Sen. Alexander Delivers Weekly Republican Address

Posted on April 19, 2014

“Republican Enablers vs. Democrat Mandators”

“Republicans want to enable and empower you. We want to be the iPhone party. We believe government ought to be a platform that gives you more opportunity and freedom to create a happier, more prosperous and safer life. Usually in Washington, Republicans are the enablers and Democrats are the mandators.”

NASHVILLE – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the senior Republican on the Senate health committee, will deliver the Weekly Republican Address tomorrow. The address is available in both audio and video format. The audio of the address is available here, the video will be available here and you may download the address here. A full transcript of the address follows:

I’m Senator Lamar Alexander.

Have you ever read something so obviously right that it made you wish you’d written it? That happened to me the other day reading Newt Gingrich’s book Breakout. Newt was quoting technology expert Tim O’Reilly who was talking about the government in the Internet age. O’Reilly was saying this: 

“The best way for government to operate is to figure out what kinds of things are enablers of society and then make investments in those things. The same way that Apple figured out, ‘If we turn the iPhone into a platform, outside developers will bring hundreds of thousands of applications to the table.”

Tim O’Reilly went on to say that smartphone development used to look like government does now: vendors talking in a backroom and deciding what features to offer. But Apple turned the iPhone into a platform in which the killer feature was that other people could make features.

Just imagine if instead of mandating things for you to do, your government became a platform, just like your iPhone, enabling you to create a happier, safer, more prosperous life. 

Actually, government as an enabler was a good idea long before anyone imagined the Internet. 

In 1944, the G.I. Bill enabled World War II veterans to attend a college of their choice—helping them become the greatest generation. 

Today, half our college students have federal grants or loans that follow them to the colleges of their choice, enabling them to buy the surest ticket to a better life and job.

Two weeks ago, the Senate voted to continue to give vouchers to working moms and dads to pay for child care while they earn degrees that enable them to get better jobs.

In 2012, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's JOBS Act cut red tape and made it easier for entrepreneurs to launch a business, raise capital, and take companies public. AOL co-founder Steve Case recently wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the law enabled a 70 percent increase in initial public offerings this year and “provides a model to tackle other hard problems, with innovation, compromise and courage.”

While these ideas have attracted bipartisan support, usually in Washington Republicans are the enablers and Democrats are the mandators.

Republicans say the success of the JOBS Act proves that lifting the big wet blanket of Obama regulations will enable our free enterprise system to create plenty of jobs.

Meanwhile under the Democrats’ Dodd-Frank law, community bankers spend more time filling out forms than they do making loans.

Democrats want to mandate fixed wages and more lawsuits while Republicans want to allow more flexibility for working parents, enabling them to attend soccer games and piano recitals.

I have proposed allowing states to turn half their federal education dollars into $2,100 scholarships that enable parents of low-income children to choose the best school. Democrat mandators insist on telling those children what school is best.  

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina would allow federal dollars to follow a child with Down syndrome or another disability to the school the parents choose. Democrat mandators say, No—government knows best.  

Last year, Republican senators proposed legislation to give back to states control over whether teachers and schools are succeeding or failing. Democrat mandators proposed, in effect, a national school board.

Health care provides the most glaring difference between Republican enablers and Democrat mandators. Too often, Obamacare cancels the policy you want to keep and tells you what policy to buy, even if it costs more and restricts your choices of doctors and hospitals.

Republicans believe that freedom and more choices will empower you to find a policy that fits your needs and your budget.  

Republicans would let you buy insurance across state lines, allow small businesses to join together and insure more people, expand access to health savings accounts, give governors flexibility with their state Medicaid programs, and allow patients to compare the price and quality of doctors and medical services.

Republicans want to enable and empower you. We want to be the iPhone party. We believe government ought to be a platform that gives you opportunity and freedom to create a happier, more prosperous, and safer life.

Just imagine the Internal Revenue code, the Food and Drug Administration, or the Labor Department enabling you rather than ordering you around.

Now, let’s make this address itself a platform that enables you to create a better life. Imagine your government as your iPhone. How can government empower you with the freedom and knowledge to make decisions to create a happier, more prosperous, and safer life for yourself and your family?

Email your ideas to We’ll learn from you.

Thank you, and very best wishes on this Easter weekend.

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