Mr. Speaker, freedom and liberty have always been the Americanideal. Core American values have not changed over the centuries. Take alook at the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, andAmerica's values are written down for us. The Declaration acknowledgesthat our rights come from God, not from government. Life, liberty andthe pursuit of happiness are manifested in the Constitution, notgranted by the Constitution.

The government doesn't give us our rights, and they can'ttake them away. Government has no rights. People have rights.Government has power. Government gets power when we give up our rightsto government. The American people have made it plain they don't wantthe government taking over health care. That's not compatible withliberty. America does believe in freedom, that includes freedom ofreligion and the freedom to exercise our religion. They believe infreedom of the press and the right to peaceably assemble and speaktheir minds to a government that is not allowed to stop them,especially if the government doesn't like what the people are saying.Americans believe in the God-given right to defend themselves, theirfamilies, their homes and their property. We have a right to be freefrom illegal search and seizure. And the American people believe infair trials, fair courts and fair play. These are all core Americanvalues. They are in the Constitution. Most Americans believe theserights don't change with time. And most of the Americans I represent inTexas believe all these values are fairly well set in stone.

Now, some of these Americans drive trucks, or pickups as wecall them. Recently, there have been some derogatory, disrespectfulstatements made by those who arrogantly dismiss truck owners. However,there are a lot of vocal truck owners in America. The Ford F-150 pickupis the most popular vehicle sold in the United States for the last 28years; 25 percent of all vehicles sold in America are pickups. And ifyou add SUVs to the mix, 40 percent of all truck sales, includingpickups, are sold to women. Over 40 percent consider their truck moreimportant than their home. As one truck owner told me, "You can sleepin your truck, but you can't drive your house."

Not surprisingly, Texas is America's biggest pickup market,and you don't see too many Volvo station wagons where I come from.These Americans who drive trucks, in my opinion, are fiercelyindependent, outspoken and will tell you they don't belong to a partybut they vote for the person. These drivers are of every race and age,and 64 percent say their truck is a manifestation of their character,their personality and their politics.

Truck owners are one voice in America that government woulddo well to listen to. Contrary to current Washington wisdom, theAmericans I know and represent, like truck drivers and others, do notlook forward to a day when government, in the name of progressivepolitics, makes all our decisions for us. This is not a country ofweak, timid souls who think government is the answer to every problemand has a better solution than the individuals it rules over. This isnot a people of sheep who are afraid to control their own lives andbelieve government knows best. This is a country of high-spiritedindividuals that want to be left alone.

Many people I represent believe government is a wolfseeking what liberties it can devour from the people. Americans don'tbelieve our health should be turned over to the Federal Government andmade a budget item. We don't want some government bureaucrat decidingwe can't have the pacemaker surgery, just take pain killers. That willnot work for America. After all, we're not some nanny state,European-style.

Truck owners and other Americans believe in transparentgovernment, not smoky back-room deals that have an odor of corruption,payoffs, and paybacks. The Americans I know believe in hard work and aprivate economy that rewards hard work with jobs open to every citizen.They believe in enjoying the fruits of their own labor, and they knowhow better to spend their money than Big Government. Americans believein giving people a helping hand when they need it, but don't believe increating a dependent class of people.

Truck owners don't believe in an elite ruling class of D.C.insiders making decisions for the rest of us. Mr. Speaker, I think mostAmericans believe in the American Dream which is simply this: freedom.This Nation was founded on freedom, and we don't want the governmentmicromanaging our lives. The Americans I know, especially those thatdrive trucks, want government to remember the beginning of theConstitution, which says, "We, the people." After all, it doesn'tsay, we the subjects. And as one bumper sticker on a pickup stated, "Ilove America. It's government I continue to worry about."

And that's just the way it is.