoric for political messaging of a lost ideal to placate the masses still engaged in the political process- while they make money for themselves and [[Page E1850]] their friends. That voice is often louder than the voice of the people, the middle class, the very people who as the backbone of the American economy, who join our armed services to serve rather than take, our middle class carries the burden and suffers the most, silenced and placated by promises of a better life, the hope and change for the future that never really comes.

    There are battles to be fought on the way we spend our taxpayer dollars, how we handle immigration and border security issues, religious freedom, education, veterans, and our National Defense. There is a major battle on protecting the rights of our citizens because it is Congress' principle duty to protect our rights not take them away. Together, we must strive valiantly and dare greatly and fight these battles.

    Through these past 24 months in Congress my convictions were tested and clarified. And they will continue to be tested in the weeks and months to come.

    I want to tell you the fight is just beginning.

    I WENT TO Congress an average person with certain and specific values I learned as a young man and a soldier in the military. The principles of leadership I hold dear; And a lifelong motto; To STRIVE VALIANTLY and DARE GREATLY These are not simply words on a page for me. Or rhetoric for an election campaign to get votes.

    They run deeper.

    LEADERSHIP is living a life BY EXAMPLE.

    And NEVER asking a soldier or a constituent to do something you would not do.

    As one of the most CONSERVATIVE members of Congress I passed 3 important pieces of legislation with 100% Bi-partisan support.

    It bothers me when someone says they wish I would comprise and be more moderate.

    Rated as the number #1 most transparent congressman out of 84 freshman members of Congress, and rated in the top 30% out of the 435 members of congress with an extensive record of working with the other side.

    I know there are issues needing our attention and that working together we can accomplish great things. There are issues and work to be done, as a team, not as adversaries.

    There are battles yet to be fought.

    I know there are children who deserve a quality education and not getting it. K-12 education has been largely stagnant. College costs have risen as federal subsidies have ballooned. Graduates indentured to college debt have lesser prospects for future employment than any time in our history.

    I once gave a speech to a Conservative Group on the issues in Education. As a former private and public school teacher, certified and highly qualified in both vocational and general education, I think I am well suited to offer suggestions. My presentation was well received by the Conservative audience.

    During the question and answer portion of my presentation a lady asked me how I felt being a Conservative teacher, in a public school and a member of the Liberal Teacher's Union.

    Madam, I said, ``I think I feel the same way Jane Fonda would feel at a VFW Convention!'' This is a battle worth fighting. I want to tell you that all across the country there are people of all ages struggling with health issues and their health insurance.

    The Unaffordable Health Care Act undermines the doctor-patient relationship, limits patient choice, centralizes government control of our health care administered by bureaucrats NOT your family doctor. The administration was not transparent. They lied and deceived the American people into thinking they could keep their doctor, there hospital, their insurance and insurance premiums would be less expensive. Mr. Gruber admitted in testimony before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee he helped direct this deception.

    No matter your political party affiliation, promises were made and broken. Facts speak for themselves, Obamacare is unpopular, unworkable, and unaffordable and should be stopped and repealed in its entirety.

    Together we can discuss and find alternatives that produce affordable health care BEFORE it becomes law.

    Remember the lady speaker who said, ``We must pass it before we can see what's in it?'' The last time I heard that was when my doctor asked for a stool sample. And in both cases he got the same thing! Look what ``We must pass it Before we can see what's in it'' has brought upon us! Division, not unity! This is a battle worth fighting.

    I want to tell you within our country there are people who have given up looking for work and lost hope in ever finding the American dream.

    Obamacare, and the Obama administration have increased annual regulatory costs by nearly $70 Billion dollars. Unnecessary regulatory dictates hinder job creation and innovation while undermining America's fundamental freedoms.

    Passing legislation that ensures a congressional check on Governmental regulators as well as the accountability of Congress is a good idea. This will help get America back to work and restore the American dream.

    This is a battle worth fighting.

    I want you to know that right now while some are very skittish on issues like immigration and trying to figure it out, this country's borders are worth protecting.

    This is a battle worth fighting.

    FRIENDS, Since the attacks of September 11, 2001 more than fifty terrorist plots against the United States have been foiled because of domestic and international cooperation. Yet, many of the intelligence tools to combat terrorism are controversial and many unconstitutional. Each and every one of these tools should be reexamined carefully to guarantee that America liberties are protected. At the same time we must ensure our defense agencies have legal tools at their disposal to PROTECT and DEFEND our great country.

