[For the full story on this transcript, see
Part 2 of our exclusive special series at Mother Jones.]
As introduced by David Koch
Koch Brothers' 2011 Summer Seminar
Ritz-Carlton Beaver Creek Resort - near Vail, Colorado
Audio recorded June 26, 2011
[PART 1 - Appx. 13 mins]
Transcribed by Emily Levy for The BRAD BLOG
KEVIN GENTRY [Emcee]: [Attempting to quiet down the crowd after dinner.] You're gonna help me out again, I'm confident. On the count of three: one, two, three, shhhhhhhhhhh. That was almost good. You're getting better. So one more time. One, two three, shhhhhhhhhhhhh. Okay. Well as our --- by the way, we have been doing these seminars, you know, for about seven or eight years and we work in partnership every time with our hotel venue, and we really, our staff feels like the partnership with the Ritz Carlton here has just been superb. This staff is very dedicated, so I just want to take a moment [applause] just to thank this wonderful staff here. Thank you very much. They're constantly coming up to us and asking how they could do better. So what more could you ask?
I'd like to turn the program over, as our servers are bringing over dessert, to David Koch. David is the, is well-known to a number of you all, particularly through various political circles, through cultural and support for scientific research, medical research, the arts. David is very active in a lot of venues. David is like [inaudible] had hosted us, when we've been in our Aspen venue, and many times in their back yard, but we're glad because the St. Regis is under renovation this year, we got nudged out here, that we could all join together again. David is also chairman of Americans for Prosperity, and which is a key partner in the efforts that we'll talk about tomorrow and there are a number of you are involved in that organi-oh - in that organization as well. David, take it away.
DAVID KOCH: Thank you, Kevin. And thanks to all of you for being here tonight. This is a marvelously important gathering of people and I want to join my brother in expressing my appreciation for your support and presence here this weekend. I hope you're enjoying it as much as I and my brother are.
It is a real privilege for me to be asked to say a few words on behalf of Governor Chris Christie. Five months ago we met in my New York City office and spoke - just the two of us - for about two hours on his objectives and successes in correcting many of the most serious problems of the New Jersey state government. At the end of our conversation I said to myself, "I'm really impressed and inspired by this man." He is my kind of guy. So I suggested to him that he might like to attend my brother's conference in Colorado this June and be our keynote speaker. I said to him, I believe his story about what he is doing in New Jersey would really resonate with our audience. The governor said he would love to do it if his schedule permitted. Well, after his interview today on Meet The Press he flew out here for the day to speak to us this evening and he's leaving shortly after he speaks to go back to New Jersey. So it is my great pleasure to formally introduce our keynote speaker tonight, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey [extended applause, hooting and whistling].
You are one popular man, Governor [continued applause].
I have a few more remarks to say [laughter], you guys are jumping the gun a little bit on me. And they're very nice things I'm going to say. Since being sworn in 18 months ago, the Governor has been a powerful voice for fiscal sanity in a state that has long been known for liberal politics, big government policies, and its ever-expanding public sector. In only 18 months as governor, Chris Christie has shown tremendous leadership. New Jersey, as with most states across America and indeed the nation as a whole, face serious financial challenges. These are about fundamental issues regarding how our country will function in the 21st century. Historically, challenging times have led to bigger government, more spending, more regulation, more control of individual lives. We know that this is not the path that leads to better and more prosperous America. It will take strong leadership, honest, straightforward leadership, to navigate these waters and ensure that free enterprise and prosperity flourish.
Those of you who know, who have met Governor Christie, know that he tells it like it is. I for one haven't met many politicians who have the guts to stand in front of a room of 2,000 public sector workers to tell them that other politicians have lied to them, lied about healthcare and pensions, no less. That other politicians have made promise[s] that simply cannot be kept. And then when 2,000 public sector workers predictably, [inaudible] outrage, you know what the governor said? He said, "Come on, you can do better than that." And to their credit, they did [laughter]. True story.
An extraordinary example of Governor Christie's courage and leadership, is that just this last week, the New York Times reported in a front page article that the State Assembly and the State Senate of New Jersey voted approval of a remarkable bill that reforms state employee health insurance and pension payments, bringing them more in line with the private sector. The savings to New Jersey taxpayers will be enormous in the years to come.
