Remarks to the Heritage Council in Warren, Michigan

October 10, 1984

The President. Frank, I thank you very much. Reverend clergy, Mr. Mayor, Congressman Bill Broomfield, and all of you: I'll try something: Dobry den [Good day].

Well, I appreciate this chance to break bread with you. This center represents something special about America. We Americans came from many lands; we represent just about every race, religion, and ethnic group that's found on this planet. We take pride in our family heritage, passing it on to our children, just like you're doing here. Yet, what keeps us together, what cements our national unity, is our abiding love of freedom. And I think that's what America is all about.

And that's what this hall is all about, and I'm proud to be with you here today. I have always believed -- and seeing these wonderful young people today and that entertainment, representing so many backgrounds -- I just, I've always believed that somehow, Divine Providence put this continent here between the oceans to be found by people from every corner of the Earth, but who had that special love for freedom in their heart that would make them pick up, leave friends and family, and move to this at-one-time strange and completely undeveloped land. And we are so unique, there is no place on Earth quite like us.

If America is to remain the free and vibrant country that we want her to be, and if she's to be the great land of opportunity, we can't lose sight of those principles laid down by our Founding Fathers. And we must have the same courage and dedication as those brave souls who built America to do what is necessary to keep our country prosperous and to keep her secure from the threat of foreign tyrants and authoritarian ideologies.

A few years ago, we had great cause for concern. The economy was in a shambles. Murderous inflation, economic stagnation, oppressive taxation, and sky-high interest rates were all sapping the strength of our people. Instead of providing leadership, many elected officials joined a chorus of pessimists, bemoaning everything that was wrong with America.

Well, let me just say in the last 4 years we've made a new beginning. And I believe that on November 6th, the American people are going to tell the politicians of the past, ``Forget it, we're not going back to that unhappy past.''

Our people are enjoying the fruits of low inflation and high growth. Productivity is up. Real take-home pay is up. Business incorporations hit a record high last year -- 600,000 in that single year. Over 6 million new jobs have been created since the beginning of the recovery. Our European friends call it the American miracle.

Well, it isn't a miracle. It's just that the American people built this recovery. Our administration, with the help of good Congressmen like Bill Broomfield, just eliminated the roadblocks which took the form of irresponsible tax and spending policies, overregulation, and too much power centralized in Washington. Once we got the Government out of the way, the American people, just like they always have, got on with the job of making this a better country for all of us.

And that's especially true of you. When you needed a community center, you didn't go to the Government. Under Don Fedorak and Jerry Duzey's leadership, you got together, laid your plans, and went to work. And this center is a tribute to your enterprise. It serves the well-being of your entire community. It was completed back in 1978. But I can't help but think, had you gone to the Government with all its redtape and bureaucratic entanglements, this project probably would have cost, to begin with, twice as much, and you'd be paying for it through higher taxes. And, of course, we'd probably be meeting someplace else, because it wouldn't be finished yet. [Laughter] So, congratulations on a job well done.

And I know that you've done so much as individuals and as a community to help those newcomers to our shores build a new life, through organizations like the Ukrainian Congress Committee, the Ukrainian American Relief Committee, and the indigent fund of the Ukrainian National Women's League of America.

We need leaders who will encourage people to follow your example, to get involved personally, to strive on their own, to join with others to accomplish what they can before going to government. And that's what this election is all about. The choice this year is between two teams with two distinct philosophies. An opponent, unable to shake loose from the failed policies of the past, still trapped in the mentality of tax and tax and spend and spend, believes in bigger and bigger government. And that's why he made raising taxes the centerpiece of his campaign, his first option in dealing with the problems of America. His tax program would bring back inflation, would knock the legs out from under the recovery with a tax hike equal to $1,890 for every American household -- that's more than $150 a month. He's got a knee-jerk reaction in favor of taxes. And every time his knee jerks, we get kicked. [Laughter]

Let me ask you, would you agree that raising taxes is the wrong way to make your family and your country strong?

Audience. Yes!

The President. All right. Well, I kind of expected that answer here in Michigan. [Laughter]

But instead of raising your taxes, we need to simplify the tax system, make it easier to understand, and make it easier for us to bring down your tax rates, not let them go up. Our opponents see an America in which every day is April 15th, tax day. [Laughter] Well, we see an America in which every day is the Fourth of July. Instead of raising your taxes, we'll promote policies that bring economic growth and increase opportunity. I think the best social program for the less fortunate who are trying to better their lot is a good job.

What we want is a strong and a prosperous America, an America that'll be entering the next century with confidence and optimism. Those wedded to the failed policies of the past, or tied too closely to special interest groups, may be unable to see the great potential that lies ahead.

