Radio Address to the Nation on the Democratic National Convention and the Administration's Achievements

 

July 23, 1988

 

My fellow Americans:

 

This week there was a certain meeting in Atlanta, and maybe, like me, you just couldn't help hearing a few things about it and shaking your head. Some people just don't seem to learn. The American people want to hear straight talk about where our leaders plan to take the country, not personal attacks. For all our history, we Americans have debated our differences vigorously. But like two of the earliest political adversaries in our history, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, while we've always fought hard for our differing opinions, we've honored each other for taking part in the democratic process. This week's convention speakers seemed to forget this American tradition.

 

But beyond that, there was something amazing about what we heard. Our liberal opposition seems to think so much is bad in America. To hear them talk you would never have guessed that we're in the longest peacetime economic expansion on record, that America has created over 17 million jobs in the last 5 years, or that a greater proportion of Americans in the work force has jobs today than ever before in our history. You would never have guessed that, after dropping by 3 percent when their party was last in the White House, the real income of the typical American family has grown by more than 10 percent since the current expansion began.

 

You would never have guessed that our cuts in tax rates and recent tax reform have done exactly what we said they would do. Americans with the most income pay more of our total income taxes than before; many Americans at the bottom of the scale no longer pay any income tax at all. And growth and opportunity have been born again in America. Most of all, you would never have guessed how much our expansion has meant to all Americans. For example, one respected economic writer noted that for black Americans, the year 1982 to 1986 represented, in his words, ``On every front -- jobs, income, even household wealth -- the best 5 years in black history.''

 

No, listening to the rhetoric, you'd never have guessed America's economy is the strongest in decades. To them, it's midnight in America. It's the same sad song they sang 4 years ago. They say they want to turn America around. When their party left the White House 8 years ago, inflation was at one of the highest levels in American history. Now it's under control. Do they want to turn that around? When they left office, America's industrial productivity was stalled. Our competitiveness was slipping, and technological research, key to our industrial future, appeared to be on hold. Today manufacturing productivity is rising strongly -- some rate us as the most competitive nation for manufacturing costs in the industrial world -- and we're again the world's leader in developing new technology. Do they want to turn that around?

 

And when their party turned over the keys to the White House, the Soviet Union was going forward with the biggest arms buildup in history; we were cutting back. And the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan. Today we have the first treaty in world history to eliminate an entire class of U.S. and Soviet nuclear missiles. The Soviets have pulled troops out of Afghanistan. And American-Soviet relations are better than they've been for a good long while. Do they want to turn that around, too?

 

They said America can do better -- with that I wholeheartedly agree. But the people also know that the last time our opponents were in charge America did a heck of a lot worse. What do our opponents really want to do? Well, again and again, we've heard from the press that our opposition just won't say. We've heard that they don't want to level with the country because when they've done that in the past the country hasn't liked what it's heard.

 

So, this year they've learned one lesson: They're covering their tracks. You'll never hear that ``L'' word -- liberal -- from them. They've put on political trenchcoats and dark glasses and slipped their platform into a plain brown wrapper. But while they're saying that government needs to do more of this or more of that, will they also pledge not to raise taxes? While they're talking about reducing the danger of nuclear weapons, will they also pledge to go forward full speed with our Strategic Defense Initiative, the one practical way of reducing the threat of those weapons once and for all? And while they're talking about the war on drugs, will they also support the death penalty for drug kingpins? The American people expect straight talk about real issues. That's what they deserve, and that's what they ought to get.

 

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

 

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