Remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally in Macon, Georgia

October 15, 1984

The President. Thank you very much. And thank you, Mayor Israel, the great Gatlin Brothers Band, and my good friend, Congressman Jack Kemp, and all of you who are here today.

You remind me that only one thing can surpass the warmth of southern sunshine, and that's the warmth of a southern welcome. And now that I'm here, I don't mind letting you in on a little something -- do you mind if I say, I got Georgia on my mind.

But every time I return here, I'm struck anew by the quiet beauty of this good land and the courage of her people. You who pledge your loyalty and stand by the eternal values, who, during those dark days when so many were burning our flag, you never stopped waving it. You make it so easy to say it's good to be back in the heart of Dixie.

The South is a never ending spring of America's spirit, a living devotion to those good things that bind us as a people -- family, neighborhood, hard work, love of country, freedom, and, yes, faith in a just and merciful God.

It's a great privilege to celebrate with you the opening of the Georgia State Fair, to see again the Macon City Auditorium, which I'm told is the single largest copper-domed building in the world, and to be with your fine mayor, George Israel.

Speaking of celebrations, this isn't a giant matter that I'm going to suggest, but maybe just a little celebration. If you haven't heard the news, the mayor told you that the interest rates when we started were 21\1/2\ percent, and just recently they came down a little bit to 12\3/4\ -- the prime rate. Well, just today -- [applause] -- wait a minute -- just today, one of the major banks has started to slide again; it's down to 12\1/4\.

Mayor Israel, a city where the local property tax has been cut by almost 25 percent; where crime rates have dropped dramatically; where, for decades, citizens have worked shoulder to shoulder with the fine personnel of Robins Air Force Base; where growth is strong and employment is up by 6,500; where graduation requirements in schools have been raised and students test scores are climbing -- a town that accomplishes all this must have some pretty special people. And they must have a mayor who's one of America's best.

I'm so happy looking out today, and the first thing I saw when I came here was so many young people. I hope you're not too upset about having to miss some school.

Audience. No!

The President. But it's good to see you here and to be here with you. Your generation, you young people have really touched my heart. You're a very big part of the great renewal of spirit that's putting America back on top. And I just want you to know that working to create a future filled with hope and opportunity is what I happen to think this job of mine is all about.

I've come today to talk to all of you about a choice we'll be making for our future on November 6th. I think it's the clearest, most important choice we've faced in 50 years on the direction our country should take and, indeed, the kind of future we're trying to build together.

We've made a new beginning. We've said goodbye to that philosophy of government -- or that philosophy, I should say, of government knows best that was dragging America down. And we've restored the one driving idea that made America great -- here the people rule; here in America we're a government of, by, and for the people, and not the other way around.

I know you're proud of a long, excellent tradition in this State -- Georgia football. And I hope you're as proud as I am of the change that we've been seeing across this nation. Four years ago, when Washington was calling the plays, all they did was fumble. Today, you're back in charge, and America's scoring touchdowns again.

In 1979 and 1980, when prices were out of control, my opponent said -- and for once he was accurate -- he said, ``Inflation is killing everyone.'' But when he was asked what was the solution, he said, ``There is no solution.'' Well, in 1981, while he was still wringing his hands, we were already moving to get spending under control. We've reduced its growth, as you've been told by the mayor, by two-thirds, and today inflation is no longer 12.4 percent; it's down to 4.2.

But you young people must be confident that prices will be stable, and older Americans must never again live through the nightmare of seeing their savings wiped out. And that's why I support a constitutional amendment, mandating the Federal Government to stop spending more than it takes in. And that's why I support the line-item veto. Do you know that that was favored by a leader named Jefferson Davis, to permit a President to veto items of wasteful spending within an appropriations bill. When I had that as a Governor of California, I used it more than 900 times, and they never overrode the veto once. And that's why we'll continue to claw and struggle until we get inflation down to 0.0, and keep it there.

But what about my opponent? Do you think he's learned one thing from the terrible mistakes of the past?

Audience. No!

The President. You're right. Has he learned yet that frugality begins in Washington, DC, and not in the homes and neighborhoods of Georgia?

Audience. No!

The President. Do you think he supports the balanced budget amendment?

Audience. No!

The President. Or the line-item veto?

Audience. No!

