Remarks at a Campaign Fundraising Luncheon for Representative Connie Mack in Miami, Florida
Thank you. Connie, I could have listened all day. [Laughter] Thank you all very much. Connie and Priscilla, Governor Bob Martinez and Mary Jane, Jeannie Austin, Alec Courtelis, Tommy Thomas, Jeb Bush, and Paula Hawkins, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all. The Florida Republican Party fills my heart with sunshine. You know, it's always great to be in Florida, but it's not true that I keep returning just because Ponce de Leon thought that this was the place to find the Fountain of Youth. [Laughter] The fact is Ponce de Leon never did find the Fountain of Youth. I know, I was with him on that trip. [Laughter]
Well, actually, the truth is, you know what keeps me young—it's cutting taxes. [Laughter] The other thing that keeps me young is helping elect outstanding Republicans, and that's why I'm here today. I came to campaign for the next United States Senator from Florida: Congressman Connie Mack.
Now of course, Connie Mack's grandfather and namesake was the grand old man of baseball. Back then, if Connie had told his. grandfather that he wanted to go to Washington to be a Senator, Mr. Mack probably would have figured that Connie meant the baseball team, the old Washington Senators. [Laughter] In those days, we used to jokingly say, "Washington, first in war, first in peace, and the last in the American League." [Laughter] But next year, thanks to you, Washington will have a new winning team, and I mean real major leaguers: Senator Connie Mack and President George Bush. And Connie, you'll have to pitch because he was a catcher. [Laughter]
Well, since his election to Congress in 1982, Connie has stood with us for reducing taxes, spending, and government; strengthening our defense, expanding world freedom; and restoring a strong, proud, and free America that puts its faith in God and trust in the people themselves. What the 1988 elections are all about is whether we continue to build on that progress and move ahead to an even brighter future or whether we hesitate and return to those worn-out policies that Connie mentioned that bring high taxes, low growth, and a loss of direction and purpose.
When George Bush and I took office, the other party, which had long controlled Washington, had left America with its economic and foreign policy in disarray. Government spending was soaring out of control. Business was being crushed under massive regulation and taxation. Unemployment and business failures were climbing. The prime rate was at a record 21% percent. And working people had suffered under 2 consecutive years of double-digit inflation that had raised consumer prices an incredible 27.3 percent. Yes, soaring prices and a sinking economy—that's what the other fellows, with all their lip service about compassion, inflicted on the American people. The economists called it stagflation. The Democrats termed it malaise. The liberal pundits said it was part of America's inevitable decline. But we came in and said the only thing that was inevitable was that bad policies produce bad results. We said there may be no easy solutions, but there's a simple solution: Get government out of the way and let free people and a free economy work their magic.
We refused to believe the so-called experts who announced that fuel shortages and gas lines were here to stay, that we had entered an age of scarcity and Americans would have to learn to get by with less. Instead we deregulated oil prices, said goodbye to Federal price fixing and fuel rationing, and helped put America back to work. When we proposed cutting tax rates and letting working people keep more of their own money, the Washington establishment immediately launched a counterattack, rolling out liberal economists to warn that lowering tax rates would cause runaway inflation.
Well, we pushed ahead and cut the tax rates, as you know. And the result was that inflation was slashed to a fraction of what it had been; interest rates were more than cut in half; the economy boomed; employment soared; and Federal revenues actually increased. The top tax bracket has now been lowered from 70 percent to 28 percent, and in the Senate, Connie Mack will help keep the rates down and work with George Bush and his fellow Republicans in Congress to cut the capital gains rate and open our economy for more jobs and growth.
But what about the Democrats? The $64 billion question is this: Should we expect that if the Democrats' all but certain Presidential candidate is elected that he would raise taxes? Yep. In fact, he just did. Not only has he hiked taxes as Governor of Massachusetts, but in the last 5 years he has increased Massachusetts' State spending at double the rate of Federal spending. He has spent every dime and more of the revenue generated in his State by the Reagan-Bush recovery. And since 1986, while the Federal budget deficit has been cut sharply, his deficit in Massachusetts has ballooned. So, yes, the man expected to head up the Democratic ticket that Connie faces is a true liberal who, instead of controlling government spending, raises taxes. The sad truth is that whenever liberals talk about reducing the deficit it's just a code word for boosting taxes. And once they raise taxes, they raise spending even more.
