“When people look at Washington today, they see a really big train wreck about to occur.”

Thune Talks About Entitlement Reform and Energy Security in Speech to The Ripon Society

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator John Thune (SD) appeared before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society yesterday morning, delivering a speech and answering questions about a wide range of challenges facing America, including the need to reform entitlements and the importance of adopting a comprehensive energy plan that will boost domestic production and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of fuel.

“When I think about Washington, DC,” Thune said, in opening his remarks, “I’m always reminded of the story about the guy who wanted to be a locomotive engineer. He goes to the place where you get that kind of instruction, and the instructor gives him a problem: ‘If you had one train coming from one direction at 55 mph, and another train coming from another direction at 45 mph, what would you do?’ The guy thought about it for a minute, and then he said, ‘I think I’d call my brother.’ The instructor said, ‘That’s a really strange answer. Why would you do that?’ And the guy says to him back, “Because my brother has never seen a train wreck before.’

“When people look at Washington today, they see a really big train wreck about to occur. There are some very troubling things on the horizon if we can’t get our act together here. We’ve got to address tax reform. We’ve got to address entitlement reform. We’ve got to address regulatory reform. We need a coherent energy policy – one that truly is an ‘all-of-the-above’ approach. These are all things that will be on the agenda if we get the majority back in the Senate and elect Mitt Romney as President.”

Looking ahead to next year, Thune added: “I think there’s a commitment to address tax reform. What I hope is that there’s also a commitment among Democrats to address entitlement reform, as well. I think these two things have to go together. There were Republicans on the Supercommittee who advanced ideas about revenue – including statically scored revenue – to get to entitlement reform. But that’s a bridge that the President has not been willing to cross. I hope with a new President, we can deal with this issue, because we can’t fix the problems we have as a Nation fiscally without dealing with entitlements.

“Yes, tax reform would be great. We’d all like to see a broader base and lower rates – that would have a profound impact on the economy, and help create the kind of conditions we need to get people back to work. But the fiscal trajectory we’re on today is very similar to what we’ve seen in Europe. We made promises we can’t keep and we need to reform our entitlement programs, or we’re headed in the same direction. And that’s going to happen a lot sooner than any of us would like to see.”

Thune currently serves as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the third ranking GOP leadership post in the chamber. He is also on many short lists to be the 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee. When asked at the conclusion of his remarks about the need to establish a comprehensive energy policy, he displayed the type of directness that has often been lacking on the campaign trail this year.

“I think there’s a lot of lip service being paid around here to an ‘all-of-the-above’ plan and includes domestic production,” the South Dakota lawmaker stated. “But when it comes to achieving that goal – at least with the current administration – we just haven’t seen results. The Keystone Pipeline is a good example. It’s a project where we really could have advanced America’s energy interests, national security interests, and economic interests. But the President didn’t do that, because he was held hostage to special interests. I hope that if we elect a new President, there will be a policy that really promotes domestic energy production, while getting away from the Solyndra-type projects where government picks the winners and losers.”

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.