Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Nevada Republican Party Rally in Las Vegas

October 28, 1982

The President. Wait till I go home and tell Nancy I played Las Vegas with [entertainers] Wayne Newton and Bob Goulet. I did play it once— [laughter] —back in a whole 'nother life.

But I'm delighted to be here, and candidate-Senator Hecht, if these people do what I think they're going to do, I thank you for your kind words, and I thank all of you for a great Western welcome. Governor List, Chic Hecht, Peggy Cavnar, Barbara Vucanovich—it's an honor to be here supporting your candidacies, and it's a pleasure to breathe deep and know that Washington is thousands of miles away.

I'm sorry that Senator Laxalt couldn't be with us today. The only thing I ask of Nevada is to send us another Senator just like him—Chic Hecht.

You know, some folks in the East don't really understand how ingrained the pioneer spirit is out here. Quitting wasn't something that our forefathers dwelled upon. And although the going was rough-sometimes the mountains were steeper and the deserts were hotter than expected-they weren't the kind of people to turn back. And that same spirit still thrives out here on the Nevada plains. On November 2d the people of Nevada, just like honest, hard-working people in the rest of the country, are going to give a message to the quitters and the Washington gloom-and-doomers. And that message is going to be: Stay the course.

We charted a new direction, because things were not right with our country. You know it, and I know it. And as much as some politicians want the American people to forget what it was like 2 years ago, we're not forgetting, and we won't go back.

Let me ask you: Does anyone here really want to go back to the double-digit inflation of 2 years ago?
Audience. No!

The President. Does anyone want to go back to the 21 1/2-percent interest rate of 2 years ago?
Audience. No!

The President. And does anyone want to go back to the runaway government taxing, spending, and borrowing that brought our country to the brink of disaster?
Audience. No!

The President. Well, the Running Rebels are ready.

You know, when we got to Washington, this country was in the fast lane headed toward economic oblivion. The folks who'd been at the wheel were more reckless than the Dukes of Hazzard 1 — [laughter] —they'd been spending, taxing, inflating, and borrowing as if there were no tomorrow. But there was one thing different than them and the Dukes of Hazzard: The Dukes of Hazzard are funny when they do it. And there wasn't anything funny about what was going on in Washington.

1 Television Program.

When you go into the voting booth on Tuesday, November the 2d, think about what's being offered. Runaway spending is finally under control. We cut an annual growth rate of—annual Federal spendings from 17 percent by almost two-thirds-down to 6 percent. You only have to listen to the opposition to know that no matter how they try to disguise it, what they're talking about is reopening the floodgates.

And more spending means more taxes. Taxation has been called the art of plucking the feathers without killing the bird, but before we got there the folks in Washington didn't seem to know when to stop plucking. We've put in place the first real tax cut rate—or rate tax—rate cut—it works both ways, I guess— [laughter] —in almost 20 years. And when you go into the voting booth, remember that those who oppose our program did everything in their power to stop us from cutting your taxes, and they still want to take those tax cuts away from you. They're aiming right now at the remaining installment—10 percent in the income tax that is due next July 1st—they want to cancel that.

And what about inflation? When we got to Washington, it was public enemy number one, running at double digits for 2 years back to back, hitting 18 percent in January of 1980. Well, for 9 months so far of 1982, it is 4.8 percent. And you know, there's an interesting coincidence about that. The last time it was 4.8 percent was when the last Republican Governor [President], Jerry Ford, was leaving Washington. They haven't gotten their hands on it yet-on the other side.

Now, let me tell you what that reduction means to you in inflation. If we'd let prices continue going up the way they were, keep the same rate that they had, an average family of four would now be paying $25 more a month for their groceries, and almost all of your everyday expenses would be substantially higher.

But what about those of you who are retired? If we had permitted inflation to continue as it was, a pensioner on a fixed income of $8,000 would now be $640 poorer in purchasing power. I don't have to tell you what that means to an older person trying to make ends meet. Because of what we've done, your pension is going farther. It buys more food and the necessities of life. Older people, as a result, are more independent.

Today, with inflation dropping and with the upward trend of the stock market, billions of dollars have been added to the Value of the assets of this country's pension funds, making those pensions stronger and more secure.

So, when you go into that voting booth, remember that those who oppose our program would return to policies that produced one of the worst inflations in the Nation's history. Do you want to pay more for groceries? Do you want pension money to be worth less?
Audience. No!

The President. Make sure that your friends and your neighbors know that that's what this election is all about.
Audience member. What about jobs?

