Remarks Following a Meeting With Republican Members of Congress and Congressional Candidates

October 4, 1984

The President. Thank you. I hope next year we have to build bigger stairs.

Well, I'm glad that our team is all here together today to remember an important commitment that we made to America's future. Four years ago our country faced the gravest economic crisis since the Great Depression, and many in this town were ready to throw in the towel and count America out. But not the Republican Party, not our team.

We said there's nothing wrong with America that our people can't and won't make right if government just will stand aside and get out of the way. So, we reached out to the people. We asked them to join with us to rescue our beloved nation, make a new beginning, and help America become strong and successful again.

Specifically, we pledged to work for cuts in growth of spending, to reduce waste, fraud, and abuse to a minimum, and dampen the fires of inflation while protecting those in need; for an across-the-board individual income tax cut and increased incentives for saving, investment, and capital recovery to put America back on the road to prosperity; for more private investment and permanent jobs, especially in our inner cities; and for strengthened defenses so America could have a credible foreign policy again and assure peace through strength here at home and greater stability in the world.

Well, with the support of the people, all of us have made some important changes. Federal spending growth, which reached a 17-percent annual rate in 1980, has been cut by nearly two-thirds. Tax rates have been cut for every working American, with new incentives for business to modernize and for entrepreneurs to start up new businesses. Next year, tax brackets will be indexed because we believe government must never again profit from inflation at the people's expense.

Unlike 4 years ago, today we're building a defensive strength. And today we're giving those brave young men and women who put their lives on the line for us the moral support, the weapons, and the equipment they need to get the job done.

We've also worked hard to strengthen the good and decent values of faith, family, work, neighborhood, and freedom. Those values have never failed America when we've lived up to them.

We've made a new beginning, and America today is a very different place than 4 years ago. It wasn't a coincidence in 1980 that the problems of inflation, interest rates, taxes, jobs, crime, and morale in the military were all getting worse, and our future looked bleak. And believe me, it's not a coincidence today that every one of those problems is being turned around, and our future looks bright again.

No army is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. In 1980 we said it's time to give this government back to the people. When Washington was calling the plays all we did was fumble. Today the people are back in charge, and we're scoring touchdowns again.

Now, the other side said it couldn't be done. But inflation, taxes, and interest rates are down. Jobs, investment, and growth are all up. The morale of our enlisted men and women is up, and their readiness and ability to protect freedom and preserve peace are better than ever before. Since 1980, not 1 square inch of territory has been lost to Communist aggression.

Today we're telling the people the Republican Party will not rest until every American who wants a job can find a job -- from Brownsville to Buffalo to San Francisco Bay. And that's why the choice in '84 is so clear.

There comes a time when we must firmly choose the course we'll follow. On November 6th, the American people must decide whether we will go forward with the courage, the common sense, and new spirit that are making America strong again, giving us new opportunities and offering the best hope for all. Or will we turn back to the policies of high taxing and spending that weakened our economy, reduced opportunities, and brought hardship to so many?

I believe young Americans, Independents, and rank-and-file Democrats are making that choice. They're joining our team in larger and larger numbers because they can see that we offer the surest vehicle to progress, the one movement that's saying to every man and woman, without exception: America can only be great when each of you can reach for greatness, when you can reach for the stars and climb up to the ultimate in individual freedom to achieve your full God-given potential. So, we're urging all Americans: Come walk with us down this new path of hope and opportunity. Add your strength to ours, and together we'll become the most powerful force for progress that America has ever known.

All of us together can build on the progress we've made. We can lower everybody's tax rates further and create more jobs, rising take-home pay, and greater opportunities for all. We can extend the full benefits of IRA's to spouses working in the home, pass enterprise zones to restore distressed areas and give hope to those who are left out.

Could enterprise zones -- couple those with a youth opportunity wage to help teenagers learn skills and escape dependency, start a new life, and go forward with initiatives to help public housing residents purchase their dwellings and assume responsibility for home ownership. We can push forward new frontiers in science, space, and technology. And we can strengthen the great grassroots movement we've helped lead to make America's educational system a great center of leadership for excellence.

Everything we've done, everything that we mean to do is to give every American the opportunity to make this great free nation greater and freer still.

Our opponent's policies would take us off the new path of an opportunity society, put us back on the old path of defeatism, decline, and despair. They propose a tax increase equivalent to more than $1,800 per household. That's more than $150 each and every month of the year. It's a ball and chain around the neck of America's families and America's future.

Their idea of compassion is bureaucratic compassion, which always begins with every family sending more to Washington, and ultimately leads to more suffering for those who need help the most.

We're building a new party, a grassroots opportunity party that seeks genuine compassion through new opportunities, new ideas, and new solutions that will mean a better life for all. And come November 6th, Americans will choose between two different teams. They can vote for the tax increase team that kicked off its campaign with a plan to take the equivalent of more than $150 a month, as I've said, from each household, a plan that will destroy growth, jobs, and bring back inflation, or they can vote for the team that wants to lower personal income tax rates, give every family more hope, so all of us can go forward together to build a better future for America.

We don't want to see the American people dragged back to that unhappy past. We're asking you to stick with us, and we're going to tell the world, ``You ain't seen nothin' yet.''

Thank you all. Thank you all, and God bless you all, and now, go get 'em. [Laughter] We'll see you out on the trail.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. All right. All right. I'll sign. [Laughter]

Reporter. Mr. President, why have you shut down the Government, sir?

The President. What?

Q. Why have you shut down the Federal Government?

The President. Oh. Sam [Sam Donaldson, ABC News], normally I wouldn't take a question, but that is a challenge, not a question. [Laughter]

This has been typical of what has happened ever since we've been here. And you can lay this right on the majority party in the House of Representatives. Just once, just once it would be great to have a budget on time.

Audience member. Hear, hear!

Q. Mr. President -- --

The President. What did you say, Andrea [Andrea Mitchell, NBC News]?

Q. [Inaudible] -- prepare for your debates with Mr. Mondale?

The President. What am I doing to -- --

Q. Prepare. To prepare for the debates.

The President. Just reminding myself of all that we've done and that he says we haven't done.

Note: The President spoke at 1:35 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. Prior to his remarks, the President met in the East Room with Members of Congress and congressional candidates.