Remarks on the Program for Economic Recovery at a White House Reception for Business and Government Leaders

June 11, 1981

I bring you apologies from Nancy. It seems that she has a schedule too. [Laughter] As a matter of fact, that was one thing I didn't know about this job -- and I should have anticipated it after being Governor -- that there is somebody that tells us what we're going to be doing every 15 minutes all day long. [Laughter] It's a little bit like Irving Berlin in that World War I song about the bugler. When I find out who's doing that -- [laughter] -- --

But I've been looking forward to meeting with you today, welcoming you here to the White House. You know, around the turn of the century there was an English gentleman, Samuel Butler, who remarked that the advantage of doing one's praising of one's self is that I can lay it on so thick and in exactly the right places -- [laughter]. Well, I did come to give generous praise, but not to myself or anyone in our administration, although I must say for them, I'm very proud of them and of the work that they've been doing. But I came to pay tribute to you, the new superstars of American grassroots politics. [Applause] I'll join in that applause. [Laughter]

No, you represent a cross section of Americans from all backgrounds, different regions across this country. In fact, you remind me very much of that one special interest group that I mentioned on Inauguration Day -- the one special interest group that has been neglected and needs help -- that is, we the people.

Thanks to your efforts in supporting the Gramm-Latta spending resolution, you gave all of the people of this country, I think, a tremendous victory. Not a victory for one party, but for more bipartisan cooperation and less inflation for a government that will finally begin living within its means. The bottom line is that millions of Americans are renewing their faith in our political system, and all of those people have waited so long for someone in Washington to listen and care and take action. So, from all of them to all of you, simply, thank you for what you've done for your country.

Now, before you start feeling too good, let me warn you. You're not going to get out of here scot-free. [Laughter] We need your help with another vital bipartisan piece of legislation. Now, you have no idea of what I'm talking about. [Laughter] We absolutely must have across the board a 3-year, 25-percent reduction for every American taxpayer, and we're not going to settle for less.

Now, there are those who are insisting that we settle for less. They demand proof in advance that what we've proposed will work, and they refuse to accept the record of history which clearly demonstrates that tax rate reductions do work. I think we can prove that what they've been doing in the last few decades hasn't worked and never will. And I don't think it automatically follows that those who brought about the present economic mess are, simply by virtue of having done that, the best qualified to clean it up.

They never answer one question that I keep asking -- and you've probably heard me ask it. Why is it inflationary if the people keep their own money and spend it the way they want to and it's not inflationary if the government takes it and spends it the way it wants to? So, we're asked to believe that their proposal is more compassionate to the working people. But their proposal won't even match the built-in tax increase that they themselves are responsible for.

As a matter of fact, let's be honest about it. Our 25-percent, across-the-board tax cut actually is not that much of a tax cut at all. It is simply removing the imposition over the next 3 years by way of inflation which moves people up in brackets and built-in tax increases of the tax increase that will be imposed on the people without that across-the-board reduction. And theirs doesn't match that. The people over the next 3 years will get a tax increase unless this is adopted.

Now, it's that simple. Our opponents want more money from your family budgets so they can spend it on the Federal budget and make it remain high. Maybe it's time that you and millions like you remind them of a few simple facts. It's your money, not theirs. You earned it. They didn't. You have every right to keep a bigger share than you've been allowed to keep for a great many years now. When they insist we can't reduce taxes and spending and balance the budget too, one 6-word answer will do: ``Yes, we can, and yes, we will.''

For too long, government has stood in the way of taking more of what our people earn, no matter how hard they try. It's almost become economics without a soul. And that's why the ultimate goal in everything that we're trying to do is to give this economy back to the American people.

Now, you're the most valuable resource we have, and you're the ones who can save our future. Some say the future is looking impossible, filled with danger and uncertainty and scarcity. Well, the future's always looked bleak til people with brains and faith and courage who dreamed and dared to take great risks found a way to make it better -- people like Robert Fulton and Eli Whitney and Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and Albert Einstein. Einstein himself gave us the formula -- everything that is really great and inspiring was created by individuals who labor in freedom.

So, our message today is simply help us pass these incentives so we can help you. We want nothing more than to turn you loose so you can make the 1980's the most exciting, successful decade our nation has ever known -- years of renaissance for American entrepreneurs, years when millions of free men and women went out and found the energy to make us secure and created a revolutionary technological breakthrough on every front, years when they rebuilt our cities and, in the process, created millions of new jobs, stronger families, and a real hope for young Americans everywhere. That's the kind of country I want to leave for our children, and I know it's what you want, too. Now, if we keep working together, just like we have, we're going to succeed and save that American dream that we all love.

Thank you all, and God bless you. And I'm going to get off of here and come down and say hello.

Note: The President spoke at 5:32 p.m. in the East Room at the White House.