Jon Kyl's Farewell Address
4:52 PM, Dec 19, 2012 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Jon Kyl, the Republican senator from Arizona, delivered his farewell address to the Senate Wednesday afternoon. Kyl is retiring at the end of this term after 18 years in the Senate and 8 years in the House of Representatives. Read his speech below:
“I’m honored to have served for 18 years as Arizona’s 10th Senator—and for four terms in the House of Representatives before that. Now it is time to move on.
“My successor, Senator-elect Jeff Flake, is a good and honorable public servant who will work hard on behalf of our great state of Arizona. And my colleague John McCain will continue his long and dedicated service as well. I deeply appreciate the remarks he delivered here yesterday.
“I want to say thank you to my colleagues for your friendship. It’s been a privilege working with so many of you—on both sides of the aisle. While it’s true that Washington would benefit from more civility, the Senate, behind the scenes, is an extraordinarily collegial institution. And I will certainly miss that aspect of the job. I also want to thank my staff, past and present, for working so many long hours and for spending so much time analyzing the issues that will determine America’s future.
“Farewell speeches offer the opportunity to reminisce about the past. I don’t believe that would be the best use of your time or mine. Instead, I am going to comment on some of the biggest public-policy challenges America faces and recommend principles to guide the way forward.
“I was first elected to public office when the Reagan revolution was in full swing. Maximizing freedom guided the policies of that era, with tremendous success. My goal as a public servant has been to advance, and maintain a consensus in favor of, the so-called three legs of the Reagan public-policy stool: (1) dynamic, growth-oriented economics; (2) the social values that make limited government possible; and (3) a national-security commitment that emphasizes a strong and sovereign America. In each of the three areas, maximizing freedom—and the positive results that flow from that—is the goal.
“The Reagan years showed us that expanding economic freedom should be the North Star—the guiding light—of U.S. policy, because it is the best way to achieve sustained and broad-based prosperity for all. Free markets, low taxes, and limited government allow citizens to use their talents and resources in whatever way they choose, and to keep more of the fruits of their labor. They encourage people to invest, work, start businesses, and hire others. In other words, free markets promote economic well-being for all.
“Cutting taxes at the margins—that is, reducing the rate of tax on the next dollar earned—encourages growth. Raising taxes can have the opposite effect. Nobel economist Edward Prescott of Arizona has found that higher marginal tax rates are the reason that Europeans work one-third fewer hours than Americans.
“When marginal tax rates are lower, prosperity flows to other sectors of society allowing business to create jobs and new products, compete for workers, raise wages, and invest their profits, which can then be lent to other entrepreneurs. Everyone gains in a free economy. As John Kennedy put it: A rising tide lifts all boats.
“Look at what free enterprise has achieved. After President Reagan dramatically lowered tax rates and trimmed regulation, income increased in every quintile, millions of new private-sector jobs were created, and the stock market soared, tripling in value over eight years. The lower tax rates and reduced regulatory burden produced a more robust economy. And a more robust economy meant more revenue for government. Similar results attended the tax-rate reductions during the presidency of George W. Bush.
“In recent years, many policymakers have forgotten these lessons. Since 2008, America’s score in the Index of Economic Freedom has declined significantly, to the point that we are no longer considered a ‘free’ economy, but rather a ‘mostly free’ economy. That is what happens when you dramatically increase government spending and regulations. Now we are on the verge of a massive tax increase, which could undermine small businesses and stifle the economic growth America badly needs.