Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Senator Rudy Boschwitz in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Thank you all very much for a warm welcome, and thank you, Kay. Mr. Toastmaster, reverend clergy, Senator Boschwitz, and Representative Frenzel:
You know, ladies and gentlemen, when you've been President for a short time, as I have been, you sometimes forget or overlook the power of the Presidency. But it really came home to me tonight when I saw Rudy with a necktie on. [Laughter] We're all here tonight to honor a man who made the flannel shirt famous in Washington. [Laughter]
I'm sorry, though, that I couldn't have been here for your beautiful Minnesota winter. [Laughter] Rudy says I only missed it by 15 minutes. [Laughter]
Well, we had some terrible snow storms in Washington this year, too. But it didn't really last there. As you know, we have a lot more hot air blowers. [Laughter]
The first time that I was ever in your city was as a young sports announcer, to broadcast the University of Minnesota homecoming game with the University of Iowa. And I moved into the press box and looked down on the green field surrounded by a snow bank about 4 feet high. [Laughter] That was my first glimpse. Today was quite a bit different, and I'm sure you all felt the same way.
But I do feel very much at home here in your lovely farm and dairy country. I'm a rancher myself. I take a little kidding now and then in Washington about our ranch. But you know, even some Midwesterners admit that cattle fit right into the California scene. They stand around all day in the sun, no clothes on, eating salad. [Laughter] I just want to assure you that cows in California are the same as cows in Minnesota. [Laughter] Except, of course, in California, they have their teeth capped. [Laughter]
But you know, talking about—and Rudy spoke here about the agricultural section here and what a contrast that is—I have a little hobby I've picked up lately, now that there are as many defectors as there are. I love to collect stories that can be validated as being the stories told by the Russian people among themselves and which reveal a certain cynicism about their government. And the most recent one happened to deal with a farm.
The Commissar, visiting the collective farm, said to one of the workers, "How are conditions here? .... Oh," he says, "great. I've never heard anyone complain." He said, "How about the crops? .... Oh," he said, "the crops are great, never been better." "What about potatoes?" He said, "If our potatoes were piled up, they would reach the foot of God." And the Commissar said, "This is the Soviet Union. There is no God." He says, "That's all right, there are no potatoes." [Laughter]
But it's wonderful to be here in a special State with a special Senator. We'll be visiting a number of Republican Senatorial candidates in the days ahead, but I want you to know that this visit is one of the most important. Like you, I can kid Rudy Boschwitz about his flannel shirts, but all of us who are Rudy's friends, and who are here tonight, are here because in our eyes he exemplifies something special about our way of life, something we like to believe is true about America.
You know—and it's been referred to here tonight—about Rudy's personal story: a son of immigrant parents with big dreams and an even bigger capacity for the faith and hard work that made those dreams come true. And today he is known as Minnesota's likeable, easygoing Senator, but believe me, Rudy, you're not fooling anybody. We're proud of you not just for being the warm and generous person you are, but also for being a shrewd and highly intelligent public servant who has had a great first term looking out for his State's concerns and for his country's ideals.
It didn't surprise me at all that in his few minutes here at this podium he spoke of the agricultural sector in Minnesota. When I mention his State's concerns, I mean that Rudy has been a major force on agricultural policy in the United States Congress. He's never forgotten what the industry means to this State, and he's fought hard to see that Minnesota's farmers get a fair break in Washington.
On the problems of the dairy industry, especially, he's brought insight and concern to our discussions. No one in public life has more to say on these issues than Rudy. We may not agree on everything all the time, but let me tell you, I always listen to Rudy Boschwitz.
I can assure the farmers and dairymen that no administration will ever take their problems more seriously or work harder for solutions than this administration. And I can also assure them that they couldn't have a more able advocate or harder fighter on their side than Rudy Boschwitz.
Rudy has kept in mind what you and I should remember tonight: What happens to the economy in Minnesota is directly related to what happens in our nation as a whole. If the national economy is on an upswing, that means good times everywhere—from the farms and dairies to the high-tech businesses to the basic industries.
Now, I have never been one to underestimate the work cut out for Republicans in upcoming elections. And you're sure going to have your hands full here in Minnesota, which is traditionally a Democratic State. But let me just tell you, now, why I feel very confident about next year's election for our party.
When we Republicans arrived in Washington 2 1/2 years ago, we faced double-digit inflation that had been double digit for 2 years in a row; soaring interest rates at-and do you remember this?—21.5 percent. Unemployment and business failures were moving upward; Federal spending was going up by an incredible 17 percent a year in 1980. In fact, in the previous 10 years, Federal spending had tripled. And between 1976 and 1981—in just those 5 years—Federal taxes doubled. The regulatory burden was overwhelming. And it was overwhelming farmers and businessmen. And our national debt was reaching the incomprehensible amount of $1 trillion. The truth is, we're paying more in interest payments on that debt every year than it took to run the entire Federal Government just 20 years ago.
All of this—the economic mess we inherited-was largely the result of years of rule by the other party and, especially, their domination of both Houses of Congress. There have been deficits 45 of the last 53 years. Their philosophy had been simple and straightforward: tax and tax, spend and spend. And the results were just as plain: inflation and inflation, recession and recession. There have been eight recessions since World War II.