The President. You're absolutely right. Only a few months ago, his principal primary opponent, Senator Hart, called Mr. Mondale's program, ``A collection of old and tired ideas, held together by paralyzing commitments to special interests and constituent groups.'' Well, let me ask you who will do a better job of keeping prices down: the people who twiddled their thumbs while inflation soared and who would now take us back to the old and failed ways, or we who brought those towering inflation rates down and who will fight to bring them down more and keep them down for good? [Applause]

We'll keep inflation locked in its cage, and we'll go forward with economic growth to create new technologies, new jobs, and new opportunities for your future.

We want to see America reach for the stars, not reach for excuses why we shouldn't. So, we passed the first tax rate reduction for everybody since John F. Kennedy's program. Today, one nation in the world can say that its jobs, investment, and productivity are up; that it's reaching new frontiers of science, technology in space, and that it's leading the world out of recession with the strongest economic expansion in 35 years. And you know the name of that nation. Its initials are U.S.A.!

And as you all might say, how 'bout them Dogs? But let me just add one thing. You ain't seen nothin' yet.

And we're doing this not only for some special groups -- not for whites or blacks or men or women or old or young; we're doing it together, and we're doing it for everybody. And we won't rest until everybody who wants a job can find a job, from the coast of Georgia to San Francisco Bay.

Today, Americans are working again, and America is working again. And to make sure that good things keep leading to better things -- investment, jobs, and growth all going up and the deficit continuing to come down -- we want to simplify the entire tax structure so we can bring yours and everybody's personal income tax rate further down, not up.

Now, my opponent's been working for a much different philosophy -- bigger government. And I must say, in doing this, he's been a real leader. No question about that. [Laughter] Sixteen times as a Senator he helped lead the way and voted for new tax increases. And as Vice President, he helped push through the biggest tax increase in our peacetime history in 1977. There are still two phases of that tax to go into effect between now and 1989.

And he got results. America suffered terrible inflation and interest rates, declining savings rates in investment, no growth, rising unemployment, back-to-back years of declining productivity, and the steepest drop in real weekly earnings in 35 years. And after we suffered all those horrors, he said, ``I am ready to be President.''

Audience. No!

The President. You know something? I think he's more ready to be our problem than our President.

But I must say, there was one thing that was fair about his policies of compassion. They didn't discriminate; they made everybody miserable. But I don't want to be unfair. Maybe he's learned from his mistakes.

Audience. No!

The President. Do you suppose that, given a second chance, he'd do anything differently than he's done all his political career?

Audience. No!

The President. No, I think you're right. He'd go right back to his knee-jerk yen for tax increases. And you know, every time his knee jerks, we get kicked. [Laughter]

Actually, to pay for all his campaign promises -- and this isn't a guess -- we cost this out on the computers -- he'd have to raise taxes the equivalent of $1,890 per household. That's more than $150 each and every month. I call that the Mondale mortgage. [Laughter]

Now, he claims his tax increases would only hurt a certain group of people. Well, he's right about that. They would only hurt Americans who want to buy something or save something or invest in something. They wouldn't hurt anybody else. He wants to impose higher taxes on working people. But with his policies, there wouldn't be many of those. He would send students from the graduation line to the unemployment line.

Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. You know, we deserve better than that. But hold on -- hold on, he's got more. He started to expose more of his tax plans the other night. He said he would repeal indexing.

Now, that's the reform we passed to keep Washington politicians from using inflation to pull you into higher and higher tax brackets. And for the younger people who might not have thought about this at first -- what it means is that when you get a cost-of-living pay raise, it's only supposed to make you keep even with inflation, so that you don't lose any purchasing power. They push you into a higher tax bracket, so you pay a higher percentage of tax, and you're worse off -- not keeping even.

But then in the last few days, he said he goofed. He said that he didn't really mean to say that -- that he was going to repeal indexing. Well, the only thing we know for sure is, he has a basic two-part plan: raise your taxes, and then raise them again. But I've got news for him. The American people don't want his tax increase.

Audience. No!

The President. And the rest of the news is he isn't going to get his tax increase.

There are many differences between us. He sees an America in which every day is April 15th, tax day. [Laughter] We see an America in which every day is the Fourth of July, Independence Day.

He sat by while scholastic aptitude tests went down and crime rates went up. But we've worked with you to strengthen our schools and neighborhoods, and now test scores are going back up, and crime rates are coming down.

And while he spent 4 years watching inflation get strong and our defenses grow weak, we've made inflation weaker and defenses stronger. And I am so proud to be able to say that during these last 4 years, not 1 inch of territory has been lost to Communist aggression.