This November, if the people of Florida don't want an increase in Federal taxes or a big-spending Congress, all they need to do is to go to the polls and vote Republican. See, I know what I'm talking about, because for most of my life, I was a Democrat. [Laughter] But then, you know, as the Scripture says, "When I was a child, I spake as a child; I thought as a child"— [laughter] —"and then I put aside childish things." [Laughter]
Well, Connie Mack knows that to fight the deficit you must control spending. He supports the balanced budget amendment and the line-item veto, which your Governor has and which I had as a Governor, but which—for some reason they just don't want to give it to a President. He helped lead the fight to pass Gramm-Rudman, and that law is already helping to put a lid on Federal spending. Connie knows that the American people are not undertaxed; the Federal Government overspends. Isn't that the kind of man Florida needs in the Senate? [Applause]
You see, the new liberals—or the liberals, not new—the liberals in Congress have opened a new front in their assault on limited government and fiscal responsibility with a tactic designed to circumvent the budget process and slip past Gramm-Rudman. Their new strategy is to try to enact their multimillion-dollar social agenda by requiring private businesses, primarily small businesses, to carry out and directly pay for expensive social programs.
Now, here's an example: Senator Kennedy has tried for years to pass an exorbitantly expensive program of socialized medicine, and it hasn't happened. So, now he's proposing—and the expected Democratic nominee has endorsed this plan—that the Government pass a law requiring private companies to directly pay for a federally mandated health insurance program, a program not targeted to the needy and which would not provide for the retired or unemployed.
According to the Congress' own budget office, this law would cost the American people a whopping $27.1 billion a year. But the political angle of this scheme is that the tremendous expense of this mandatory program will not be called what it obviously is, a gigantic tax, a $27 billion tax, mostly falling on small businesses, that would reduce jobs, growth, wages, and economic opportunity across every segment of American society. The fact that the liberals try to disguise their big government ideology inside a legislative Trojan horse is proof that they haven't given up. It's up to conservatives like Connie Mack to just say no to big government and to lead the fight for greater opportunity and prosperity for America.
In 1988 the American people face a choice, really the same choice we've faced before, and much the same choice most of the world has recently had to make. And each time the people have made the same decision to continue in the direction of economic freedom, entrepreneurship, and individual opportunity, and to move away from the heavy hand of government which seeks to control the people and the economy.
Now, I have to tell you, this reminds me of a story. Actually, it's an old baseball story. You see, one day, old Lucifer down there from his headquarters called St. Peter in Heaven, said they wanted to challenge him to a baseball game. And St. Peter said, "Sure, let's play. But to be fair, I have to tell you all the great ones are up here. We've got Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Satchel Paige, Roberto Clemente. We've got all the best players, and our manager is the legendary Connie Mack. You won't have a chance." Well, old Lucifer says, "That doesn't matter, we'll win anyway." And St. Peter says, "How do you expect to do that?" "Well," he says, "simple, we've got all the umpires." [Laughter]
You see, we can either have an economy that puts the private citizen at the center-the consumer, the worker, the entrepreneur-and lets each individual be the judge of what to buy or sell, where to work, where to invest, and what to create; or we can put the Government at the center of the economy and let bureaucrats and politicians call the balls and strikes and decide who's out, and who's out of work, who's out of business, or who will get the big contract and be home free.
What is euphemistically called government-corporate partnership is just government coercion, political favoritism, collectivist industrial policy, and old-fashioned Federal boondoggles nicely wrapped up in a bright-colored ribbon. And it doesn't work. This kind of approach was tried in Europe, and it's being abandoned because it only resulted in economic stagnation and industrial decay. The fact is that in the last 5 years, while American businesses, mostly small companies, were creating nearly 17 million new jobs, Western Europe created none, not one. Back in 1981, we passed a true jobs bill. We cut taxes, spending, and regulation, and got government out of the way and let free people create new jobs and businesses. Well, our jobs bill, what was once dismissed as Reaganomics funny, they don't call it that anymore—has produced over 250,000 jobs a month over 66 straight months; and that is a record that no spending program or political gimmick can ever match. And do you know that most of those new jobs, those almost 17 million, were created by small, independent businesses in these 66 months?
