Remarks to the United States Jaycees

 

September 20, 1988

 

Well, thank you very much, and good morning. It's a pleasure to welcome the leadership of the U.S. Jaycees and your president, Andy Tobin, to Washington. I know you've come here from all over this country, leaving your husbands and wives and children and your beautiful homes. So, let me say: Welcome! And now I'd like to give you a little piece of advice: Go home soon. [Laughter] Because if you stay here, strange things may start happening to you.

 

For example, liberal Washington opinion-makers actually want to raise taxes -- really, they do. It'd actually make them happy to raise taxes. Hard to believe, isn't it? I don't know, but maybe it's something in the air. [Laughter] Come to think of it, I don't know how I've resisted it myself. [Laughter] So, my advice is: See the sights, meet and talk with the wonderful native Washingtonians, and then get back home as fast as your feet can carry you. [Laughter] And I'll be following you when I get done here in January. [Laughter]

 

I was happy to hear that you were coming in today because I wanted to salute you and all 250,000 Jaycees nationwide for all you've done for America. I think it's safe to say that the United States Jaycees exemplifies the values and goals of what some folks who flatter me call the Reagan revolution. Young, enthusiastic, excited by the promise of America, you brim with optimism for the future; indeed, you are the future. Many of you are managers and entrepreneurs, and you know that we have to have our house in order if the future is going to be bright. You know firsthand the truth of a principle too often forgotten by the liberal opinionmakers, which is that: You run a good shop, you have to keep your accounts in balance.

 

You also know something the liberals try to make the public forget: It's Congress that appropriates and spends Federal funds. The President doesn't have control over one dime of tax money. And you know that Congress' method of collecting and spending the Nation's money is out of whack. That's why you've been leaders in explaining to the American people that the President of the United States needs the line-item veto, the same veto that 43 Governors have -- I used it 943 times when I was Governor -- well, to make sure those people up on Capitol Hill don't play games and hide costs in the mammoth bills they're addicted to and that I refuse to sign. That's why we need it.

 

I told Congress in the State of the Union Address that I was never again going to sign another one of their 1,000-page catchall spending monstrosities. You probably remember when I slammed that bill down on the table. Well, if you happened to be watching television and seeing it there and you saw me do this -- and a lot of people thought I was just being funny -- no, I caught my finger under it when it went down, all 14 pounds of it, and it was sore for 3 days.

 

Now they're working on what I asked for: 13 separate spending bills. But I have to tell you, it looks like they may have lost their newfound fiscal responsibility. The new fiscal year begins in 11 days, and 7 of these 13 bills are still under negotiation between the House and Senate. I've mentioned this a few times over the last week, and I'm going to keep on mentioning it until they get the idea. I want those 7 bills on my desk and in shape to sign by October 1st. And if we do that, it will be the first time it's happened since 1948.

 

And I particularly want defense legislation I can sign. You probably remember I vetoed it the last time. I did so because that bill would have weakened the Nation. I want defense legislation that will continue the policies of the last 8 years, the policies that brought the Soviets to the bargaining table and led them to begin pulling out of Afghanistan; the same policies that led to the restoration of our national pride and the liberation of Grenada. I want defense legislation that will expand our national security, not sacrifice it on the altar of the congressional pork barrel.

 

Your understanding of the need for genuine fiscal responsibility is the main reason why the Jaycees have led the fight for a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. We're not there yet, but you keep plugging away at that amendment, because one day pretty soon the American people are going to start pointing some fingers, and a whole lot of big spenders are going to try to look innocent and say: ``Who, me?'' And come January, I'll be out on the mashed-potato circuit helping you plug for it. And at that moment, when they say, ``Who, me?'' a balanced budget amendment will be the very first item on the national agenda.

 

Now, there's something I've been waiting for the establishment economic gurus to say, and I haven't heard a word out of them. There's an economic idea they preach called the Phillips curve, which says that unemployment and inflation go together -- that when unemployment goes up, inflation goes down and vice versa. Now, this notion has caused a lot of people to worry -- they actually worry -- because our unemployment rate is so low. This is the kind of bizarre thinking that makes people of common sense shake their heads in wonder. Well, I have news for the gloom-and-doomers who get good news and say it's bad news. The unemployment rate has been in steep decline during that time. We've had 6 years of low inflation during that same time. Our experience has proven one thing: This Phillips curve is just plain wrong.

 

I'm happy to say that our economic house is in sterling order. But the Nation's house is in need of further repair -- spiritual repair. I'm talking, of course, about the scourge of drugs that threaten our present and our future. George Bush and I have fought this scourge with every ounce of our being since coming into office, and contrary to what you've been hearing lately, we've had real success. We've doubled the number of Federal drug investigators and quadrupled the number of Federal prosecutors since 1980. In 1987 we seized some 140,000 pounds of cocaine and more than 2 million pounds of marijuana. And as for the monsters who purvey these pernicious poisons, we've nailed them. Since 1983 Drug Enforcement Administration arrests have nearly doubled. There's legislation before Congress to permit the death penalty for a drug-related murder, and I say it's about time.

 

As George Bush said at the convention, his mission is not yet complete. Well, the Lord knows there's more, much more, very much more to be done. Some people are now saying we might as well just legalize the use of drugs. With my last breath in my body I will oppose this perverse and inhuman notion. The Federal Government must do everything it can to stem the tide of drugs coming in from abroad and sever the supply lines.

 

But we all know that the drug crisis is not just a supply problem: It's mainly a demand problem. And that's where the Jaycees and a certain lovely lady I'm proud to call my wife have come in. You have literally changed the way Americans think about drug abuse with three simple words: ``Just say no.'' And I'm aware the Jaycees have been vital participants in the Just Say No efforts. In cities and communities across this nation, you've sponsored counseling centers, clubs in elementary schools, rallies against drugs, and hundreds of other programs.

 

The words ``just say no'' may be simple, but they are mighty. They are mighty because they reflect the profound ethic of personal responsibility that is the hallmark of our civilization. They represent a challenge and a summons to the moral greatness that is our birthright as Americans. And I am confident that we will defeat this scourge because as a nation we have hope and faith -- hope for a brighter future and faith in the values that keep us strong.

 

And with that, I'm going to close up and go back to work and say, Thank you, and God bless you all.

 

Note: The President spoke at 11:45 a.m. at a briefing in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building.