Americans for Prosperity Chief: We've Got to Take Fight to American People

Saturday, 26 Jan 2013 08:47 PM

By Kathleen Walter and Cyrus Afzali

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One of the leading spokesmen for fiscal conservatives issued a call to arms Saturday against what he sees as ambitious plans by the Obama administration to promote climate change and a continuation of spending policies that will be harmful to the U.S. economy.

Speaking Saturday at The National Review Summit, Tim Phillips criticized the president’s inaugural speech calling it the most “aggressively partisan and harshly ideological in two generations.”

“It’s disappointing, but it does help us by showing our activists in the American people what lies ahead. We’ve got to make sure, especially on the climate change issue as well as on government spending, where there was not one statement about deficits and debt, but talk of expanding government programs and spending, that we’re very aggressive,” Phillips said. “We’ve got to take this fight not just to Congress but also the American people.”

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He believes it’s no surprise that the president failed to mention global warming during the campaign, only to promise to once again push cap-and-trade legislation and other environmental policies in his second term.

“Climate change and global warming were noticeably absent during the campaign because (President Obama) knew it was a loser and that we have won this battle with the American people, who do not want government picking winners and losers in the name of this global warming ideology and don’t want energy prices going up on average folks,” Phillips said. “Now, with the elections ahead of him, he decides to make it front and center. Americans have rejected this kind of environmental extremism in the past and they will again.”

Phillips believes that the key to winning over the public on environmental issues is embarking on an extensive education campaign stressing the threat to the U.S. economy.

On another environmental issue, Phillips also said the president’s mention of climate change in his address makes it unlikely that the Keystone Pipeline project will win the necessary federal approvals.

Just this week, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman approved a revised route for the pipeline through the state despite significant opposition, highlighting the job and tax benefits for his state.

“The polling clearly shows the country wants this and that Americans haven’t accepted $3.50 a gallon gas. We’re going to keep pushing these kinds of issues, but my best (guess) is he’s not going to approve it,” Phillips said.

Speaking on the debt ceiling fight, Phillips believes the focus should remain on government spending because the “grand bargains” of the past have too often resulted in large tax increases and “phantom spending cuts” which makes it difficult to deal with the real issues.

He said Congress has made a commitment to the American people to make the promised cuts that stand to take effect through sequestration, although he believes the defense budget should bear a reduced burden.

“We’re going to insist on these cuts being made and the way the sequester works, there will be no government shutdown. You either repeal the cuts or let them occur,” Phillips said.

The AFP has traditionally stayed out of backing specific candidates for House and Senate offices, preferring instead to undertake education efforts in state legislatures across the country.

He believes Republicans have a good chance to regain momentum in the upcoming 2014 and 2016 elections with a message of puttng limits on government spending. He believes that such a message will resonate with the American people.

When asked about comments by some Republicans with respect to the need for the party to be more inclusive, Phillips said Republicans the GOP would do better to focus on spending.

“(Republicans) have been weak on government overspending," he said. "I also hope, frankly, that they come up with better ways to message the idea of economic freedom, the free markets and the benefit they bring.”


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