NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – A panel of European and American lawmakers at CPAC warned those in attendance of the consequences of heading down the same road as Europe by adopting similar policies based on a strong central government, an overregulated economy, and a generous welfare state.
Members of the European Parliament Derk Jan Eppink and Vytautas Landsbergis, Vice President of the Competitive Enterprise Institute Iain Murray, and U.S. Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Tom Price (R-Ga.) discussed on Thursday the dangers of allowing social welfare policies, bureaucratic centralization, and overregulation from taking over the set of principles that have traditionally guided the American government.
“I see America making the same mistakes Britain has made over the past 15 years,” said Murray. “America is not that far gone yet, and the fact it retains some competitive federalism in the states is a source of hope, but the regulatory Leviathan in this city threatens to swamp the American spirit.”
Murray, a native of Britain residing in the United States, provided an overview of the many policies he considers to have put Britain down the road to “Europeanization.”
“Two things happened to promote the shift from conservatism in Britain: bureaucratic centralism and the election of Tony Blair,” said Murray.
“Britain would pride itself in many of the same virtues that Americans would recognize today: a strong work ethic, a vital civil society, a respect for individual effort and tradition,” said Murray.
Both Price and Pompeo shared their views on why America is becoming more like Europe.
Pompeo told the audience that America runs the risk of making the same mistakes made in Europe, giving several examples that according to him are embodied by the idea of “the denigration of risk taking.”
“This idea that we cannot have any risk and that everyone has to be taken care from cradle to grave, and that personal accountability, and for that matter, corporate accountability is unfathomable in the country…when you reach that point bad things happen and we are certainly close,” said Pompeo.
Pompeo brought up President Obama’s critical remarks made a few years ago about “fat cat private-jet owners,” saying “if you attack those that show some success and tried to stop them, we will become a nation of envy destroying the opportunity for those that want to rise.”
Price told the audience that there are many lessons to learn from Europe and the United Kingdom as to why the U.S. should not adopt social-welfare policies.
“Many of the factors that led to the debt crisis in Europe that have made it harder for their recovery have been caused by European social and welfare policies: an overly generous welfare state, a restricted labor policy and onerous regulations,” Price said. “How far down this road are we? Record number of people on food stamps, this is the kind of dependency that social welfare champions want.”
“I think the goal should be to provide the greatest amount of freedom, the greatest amount of opportunity so that the greatest amount of dreams can be realized by the greatest amount of people,” said Price.
Price underscored the current efforts by House Republicans in crafting a new budget that would balance in a 10-year period and would avoid the persistent threat of automatic spending cuts.
The congressman from Georgia suggested that the solution to the problems faced by America lies in getting back to a set of conservative values.
“We’ve got to get back to those principles that made us the greatest country in the history of the world – individual responsibility, limited government and lower taxes,” said Price.
“There are huge examples in Europe as to why the social welfare state is not the direction in which the United States ought to head. As Margaret Thatcher famously said, ‘the problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people’s money’ — and we seem to be headed down that track,” he continued.