Remarks at the 1985 Reagan Administration Executive Forum

January 25, 1985

Again, thank you.

I was thinking as George [Bush] was speaking that I've been truly blessed these past 4 years to have been surrounded by some of the most capable and talented executives and leaders the White House has ever seen. This is truly -- and this is not hyperbole -- this is truly a history-making team.

I believe the historians will recognize George Bush as a great Vice President. And I've had the help for 4 years of the fine men and women that you see up here with me -- the whole Cabinet. And I'll try not to take a nap. [Laughter]

These are the people who quietly and with complete commitment have worked with you to change the realities in our country.

It's been a tremendous 4 years. And I'm feeling absolutely bullish on the next 4. I was just thinking the other day that in our first administration, we made history, and in the second, we can change history forever.

Four years ago we came here knowing what was wrong, but in truth, as conservatives who'd been out of power for a great many years, some of us had limited practical experience in how exactly to right all the wrongs that had preceded us. But we had a philosophy, and we had a vision.

Our philosophy could be boiled down to one word: freedom. Freedom was at the heart of our plans for our economy, for individuals, for our country, and for all the nation states of the world. And so we pulled up our sleeves and went to work.

We lowered tax rates for individuals in businesses; we instituted tax indexing; we slowed the growth of government; we slowed the number of regulatory edicts emanating from Washington; we began to return power to the States and counties and towns and cities; and we began to return power to the people.

You know the results of our efforts: an economy come alive again, a nation come alive again. You know the facts about inflation, about how more people are employed than ever before in our history. But I think the most eloquent testimony about the success of our program and how we were right to stand firm in the face of the pessimists and doom-and-gloomers is in the numbers that came out Tuesday: the biggest increase in the gross national product since the Truman administration and the smallest increase in inflation since 1967.

We've taken control of the ship of state and changed direction. And what are we going to do now? Well, the way I see it, it's all ahead full, no turning back.

Now, that term, if you haven't heard it before, ``all ahead full,'' that's a Navy command that has to do with guiding or directing a ship. The last time I used that I was in an entirely different career. [Laughter] I was playing the captain of a submarine. [Laughter] And we were taking the sub out the harbor at San Diego to get some shots at sea, and the director just thought he could get some extra footage that might come in handy. So he told me to replace Commander Kelly of the submarine who stepped out of camera range, standing above the open hatch in the conning tower, so that he could then say to me the commands that I was actually to give to get us out of the harbor. And I would repeat those commands down below. And it was, you know, ``half speed,'' and it was ``hard right,'' and it was all those commands. And I was repeating them, and the enlisted man down below, in the open hatch down there, would repeat back the order that I had given.

And finally, we came with the clear sea ahead of us to ``all ahead full.'' And I said, ``All ahead full.'' And it was repeated up, ``All ahead full.'' And then the director -- I've often thought that I got at this point a great -- really a great review of my acting -- because the director said to me, ``Give that last one again.'' So I said, ``All ahead full.'' There was a pause, and a very aggrieved voice from below said, ``Sir, it is all ahead full.'' [Laughter] So -- I won't say it again; you got the idea. [Laughter]

In the next 4 years, all of us together are going to transform America. We're going to lower tax rates further by instituting for the first time since the income tax began real tax reform to make the entire system more simple, more fair, and more efficient. And by lowering tax rates, we're going to encourage greater productivity and the creation of wealth for all.

We're going to continue to trim the size of government. Think a moment how remarkable and truly revolutionary it is that hundreds of people who came to Washington to assume positions of governmental authority actually succeeded in diminishing the government's authority. Now this is not the normal bureaucratic way of things. Normally, people say, ``Put me in power, and I'll return more power to you.'' But they get into power, and they find they kind of like it and figure ways to get some more. Well, we've been the administration that didn't do that. And this alone is cause for great pride.

In the next 4 years, we're going to go for economic growth. Now, ``growth'' can sound like some kind of a buzzword, as if all kinds of growth are always good in and of themselves. But when we talk about growth, we mean letting the free marketplace of the freest country in the world expand to its ultimate, and thereby give complete opportunity to every person in our country. We've made great strides in civil rights in our history, but blacks and Hispanics and all minority group members won't have full and equal power until they have full economic power. And that begins with the jobs that are created by growth. We want opportunity for all. And if we have to say goodbye to needless regulations and turn an unfair tax structure on its ear to give opportunity to all, well, that's what we'll do.

We're going to continue to speak out in support of the other great change -- the return to traditional values that was sparked in 1980. We're for prayer in the schools; we're against abortion. We support the return to basics. We'll continue, under our next Secretary of Education Bill Bennett, the policies that already have resulted in renewed excellence in education. We support the family and oppose anything that would take from it its power and its moral authority. We recognize that the family is the center of our society, and as the family goes, so goes civilization.

In our international relations, we'll continue to be what we set out to be 4 years ago -- a reliable friend to our allies and to our neighbors and a leader to those who care about human liberty. We're a friend of peace first, last, and always. But the American soul was forged in freedom. And we will be a friend of freedom everywhere, and the foes of freedom will be our foes. We must assure the survival and success of freedom in Central America. We cannot break faith with freedom anywhere. This is our heritage and our moral obligation.

I think there's an understandable tendency when a second term begins to think that all the great work is behind us; that the big battles have been fought, and all the rest is anticlimax. Well, that's not true. What's gone before is prolog. Our greatest battles lie ahead -- all is newness now, and the possibility of great and fundamental change. We can change America forever. And that's some great and beautiful music we've been playing these past 4 years, but the way I see it, from here on, it's shake, rattle, and roll.

I'm aware of how hard you've all worked. These past 4 years have been rough and demanding. Governing isn't easy. And some of you, I know, feel an understandable fatigue. There have been bureaucratic disagreements and tensions. Well, this weekend, I want you to put up your feet and relax. And Monday -- don't think too much about the job -- Monday when you come in, sit down at the desk and breathe deep, because Monday the world starts all over again. It's the beginning of a brand new administration, and we're going to make new history together from here on in.

I think you sense, as I do, an ebullience in our country, and our joy is not inappropriate to the times. Our joy is an engine that is going to move our nation into a great promised land of freedom, dignity, and happiness. We've only just begun. We're here together as we were 4 years ago. We share a covenant, a public trust.

I rely on you, for you are the Reagan administration. And I look forward to the next 4 years. I'm excited about what we have the potential to do and about what kind of America we can leave behind us.

And so, once again, I thank you all so very much. And God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 11:35 a.m. at DAR Constitution Hall at the 4th annual Executive Forum for political appointees of the administration.