Remarks at a White House Briefing for the American Legislative Exchange Council
The President. Thank you all very much,
and a special thank you to your chairman, Senator Owen Johnson, to your
executive director, Connie Heckman, and there happens to be a fellow, I think,
down here that -- a longtime old friend who founded this organization, Don Totten. And, well, welcome to the White House complex. The
White House complex -- they call it that because nothing in
I've been warned recently about starting so many of my talks with a joke or two
-- sort of along the lines of a story that
I'm not joking when I say that every one of the eight times I've met with you
these 8 years I've wished more like you were in our Congress. And yet I'm also
glad you're where you are: leading our conservative revolution in the State
Already you're leading not only the States but the Federal Government as well in an agenda of hope for the future. In areas like tort reform, drug legislation, AIDS testing and research, welfare reform, privatization, and education reform, you've been way out in front of the pack. In fact, when I look at all you've done -- and in areas like welfare reform, for example -- I can't help wondering about that old argument for federalism. It used to be said that if we gave the States more power they'd show that they had the maturity to handle as well as Congress handles its power. Talk about faint praise. [Laughter] Well, we'd be lucky if Congress had your maturity, your foresight, and your wisdom.
is this more true than in spending. Most of you have
to balance your budgets. It's a requirement of your State constitutions.
Everyone knows that's not the case here in
Getting the Federal Government's fiscal house in order is part of the unfinished business of our revolution. And despite the odds, I'm convinced that, one way or another, it'll be done. You see, on this issue, as on so many others, we've changed the terms of national debate. Eight years ago, who would have thought that Democrats would run for President saying they were against deficits. They remind me of a story about Mae West, the movie star. She was on the set one day with another actress who was on edge because she thought Mae West was upstaging her. Finally, this other actress turned to the director and said West's timing was all wrong, and to West she said, ``You forget I've been an actress for 40 years.'' West replied, ``Don't worry, dear. I'll keep your secret.'' [Laughter]
But you'd never know it to hear those fellows on the other side who want to pick up the lease here when mine runs out, but we're in the longest peacetime expansion on record. Inflation is under control. A greater proportion of Americans are at work today than ever before in our history. After a falling roller coaster ride of almost a decade, real family income has risen strongly ever since our recovery began. Our expansion is creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs a month, and taken as a whole, these jobs pay better than the jobs already in the economy. Far from deindustrializing, as those other fellows say our nation is doing, many of our manufacturing industries are running near capacity. Far from losing out in world competition, which they also claim is the case, we're exporting now more than ever before in our history.
the danger in all the false doomsday talk about our national economy is that it
will stampede us to do the wrong things, things that really make things bad.
And that's the trouble with the trade bill now working its way toward my desk.
I'd like to be able to sign trade legislation this year. I've worked in good
faith with Congress to produce an acceptable bill. Such a
bill would open markets and improve
simply, on key provisions in the trade bill, the Democratic leadership in
Congress has caved in to pressure from organized labor. The plant-closing
restriction in the bill would make American industry less competitive -- not
the way to go if you want to reverse the trade imbalance and save jobs. In
fact, the restriction would cost jobs. One example of how -- since our recovery
began, most net new jobs in the United States have come from companies that
were 5 years old or less, entrepreneurial companies, both very large and very
one of our leading experts on job creation asked why. And he found some
straightforward answers including, as he's written, that ``regulations are so
much more onerous in
hope Congress will produce a good trade bill this year. Indeed, I want Congress
to produce a good trade bill, and I'll work to secure it. But that depends on
the leadership in both Houses. Are they willing to put national interest above
special interest? If so, we can all join together to help
me close by saying thank you for all you've done and all you will do, and with
an appeal to each of you. This is my last meeting with you as President. You're
not only today's leaders of our revolution in the States,
you are the next generation on the Federal level. So, never forget how much
we've done and how fast. Just a few years ago, most of us would have said that
it would take decades to make as much progress as we've made in just 8 years.
There's still much left to do. But if you persevere, it can be done.
Senator Johnson. Mr. President, we're very honored that you've met with us again as you have in the past. We're grateful for your longstanding support which you've rendered to ALEC. We'd like to take this opportunity today to present you with a token of our appreciation, and at this time I'd like to ask Don Totten to step forward -- your old friend, and our first chairman. He was going to unveil that picture. He doesn't have to unveil it -- [laughter] -- but I'll go through the motions as we rehearsed it.
Mr. President, for 8 years we've joined with you in striving for limited government, lower taxes, and more effective judicial and educational institutions. We're deeply appreciative of your achievements and your longstanding relationship with ALEC from your days as Governor of California to the present time. It's with great admiration and appreciation that we present you with this portrait, which you will receive for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, along with a set of 50 of the State flags in honor of your service to the country and your service to federalism. Thank you, and God bless you.
Mr. Totten. Mr. President, you've been an inspiration to us all, especially ALEC. We look forward to when you, constitutionally, can run again. [Laughter]
The President. I thought that picture looked like somebody familiar that I should know when I came in. [Laughter] Well, I thank you all very much, and thank you for that.
have to say one more thing. When I used that figure 33 of States that would go
for a constitutional convention, maybe I ought to tell you that 33 was my lucky
number. [Laughter] It was my number on my jersey when I played football. I was
the 33d Governor. And even when we were buying a ranch -- and I was on pins and
needles as to whether we were going to get it -- and friends of ours down in
Los Angeles kind of handling the thing called me up on the phone one day, and
he said, ``I just thought you would like to know that on today, the 3d of
December, at 3:33 p.m. this afternoon, escrow closed. The ranch is yours.''
[Laughter] Tony Dorsett, the great star of the
Okay, well, thank you all very much.
Note: The President
spoke at in Room 450 of the