    THIS is a battle worth fighting.

    Mr. Speaker, I want you to know America needs a reformed tax code that facilitates, not inhibits, economic growth and job creation.

    Taxes and the cost of doing business are higher. Part-time work is replacing full time work. Wages are stagnant An uncertain future is the norm rather than the exception.

    The tax code has become an enormous chain around the neck of a stagnate economy.

    You do not need to have a Ph.D in economics to know Investment goes where it is welcome and stays where it is appreciated.

    Tax rates on families, businesses, and investment are too high. Our tax code needs to be hassle free, simpler, and fair. Our present tax system prevents the economy from reaching its potential and further suppresses wages.

    This is a battle worth fighting.

    I want to tell you Religious liberty in this country is not merely the ``freedom to worship.'' Individuals should be free to work, speak, and serve according to their deeply held beliefs seven days a week.

    Religious freedom is under assault at every corner, in every form of media, especially from burdensome government policies and efforts to undermine marriage, a religious, not a government blessing.

    I want to tell you about how GOD not government, determines life.

    And how that LIFE shall have liberty to pursue dreams and opportunity.

    This is a battle worth fighting.

    I want to tell you about our basic freedoms of speech, our 2nd Amendment protections and our rights to due process.

    Basic rights given us by God are gradually stolen from to us by government regulators, executive orders, and YES even members of the media spread the propaganda undermining these freedoms.

    This is a battle worth fighting.

    I want to tell you that our most personal and confidential financial and health information is viewed and administered by political appointees whose interests are more political than helpful in improving your life.

    I want to tell you about how Government websites are unprotected.

    That these Federal Websites lack basic and sound security protocols exposing your most confidential personal financial and health information to criminal hackers and bad actors both foreign and domestic.

    I am pleased the House unanimously passed my bill H.R. 3635, The Safe and Secure Federal Websites Act, it had 126 original cosponsors, a record for a GOP freshman member of Congress. Thank-you.

    This is a battle worth fighting.

    I want to tell you there are people in Washington who want to rob our senior citizens of the monies they paid into programs like social security and renege on the promises to our veterans.

    As a veteran I have firsthand knowledge of the abuse and neglect inflicted on members of our armed services when they returned home from Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the treatment my fellow Vietnam veterans and I received coming home.

    Our VA hospitals are under additional and justifiable scrutiny.

    There are long wait times at VA hospitals . . . and instead of addressing the issues, they threw a convention for VA employees spending almost $1 million and an additional $350,000 for souvenirs because they had extra money . . .

    Many government bureaucrats receive millions of dollars in bonuses when they are neither accountable nor transparent to taxpayers when found abusing their authority. Rather than properly address our veterans . . .

    The suicides . . .

    The homelessness . . .

    The wait times . . .

    The healthcare . . .

    The hypocrites are the first to demand war and are the last if at all to send their own son or daughter to fight it! And yet, they are responsible for policy failures making us vulnerable to our enemies. Domestic policies and actions that weaken not [[Page E1851]] strengthen our country. The list of harmful policies and actions is a long and growing. There are the lies and hidden cost of Obamacare that are undermining the quality and availability of healthcare; the rapid growth of welfare that is putting an additional strain on our economy; Distortions in presenting the real unemployment numbers; bailouts that did not work; irresponsible investments in alternative energy sources that can provide minimal benefits at best; encouragement of an entitlement mentality; no leadership on immigration so that our borders are open to ISIS and other terrorist groups; a burgeoning list of costly regulations; poor handling of the pullout from Iraq and the draw down in Afghanistan; a lack of leadership in dealing with Iran's nuclear threat; the projection of weakness in Benghazi, Crimea, Ukraine, and containment of the civil war in Syria; the haphazard, too- little-too-late approach to ISIS in Iraq; meekly referring to terrorist attacks against American soldiers as work place violence instead of calling it what it is--terrorism; swapping terrorist leaders for an American deserter; and the list goes on.

    Big government is stealing the American dream and future prosperity from our children by enslaving them to more than $18 trillion dollars of debt not of their own choosing. Congress did not ask permission from our children to borrow the money, nor receive it as a gift. The money is stolen from future generations and this is selfish and immoral.

