Remarks on the Program for Economic Recovery at a White House Reception for Members of the House of Representatives

May 11, 1981

Before my remarks, I have a brief announcement. Anyone that hasn't gotten his cufflinks or tickets to the Kennedy Center, please see Max Friedersdorf. [Laughter]

Well, ladies and gentlemen, members of the Cabinet and staff and all of you who are here, I don't think the East Room has ever seen exactly this kind of meeting here before. And I think last week we saw an extraordinary example of cooperation between the legislative and executive branches of government, and I want all of you Members of the House to know how deeply grateful I am for what you did last week.

During these past 112 days we've worked well together, and I think we've made a little history. Thanks to you, we've made it clear that spending can be controlled and that our system works. The voice of the people can be heard here in the Capital, and in so doing, we've restored their confidence of our people in their government and in the institutions of this Government. I know that what we did was only the first step, but I have confidence that in the weeks and months ahead we'll continue to put country ahead of partisanship.

Yes, we have a big job ahead of us putting tax cuts into effect that are really the other half of returning America's prosperity. I believe the reduction in the tax rates, as I know I've said to many of you, is essential to restoring the spirit of enterprise.

You know, some years ago there was an economist at Harvard, now deceased, Sumner Schlichter. And he said once that if a visitor from Mars came to Earth, he would conclude that our tax policy had been created to make private enterprise unworkable. [Laughter] And, you know, maybe what he was talking about, sometimes in a business or a sports team or an army, will outperform its competitor even though the material assets of the two seem to be roughly equal.

Now, some academicians have commented -- well, they've referred to this as the x factor in human affairs, a confidence or a spirit that makes men and women dream and dare and take greater risks. Well, for too long a time our tax structure has stifled that x factor and that spirit of confidence and daring in our economic doings here in our land. Those who have the means to invest have sought tax shelters instead. And workers have been discouraged from saving or even trying to increase their earnings by increasing their productivity. I think the people have told us they want to see America return to the can-do spirit that made this country an industrial and economic giant.

Would I be wrong in suggesting that all of us here today feel a kind of special closeness? It's a feeling, I think, born of standing together for something we believed in. And I appreciate the courage it took for some of you to take that stand. I hope that we can maintain this bond established so far in the days to come. And again, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Note: The President spoke at 5:35 p.m. in the East Room at the White House.

In his remarks, the President referred to Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs Max Friedersdorf.