Connie Mack and the Republican Party stand for opportunity and jobs. We represent working people and entrepreneurs. The liberal leadership of the Democratic Party represents big government at the expense of the American worker and taxpayer. But the fact is that the Democrats have controlled both Houses of Congress for 27 of the last 33 years, and now more than ever it's time for a change.
Let me add to those figures I just gave you with regard to the other party. When we took office in January 1981, the Democrats had controlled both Houses of the Congress for 44 of the preceding 48 years. But in the 1980 election, we won control of one House: the Senate. And for 6 years, we had that. Now, we're back to the Democrats having both Houses. We couldn't have achieved the economic recovery we have if both Houses had remained in Democratic hands as they are now. We must get the Senate back if we're to continue our economic growth.
And let's talk for a moment about foreign policy. Let me offer here a simple, straightforward message: No more Vietnams, no more Nicaraguas, no more Bay of Pigs. Never again! Connie Mack and I stand with the Nicaraguan resistance. We will not rest until we've won for them the full support they need and until they've won for themselves the genuine democracy and freedom for which they've so bravely struggled. By supporting courageous freedom fighters around the world, we're shining a light on the path out from Communism, and nowhere has that light shone brighter than in Afghanistan. And isn't it time we apply the lessons of Afghanistan in Nicaragua and show the same commitment to freedom fighters in our own hemisphere as we do to others in distant lands?
I just came from a meeting with Cuban-American leaders, and I want to tell you what I told them. In Communist Cuba, a man like Armando Valladares is considered a criminal. In the United States, we're honored to have him represent our nation before the world. In Communist Cuba, a man like Ramon Puig is labeled an enemy of the Government. In the United States, he's a respected citizen and a hero. And while Havana spreads communism, terror, and death in Central America, many Cuban-Americans like Dr. Manuel Alzugaray are providing food, medicine, and humanitarian assistance to the victims of Communist aggression.
So, yes, there is an unbridgeable gulf between the Governments of the United States and Cuba; it is the gulf between freedom and tyranny. And as far as this administration is concerned, freedom for Cuba, liberty for her people, is a nonnegotiable demand. And so long as Cuba remains an inhuman Communist dungeon, so long as it exports terrorism and revolution in the Western Hemisphere; has some 60,000 military, secret police, and other personnel propping up brutal Communist dictatorships around the world; and, yes, so long as Cuba is used as the personal instrument of Fidel Castro's violent anti-Americanism-there cannot and must not be any normalization of relations with Cuba.
You can count on Connie Mack to defend freedom, to defend America, to defend the taxpayer, and to defend the family. He supports the Strategic Defense Initiative that would protect us from nuclear attack. And he supports tough Federal judges who would put violent criminals behind bars. And to protect our children from the menace of illegal drugs, he favors the toughest, most comprehensive drug enforcement policies, including the death penalty when narcotics traffickers commit murder. And when it comes to looking out for the rights and concerns of retired people, you can count on Connie Mack to be there. He has staunchly defended the Social Security system to ensure that it will be fiscally sound and available for Americans who worked so many years to earn its benefits.
Yes, Connie Mack cares about people. Ask Anatoly Michelson, who immigrated to America 30 years ago, only to have the Soviet Union keep his family from joining him. As a Member of Congress, Connie took up their cause, and last year—after three decades apart—a reunion took place. And Anatoly, who is here today, was reunited in America with his wife, daughter, and grandson.
And when I look at this tremendous group here today, all of you, I just wish I could take you all back to Washington with me, but I have to leave you here so you can get out the vote in November. I want to thank each one of you for everything that you're doing to help put Congressman Connie Mack in the Senate and to help build the Republican Party throughout the State of Florida.
So, thank you all. God bless you all.
Note: The President spoke at 2 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Omni International Hotel. In his opening remarks, he referred to Connie and Priscilla Mack; Robert and Mary Jane Martinez; Jeannie Austin, Florida State Republican chairman; Alex Courtelis, chairman of the luncheon; L.E. (Tommy) Thomas, former Republican State chairman; John E. Bush, Dade County Republican Party Chairman; and Senator Paula Hawkins. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.
Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Campaign Fundraising Luncheon for Representative Connie Mack in Miami, Florida Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/255353