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Remarks at a Fundraising Breakfast for Senatorial Candidate Allen Kolstad in Billings, Montana

July 20, 1990

Thank you all, and, Allen, thank you for that wonderful introduction. First, it's a delight to see our Governor, your friend and mine, Governor Stephens here. What a job he's doing. And I felt this warmth when I was with him not so long ago at the centennial. Of course, in a very short period of time, Conrad Burns, our unique Senator -- [laughter] -- you can interpret that any way you want to. He hasn't been there that long, but he hasn't forgot how he got there. [Laughter] And people understand that, and they respect it in Washington. And clearly, you love him here, as I do. And, Conrad, I appreciate the effort you made to get out here, rushing off to all kinds of connecting airplanes, because he had to work up until the gong sounded yesterday in the Senate. And as for our State chairman, Barbara Campbell, I salute her. She's doing a great job for the party, and she gave me a wonderfully upbeat assessment just now about Allen's chances to win this important Senate seat. Barbara, thank you for what you're doing. And then to our [Republican National] committee members: Jack Galt, Ione Brownson; and my old friend of longstanding, Chuck Heringer. And then, of course, to your outstanding congressional candidate, Brad Johnson -- we've got to see him win. I also want to salute one who's not here but who is doing a superb job. I'm talking about Ron Marlenee, who was with me early on -- very, very early supporter. And that brings us at last to the next Senator from the State of Montana, Allen Kolstad.

Let me just say it is great to be back in Montana, near some of the best fishing streams and forests in the country. I remember coming to Glacier National Park last year with a grandson and being told that Montana has 896 catchable fish per square mile. [Laughter] My question is, why don't they count the uncatchable fish? [Laughter] I've found from my vast experience there are quite a few of those. But there is nothing better for the soul than seeing the grandeur of the snowcapped mountains in the distance or a Montana sunset, as we saw it last night, streaked across the fading skies. Montana is, proudly, the Big Sky State, a State of big skies.

And America still is a country of big dreams. But to help make those dreams come true -- and I know Conrad would agree with this -- we have got to have more grassroots, sound representation in the United States Senate, and to help make those dreams come true for America and Montana, I need Allen Kolstad working with me in the United States Senate.

Allen Kolstad and Iva, sitting over here next to me, know Montana as few others do. Five generations of Kolstads have called Montana home. Allen is a farmer, rancher, who has given over 20 years of his life to public service, to the people of this great State. He was elected to the Montana Legislature back in 1968, the first Republican to serve Liberty County in almost 50 years. Then, in 1988, Stan Stephens and Allen Kolstad stunned the Democrats by giving them their first loss in a Governor's race in 20 years. And just like our friend Conrad Burns did in the last Senate election, Allen Kolstad's about to hand the opposition another stunner. We need him in the Senate, and we need him there now.

You see, I am convinced that with more people like Allen there and more Republicans we can build a better America. Despite its minority status on Capitol Hill, the Republican Party has fought hard for what's right. They're fighting to preserve and protect the longest peacetime economic expansion in history, the lowest unemployment rate in the Nation in 16 years, and the 22 million jobs created in the last 7 1/2 years.

Having said that, I am very concerned about problems that remain out there ahead of us. And, Iva, thank you for those lovely words of prayer from your heart. The outrageous deficit, for example, is over -- fasten your seatbelts -- over $160 billion a year. That is not acceptable, and I am determined to do something about it.

We Republicans have a good record at home and abroad, one we can stand on with pride. And it was our policy of peace through strength that helped bring freedom to the lives of millions from Panama to Poland. And with a Republican majority in Congress working with me, we could do much, much more to ensure that America remains economically strong and becomes fiscally sound.

Instead, with the Democrats now in the control of the United States Congress -- both Houses -- we're facing government by gridlock in Washington, with spending skyrocketing out of control, good legislation thrown aside for pork-barrel programs, and a budget deficit looming over our children's children. And while the Republican Party is using everything we've got to build a strong, competitive America, the Democratic stranglehold on the United States Congress has finally taken its toll.

