Remarks at a Meeting With Republican Congressional Leaders

 

July 26, 1988

 

To the Republican leaders of Congress, good morning, and welcome. I've asked you here to the White House today to discuss the congressional agenda in the next 6 months, and we'll get to that in just a moment. But first, though, I'd like to say a few words.

 

You see, last week the Democratic National Convention took place, and my Irish is a little up. [Laughter] To hear the opposition talk, you'd think growth in our economy had come to a dead halt the way it actually had back in 1980, when the American people decided to throw the opposition out. The American people remember 1980, I think: soaring inflation, growing unemployment, and the highest interest rates since the Civil War.

 

When we took office 8 years ago, we made it our simple aim to get big government off the backs and out of the pockets of the American people. And we cut the tax rates. We reduced regulations. And we controlled the growth of government spending. And the result -- well, the truth is -- and I want to stress that I'm providing facts, not opinions, not rhetoric -- the truth is that under this administration we've witnessed the longest peacetime economic expansion in the history of our nation. The opposition talks about growth. We've delivered.

 

They talk about jobs. We've delivered. They talk about opportunity for minorities -- and I have to admit, this especially irks me -- as though we were hard-hearted. The truth is, our economic expansion has done more for minorities than any big spending program could ever hope to accomplish. Indeed, one economic observer has written that, and I'll quote: ``On every front -- jobs, income, even household wealth -- the years 1981 to 1986 represent the best 5 years in black history.''

 

Well, I listened to those speeches, and I couldn't help thinking that this is what the difference between us comes down to: They talk, and we deliver. George Bush will cut taxes again. What would their nominee do? I mean, what would he really do? [Laughter] Yes, they've come out with their platform, but it's a platform that in effect hides their real policies in a brown paper wrapper.

 

Well, this is one of those choice moments when inclination and duty happen to coincide. Throughout this campaign, I'm going to give the American people the truth. I'm going to give the opposition -- well, maybe I better just paraphrase Harry Truman. I'm going to tell the opposition the truth, and they'll think it's hell. [Laughter]

 

That was just to open the meeting. We'll get on with the meeting. [Laughter]

 

Note: The President spoke at 9:37 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.