Radio Address to the Nation on Economic Growth and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

 

April 9, 1988

 

My fellow Americans:

 

You've probably heard that some of our political opponents are very concerned about the state of our economy. And I have to tell you I don't blame them. If I were in their shoes, I'd be worried too.

 

You see, April marks the 65th straight month of the longest peacetime expansion in U.S. history. In that time, we've created nearly 16 million jobs. They're better and higher paying, too, which is one reason why the real income of the average American has been rising steadily for the last 5 years. The percentage of Americans employed is the highest in history, and the unemployment rate continues to drop down to its lowest level since 1974. Since 1980 U.S. manufacturing has increased its productivity almost 3 times as fast as in the 7 previous years. Inflation remains low, while the gross national product growth this year and last has exceeded even our own optimistic expectations.

 

Somehow our opponents have convinced themselves that this record growth, vibrant job creation, and more productive economy is bad news. And they say it's all the fault of Reaganomics. Well, I'd love to take the blame, or credit, as the case may be, but that just wouldn't be fair. All we did was get government out of your way. We cut taxes, inflation, and regulations; and we let the American people take back their own economy and run with it. In their effort to prove that this economic boom we're in is really a bust, our opponents have had to weave some pretty tall tales. One of those they tell about America is that we're threatened by foreign investment. Well, to paraphrase what Joe Friday used to say in ``Dragnet'': ``Let's just look at the facts, ma'am.'' Yes, foreigners now hold about 12 percent of U.S. public debt, but that's down from 16 percent in 1978. Foreign resources also accounted for 10 percent of total credit-market funds last year -- exactly the same as in the mid-1970's. But even so, foreign investment isn't something to be scared of. It brings us a host of benefits, including jobs and lower interest rates for all Americans, whether they be homebuyers, small businessmen, consumers, or farmers.

 

Writer-economist Warren Brookes makes a very good point: ``What difference does it make,'' he asks, ``whether a Japanese company owns a factory in Detroit or in Marysville, Ohio? Could someone seriously think they might dismantle it brick by brick, and ship it back to Japan in the middle of the night?'' I wonder if the workers in those plants think foreign investment is such a bad thing, or the nearly 3 million other Americans employed by foreign firms in the United States, whose payrolls add up to more than $70 billion and that pay about $8 billion in income taxes to the United States Treasury.

 

The fact is we live in a global economy. We can be glad people in other countries choose to invest in the vibrant and growing U.S. economy rather than their own nations. I don't blame them. I think America's a pretty good investment, too. Right now, however, there's a trade bill working its way through Congress that could go a long way toward making America a bad investment for Americans and foreigners alike. At this moment, we've not seen the final bill. But from what we already know, we still have very -- underline very -- serious reservations. We'll continue to work with the full conference and the congressional leadership to clear up these problems. But the bottom line is this: I will veto a bad trade bill before I will let a bad trade bill veto our economic expansion.

 

Another important matter facing the Nation today is the INF treaty, which I signed with General Secretary Gorbachev at our Washington summit meeting last December. This treaty will, for the first time, eliminate an entire class of U.S. and Soviet missiles. We called this the zero-option when I first proposed it in 1981. The treaty also requires the Soviet Union to make far greater reductions now in its missile systems to reach equality with us. This is an historic precedent, and we will apply it to other arms negotiations as well. Finally, the treaty has the most comprehensive verification regime in arms control history. This too is an important precedent for other negotiations, particularly those on strategic arms, where an even more elaborate verification regime will be required.

 

In sum, this treaty represents what can be accomplished when we negotiate from a position of strength. Action on it is now up to the United States Senate, which must give its advice and consent to ratification. I hope it will be given expeditious consideration by the full Senate, and I urge all Senators to provide their advice and consent without reservation. It is a solid treaty, and it enhances the security of our country and our allies.

 

Until next week then, thank you for listening, and God bless you.

 

Note: The President spoke at 9:06 a.m. from his ranch in Santa Barbara County, CA.