Thank you very, very much, Connie. Mary Louise, Senator John Tower, distinguished Members of the Congress--Bill Archer, Alan Steelman, Jim Collins, Frank Gaston, Jack Kemp--Governor Bond:
Thanks very much, Kit, for the wonderful day that we had in the State of Missouri yesterday. It was just a terrific day, and I thank you and your wife, Carolyn, for your kindness and hospitality.
Anne Armstrong, it is wonderful to see you. We thank you for the super job that you did for so long. It is nice to be in your State.
Let me thank all of you for the especially warm and friendly welcome. I have heard nothing but wonderful comments about the convention--the enthusiasm, the dedication, and the conviction.
You know, there is a slogan that says, "Never underestimate the power of a woman." I can assure you the National Federation is an organization of Republican women whose power, prestige, perception, and purpose will never be underestimated by anyone. I know it. You know it. And next year a lot of Democratic candidates are going to know it, too.
First, let me thank President Connie Armitage for her introduction, and let me also thank Connie on behalf of all Republicans for her quarter century of outstanding contribution to our party. Connie, you have made excellence look all too easy.
But the Federation has always been very rich in exceptional leadership, and I know that Pat Utar will continue this great tradition of outstanding executive achievement. As one chief executive to another, I pledge, Pat, my fullest cooperation in putting our party's principles to work throughout the length and the breadth of this United States.
The Republican Party, its men and women, will be facing an historical challenge next year. Nineteen seventy-six will determine whether we can regain our numbers, our stature, our effectiveness on the national political scene, or whether America is truly on the road to one-party rule. To meet this challenge, we need the spirit, the determination, and above all, the talent of all Republicans. We need your help, as I have gotten that wonderful help over the years from the Michigan delegation here at this time.
Frankly, I have had it with the negative attitude that would write a self-fulfilling prophesy of doom for America. I have heard much too much from people who say everything is falling apart, how the quality of life in America is sliding downhill, how the dollar is worthless, how muggers and murderers have driven everyone behind locked doors, and how even the President of the United States should stop visiting public places and seeing the American people.
I have had it with that attitude. I did not take the sacred oath of office to preside over the decline and fall of the United States of America. I most emphatically reject the scenario of pessimism. In contrast, I look to the future and to building upon the proud past of America.
In America's first century, a young nation forged political institutions responsive to the people. Unity grew from diversity.
Our second century transformed America into the most productive nation that ever existed. America vibrated with pioneer courage, the achievements of industry, agriculture, and free trade unions, the incentives of the free enterprise system, and the sharing of gains at both home and abroad.
Our third century begins in less than a year. Let this new era be one of fulfillment for the individual. I see a century devoted to the quality of personal and family and community life. I see people solving problems rather than wallowing in despair. I see our people making their own decisions rather than abdicating their future to the massive big brother governmental structures or turning their lives to the 1984 nightmare script of what our third century could be.
It is my fervent conviction that a government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.
I ask you to share my vision of a third American century in which the individual, not the government, makes personal choices. I am confident that the American spirit that brought us to our 200th birthday has produced men and women who are determined to prevail over the agencies and bureaus of government that would reduce human beings to computerized abstractions.
I see American individualism as the sentinel of 1976 standing watch over the future. Never forget that in America our sovereign is the citizen. The government exists to serve the people. Government must never become an unresponsive monstrosity that masters everyone and is responsive to no one.
My vision of America's third century is a time of achievement rather than apathy, fostering human growth and spiritual and moral greatness.
Two centuries of struggle won for America a great measure of political and economic independence, and I am proud to be President of a free government that checks and balances its own excesses. I am proud of a free economic system which corrects its own errors, controlled by the marketplace of free and enlightened consumers.
I am especially proud to be a member of a political party that cherishes the individual and believes in government that does for the individual only that which he or she cannot achieve alone. That is what freedom is all about.
Let me add at this point, if I might, a matter of deep concern to me, a matter that I am positive is of deep concern to all those here and 214 million Americans. We have tried hard, we have written laws, we have appropriated money to accomplish quality education for the young in America. In 1954 the courts of this country decided that one way, in their estimation, to achieve that was court-ordered forced busing. Now, regardless of how we individually may feel, the law of the land must be upheld.
But if I could give you a view that I have expressed, not just recently but for 10 or more years, there is a better way to achieve quality education in America than by forced busing. We can and we will find a better way.
