Remarks at a White House Reception for Delegates to the Young Republican Leadership Conference

March 26, 1981

The President. Well, I'm delighted to be here -- and so is Nancy -- and to have all of you here in your national home. And I know that we're celebrating the 50th birthday of YR's. Maybe you'd prefer now that you've reached that point that I refer to it as the 11th anniversary of your 50th -- [laughter]. I found it very satisfactory where I'm concerned. [Laughter]

I know, also, all that's gone on in these years since you started out. I know the delegations that you've sent to Europe and to Africa and to Latin America, the interaction that you've had with youth groups in the rest of the world; forums, exchange of literature, and how you sponsored groups of young people from those other countries to come here. And you've raised over $600,000 in -- not in, but for campaign training schools, literature, and for direct assistance to candidates. And I speak as one of those who benefited from that direct assistance. I will say there have been a few days in the couple of months we've been here when I didn't know whether I was happy that you did that or not. [Laughter]

But incidentally I know, and I hope this is true -- I've been told that there's an old friend of mine from Iowa here, but also one of yours -- General George Olmstead who was that first -- well, he's Chairman now of the Board of the International Bank here in Washington, but he was the first Chairman of YR's in 1931. George are you here? There he is. We're old friends and near neighbors in our working days out there.

Well, it's been almost 17 years since I told a group of Young Republicans once that we had a rendezvous with destiny, and now here we are. [Laughter] But you've helped, you've added representatives at every level of government to strengthen our forces, and now for us to go forward and try to realize our ideals and the things that we've been talking about all these years. One of those things is, of course, the economic program that we have submitted.

The battle is on; lines are being drawn. I believe we've got a better chance of getting the cuts in the budget that we've proposed. There seems to be more general agreement on the need to reduce government spending, but the other half of the program is equally important. That is the half that is designed to stimulate productivity to make us once again the industrial giant that we should be, to put our people back to work -- almost 8 million unemployed today -- and that is the tax part of the program, tax cuts across the board. [Applause]

And let me warn you now, you're going to have to help, because they're going to have to realize that the people of this country want what you have just applauded. And some of those who have evidenced their dislike of this program, whether it had to do with the cuts or the tax reductions, have fuzzed up the issue to the place that we have got to convey to the people that first of all, those who have brought about the present economic crisis are not automatically, by virtue of doing that, qualified to bring an end to it.

And the other thing they must realize is that in our tax cuts, we are faced -- and as of January 1st, it began, last January 1st -- that the American people today are burdened with the biggest single tax increase that has ever been imposed on the people of this country. And our tax cuts, major as they may seem to some, are actually not reducing the tax burden below what it was before January 1st. We are simply reducing the increase. The people will still be facing an increase, and we have to make that plain to everyone that these tax cuts are not taking us back to some poverty level of government. As a matter of fact, the tax increase that I've mentioned, unless we get our cuts, in the next 5 years will take an added $500 billion out of the pockets of the American people. And we're just trying to reduce that -- although, I'll tell you this, we've got a second package in mind that when it begins to show some effect and we can afford it, we'll be going back until we get rid of the rest of that increase too, later on.

Well, thank you very much.

Mr. Abell. It's such an honor to be here on behalf of all the Young Republicans across the country and about a half a million of us that wished we could all have been here today, and we're glad we're here. And Mr. President, thank you for having us, and I'd like to say that -- I'd like to thank you for having us and especially on our 50th anniversary. And I'd like to have our national chairman present you a bowl from Tiffany's that we got for you so you might be able to use it in your your home in California.

Thank you again.

The President. Well, thank you very much.

Mrs. Reagan. Just right for jellybeans.

The President. Nancy says it's just right for jellybeans. [Laughter] And, well, I've said this before: We won't have to wait until we get back to California. We live above the store. [Laughter] Thank you all very much.

Thank you for being here, and thank you for all that you've done. I know you didn't start with the organization 50 years ago -- [laughter] -- but for all that YR's means -- and you certainly are keeping alive the tradition and the level of activity, and we're all grateful to you.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 5:35 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. Richard Abell is the chairman of the Young Republican National Federation, which sponsored the leadership conference.