How many of you watched on television as one of our magnificent space shuttles blasted off into space or landed after a successful mission? I'm sure everyone has taken a look at that. I was proud to be there in the California desert to welcome back the Columbia and her gallant crew sometime ago. And I remember: Suddenly they rushed me up on the platform and they said, ``Get ready, you know, it's coming,'' and was making its approach and would be landing in a few minutes, and I didn't see anything. And I said, ``Well, where is it right now?'' And they said, ``It's just coming over Honolulu.'' [Laughter] And sure enough, in a matter of minutes, there it was and it was landing. [Laughter] When you stop and think that within a single lifetime of some of us, we've gone from the horse and buggy to that space shuttle -- just in one lifetime.

If my opponent had his way, there never would have been a shuttle program. He led the fight against starting the shuttle program. He would have spent the money beefing up the bureaucracy in Washington, DC, and that wouldn't get you off the ground 1 inch. [Laughter]

But that program, by developing America's technological genius and by providing so many benefits, was an investment in the future. And it was worth every cent.

Today we're trying to make up for short-sighted decisions of the last decade. That's especially true in regard to our national security. Between 1970 and 1980, when the rest of the budget was skyrocketing out of sight, real spending for defense fell by over 20 percent. By the end of the decade, our Navy had dropped from over a thousand ships to under 500. Our Air Force was flying bombers that were, in some cases, older than the pilots.

Perhaps the policymakers -- and this twisted logic is still around -- they were making mistakes -- or mistaking weakness, I should say, for peace. My opponent in this campaign has made a career out of weakening America's Armed Forces. He's always found one reason or another for opposing vital weapons systems and the modernization of our forces. As for me, I agree with President Dwight Eisenhower when he said, ``To be strong nationally is not a sin. It is a necessity.''

One of our top priorities since coming to Washington has been rebuilding our defensive strength, and I make no apologies for that. I pledge to you that as long as I'm President, I will never shortchange the security needs of the United States of America.

We take our responsibilities very seriously. We are, for example, absolutely committed to root out waste and fraud and make certain that every defense dollar is used wisely. And those that you've heard lately talking about $500 hammers and $9,000 wrenches don't add, when they say that, that that's been going on for a long time. And when we got here, we started cleaning it up. We're the ones that brought those figures to light, made them public, and we are cleaning it up.

And there have been millions and millions of dollars in rebates returned to the Government as a result. And we, just a few days ago in the White House, the Rose Garden, recognized 12 -- some in uniform and some Defense Department civilian employees -- who individually had tracked down and found some of these things that had resulted in millions of dollars of savings for us. There had been hundreds of indictments and convictions for fraud on the part of people, some people, that were doing these things.

But let's not kid ourselves. Even when we root out the waste, providing adequate defense is still an expensive proposition, especially when you're playing catchup. Now, those who are complaining the loudest about the cost are, for the most part, the same architects of a decade of neglecting America's security needs.

Well, I don't think America's listening to those voices anymore. New voices are being heard now, strong voices that advocate the cause of freedom, voices not ashamed to defend America's interests. There is one such advocate of whom I'm particularly proud. She's our Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick. She represents a new realism in foreign policy. No longer do we apologize to tyrants about the American way of life, or apologize to those domestic critics who always blame America first.

She hadn't been in the United Nations very long until there was one of those days when about 27 countries on the floor blasted away at America for this or that. And the next afternoon, kind of abashed, they were calling on our Ambassador to apologize. They'd gotten 27 letters -- each one of them had gotten a letter, 27 of them, the very next morning from Jeane Kirkpatrick. [Laughter]

We're building up the Voice of America so your message, our message, gets through to captive people everywhere. We seek no conflict with anyone. We've gone the extra mile and will continue to do so to reach arms reduction agreements. But from now on, when America negotiates, we'll negotiate from a position of strength.

Now, there's another group of Americans we should be thanking. During the previous administration, as preparedness sank, so did morale in our Armed Forces. And today, because they know how much we appreciate them, we've attracted the finest young men and women to the service who have ever served this country. But freedom, our freedom, is really in their hands. And their commanders tell me that we've got every reason to be confident and proud. And I hope if you see one of those young people now and then on the street in uniform somewhere, you'll tell him or her how grateful we are for the job they're doing.

There is a new spirit in America -- well, it's not really new. We just recaptured some of that optimism and grit, that love of liberty and zest for life that have always been so much a part of America. And you represent the dream of America more than most. I know that many of you came here with little or no resources. With your hard work and the will to get ahead, you've built a good and decent life for your families, and that's what America is all about.

I hope I can count on your support, so that in the next 4 years we can make certain that we pass on a strong, free, secure, and opportunity-filled America to our children, to the next generation.

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

The President. Thank you. Well, thank you very much. You've fed me well. Okay, I'll give in, I'll do it. [Laughter]

Your great poet, Taras Schevchenko, whose statue stands in our Nation's Capital, wrote words for all free people, and I'll conclude with those. He wrote:

``. . . you shall overcome

God is with you

For strength and liberty and righteous truth

Are on your side.''

Thank you. Do pobatchenya [Goodbye]. Goodbye. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:05 p.m. in the Banquet Room of the Ukrainian Cultural Center. He was introduced by Frank D. Stella.