    Our military and the defense of our nation is top priority and yet, no help for Benghazi, an unsecure border, veterans issues, military training and equipment to defend us in the years to come is languishing in media hype, misinformation and political propaganda.

    I want to tell you Washington's blatant disregard for a responsible fiscal policy, their wasteful over spending and continued borrowing weakens our country's ability to respond to future unexpected challenges.

    And those challenges will come.

    They will come. And they will come very soon.

    My friends these are battles worth fighting.

    It is a time to choose whether we want a big bloated Nanny government telling us what light bulbs we can purchase, how much water we can flush down a toilet, what our children can and cannot eat in school or what we can teach them and to what standards? Do we want our Federal government to tell us who we can call doctor and what hospital we can visit in an emergency? Do we want our Federal government to regulate who and who cannot voice opposition to abusive authority and the moral corruption of God given liberties? Do we want a dismantled national defense leaving us defenseless? Our country is broken, bankrupt morally and financially.

    There it is. Plain and simple.

    As a member of the United States House of Representatives, I swore an oath to defend the Constitution and as a soldier to defend the people of this great nation.

    Before I close I want to tell you the reason I served both in the military and here in Congress.

    I began in the neighborhood where I grew up as the eldest of four sons. My grandfather served in WWI and my father and uncles served in the 1940's. The gentleman who lived in the house across the street was a former sailor in WW2. He was on an aircraft carrier that was hit by a kamikaze. Our next door neighbor was Charles Parker senior. As a Marine, he received a purple heart on Iwo Jima. His son, a few years older than me, was my best friend, Chuck Jr. His name is inscribed on the Vietnam War Memorial on the Mall in DC. Down the street a few houses was another neighbor who fought in the Korean War, his daughter, Cookie gave me my first kiss. Near him was another veteran who served in the Navy on a destroyer and there were two men across the street from him who served together in Gen Patton's Third Army and were part of the force that relieved the 101st Airborne at Bastogne. I can still see their faces. Their examples of service all played a part in why I served in the Armed Forces. Perhaps, they were the reason why the words of our President Kennedy, ``Ask not what your country can do for you but rather what you can do for your country'' rang so true.

    I don't think John Kennedy would recognize his party today.

    I think my understanding of service can be best summed up by the message of the movie, ``Saving Private Ryan.'' I hope some of you have seen it. If you haven't let me tell you what it's about. The movie begins with an elderly man walking through the cemetery off the beach at Normandy, down a sidewalk with his family behind him.

    The scene then shifts to a landing craft heading for the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Tom Hanks plays the part of Cpt Miller, 2nd Rangers. The landing craft hits the beach and the soldiers, and well, they experience the horrors of battle. Many of his fellow soldiers are killed and wounded in the scenes that follow.

    After securing the beach head, Cpt Miller receives new orders. His new mission is to locate and bring home Private Ryan, played by Matt Damon, who's in the 101st Airborne because Ryan's three brothers were recently killed within weeks of each other and the Army thinks that no family should lose four sons to war. Cpt Miller, with a small contingent of soldiers set off to locate Ryan.

    In the course of several days Cpt Miller loses several soldiers in the quest to locate Ryan. Eventually, they find him in a small village in France, but alas, he decides to stay with his fellow soldiers--his brothers in arms--to defend a small bridge in the village.

    They fight the Germans and in the course of the battle most all of Miller's soldiers are killed. Only two remain. Cpt Miller receives a mortal wound and sits gasping his last breaths, his back against a motorcycle, looks up at young Private Ryan says, with his last breaths, ``earn this . . . earn this.'' The scene changes to a close up of Matt Damon, his face changes from young Ryan to the older man we met at the beginning of the movie, he's overlooking a gravestone that reads, ``Captain Miller, 2nd Rangers.'' Old Ryan falls to his knees in front of the gravestone and says, ``Not a day goes by that I don't remember what you all did for me. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me.'' Let me tell you something: Not a day goes by I do not remember what the fathers of my childhood friends and playmates did for us to protect the American dream. No matter where your family hails from, no matter what cultural or religious background, as citizens we are all fundamentally equal and self-governing because the generation before us stood up to do what's right and to protect our nation's exceptional principles.