Unfortunately, it is the American people who are paying the price. Let me just give you a few specific examples. In April of 1989, our administration sent to the Congress the Educational Excellence Act. Our proposals would advance education reform, reward achievement, and encourage educational choice. And yet, as the bill moved through the Congress -- and Conrad knows this so well -- some of its most sensible and cost-effective programs were scrapped, ripped out of the bill, substituting tired, old, expensive Democratic substitutes. Almost $1 billion worth of unnecessary, unrelated, and costly changes were heaped on top of our original $400 million education bill. So, it came out not $400 million but it totaled $1.4 billion, more than triple our original request. In fact, they even changed the name of the bill.

I know Allen Kolstad would have said no to these unnecessary changes. Listen, Montana's graduation rate is 87 percent. And that's terrific; you ought to take great pride in that. But Allen and I want to make it even higher. Montana ranks third among the 28 States which administer the ACT test. You've done it by rewarding excellence, putting choice in the hands of parents and students, and building in something that is essential -- and that is accountability. And that's exactly the thrust of our Federal program: Choice, accountability, flexibility, excellence is the key -- national goals to challenge our students, our teachers, and our schools to succeed. This is the program.

And that's just part of the Republican agenda. Twenty-nine out of the last 35 years of Democrat control is long enough. We must have more Republicans in Congress.

But there's more. We proposed new child-care legislation. Based on our belief that there is nothing more precious than America's children, we asked for $9 billion in funding spread over a 5-year period. We proposed a bill that put choice in the hands of all families, whether low- or middle-income, by helping them get the kind of child care that they wanted -- at home or, yes, in a church or a church-related facility or from a local child-care provider. And the Senate passed a child-care bill at double the money -- remember I proposed $9 billion; they come up with $18 billion in the Senate. And then the House, under solid Democratic control, outdid the Senate by tripling my request to $29 billion. In short, we started at $9 billion, and the last word from Congress was $29 billion. And if Congress has its way, the Federal Government will intrude upon one more area of your lives, using that money to pile more redtape on child-care providers, including friends and neighbors providing the child care. Democrats still believe that the Federal Government knows better how to do all this than parents or local communities. And I know what that tells me: It tells me that we must have more Republicans in the United States Congress.

Just this year, in February, March, I requested $800 million in dire emergency -- this is a term that's used when you have to do something special -- dire emergency funds for immediate assistance to the Governments of Panama and Nicaragua to help those fledgling democracies build their shattered economies, to help them strengthen their democracies. And I challenged the Congress to act in 30 days. I said this is a dire emergency, and we need to have action now. One hundred eight days later, the Congress acted. Who am I to complain? It's been over 20 years since Congress produced a balanced budget.

But here's what caused the delay: some so-called dire emergency additions to the bill by Congress -- almost $3 1/2 billion more in spending than I requested. Everyone on Capitol Hill knew how important this bill was, and for 108 days, Congress decided to hold it hostage. For 108 days, Congress calculated how much spending they could pile on top of this emergency request that they knew I needed to support the democracies that were just beginning in Panama and in Nicaragua. And for 108 days, inaction by the Congress jeopardized not only the economic recovery of these two critically strategic nations, it jeopardized the hard-won freedom of the brave people of Nicaragua and Panama. That's more than a difference between parties. In my view, that was a disgrace. And I say we must have more Republicans in the United States Congress.

You know Republicans like what works. We think that finding a cure to the budget deficit means funding those programs that we know work, not throwing billions of hard-earned tax dollars at untested ideas with no track record or built-in accountability. Americans are fed up. Year after year after year, they hear about budget wrangling in Washington, DC. They hear about the President trying to hold the line on spending and the Congress spending money it doesn't have. And I think now, given the magnitude of this problem, enough is enough. We must end this deficits-don't-matter mentality. And I do not want to preside over these god-awful deficits that are saddling these young people here with billions of dollars of debt.

The deficit is estimated to be over $160 billion for 1 year. And Congress, as the American people know so well, appropriates every single dollar we spend. And at this very moment, our White House negotiators are trying to do something meaningful about this deficit. And, frankly, I think in fairness to say, we are getting some good cooperation with the leadership on the Democratic side of the aisle -- I'd say on both sides of the aisle. And we must control spending; we must reform the budget process itself. And I've taken a few shots -- you've heard it rebounding around out here. I've said before that I'll negotiate without preconditions, and I will, in spite of the outcry about revenues, but there must be budget reform and true spending control. We owe it to the young people in this country.