But the election of 1980 put a halt to this. In the Presidential voting, we received a mandate. And we even took over one House of the Congress—and you certainly helped with that—the Senate. And after that, we went to work. We cut the rate of growth in Federal spending, and we cut through the thicket of Federal regulations. We horrified the conventional thinkers in Washington by even managing to cut taxes. And we brought about one of the most important reforms of the tax system in history.
Under the old system, inflation had been driving average Americans into tax brackets that were once reserved for millionaires. We ended that by indexing taxes to the rate of inflation. Now, it's true; this change won't take effect until 1985. But then the big spenders who want to increase your taxes will have to come out from the bushes and stand up and say right out loud, they want a tax increase. They won't be able to do it by just letting bracket creep take a little bigger share of your earnings.
We said all along that economic recovery would take some time, that the going might get rough, but that in the long run we'd get this country back on the road to prosperity. And now we're on that road. We've got a way to go, of course. We have to get unemployment and deficits down. But this much is certain: In just 2 1/2 years, we've cut inflation to less than a third of what it was. As a matter of fact, for the last 6 months, inflation has been running at eight-tenths of 1 percent.
We've got the economic indicators going upward. And we've given everyday Americans more real income, because their taxes are down and inflation is no longer eating up their paychecks. We've restored consumer and business confidence.
I know that every once in awhile they just—it's irresistible that we hear about how many businesses have gone bankrupt and have bellied up in these hard times. And yet, how seldom do we hear that during this same period—yes, that has been true-but last year more than 600,000 new businesses started up in the United States, went into business to begin with. And that is an all-time record in the history of our country.
We're making it possible for the spirit of enterprise and excellence—the spirit Rudy Boschwitz has exemplified in his business and political careers—to make America strong again. Last week, we got the bad news that there were—little, temporary laying off. There was a little holiday in the automobile industry. And there was. But already this week, that automobile production is up 16.4 percent, and that's 27 percent higher than it was in the same week last year.
Now, next year the job before us is simple. Republicans have to go to the American people, remind them of the mess we were in in 1980 and how far we've come since those days. And then we have to ask them for the political tools to help us finish a job that has been so well begun.
We're on the way there. But it takes time to mobilize public opinion to show the slow learners in Washington that the people really do want limited, more responsive government and lower taxes and spending.
No one has been more instrumental in helping bring this about, this kind of responsible but steady change, than Senator Rudy Boschwitz. When we were trying to get Federal spending under control, he stood with us. When we were trying to get taxes, he fought—or to cut taxes, I should say—he fought the good fight. When we tried to bring about regulatory reform and open up an opportunity in American commerce and industry, he helped lead that fight.
All the way along the line, Rudy has stood up to those who've tried to turn the Federal Government into a money-grinding tax factory. You all know that you've got a great Senator in Rudy—a warm and generous person, a man who never forgets his roots, who's always looking out for the people who sent him to Congress. You have every right to be proud of him and to say without hesitation, "Minnesota needs Rudy Boschwitz for another 6-year-term."
But for all the reasons I've just mentioned, America also needs him. Rudy's been a battler and a leader on the most important issue of the past few years—that of returning America to economic growth and prosperity. By reelecting people like Rudy Boschwitz, we Republicans can help finish the job now.
Remember, there are plenty of people in Washington who want to take back your tax cuts and send Federal spending and inflation skyrocketing again. Incidentally, Rudy, if those votes you missed today were on appropriation bills, if the bills were too big, I'll veto them, so don't worry about missing the vote. [Laughter] We need Rudy to help keep America on the road to recovery, to keep her strong at home and abroad.
You know, of all the things that I've talked about here and the things that some of us are proud of in Washington and we think we've accomplished, I stop to think that had we not gotten that slim majority in the United States Senate, that one House of the legislature, none of these things would ever have happened. All we would have had going was veto and hope that we could uphold a veto on some of the things. Government would've gone along on the same course.
But something strange has happened. Instead of just talking about new spending programs and debating them in Washington, as they have for years and years and decades, today there's a whole different argument. The fight is over, "How much can we cut?" And, yes, they have their way sometimes, and we don't get all that we ask for. But I've always figured I'll settle for 75 percent or 80 percent, if I can get that much of the cuts. And we can do it as long as we maintain that Senate.
So, you are one of the key areas of the United States in the coming election year. I thank you for coming tonight. I hope you'll work hard for Rudy. And believe me, I look forward to working with him and you in the future.
Thank you all, and God bless you for being here tonight.
Note: The President spoke at 7:33 p.m. in the Hall of States at the Leamington Hotel following remarks and an introduction by Kay Weinstock, deputy finance chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party.
Prior to the dinner, the President attended three receptions at the hotel—one for Republican leaders, one for major contributors, and one for the Senatorial Trust. Following the dinner, the President returned to Washington, D.C.
Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Dinner Honoring Senator Rudy Boschwitz in Minneapolis, Minnesota Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/262758