George Bush photo

Remarks at a Bush-Quayle Fundraising Dinner in Charlotte, North Carolina

April 27, 1992

Thank you so much for the warm welcome. Thank you, Jim Martin, Dottie -- and Jim, for those kind words and for heading up our effort in this great and important State. Dr. Ford, thank you for your lovely words of invocation. Let me single out the Bravo Singers, did a superb job of harmony there on the anthem. And the Lees-McRae College Clodhoppers out there, the cloggers, first-class from what I could see. I only saw one end of it down there, but it looked pretty good.

And my respects to your neighbor to the south, the incomparable, outstanding Senator Strom Thurmond. My heavens, what a great joy it is to have him and work with him in the United States Senate. He is a superb leader. And he's very proud of the Cat Band of Lexington, South Carolina, that's with us tonight.

And may I salute the three Congressmen introduced, Congressmen McMillan and Taylor and Ballenger, and thank them for being with us. Thank our finance team that's done so much for me already, Bobby Holt, our national chairman, and Jack Laughery, our regional -- he's got five States, and he's twisting arms in every single one of them, doing a first-class job. And Mayo, thank you, sir, for leading the pack here. May I also thank Bob Bradshaw, our dinner chairman; salute an old friend, colleague -- he and I were elected to Congress on the same day -- Jim Gardner, now the Lieutenant Governor, with big plans ahead for him.

And Mayor Vinroot, you lead a wonderful city indeed. You know, coming into Charlotte is no longer a small-city experience. I can't believe your airport is now the eighth busiest in the country. The old saw used to be that you had to go through Atlanta to get to heaven; now they say it is much more fun to go through Charlotte. [Laughter]

But it's wonderful to see so many friends here. And Jim Martin and I have a lot in common. We both have to deal with a house full of Democrats. We don't need his Ph.D. to realize that that's bad chemistry. You know, I listened very carefully to what Jesse said, outstanding Senator Jesse Helms, and heard what he had to say about the spending habits of the Congress and then coupled that with what Strom had to say. And there's very little left for me. But they hit the main points. It is the Congress that appropriates every dime. It is the Congress that tells the Executive how to spend every dime.

People say they think that Jim Martin -- back to him -- will have a hard time making the transition from politics to medicine. I don't think so at all. I'll bet it won't take him any time at all before he's out playing golf on Wednesday afternoons. [Laughter]

There's a good reason for Charlotte to be a proud city. I especially admire the way you support two concerns that are very close to my heart: education, that Jim touched on, and service to others. Your Foundation for the Carolinas shows the priority you place on these community efforts. And yes, this is National Volunteer Week. And I'm reminded that Charlotte is the home to some remarkable, what we call Points of Light, including the Cities in Schools volunteers, Charlotte Habitat for Humanity, and the employees of the Duke Power Company that go out and do so much to help others get educated.

But now let me thank each of you who contribute so generously to this reelection campaign. This support is important for the future of our country. Let me say it right up front: I want to be your President for 4 more years, and I believe I'm going to be.

I know that many here are understandably concerned about the economy. That is my number one concern as well. But this month we had some heartening news about the United States economy, almost across the board, incidentally. It's turning around; it's beginning to move again. The leading indicator has been trade. U.S. exports are surging, rising 7 percent in February to a record one-month high of almost $38 billion. And once again, American manufacturing exports are leading the way.

The evidence is indisputable: Open markets and free trade mean new hires and new buyers, jobs for American workers from sales of American goods and services. Jobs in the trade sector have grown 3 times faster than overall American job creation. This good news underscores a fundamental truth about our own competitiveness: If we're to succeed economically at home, we must lead economically abroad.

There's still much more that we've got to do to make America more competitive. The Congress could get this recovery moving quicker and stronger if we would pass the economic package that Strom mentioned, the package that I sent up to Congress in January. One of our problems right now is the cost of capital; it is too high. But it's a problem we can do something about. A high capital gains tax rate deters investment, thus business expansion, and thus job creation. None of our major industrial competitors tax capital gains at rates that are comparable to ours. Germany doesn't tax them at all, zero. And in Japan, a businessman, entrepreneur who sells the company that he's built from scratch pays a tax of one percent. These are America's toughest competitors. But we disadvantage our own workers and then ask them to beat the competition. That's just plain dumb.

