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Behind Washington's politics of personal destruction

By Tim Phillips
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
Tim Phillips of conservative Americans for Prosperity pushes back against liberal attacks.
Tim Phillips of conservative Americans for Prosperity pushes back against liberal attacks.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Tim Phillips responds to op-ed attacks from Brad Woodhouse of American Bridge 21st Century
  • He calls the attacks nothing more than politics of personal destruction
  • He points to Obamacare, energy policies and VA failings as proof Washington is broken
  • Washington's solution to every problem, he says, is to create a bureaucracy

Editor's note: Tim Phillips is the president of Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy and leadership organization founded with the support of David H. Koch and Charles Koch. He wrote this commentary in response to a recent op-ed by Brad Woodhouse of American Bridge 21st Century, a progressive PAC. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- The most important question facing Washington today is: How do we move America forward? This question guides everything we do at Americans for Prosperity. From health care to taxes to environmental issues, we fight for policies that would give every American the best shot at a better life.

But politicians in Washington don't want to answer this question. Even if they tried, they wouldn't know where to start. They're too busy attacking anyone with whom they disagree.

Exhibit A: Writing on these pages several days ago, Brad Woodhouse from American Bridge 21st Century declared that we want to "buy elections" and pursue a "self-serving" agenda.

Exhibit B: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid regularly takes to the Senate floor to denounce groups like Americans for Prosperity as "un-American." Moreover, everything we say, according to Reid, is "untrue." Dozens of Senate and House candidates have since parroted Reid's baseless assertions in stump speeches, campaign e-mails, and more.

Tim Phillips
Tim Phillips

This is nothing more than the politics of personal destruction. Yet personal attacks are all they have in their playbook. Washington's record from the past few years doesn't stand up to scrutiny -- and they know it. They can't show how they've helped the people they claim to represent. Millions of Americans have been harmed by their bankrupt policies and broken promises.

Look no further than Obamacare for proof. It has been nothing but a burden on hard-working American families. The country deserves to hear their stories.

For months, we've worked with middle-class families in states like Arkansas, North Carolina, Michigan, Louisiana, and elsewhere. Obamacare canceled their plans and forced them to buy health insurance that they didn't want and couldn't afford. Between 6 and 9 million families experienced similar problems firsthand.

Millions more found out that their new plans don't include their doctors or cost far more than expected. Everywhere we look, people are paying more but getting less. Their response? Call these people liars.

It's a similar story with Washington's current energy policies. These, too, attack middle-class Americans.

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Take the example of the EPA regulations unveiled on June 2. It doesn't take an economist to see that these rules will increase electricity costs on families and businesses and kill jobs. Even The New York Times admits that "jobs will indeed be lost" and "costs imposed" by the new rules.

These costs will disproportionately harm the middle class and the poor, who pay a greater percentage of their income on electricity and everyday goods.

As for the effect on the climate? The EPA's own data shows that the new rules will only prevent 0.018 degrees Celsius of warming between now and 2100. Ask the Americans who lose their jobs whether this nearly nonexistent change is worth it.

The list goes on. Washington's solution to every problem is to create a bureaucracy and lavish it with billions in taxpayer dollars. In return we get the Department of Veterans Affairs, the IRS, and bureaucracies that can barely function or actively harm Americans.

Meanwhile, Washington's demands for higher taxes will stifle small business growth and job creation even though the economy is stalled and labor force participation is hovering near record lows. Ditto for the years of trillion dollar deficits and the $17.5 trillion dollar debt, which has nearly doubled since President Obama took office.

Such unchecked, out-of-control spending -- which many in Washington only want to expand -- will harm our economy and American families for generations for to come.

This is Washington's record. Such big government policies hobble the economy and harm the middle class, who invariably have to pick up the tab. But rather than help people, Washington's defenders attack us for pointing this out. We're fighting to create a better future -- but Washington is too busy holding America back.

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