    We are supposed to have a limited government, outlined in the Constitution, which gives us the liberty and opportunity to live our lives, control our fate, and pursue our happiness. Everyone here has a right to the rewards of his or her labor. These ideas challenge the notion that life is a zero sum game where if I win you lose. We have created a society in which every member can work hard, achieve success, and advance in life to the benefit of all. Because of this our economy produces almost a quarter of the world's wealth and our military forces are the most powerful on the globe.

    It is the potent combination of liberty under the rule of law, the endless creativity of the marketplace, and the enduring moral character of the American people that assures opportunity for all and fuels the unlimited promise of America.

    That is the ``this'' in the phrase ``earn this'' from ``Saving Private Ryan.'' Americans have been told by the Administration that prosperity requires more spending, more government, and more taxes. Liberals constantly want people to believe that if one American does well that means another one isn't. They have continued down this phony path even though most Americans think government does too much. Only the House of Representatives has served as a brake, trying to divert us from this dangerous road ahead.

    Some argue that conservatives should accept the liberal premise. They say we must be resigned to permanent economic stagnation, give up our firearms and our religious values; submit to bureaucratic rule, and national decline. Many of my friends in the House and I disagree.

    The time is now to champion the ideas of opportunity and upward mobility and to redouble our efforts to change America's course, heading back down the path created by our forefathers. We will meet the demands of the moment and address the magnitude of the challenges before us. We will fight whenever possible, constantly pointing out the false promises of liberalism, and offering conservative alternatives at every turn.

    We will take our arguments to all Americans: To middle-class families struggling in a bad economy; to young people worried about their prospects; to retirees worried about their grandchildren; to job creators seeking to expand prosperity; to those who are stuck in poverty grasping for that first rung on the ladder of opportunity-- conservatism is for everybody. This is what our founding fathers, our grandfathers and fathers, our uncles and neighbors, our friends struggled to protect.

    The moment has arrived. It will take courage to stop the government from growing out of control while self-interests are pulling the levers of power. You don't need a uniform to fight for our freedoms. I am asking every American to stand side by side and explain to our friends and neighbors that while this is the easy way to live; it's a hard way to be free and prosperous. It's our time to ``earn this'', to keep the promises of our forefathers and earn what they gave us. Freedom.

    [[Page E1852]] Never let it be said that this generation stood idle and let liberty slip from our fingers, never let it be said we let a day go without remembering what our forefathers did for us.

    I have honored that promise on the battlefields in Vietnam, in Iraq and in the halls of Congress.

    My number one mission, as always, is to protect our God given rights. Not take them away! Today, not tomorrow, we must decide whether we want to manage our own destiny, in our states, in our cities and towns as individuals or whether we want a Washington bureaucrat locked away in some distant Federal building spying on us, telling us how to manage our own lives, families, doctors and our schools! Do we determine our own destiny or let government bureaucrats run our lives? The time for choosing is once again upon us.

    Mr. Speaker, my dear Patriots, friends and neighbors, the battle is here now, today, not in some distant jungle or desert, and we must decide whether or not we want a brighter future for ourselves and our children and grandchildren.

    Mr. Speaker, We, together, today, must decide whether our uniquely American culture made up of people respectfully representing every cultural, religious, and ethnic background on earth is a nation divided or united in a common cause for freedom and the opportunity liberty offers each of us.

    We must choose whether we will join our friends and neighbors defending liberty and opportunity or become grease for the wheels of big government.

    In respectful civil disobedience, I for one will not submit to the chains of tyranny. I fly the Stars and Stripes in my yard not the red hammer and cycle! I choose to continue the fight for a smaller, non-intrusive, fiscally responsible, constitutional government. I choose Freedom for America! I choose prosperity for America! Mr. Speaker, I pledged to the citizens of my State, and to the American people, that as their elected representative I will work to: Restore liberty, not restrict it; Shrink government, not expand it; Reduce taxes, not raise them; Abolish programs, not create them; Promote the freedom and independence of citizens, not the interference of government in their lives; and Observe the limited, enumerated powers of our Constitution, not ignore them. I trust I honored that pledge.

    I praise God for my American roots and pray that HE may continue to Bless all of us and this great nation.

    I want to thank my fellow citizens and members of Congress for the privilege, honor and experience to serve in the 113th Congress these last 24 months. And lastly, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to wish the 114th Congress my very best wishes.

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! ____________________

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