Yet, the very people who every year complain about America's ability to compete are the same people who every year block our efforts to lower the cost of capital. Once and for all they need to get the message: It is time to cut the tax on capital gains. And it is time that Congress gives us this investment tax allowance that we also put forward as one of our seven investment points. We need that, and we need that one now. And I wish, Strom, that the Congress would get moving on that.

For us to compete we also must lighten up the regulatory burden that Washington imposes on every American business. Just last January we placed a 90-day moratorium on Federal regulations. Wherever possible, we've blocked those regulations that impede growth and accelerated those that encourage growth. So far, we've saved American consumers and businesses many billions in regulatory costs. Wednesday, we'll announce our next step in our battle against these excessive regulations. But for now I simply want to say the days of overregulation are just that, they are over. And we must all work to keep it that way.

I've talked often about the need for reform and the need for change. And I've acted, made specific and far-reaching proposals. I've called for reform of our education system, our health care system, our courts, and our election campaigns. I have fought for free and fair trade to sustain and create good jobs. These are five key issues at the forefront of the national agenda. Beyond that, right down the line, from crime that Strom talks about, in a field in which he's been such a leader, all the way to the Congress itself, our administration has proposed fundamental changes to help us solve pressing national problems.

We've had some successes in our efforts to change things, but more often than not Congress stands in the way. They are supported by an army of special interests. Neither are interested in change. They stand squarely behind the status quo. They may be powerful. They may be influential. They may be very well-connected. But let me tell you this: They are absolutely wrong in their approach to the economy of the United States of America.

Let me tell you why. It used to be that a doctor's first concern was the care of the patient, not the chance of a malpractice suit. Lawsuit mania, you know what I'm talking about: Obstetricians not delivering babies, parents literally being driven away from coaching Little League, volunteers not helping the elderly, all because of the fear of lawsuits. That is wrong. That is not the America we want. People should spend more time helping each other and a little less time suing each other.

And you can help me by calling on the Congress to pass our "Access to Justice Act." It is languishing on Capitol Hill, blocked by special interest groups getting rich off these outrageous settlements. Our legal system is complicated. And people's rights certainly must be protected. But the system desperately needs reform, and no lawyers lobby should stand in the way. And we must fight to put some limits on these liability claims.

It used to be that we were confident that when we sent our kids to school they would get a first-class education, learn how to read and write, understand something about the world. We believed in building character, so education included teaching values and responsibility, simple right from wrong. We believed parents shared this responsibility for education. Parents are a child's first teachers, and the home is a child's first school. I believe that's still the way it ought to be.

But educational achievement has been stagnant for years. And now we thank our lucky stars that our child's school isn't the one where they find a gun in someone's locker or drug dealing out there in the playground, for heaven's sakes. And our teachers, they often double as counselors, mentors, social workers, and surrogate parents all rolled up into one. God bless our teachers for the work they do. They deserve our best effort, they deserve our best effort to make the system better.

And right here, Charlotte and the State of North Carolina are leading the way. We've set national goals, six national goals in a bipartisan fashion, and a strategy to achieve them. In every State in the Nation and over 1,200 communities across the country, our America 2000 reforms are gaining steam with innovation, these break-the-mold schools, world-class standards, voluntary national testing, more flexibility for teachers and principals. And whether it's among public schools or private or religious, all parents, rich or poor, deserve the right to choose their children's schools. And I challenge Congress to pass legislation to that end.

It's a giant undertaking to create the best schools in the world for our kids, to literally, in a country this big, to revolutionize the Nation's education system. But we are going to do it, with or without permission from the powerful NEA union or the United States Congress.

Charlotte is very fortunate. You've got a great Congressman in Alex McMillan. He's an expert on another urgent reform issue, health care. It used to be that going to the hospital didn't conjure up images of financial ruin. And while our health care still is the finest quality care in the world, too many people don't qualify for health insurance, or they simply cannot afford it. And the cost of even minor surgery has gone sky-high, right out through the roof. Many poor people would prefer going to a family doctor but end up waiting for hours in hospital emergency rooms for routine medical attention. This, too, is wrong, and it's got to change.

Our health care proposal is comprehensive. It makes health insurance accessible and affordable for all Americans without destroying the finest quality health care in the world. We must not go the way of these nationalized health care plans with long lines, impersonal service, and fewer options for consumers. If that's what we wanted, we'd put health care under the department of motor vehicles, and we'd all stand in line all day long. We don't need another big bureaucracy.