Another example of Governor Christie's commitment to the free enterprise system is that only a few weeks ago he announced that New Jersey would be withdrawing from the [Regional] Greenhouse Gas Initiative which is a [cheers and applause], which would have raised energy costs, reduced economic growth and led to very little, if any, benefit for the environment. [A 'boo' is heard.]
At a time when strong leadership is sorely needed it is refreshing to see someone like Governor Christie in office. We sincerely hope and trust that he will continue to be a strong voice for market-oriented policy. Who knows? With his enormous success in reforming New Jersey, some day we might see him on a larger stage where, God knows, he is desperately needed. Please give [applause] a very, very big welcome to a true political hero, Governor Chris Christie. [loud and extended applause, whistling]
GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: David, thank you very much for the introduction and thank you all of you for the great welcome. Not just now but throughout the day today. I've had an opportunity to meet many of you and to be able to thank you personally for what you're doing to support folks like me who are out there on the front lines fighting for the principles and the values that we believe in. Believe me, now's the time, and I've heard this repeated many times today, now's the time when we need to fight even harder because the opponents of what we want to try to maintain in our country are fighting harder than ever. And I'll state to you why I think it is that they're fighting even harder than ever as we discuss these issues tonight.
Ya know, I did my State of the State address, my first one as Governor, back this past January. And I said, it was the first week of January, and I said that I thought it was time for New Jersey to do the big things. Not to worry about the small-bore problems, but to get to the heart of the big problems that were facing our state, in fact our country.
And how do we define those? We define them as three things: First, to return our budget to fiscal sanity by cutting spending and under no circumstances raising taxes on the people of the state of New Jersey, who are the most overtaxed citizens in America. Second would be to reform a pension and health benefit system --- that had a pension system with a fifty-four billion dollar underfunding and a public sector health insurance system that was underfunded by 67 billion dollars. That's over a 120 billion dollars in accumulated underfunding between those two funds. So our state was careening towards insolvency, and it was. And third, I said we had to reform a broken K to 12 education system in our state where the feelings of adults were given more respect than the needs of children. And that we needed to tell the truth about the fact that America was falling behind as an economic giant because we were no longer educating our children in a way that was going to make them the best to compete both here and around the world.
Now, I found it kind of ironic, three weeks later we sat down, my family and I, to watch the President's State of the Union address. And my son, my oldest, Andrew, who's 17, asked me what I expected that night. [some laughter] I said I didn't really know what to expect but that I hoped that given the magnitude of crisis that the country was facing, with debt and deficits and lack of economic growth, that the President would just stand up finally and tell the truth about the fact that we had to confront the same things in America that we're confronting in Jersey, and the analogous problems. The ones I talked about. Obviously education reform is the same, but then to say he was going to deal with the deficit, to make government small, and that the equivalent on the federal level to pension and benefit reform was to reform the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security systems, because they are bankrupting America in the same way that our pension and benefit system was bankrupting New Jersey.
So we sat down and listened to his speech and ironically the President, you might remember, that night said, it was time for America to do the big things. Exact same phrase. Three weeks after mine. [laughter] Except the difference between me and Barack Obama is on full display tonight because here's what he said the big things were. He said the big things were electric cars [scattered laughter], high-speed internet access and high-speed rail.
Now, listen, not like I quibble with any of those things, you know? I don't think any of us go on the internet and think, "If only it were slower," [laughter] "my life would be so much better if the internet were just a little slower." Nobody gets on a train in New Jersey headed to Washington, which is usually a two and a half hour trip, and says, "If it were only three hours" [some laughter] "rather than two and a half, my life would be better." I don't quibble with the fact that some of that might be good. But the big things? In a country that's 14 trillion dollars in debt? In a country that's borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends? In a country that has stagnant economic growth and is careening towards insolvency? You have the audacity to stand in front of the American people and say the big things are electric cars? This is the candy of American politics, ladies and gentleman. And he is treating us like children. Trying to give us small pieces of candy to separate ourselves from the reality of the impending crisis.
And so we decided, my son and I, after watching that speech, that he had failed the test of leadership. He had failed the fundamental test of leadership, which I believe is to tell the people who hired you the truth, unvarnished truth. [applause]
[For the full story on this transcript, see
Part 2 of our exclusive special series at Mother Jones.]