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

June 23, 1981

The President. You know, I've just finished meeting a little while ago out there with the Teen Age Republicans, the TARS. And for some reason or other, I had it in mind that one of you, Paul Findley, from my old State of Illinois, Pittsfield -- there you are -- was going to be there. And I called, and you weren't there. [Laughter] And now I've found you, because I just wanted to say that this was kind of a special day in addition to just being here. And I could announce that -- can I tell them how many?

Representative Findley. Go ahead. I'm proud of it.

The President. Okay, see how easy it is today. He is 60 years old today. And just by way of encouragement, I want to tell you that's a lot younger than the President, and the President feels just fine. [Laughter]

Well, welcome all of you here. I'm a little surprised. My schedule said that I was supposed to meet with the House Members of the minority party. You don't act like a minority party. You act more like people who know that the ideas, your ideas, are shared and supported by the majority of the American people, and I think they are. And we're delighted to have you here.

It's no secret that we've been trying hard, as you know, to build a strong, bipartisan support for the economic recovery program. I don't doubt that's what the American people want, and I think that we know that that's what the American economy needs. But it's just as important that every one of you knows how positive and decisive your own contribution has become. Because you stuck together and refused to break ranks, we succeeded in passing the tightest spending ceiling and the largest budget reduction in the history of this country on May 7th. But now we need your help, your unity more than ever.

As you know, not all of the House committees have fully implemented the spending reductions in Gramm-Latta. So, just to hit the $695 billion spending target next year and achieve a balanced budget in 1984, we need $46 billion in savings in automatic spending programs over the next 3 years. And we can do that if we're just given a fair chance to vote on the new son of Gramm-Latta amendment and if all of you will stand with us shoulder to shoulder.

Now, it isn't easy to restrict benefits, I know, in food stamps, subsidized housing, student loans, or other programs. But if we ever again want to see low inflation, low interest rates, a sound dollar, and a prosperous people, we have no choice but to make these tough decisions now. And believe me, Americans do want and will remember your leadership.

The same holds true with the block grant proposals. I can't, in good conscience, believe that we should cut over 80 health, education, and social programs by 25 percent and then leave the Federal overhead and the bureaucratic redtape intact. It's the wrong approach. I know that the 50 Governors are ready to go with us all the way on the block grants and take the cut. And they say they'll make it work if we'll give them the flexibility to run those programs as they believe they should be run when they get to their level. And I speak with some experience from having been in that spot. And I know how much of the total spending is just sheer administrative overhead and waste.

Now, let's also make it plain that we're determined to reduce tax rates over the next 3 years by 25 percent across the board for every American taxpayer. And we won't settle for less, because anything less than that is no tax cut at all. It won't provide the incentive needs to create new jobs, to make our economy grow, and to renew the feelings of hope and optimism throughout America.

I know a few shrill voices criticize the tax bill as benefits for the wealthy. Well, in point of fact, we're cutting taxes for people who pay taxes -- the people earning between 5 thousand and 50 thousand dollars now pay 67 percent of all of the income tax. They'll receive 70 percent of the total cut. It's ironic to me that some of those who now are criticizing us are the very people who approve doubling the taxes on the American people in just the last 5 years. They've actually doubled.

So, let me just remind you not to take your eye off the ball. We're trying to give the economy back to the American people. That's what they deserve, and I think they'll support us if we continue to hang tough.

Lincoln, that first Republican President, once said, ``I am not bound to win but am bound to be true.'' He said that because he believed in the uncommon wisdom of the common people. I know you do too, and that's why if all of us remain true to our principles, we can be confident that America's greatest days are still to come.

This morning I told some Democratic Congressmen -- I know that some of you have concerns that maybe some of our business cuts are going to stimulate leaving areas like the industrial Northeast and Midwest and fleeing to the Sun Belt. Well, I've just received a report from 15 steel companies, the major steel producers in this country, and those 15 steel producers have many more than 15 expansion and modernization programs that they have given the go-ahead -- to in their own plants, already established plants, not building new plants. And of all of those, 13 of them are in plants in the Northeast, 15 of them are in plants in the Midwest, if all of you agree with me that Ohio and Arkansas are in the Midwest. [Laughter] I'm never quite sure. I debated a little whether to put them in the East or Midwest and decided, being a Midwesterner, I'll settle for the Midwest. And there are five, I believe, in the West and three in the South and only one that is actually not specified as yet. But that's the total number of $3.2 billion worth of modernization and expansion in the steel industry. And they made the decision to go ahead. They have said in that report on the basis of the economic package and their belief that it is going to be adopted and that that gives them the confidence to go forward and expand in this way.

Now, what you're hearing in my voice does not have anything to do with the state of my health. I think it has to do with -- this is about the 18th time today that I've had to stand up and speak, and I'm going to get the -- well, I'm going to get off of here -- [laughter] -- and mingle. I think that'll be a lot more fun.

So, thank you all for being here.

Note: The President spoke at 5:50 p.m. in the East Room at the White House.