Remarks at a Republican Fundraising Dinner for Congressional Campaign Committees

May 12, 1983

Thank you, Guy Vander Jagt. And thank all of you for doing what you were just doing long enough for me to swallow the lump in my throat. Nancy and I are honored to be here with you distinguished ladies and gentlemen this evening.

And please forgive me, but as I was waiting here and listening to you, and listening to the great Ernie Banks, I felt a little like the fellow that bats last for the Chicago Cubs. [Laughter] But that's all right. I'm a lifelong Cubs fan. I used to broadcast the Chicago Cubs games. And, Ernie, I was broadcasting that 21-game winning streak, which has never been matched in the history of baseball. But if I can wait all these years for them to win another pennant, you better believe I can wait a few minutes to pay tribute to each of you on this beautiful spring evening.

Of course, the real sign of spring is our national pastime -- nine guys galloping out on the field: the Democratic Presidential candidates. [Laughter] No runs, no hits, just errors. [Laughter]

You know, the more things change, the more they seem the same. Every time I see my dear friend, Jim Brady, it seems that the Cubs have lost another game, and that's bad news; but every time I see Jim, he's looking better and better, and that's good news.

But may I just say something you've made me feel at this dinner -- anyone who believes the Republican Party has reached its peak is making a big mistake. If you maintain the support, enthusiasm, and commitment you've shown this evening, then this Grand Old Party can reach the farthest stars and score a tremendous victory on election night in November 1984.

It happens to be a fact that we don't just have good people on our side; we have the best people. We have a man who only 1 week after leaving his government post to accept a top job in private industry didn't hesitate a second when asked to organize this dinner, as you've been told. You know, of course, I'm talking about Drew Lewis and what a great job he always does.

And can anyone here imagine two more dedicated, talented, and determined leaders for our congressional and Senatorial committees than Guy Vander Jagt and Dick Lugar.

And let me repeat what I could never say often enough: When I needed someone of unquestionable leadership, loyalty, and skill, there's only one person I could or would choose again, and that's my partner and your Vice President, George Bush.

I believe we have an important message. With the support of the people, we come to the rescue of a nation whose house was on fire. We put out the flames, and brick by brick we're rebuilding a foundation of strength, safety, and security for America. We've made our share of mistakes. We'll have many problems to solve. But you gave us the courage to take action when those before us had refused again and again and again.

Teddy Roosevelt said, ``Far better it is to dare mighty things, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory or defeat.''

Our opponents oppose our budget savings. They opposed our tax cuts. And they complain that all their special interests have been treated unfairly. Well, let them deny and oppose and complain, because we can remind the people -- those who saddled this nation with double-digit inflation; 21\1/2\-percent interest rates, the highest in more than 100 years; and the worst tax burden in our peacetime history -- they're the last people who should be giving sermons about fairness and compassion.

If inflation had continued at the 12.4-percent rate of their last year in office, a family of four on a fixed income of $20,000 would be $1,700 poorer in purchasing power today. If their tax increases had stayed on the books and our tax cuts had not been passed, a median-income family of four would be paying $700 more in Federal income taxes this year.

Now, that doesn't sound like fairness to me, and it sure isn't compassion. I said we still have a long way to go, but take a look at how far we've come in this short time by sticking together.

Inflation has been cut by two-thirds. The prime rate has been cut in half. Personal tax rates have been cut for the first time in two decades. Estate taxes on family farms and businesses have been cut sharply. Real wages are improving for the first time since 1978. The rate of personal saving and productivity have reversed their declines. Venture capital investments have reached record levels. The stock market has awakened from a decade of disappointment and surged into new record ground. Sunrise industries are springing up like jack rabbits. Production in autos, housing, and steel is gaining strength, and more workers are being called back each month. And you ain't heard nothing yet. [Laughter]

Isn't it time for Republicans to stand shoulder to shoulder and tell our critics, ``If you won't work with us, if you can't cooperate and help to keep America moving forward, then stand aside, get out of the way, and let us get on with it.''

You know, I get kidded about this, but I keep wondering -- now that our program is doing what we said it would, how come our critics don't call it Reaganomics anymore? [Laughter] That was their name for our program when they were sure it wouldn't work. To tell you the truth, I never liked it. In my mind, it's always been the People's Program. And now that it seems to be working, our opponents want to change it. Well, let there be no confusion on one point. I will veto any attempt to tamper with or take away the third year of the people's income tax cut or indexing.

