A former Republican leader in Congress is in Iowa today, urging Iowans to pressure politicians to address “serious” issues. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey has started a group called “FreedomWorks” and he’ll be the keynote speaker at an event tonight in Des Moines.
“I don’t see anybody out there in the hustings now that’s talking about big ideas,” he says. Armey and his new group are targeting their “get-focused” message in states like Iowa which host the early contests in the next presidential campaign. “I don’t think that we should accept candidates seeking public office that don’t come into our state…looking for our votes that aren’t prepared to talk about the big issues like retirement security, the level of government spending…and then, finally, a decent, civilized tax code,” Armey says.
According to Armey, politicians of both political parties seem unwilling to talk about solutions to those big domestic problems. He says it’s up to voters, now, to press for answers. “If you’re going to deal with the problems facing Medicare and Social Security that are just looming in front of us and will be just hand-to-hand combat for the next president, you had better learn to talk about where you’re going to cut spending…to make room to resolve the crisis,” Armey says.
Politicians must run on a platform of “big ideas” to get any mandate for change, according to Armey. “If they get away with sort of wallowing around with trivia on the campaign trail they’re going to be confident they can get away with sort of wallowing around on it in office,” Armey says. Armey’s FreedomWorks group aims to teach Iowans what questions to ask of the presidential candidates to force a national conversation on tax policy and government spending.
“I know that we’re talking about a behavioral change in candidates. Politics has gotten so trivial in recent years it’s hard for candidates to understand that ‘Oh, you can win by being a serious adult grappling with big issues?, Gee, let me try that,'” Armey jokes. Armey says voters need to make it clear that a candidate will “die out here” unless they get serious. Armey is not interested in running for president himself.
Armey, a former economics professor, was elected to the U.S. House in 1984 and was the main author of the so-called “Contract with America” that helped propel Republicans into majority control of the House in 1994. He served as Republican leader in the House from 1995 until his retirement in 2003.
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