The President. What we've done is lay the foundation—we'll get to jobs—what we've done is lay the foundation for solid, inflation-proof economic progress.

Yes, unemployment remains too high. It was too high when we got here. It'll be too high as long as there is one American who wants to work and can't find a job. But it would be no favor to the unemployed to go back to the policies that knocked the wind out of our economy in the first place. We're building a lasting recovery that will mean real and lasting jobs.

There are other industrial countries that have continued down that economic path that we left 21 months ago. And today they're far worse off than us, suffering both high unemployment and high inflation with little relief in sight. By contrast, America is heading into a period of growth and stability. All we need is the courage to stick with it and get the job done.

The positive direction of the financial markets underscores this, as does the drop in the interest rates. Rates that were going through the roof before we took office are now down to 12 percent. In fact, some banks are at 11 1/2, some at 11 3/4. And they'll soon be breathing new life—those lower interest rates—into farming, construction, and the auto industry.

And those telling us that our program can't work—politicians who'd rather exploit our trouble than make things better—ought to realize that they're yelling down a blind alley. Their negativism is being drowned out by the ever-building buzz of economic recovery. Real wages are up. And, in addition to real wages, retail sales are up; housing starts are up; the value of the dollar is up more than it has been in the last 10 years; productivity is up; research and development spending is up; venture capital investments in small business are at a near-record high; new IRA accounts are pumping some 30 to 35 billion dollars into savings and investment for jobs.

Lasting economic progress doesn't happen overnight, and in 21 months you can't cure problems that were more than 20 years in the making. But the gloom-and-doomers should wake up. The train is pulling out of the station, and they're still complaining that the engine wouldn't start.

Those doing all the criticizing had their chance. In the 4 years before we got to Washington, they had it all. They had the whole enchilada. They controlled the Presidency, the United States Senate, the House of Representatives, all the committees of Congress, and the executive branch and hundreds of agencies and departments. They virtually had a free hand, and all they could think to do with that free hand was stick it in your pocket. [Laughter]

Well, they had their chance and failed. And that's why this election is so important. We're headed in the right direction, but we've got to make sure that we're not derailed before we reach our destination. And that will take all the help that we can get. We need strong voices in the House that will speak up for responsibility and common sense—voices like those of Peggy Cavnar and Barbara Vucanovich. They'll provide Nevadans with the responsible and articulate representation you deserve, and they'll give Tip O'Neill fits. [Laughter]

And don't you think that it's about time that you had a Senator who doesn't spend all of his time canceling out Paul Laxalt's vote? Chic Hecht will be a steady hand holding the reins, a man we can count on. Along with Peggy and Barbara, he offers Nevadans a chance to play a significant role in restoring vitality and opportunity to our country.

And remember, this is not a fight between Republicans and Democrats. It's a choice between those who are building a better tomorrow versus those who only 2 years ago, when they held the reins of government, were suggesting that we should lower our expectations. Do you remember those litanies, those songs they gave us that we'd have to learn to live with lower standards of living, that America's best days were behind us, we were entering an era of scarcity?

And while putting our economic house in order, we've also taken the first steps to give back to the States and to the people the powers that have been usurped by Washington. It's bad enough that the Federal Government owns most of the land of your State, but in recent years it's been trying to own the people also. We want to bring government back closer to the people. And if that's going to work, we need strong leadership at the State level. And that's why I'm proud that Governor Bob List is with us today—he and these other State office candidates. He's been a source of strength and encouragement in our efforts. Back when I was Governor of California, I got into a habit of relying on Governors from Nevada. We got along just fine, and I hope you'll reelect Bob, because it's a habit I don't want to break.

Here in the West people have never doubted America's potential. You know that with freedom and faith in the future we can overcome any obstacle. It's as true today as when our forefathers rolled up their sleeves and turned a desert into a thriving State and a bastion of progress. Together there's nothing we can't accomplish. And together we can leave our children an America as strong and free and filled with opportunity as the one that was passed on to us by those Americans who came before us. I've told audiences all across this country—and I'm so happy to see so many young people and youngsters out here today, because they're what this election is all about—that's our challenge and our most sacred responsibility. And together we can do it.

Once again, I say I'm delighted to be here. And, please, send these people, part of them, back to your own State capital, and send those others—Chic Hecht and Barbara and Peggy—send them to Washington, where we need them so much. And we're going to continue on that road and make things right for America.

All right. Thank you, and God bless you. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 5:08 p.m. in the Rotunda Arena at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Following the rally, the President went to the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas, where he remained overnight.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Nevada Republican Party Rally in Las Vegas Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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