And the other day I was handed two letters -- one from the House of Representatives and one from the Senate. And each of those letters was signed by enough good Republican Members of the House and of the Senate to guarantee upholding a veto that I would put on any attempt to tamper with those tax reductions.

Indexing is an historic reform. It protects low- and middle-income families from being pushed by inflation into higher income tax brackets. Indexing is the very essence of fairness and compassion. Seventy-eight percent of the benefits go to low- and middle-income earners. So, we have a right to ask the Democrats, and we should ask them, ``Why are you falling all over each other to push working families and small business people into tax brackets once reserved for millionaires?'' We don't need new tax increases. We need to control spending.

Incidentally, of the third income tax cut that comes due on July 1st, 72 percent of that will go to the low- and middle-income earners in our country. And yet, today I saw where there was a poll in which the -- our opponents are hailing this poll -- that says that tax cut's only going to benefit the rich.

This is Small Business Week. And we should remember that small business is on the cutting edge of innovation and job creation in America. The 2.7 million new jobs added in 1980 and '81, some 60 percent were in firms of less than 500 employees. Eighty-five percent of all U.S. firms pay their taxes by personal rates, not by the corporate rate. So, let us spell out what this means in terms of jobs. The Democratic plan to eliminate the third year of the tax cut or the indexing provision amounts to an enormous tax increase on the most important employers of America -- the small business community. The Democratic tax increases are not a jobs creation program. Their tax increases are a jobs elimination program, and America doesn't need any more progress of that kind.

Increasingly, we see evidence that the ideas and vision of our party which we brought to Washington are shared by the great majority of our citizens. During the years when Federal spending on education grew and grew, and the government elbowed aside the traditional role of parents, we saw the SAT scores steadily decline. We said the answer was not Washington knows best, but a return to the basics: more competition, more emphasis on high standards, quality instruction, student discipline, and a restoration of parental involvement and local control. Now, after 18 months of preparation, a blue-ribbon commission on excellence in education has issued a report that says exactly what we had been saying.

Let me interject here to say there's one area where the Federal Government has clearly neglected its responsibility, and that is in national defense. The debate on defense is about more than dollars and deficits and rooting out waste, as important as they are. The central issue is about protecting human lives and preserving freedom and democracy, because they're the source of all our other blessings. I believe what occurred in the last decade when the Soviets raced ahead militarily and we stood still was dreadfully wrong. I believe it is not just immoral but unforgivable to ask the sons and daughters of America to protect this country with aging equipment and bargain-basement weapons. We can only keep our families safe and our country at peace when the enemies of democracy know that America has the courage to stay strong. And we intend to see that they know that.

A Senator from Massachusetts -- his name escapes me for the moment -- [laughter] -- criticizes our administration for being, as he puts it, ``too concerned with preparing for war.'' But, what George Washington warned in 1790 holds true today: ``Being prepared for war is one of the best ways of preserving the peace.'' And peace through strength is our goal.

Senior officials from three previous administrations and leading Republicans and Democrats across the country have joined our call to build and deploy the MX Peacekeeper and the small, single-warhead missile that's been nicknamed Midgetman, but not so we can fight a war. They want to build and deploy those missiles so America can secure deep arms reductions and preserve the peace. And just before coming over here the phone rang tonight, and I learned that out of the Senate Appropriations Committee came the money for the MX missile by a 17-to-11 vote.

During the past decade the U.S.S.R. improved, developed, or deployed almost a dozen new strategic systems, while the United States virtually stood still. The Soviets will have no incentive to negotiate arms reductions if we unilaterally disarm. For the sake of America, and all we hold dear, I'm asking all responsible Democrats and Republicans to join together now to endorse the Scowcroft commission's recommendations for the Peacekeeper, the small, single-warhead missile, and the renewed efforts toward arms reduction.

We're doing everything we can to ensure the United States will be safer, stronger, and more secure today -- both economically and militarily -- than before. And let us remain united and true to our vision of progress, a vision that begins with your families, churches, schools, and neighborhoods. We don't ask the people to trust us. We say, ``Trust yourselves. Trust your values.'' And working together, we'll make America great again.

Some of our opponents are only comfortable trusting government. Their solutions would bring us back full circle to the source of our economic problems, with the government deciding that it knows better than you what should be done with your earnings and how you should live your life. Our road is bold and filled with hope and opportunity. Their road is timid and relies on fear and envy. So, we have a great message for the people. And, with the allout support that I know you'll continue to give, we'll get that message across, and Republicans will celebrate a magnificent victory in 1984.

God bless all of you. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 10 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Earlier, at the White House, the President attended a reception for fundraisers for the dinner.