Look what happened to Medicaid. It started as a $1 billion program, $1 billion. It is now $150 billion and growing at a rate of 17 percent a year, 38 percent last year alone. Yes, there are those whose first resort is a big new Government program with all the self-perpetuating features of the old big Government programs. But make no mistake, nationalized health care would be a national disaster. And I will fight any nationalized or socialized medicine plans for the United States of America.

In these and so many areas that demand our reform, our Government can play a pivotal and positive role in addressing many of our Nation's most critical problems. One half of my adult life, my own, has been in the private sector, and one half in government service. And I've seen this country change, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. And you need to know what needs change. Change for change sake is meaningless and empty. It takes more than happy talk, more than lip service to reform or get service to special interest.

But that's what the Democrats are still offering if you look at these mandated programs they're proposing day in and day out. Our party stands for change. But the national Democratic Party will always revert to form, solve a problem by creating a program; more power to the bureaucracy, less to the individual. They do not understand that people are yearning for a return to responsibility and accountability, values that refuse to go out of style.

That is why major reforms of our Government are absolutely essential. The American people know that as Government tries to do more and more, it delivers less and less. Next year, the Federal Government will spend $1.5 trillion of your money. There is just no question about it: The Federal Government is too big and spends too much. So, we should start with real spending reform. It's time for the President -- and I will not parrot Strom -- to have what 43 Governors have, that line-item veto.

Next, I've sent up legislation to end the special treatment for Congress. It is time for the Congress to govern itself by the laws that it imposes on others. The laws that you and I have to abide by, the Congress ought to abide by. And it's time for sweeping reform of campaign financing, but let's not do it by making the taxpayer fund all these congressional elections. It's bad enough to have them put it in for the President's race. Finally, it's time to make Congress a citizen assembly, not a club for career politicians. And so, I think the time has come to limit the terms of Members of Congress. I favor six terms for a Member of the House and two for a Senator that precisely has limited terms -- the Presidency has it limited. You might say, then, why should not the Congress?

These last few years have seen our world turned absolutely upside down. Think how much we have accomplished. We think of our problems, but think of our blessings for a minute. With God's help and with hard work to support the convictions we have, we've helped change the world. We literally have changed the world. We've helped the peoples of Eastern Europe and the old Soviet empire peacefully throw off the yoke of communism. Now we're helping their transition to free markets and helping them reduce their nuclear arsenals.

And if you ask me what gives you the most pride or pleasure out of having been President, I take great pride that it was the leadership of the United States that has diminished for our children the threat of nuclear war. We stood up against dictators and exporters of totalitarian revolution in Latin America; we've helped make democracy take root in nearly every country of our own hemisphere. Look south of the Rio Grande.

When a ruthless tyrant overran Kuwait and threatened to engulf the entire Middle East in its worst conflagration, we protected the people of Israel and Turkey and Saudi Arabia. And we organized an unprecedented world coalition, and we liberated Kuwait from the aggressor. In the process, we accomplished a breakthrough sought by every President from Truman to Reagan: We brought Arab neighbors face to face with Israel for the first time at the peace table. This is big. And this is historic. And we can all take pride in this as Americans.

We won the cold war and we stopped Saddam's aggression because 12 years ago we renewed our faith in our values and, as Strom pointed out again, we strengthened our defenses. And now, if any of you have traveled around the world I believe you'd agree with this one, the United States is the undisputed leader of the entire world. This is no time to pull back. This is no time to retreat, no time to be afraid of the changes in the world. We will keep ourselves strong. And in world markets, security, and politics, we are going to stay engaged, and we are going to continue to lead the entire world.

And so, in sum, we have a mission together to carry on the American dream for new generations. With your help we can win a mandate to lead this country for 4 more years. We can keep our country a champion of ideas and opportunity and justice. We can reform our schools and our courts and our health care system, our very system of government. And we can assure that when we reach the new century, America will still be the strongest, the bravest, and the freest Nation on the face of the Earth.

Thank you all. And may God bless each and every one of you. And may God bless our great country, the United States of America. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 8:05 p.m. at the Adam's Mark Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Gov. James Martin of North Carolina and his wife, Dorothy; Leighton Ford, president of Leighton Ford Ministries; and Mayo Boddie, a dinner fundraiser.

George Bush, Remarks at a Bush-Quayle Fundraising Dinner in Charlotte, North Carolina Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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