We can increase pupil-teacher ratios. We can improve facilities, have more and better equipment, rely more heavily on the neighborhood school concept. There is a way, and we must find it.
Our forebears who founded this great Nation were driven by a passion to be individuals. They created a system of government that gave form and substance to that revolutionary goal. But then the politicians and the theorists began to intrude upon this individuality with theories that big government and Federal spending could cure every social evil.
They began to preach that our free enterprise system needed oppressive government rules and regulations to protect the individual. They started a trend that now threatens to engulf us as individuals as well as the entire Nation. A trickle of Federal spending for human needs has become a tidal wave under Democratic Congressional action.
Some laws needed to promote competition have become a maze of regulations that are strangling our economic system. Every new dollar appropriated, every new law that fetters free enterprise erodes personal freedom. We are losing that freedom that made it possible to build this, a truly great Nation.
The flood of Federal spending covers a wide range of income redistribution programs--programs enacted by the Congress under which a qualified system is automatically entitled to specific benefits. Some of these programs are necessary and commendable, but in this fiscal year those laws enacted by the Congress will total in a 12-month period more than $168 billion. They will eat up more than 45 percent of total Federal expenditures.
Ever-increasing government spending for all social programs literally threatens our whole economy. If that spending grows at the rate of the last 20 years, by the year 2000 half of the people in this Nation will be living off the other half. That will significantly change our form of government. This trend must be reversed, and it will be reversed.
Everybody here knows my record in the Congress, where I was fortunate to win five "Watchdog of the Treasury" awards, every year they were issued while I was a Member of the Congress.
In the White House I have continued to fight the big spenders, but it takes a little time to undo the damage caused by 25 years of reckless Democratic spending. And if not stopped, this Democratic Congress will balloon this year's budget deficit to $70 billion, $80 billion, or even possibly $100 billion. Are you going to let that happen?
The only weapon available to outnumbered Congressional Republicans is the veto. I have used it, and if necessary, I will use it again and again and again.
These vetoes are positive. The framers of our Constitution intended that they should be. The experts tell me that my vetoes in this year alone will save taxpayers some $6 billion by 1977. I think that is positive action by any standard.
In addition, these vetoes have resulted often in far better legislation. When I vetoed irresponsible bills and enough Congressmen agreed to sustain the veto, the Congress was forced to come up with better bills, more or less along the original lines that I proposed.
Senator Tower knows that in the housing bill. Others on the Committee on Appropriations know that when Congress--on a bill that I felt had to provide for summer youth employment--a reasonable, necessary budget request for $1,900 million--the Congress loaded it up and larded it up with another $2 billion in unnecessary pork barrel spending. I had a veto, and the Congress sustained it, and we came back with a reasonable figure..
What I am trying to say is that a veto can be used for affirmative action as the drafters of the Constitution provided in that document.
Now, I have heard that some of the wild-spending, more liberal Democrats in the Congress want to switch billions, billions of dollars from national defense-money for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines--into more social programs. That would be dead wrong. If they don't already know it, I am going to fight them every step of the way.
As we approach the campaign year of 1976, the air will soon be filled with the voices of candidates, the rumbles of bandwagons, and questions of pollsters. Pollsters aren't the only ones who will be asking some questions. Here this morning, I have some questions of my own to ask.
Do you want your President to accept, without a fight, budget-busting appropriation bills? Let's put it another way. Do you want to be deep in the heart of Texas or deep in the heart of taxes? [Laughter]
Another question. Do you want your President to open the United States Treasury to every city that hasn't or won't responsibly manage its fiscal affairs?
Do you want your President to roll over and play dead while Congress passes more and more legislation to strangle free enterprise?
Do you want your President to go along with those who abdicate State and local responsibility to a massive Federal bureaucracy?
Do you want your President to accept legislation that will continue America's dependence on unreliable foreign oil?
Do you want your President to accept, without a fight, slashes in our defense program that would make America number two in a world where only number one counts?
As Americans concerned about the future of this great Nation, your Republican answer to every one of those questions has been a resounding no, and I thank you for it.
I agree with you, and I intend to fight with everything at my command to make sure that we have fiscal responsibility in government, a vigorous free enterprise system, a strong national defense, local control over local affairs, and preservation of personal freedom for the individual.
Today, the Republican Party and the American people are in tune and in step, and they are an unbeatable combination. With your talent and with your enthusiasm and with your help, we can make 1976 a year all Republicans and Independents will remember and Democrats may never forget.
Thank you very much.