Remarks at a Luncheon With Community Leaders in Chicago Heights, Illinois

June 28, 1985

The President. When we speak up, people speak up. With what we believe, we can defeat the armies of lobbyists in Washington. And I've come here to enlist your support in our efforts to push our profamily, profairness tax plan past the lobbyists and special interests and through the Congress.

And -- stepping outside for a few minutes, that's why my schedule is pretty short here. And I wanted to have this opportunity to appeal to you, the community leaders, directly -- you want to be -- [inaudible] -- leaders in the community, the battle for tax fairness can only be won out here in America's heartland by community leaders like you. The people you represent, the people you cherish -- grassroots heritage, values of family and faith and neighborhood and work that our tax must -- [inaudible].

We need to mobilize nationwide -- every town and community -- so that we can make sure the American people win this one. If we live up to -- or leave it up to the special interests, I should say, in Washington, that's the last we'll hear about tax fairness, and we're writing the epitaph. We have to make our voices loud and clear and make them heard in Washington.

I think America wants tax fairness and wants it now. We have -- it made me think when I was talking about the epitaph, is some years ago when I was Governor of California, I was on a trip to Castlereagh, Ireland, where St. Patrick erected the first cross. And a young Irish guard was showing us through the old ruins of the cathedral and then the old ancient ceremony on Castlereagh. And he took us to one tomb, and there inscribed on the tomb was this epitaph: ``Remember me as you pass by -- or as -- as you are so once was I. As I am, you, too, will be. So, be content to follow me.''

And that had proven too much for some Irishmen who had scratched underneath: ``To follow you I am content. I wish I knew which way you went.'' [Laughter]


Reporter. Mr. President, the spokesman for the hostages said that the American people should raise hell to get Israel to release those prisoners. He said that this morning.

The President. I'm not going to comment on that or anything else. I only know that none of us, any country, can afford to pay off terrorists for the crimes that they're committing because that will only lead to more crimes.

Q. Will that be a payoff, sir? Israel releases the prisoners?

The President. I have commented several times on that, Chris [Chris Wallace, NBC News]. Israel had always intended to release them and had made that very clear. So, a linkage that has tied it to our hostages is something that never should have happened.

Q. Sir, David Stockman says that -- --

The President. I've only got a few minutes to eat spaghetti -- --

Q. Sir, David Stockman says -- --

The President. -- -- and I know that's what you all came in for -- you're hoping I'll spill it. [Laughter]

Q. David Stockman says that raising taxes is the only fiscal responsible way to go.

The President. He didn't say it. We know what he said. And the story is fallacious.

Q. He said the Times said, sir, that he said that some of the people in the administration on Capitol Hill had been using these phony numbers and probably ought to be in jail.

The President. No. We have the speech. We know exactly what he said, and it is a definite and deliberate misquote. And I'm not going to answer any more questions. Let me eat spaghetti.

Q. Are you going to keep him as budget director?

Q. Sir, as I always get to say, maybe just one more about the linkage of the 7 to the 39. Conwell also said he thought that was a terrible mistake to link the 7 hostages to the 39.

The President. I don't think anything that attempts to get people back who have been kidnaped by thugs and murderers and barbarians is wrong to do. And we are going to do everything that we can to get all of the Americans back that are held in that way.

Q. Are you making progress, Mr. President?

The President. I am not going to speculate. You know me -- I am superstitious. I never talk about a no-hitter if you're pitching one. [Laughter]

Q. Then you won't make a deal? Is that it? You won't make a deal?

The President. I am taking the spaghetti here. And I am asking Jim Thompson -- --

Q. Do you like spaghetti?

The President. I am asking Governor Jim Thompson to apply executive order -- he will declare -- because this is a working lunch, I understand -- answers and all. [Laughter] I am going to ask him to declare that it is all right to talk with your mouth full. [Laughter]

Q. Okay, then, does that mean -- --

Q. You won't ask the Israelis under any condition -- --

Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes. That is the end of it. The President says no more questions. So, let's scoot right out. Just turn right and go right out.

Q. Bon appetit.

Reporters. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:25 a.m. in the teachers lunchroom at Bloom High School. During the informal exchange at the end of the remarks, reporters referred to David A. Stockman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Allyn Conwell, a hostage in the TWA hijacking incident. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.