Some people think that there's no difference between the two parties. I've come here to tell you probably something you already know: to tell you there is. And it's as big as the Great Divide. On one side -- the Republicans out there, our side -- that side lies opportunity, growth, choice in child care, choice in education, the creativity of the marketplace, and a government that understands it works for you and not the other way around. And I'll tell you something: That's why I think Conrad Burns has what I know Allen Kolstad will have when he comes to Washington -- the full confidence of the people of Montana. You have the feeling, and properly so, that he works for the people of this State that sent him to the United States Senate.

And on the other side, the far side, lies the Democratic Party, the party of redtape and bureaucracy. Still pushing for higher and higher spending; still telling the States how to conduct their affairs; still pushing for mandated benefits. Dictation from Washington to every drug program in the country or every education program or every program of whatever nature -- mandated benefits -- that's the hallmark of the Democratic Party. And now we're getting to the election cycle, and the choice is up to America.

And right here in Montana you know that there's a better way of doing things, a Republican way. I remember the last time I was in this State. It was for Montana's 100th birthday, when Allen was chairman of the centennial commission. For my part, I planted a tree. Now, you may know that my record's not too good in that respect. [Laughter] I planted a tree in North Dakota, and regrettably, it got attacked by gypsy moth. [Laughter] And I planted a tree in Spokane, Washington, and I hadn't left town before some vandals ripped off the whole tree. [Laughter] And so, you can understand why they've asked me not to dedicate any buildings here. [Laughter] But the tree -- when I climbed off the plane I got a firsthand report from the Governor, who confessed to a certain nervousness about the tree. But the tree I planted in Helena -- believe it or not, it's alive, and it's well -- [laughter] -- and it's flourishing. Well, in that spirit, what a great job Allen did for the centennial commission. First of all, he didn't use one penny of taxpayer money, not one. And secondly, the centennial is expected to give thousands of dollars back to the State treasury. And that is the kind of fiscal responsibility that America needs on Capitol Hill.

Allen Kolstad agrees -- and most Americans, I believe, when we take the case to them, will, too -- we must have budget process reforms. We must have budget process reforms. And your Senator sitting there in Washington now understands exactly what I'm talking about. We must have spending cuts, and frankly, I'd like to have that line-item veto. And if the Congress can't do it, let the President have a shot at it. And I'd like to see the balanced budget amendment. In the House it missed by seven votes. It would have disciplined the executive branch that I head, and it surely would have disciplined the legislative branch. And I think that kind of disciplinary measure would be good for the United States. We like what works, and our budget process is simply not working.

It was one of the most famous Democratic Presidents, Franklin Roosevelt, who said, about some 50 years ago: "The future lies with those wise political leaders who realize that the great public is interested more in government than in politics." The Republican Party is ready to govern in the United States Congress, and Allen Kolstad is ready to be your next United States Senator.

As for my part, I like my line of work. I like the challenges that face me. I like the fact that Barbara Bush is spelling out a lot of fundamental values that we all believe in for the country. I've dwelt here on what we must do and the things we're trying to do on the domestic side, but when you look around the world, you can't help but wonder and be excited about the changes that are taking place all through Eastern Europe and in our own hemisphere -- changes toward democracy and freedom. It's a very exciting time to be the President of the United States. But we cannot succeed without your help, the help of the American people.

And once again -- we had a little reception earlier on that Barbara put on and then one that Allen arranged, and I couldn't help but feel the warmth and the genuineness of the people of this country and, in this instance, the people of Montana, as I shook hands with several who were nice enough to greet me once again to this State.

I like my line of work, but I need help. Send Allen Kolstad to the United States Senate.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 8:11 a.m. at the Billings Plaza Trade Center.

George Bush, Remarks at a Fundraising Breakfast for Senatorial Candidate Allen Kolstad in Billings, Montana Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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