Remarks at the 1988 Reagan Administration Executive Forum
you very much. My goodness, if they'd have done this for ``Bedtime for Bonzo,'' I never would have left
Well, it is 1988, and before saying anything else, I'd like all of you who've been part of the administration since 1981 to stand. [Applause] Well, I think we owe these battle veterans a special round of applause, and you already did that. Thank you.
Words can't express my appreciation to each and every one of you, whether you've been on the team for 7 months or 7 years, for the contribution that you're making. Everything we've accomplished can be traced to your hard work and professionalism, your willingness to work the extra hours and to make the extra phone calls. You're the unsung heroes, the people who've made it happen, and I salute you!
we came here 7 years ago, we pledged to the American people that we were not
here to conduct business as usual, that we intended to bring about a
fundamental change of direction for our beloved country. First, we turned
around an economy racked by inflation and uncertainty, an economy that was
headed into an abyss. We put
And now, over the years, there's been a lot said about the so-called Reagan luck. Well, being of Irish extraction, sometimes I'm inclined to believe such things. However, I can assure all of you that the great economic expansion our country has enjoyed has had more to do with low tax rates, deregulation, and responsible Federal policies than with leprechauns. In fact, the only people who still seem to believe in tooth fairies and leprechauns are those who've tried to tell us that if we only raise taxes the budget deficit will disappear.
luck, as it is said, is where preparation meets opportunity. And for the first
2 years of our administration, we prepared
think we can be proud that our policies, based on an abiding faith in the
people, have worked.
does all this mean to the American people? It means that more of them are
working and a higher percentage of the population is employed than ever before.
It means the median after-inflation income of the American family, which was
dropping when we got to
You know, I wonder sometimes where certain candidates for an office of the other party -- why they haven't found out all these figures. [Laughter] Don't let anyone tell you that this expansion has excluded the poor and the minorities, as some of them are saying. The poverty rate, which was rising precipitously when we got here, is now declining. That tragic trend we inherited has been reversed. Among minorities, the news is also good. Teenage black unemployment, for example, though still far too high, has been cut dramatically in recent years; and the percentage of blacks in the group of Americans who make over $50,000 has almost doubled since 1982.
that seems to be popular of late is suggesting that greed has characterized the
This has been a time of people getting involved and helping one another without waiting for government. It's been a time of increasing hope, of rising standards of living, of economic expansion. And don't let anyone tell you it's all over. We were told it couldn't be done even before we started. The doomsayers then claimed it could never last, yet it has been one of the longest, as I said, peacetime expansions in history.
the network news we saw story after story that would lead one to conclude that
poverty was increasing, and when the statistics finally came out, we found
there'd been a significant decline in the poverty rate. We heard the
professional pessimists telling us
don't think the American people believe in this kind of ``
In the year ahead, we're not going to be on the defensive, shoring up problems and answering our critics. We are moving forward, and I have no doubt that when we look back 1988 will be a year of great accomplishment toward our goals. This is the year when Judge Anthony Kennedy will be confirmed and the Supreme Court will again be brought up to full strength. The Federal judiciary is too important to be made a political football. I would hope, and the American people should expect, not only for Judge Kennedy's confirmation but for the Senate to get to work and act on 27 other judicial nominations that have been left in limbo for quite awhile now.
is also the year that the
learned on another front that standing firm -- that strength, not weakness --
is the best way to achieve results with our adversaries. Nearly 7 years ago, I
proposed the zero option, suggesting the elimination of an entire class of
The Senate will begin its review of the INF treaty next week, and while there will be a thorough examination, there should be no reason to delay ratification. Let us note that one stand we took in this arms reduction process concerned our commitment to the Strategic Defense Initiative. SDI will give us the possibility to base deterrence increasingly on defenses which threaten no one rather than on the threat of nuclear retaliation. I would hope that Congress does not, in the months ahead, take away in the committee room what the Soviets were unable to get at the bargaining table. We must push forward in the SDI research and testing.
continues to be made, as well, toward strategic nuclear reductions, and another
summit may occur in the near future. But let me note: Arms reductions cannot
and will not be pursued in isolation from other areas of deep concern to the
American people and the other free people of the world. If relations with the
particular, the Soviet Government needs to realize that relations with the
I am optimistic about the chances for better relations between East and West. Clearly, the people of the world are bounding rapidly into a new era of technology and enterprise. Tremendous advances are being made that are opening up vast new potential. Communist societies, in contrast, stagnate under the heavy hand of repression and the failure of socialism. They must change; relations with the West must improve, or Communist governments will simply be left behind. It's that simple.
here in this continent, we are about to undertake one of the most truly
visionary steps of the 20th century. Early this month, Prime Minister Mulroney
and I signed, and I fully expect the Congress to approve, an agreement that
will eliminate the tariffs and tear down the barriers that have frustrated and
taxed trade and commerce between the
only thing that can keep
finally, I'd like to discuss with you personally something that's been of
utmost concern to Nancy and me during our stay at the White House. Of all we've
been able to do, I'm perhaps the proudest of what we've done to change attitudes
We've spent much time and money on interdicting drugs, on arresting the traffickers and stopping the flow of drugs from their source. Yet we cannot ignore that as long as there are users the problem will persist. Progress has already been made. The number of daily marijuana users among high school seniors, according to some reports, has dropped from 1 in 9 in 1978 to 1 in 30 in 1987.
In the time left in our administration, I would hope that you'll do everything possible to eliminate drug abuse from the Federal workplace. The Federal Government is the Nation's largest employer, and it should be an example to the rest of the Nation. We've got to make it an example. Can I count on you? [Applause] I don't know why I ask. You've never disappointed me.
You've changed and are changing the direction not only of American history but of world history. We have been revolutionaries, and for 7 years the so-called sophisticates have at every turn said our revolution had failed. But again and again they've been wrong, because they've forgotten our secret weapon -- the human spirit.
Yes, ours is a revolution for the most powerful yearnings of the spirit: yearning for opportunity, for a better life for your children, for freedom, for true and lasting peace. The yearning of the spirit -- in all the history and humanity, no force is stronger or more blessed. So, when you leave here today, remember: One more year, not for the Gipper but for Americans and for all mankind. As they say in showbiz: Let's bring them to their feet with our closing act.
thank you, and God bless you for all you've done and will do this year. And
you've already applauded, so I won't wait for that, because I had something
else to follow my speech. And that is I would like to introduce to you some of
my small friends from the Young Americans for [Citizens of]
Note: The President
spoke at at DAR Constitution
Hall at the seventh annual Executive Forum for political appointees of the
administration. Following his remarks, a group of children representing Young