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Simi Valley, CA – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library on applying the lessons of our 40th President to the challenges our country and world face today.

Excerpts of the speech are below, or watch it online here


The similarities between 1979 to 1980 and now

In Washington, I hear a lot that today’s world, if you look at it, it is like the time right before World War I. I believe it’s a lot like 1979-1980. 

“In my research to speak tonight, I did think long and hard about what I wanted to say and, if you’ll give me permission, I want to read one passage: ‘Do not mistake me, no reasonable man who sees the world as it is, who views the deterioration of our economy, the waning of our relationship with our allies, the growth of the Soviet might and the sufferings of our recent past could underestimate the difficulties before us.’ Those are not my words, those are then candidate Ronald Reagan’s words on the eve of his election in 1980.”


Believe in the exceptionalism of this country

“There are two paintings in my office, one of Abraham Lincoln, and one of Ronald Reagan.  Abraham Lincoln is in black and white because of the time in which he served and what was going on in America.  Reagan’s all in color and smiling.  And there’s many nights I’m there alone, and I will tell you I’m a little strange, I talk to my paintings.  I ask them at times, what advice would you give us, when I sit before and I watch what the Administration tries to do. They do not govern by moving legislation. They do not govern by trusting the people. It’s all by executive order.”


“Believe in the exceptionalism of this country and do not be shy of it.”


Don’t blame others for our problems

Reagan brought us the 11th commandment. He never spoke ill of someone else. He ran through the same primaries and difficulties. He lost in a race for the presidency. He knew the team of rivals, he brought his opponent, George Bush, in to be his vice president. When Reagan gave a speech on the eve of the election, he didn’t give it alone. He had his vice president, George Bush, sit next to him. 

“I think it’s our responsibility. As others come to this podium who want to run for President, let’s instill the value that Reagan taught them. Let’s keep the 11th [commandment] and not speak ill of other Republicans.”


Peace without freedom is meaningless

If there was ever a time for this Administration to look to Reagan, now is the time. As they negotiate with Iran and the days come narrow, do not just hope for peace, and do not sign an agreement unless you get peace with freedom.”


Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem

“Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem. We should embrace that. In the House today, we should think about big ideas and big reforms. That’s why we’re talking about tax reform this year. That’s why we’re talking about 21st Century Cures to transform the FDA. That same debate that Ronald Reagan had on the eve of his election about government and agencies becoming too big and holding people back is back again and only larger. 

“I will tell you, I’ve taken this mantle from Ronald Reagan. I have just brought together a task force of a lot of new members. We meet in my office regularly. And my advice to them is—I want them all to become individual Paul Ryan’s for every single agency the way Paul is to the budget. If we created the agencies today, would they look the same? The goal is to make them efficient, effective, and accountable. Why would we have so much duplication? Why would we not modernize? The VA system still uses paper. When the VA system first started, they used paper and we got our news from the radio. We should be able to change. We know it’s not an easy task to go before us. But we will not give up.”


America remains the shining city on the hill 

“I love America because I love its people. And I will tell you this—I know that eight years of this President has done damage, but we can correct it. So the task before us is to join together, to climb that mountain, and recharge that light so that it burns brighter than ever before. And God willing, together we will do it, just as we did in 1980 under the leadership of Ronald Reagan.”