The United States is more secure today than we were. And all of us are truly blessed to have the finest group of young men and women in military uniform that America has ever had. For the sake of all who risk their lives to keep us free, we must not fail to provide them the moral support, the weapons, and the equipment they need.

My opponent had one of the weakest records in the United States Congress for supporting a strong national defense. In 1968 he blissfully announced that the days of Soviet suppression by force were over. That was just before the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia. Shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, he said, ``I can't understand -- it just baffles me -- why the Soviets these last few years have behaved as they have. . . . Why did they have to build up all those arms?'' Well, probably because we were busy canceling ours.

But I'm afraid he's still baffled. Even Senator Fritz Hollings said, ``Walter Mondale thinks the Soviet Union would never violate an arms control agreement. I think he's naive.''

And you heard that I used to be a Democrat. You'll note that I'm quoting Democrats. Senator John Glenn said my opponent would ``cut our Defense Establishment beyond all reality . . . cut the B - 1, the Nimitz carrier, the Trident, the cruise missile, our foreign-based troops . . . would cut the M - 1 tank, funds for the volunteer army, kill the shuttle, oppose procurement of the F - 14, the Harrier, and the AWACS.'' Now, the only thing I -- I don't know whether he would outlaw slingshots. [Laughter] But he would jeopardize the security of this nation, and we're not going to let him.

Audience. 4 more years!

The President. I believe -- --

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

The President. All right.

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

The President. Okay. I'll go for the 4 more years, but right now I'm trying to get 4 more minutes in before it really starts to rain. [Laughter] And if it does, I'll stay here if you will.

You know, I believe that the Democratic leadership today has abandoned the good and decent and responsible Democrats who believe in the principles that made our country great. I know there are many of you here who are Democrats or who were Democrats and did as I did. And I know that you're here -- because I've met them all across this country -- millions of patriotic Democrats who find they can no longer follow the leadership of their party down the path it's taking us.

Whenever I talk about F.D.R. or Harry Truman or John F. Kennedy, my opponents start tearing their hair out. They just can't stand it. And, of course, they can't, because it highlights how far they themselves have strayed from the strength of the Democratic political tradition. The good and decent Democrats of the rank and file haven't changed. Like their former leaders, they're clear eyed about the world. They have few illusions, and they consider themselves to be Americans first and not members of some special interest group.

When John F. Kennedy was President, he understood the Soviets. He understood Castro. He won passage of a law calling on the United States to prevent Cuba from extending its aggressive or subversive activities to any part of this hemisphere. Were he alive today, I believe he would be ashamed of those in the liberal Democratic leadership who would weaken our defenses, endanger our security, and sell out the cause of freedom in Latin America.

Nor would Kennedy support, as my opponent does today, a vision of such dreary mediocrity, endless tax increases on those who dream of better days. President Kennedy challenged Americans to make America grow, to make America great by pushing for lower personal tax rates for all the working people of this country. That's what we did before. And together, with people like you, that's what we want to do again. We want to reach a future where the American eagle soars. He would take us back to the day of the sore eagle. [Laughter]

The leaders of the Democratic Party today have gone so far left they've left the mainstream. But come November 6th, I believe they're going to get the shock of their lives. The South will rise again. And you will help lead this nation to a new, golden age of growth and opportunity.

We're not going back to a failed past; we're going forward to a glorious future. And we're going to build it together. And we're going to make it possible for you wonderful young people to reach for the stars. And when that day arrives, when you become tomorrow's leaders, we want to hand you a nation so strong, so united that your America will be a great shining light for progress and peace for generations to come.

Thank you all for always remembering what Faulkner called the old, living verities and truths of the heart -- love and honor, pity and pride, and compassion and sacrifice. I thank you for remembering what America is and must always be -- a willingness of the heart.

And, again, just one last word to these young people here and young people all over America. My generation and a few generations in between mine and yours, we knew an America and grew up in America, when we were your age, in which we just took it for granted that there was no ceiling on the opportunity for us, that it was up to us how far and how high we would fly, and we wouldn't be penalized for our effort. And then we went into a period in which some of that seemed to disappear, and people thought that we could regulate and regiment things and order society around.

Well, our job -- those few other generations I mentioned and my own -- our job is to see that we turn over to you the same kind of country that our parents turned over to us, in which the sky is the limit.

America's best days are yet to come. Thank you, and God bless all of you. And we beat the rain. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:49 p.m. at the front entrance of the Macon City Hall.

Following his remarks, the President traveled to Greenville, SC.