Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks to Broan Manufacturing Company Employees in Hartford, Wisconsin

July 27, 1987

Thank you very much. And, Mr. Schlegel, thank you for bringing me into the family. And I want you to know that I'm also grateful to the other three employees of yours that are up here with me—the Governor, the Senator, and the Congressman, myself. We all work for you. And it's great to be here today, although I confess to being a little nervous about leaving Washington. And there are two reasons: Congress is still debating the budget— [laughter] —and then there are so many people back there now from both parties that are saying how much they want my job. [Laughter] In fact, I ran into a bunch of candidates at the airport this morning who said they were also on their way to the Midwest. What a strange coincidence. All I can tell you is that somebody must be offering one terrific vacation package to Iowa this year. [Laughter]

You know, as I was coming into the plant today, I remembered all those years as a political candidate that I spent shaking hands at plant gates. I guess that's the difference when you're President—they let you come inside. [Laughter] But I do wish I'd gotten here in time for your company picnic. [Laughter] I'll have to check my staff on who scheduled me for the leftover potato salad. [Laughter] Don Schlegel tried to make me feel better about missing the picnic by saying it was hot out there, too. [Laughter] I said, "Yes, Don, but on the other hand, there was also plenty of that stuff that made Wisconsin famous." And I'm not talking about ice-cold Gouda cheese. [Laughter]

But actually, it's what each of you are doing to make Wisconsin famous that brought me here today. Broan Company is a success story: a growing business with quality products, a company with good management and with employees who care because they have a say in how things happen here. I've heard how your award-winning employee suggestion program has resulted in more than $1,200,000 in savings.

It's just one more reason that you're an example of what's known in Europe as America's economic miracle. You don't know what it means to go over there to those economic summits anymore and have those leaders of other countries use that term. I didn't invent it. They wanted to ask me and talk about the American miracle. Well, the miracle has brought down inflation, it's pushed up family income, and it's created over 13 million new jobs.

And all this is a credit to you. Nobody works as hard as the American worker. And forgive my pride, but when given half a chance American business and labor can outcompete any country or people in the world. But your success here is also a credit to the American electorate—of which you're a part—because they made it possible for your hard work to pay off when they said no to policies that led to double-digit inflation, growing unemployment, and booming interest rates. Yet even though the people spoke emphatically at the polls, it was tough to turn things around in Washington. Believe me, when it comes to spending your tax dollars, the Congress, like Oscar Wilde, can resist everything but temptation.

But turn it around we did: We cut taxes, we simplified taxes, we reformed taxes. And let me make sure that when I use the term, "Congress," I'm talking about a part of the Congress because we have had the help in what we're trying to do of Senator Kasten and Congressman Sensenbrenner, and also now, your good Governor.

We went on, and we reduced unnecessary regulation. We cut the rate of growth of spending and even got the Congress to sign off on a deficit reduction plan-Gramm-Rudman-Hollings. We fought protectionist legislation that would invite foreign retaliation, retaliation that would eventually close down markets and American plants and factories. But sure enough, just as prosperity becomes rampant in America, some in Congress want to go back to busting the budget—proving again the truth of Will Rogers. You remember him, that humorist, what he said: "All you need to grow fine, vigorous grass is a crack in your sidewalk." [Laughter]

Now, some of you know I'm crisscrossing the country to fight these dangerous trends on Capitol Hill. I've been campaigning not only to hold on to the progress that we've made and keep our prosperity growing but to institute permanent reforms—something called an Economic Bill of Rights—that would protect you and your children from future encroachments of government. One of the most dangerous inclinations of human nature, Thomas Jefferson once said, is appropriating wealth produced by the labor of others rather than producing it by one's own labor. He said government was the usual vehicle for this abuse. And as he put it: The stronger the government, the weaker the producer. And he added: The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.

And that's why I'm out pushing our Economic Bill of Rights. We want to protect you—the producers, the taxpayers—by reforming the way future Congresses spend your money and raise your taxes. We want to put permanent checks and balances like a balanced budget amendment, line-item veto—which your government has—and truth-in-spending legislation on government's inevitable tendency to confiscate more and more of your take-home pay. [Applause] You are right; it's time to cut the Federal budget, not the family budget.

Now, I've got to tell you, my decision to take our case to the people has gotten some of the seers and sayers back in Washington upset. They keep telling me that I'm just walking down a fruitless political path, that the people don't care, and that I'd better let Congress conduct our finances. But, you know, I have been all across the country lately, and I think an overwhelming number of Americans are against more taxes and spending. And all these warnings from the big spenders saying the people don't care just ring hollow to me.

In fact, they make me think of Yogi Berra when he said: "Nobody goes to that restaurant any more—it's too crowded." [Laughter] I say the people care about higher taxes, and I say the people care about higher spending, and I say the people care about higher trade barriers that would cost America jobs. So, to those on Capitol Hill who keep telling me, "Now, Mr. President, just take it easy; don't go out there and get the people all riled up about taxes and spending and trade," I say, the people have a right to be riled up; I say the people have a right to protect America's hard-won prosperity.

There is much left to do in the next 18 months. And to borrow a phrase that you might have heard recently from one of the lawyers—defense lawyers at the legislative hearings there going on in Washington- [laughter] —who had to protest that he wasn't a potted plant; he was a lawyer there with his client—I reject a potted-plant Presidency. I'm here to do a job, and when the Congress spends too much money or tries to raise taxes or passes trade legislation that will hurt American workers, you can bet I'm going to be out here asking you, the people, for your hands and your hearts and your help.

I also say it's a President's job to warn Americans and American workers about trade legislation that could lead to foreign retaliation—retaliation that will cut off foreign markets, shut down plants, and as I said, destroy jobs here at home. We tried that once way back in the depths of the Great Depression, and we only spread depression around the world. Right now the House and the Senate have passed trade bills that are dangerous to economic growth. And I'm here to tell you today: Under the guise of protectionism, those bills threaten the jobs and livelihood of American workers, and that's why I'm prepared to veto this legislation if it reaches my desk in its present form. I stand ready to work with Congress, but on a trade bill that promotes economic growth rather than stifles it.

This antiprotectionist and antigrowth [progrowth] message is something I'll be taking to other stops today in your great State. And once again, I'll be preaching the same old Jeffersonian gospel—that the government that governs least is the government that governs best.

So, thank you again for this visit today. Keep up your good work, help America grow and prosper, and talk to your friends and neighbors about our Economic Bill of Rights. It's something we can leave our children and something that can guarantee them a future of economic growth and opportunity. And that happens to be the only goal of my life. I want to see those kids that I get to meet and talk to every once in awhile have an America that presented the same opportunity that America presented to my generation when we were kids growing up. And if I can remember what it was like way back there, that's quite a test of memory. [Laughter]

But I just want to thank all of you here for letting me interfere for a little while and visit with you. And as I say, I've got two more stops nearby to go, so just thank you all, and God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 11:10 a.m. on the manufacturing floor at the plant. In his opening remarks, he referred to Gov. Tommy Thompson, Senator Robert W. Kasten, Jr., Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., and Donald M. Schlegel, president of the Broan Manufacturing Co. Following his remarks, the President traveled to West Bend, WI.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks to Broan Manufacturing Company Employees in Hartford, Wisconsin Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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