Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Rally for Texas Republican Candidates in Irving

October 11, 1982

The President. Thank you very much, Jim. Reverend clergy, the officials of our party, our national committeewoman, the others who are here on the platform, and I want to say my thank you to the Apache Belles for that wonderful performance. I'm just sorry that with the geography, more of you couldn't have a clearer view of them.

It's great to be—incidentally, you know every once in a while, someone asks you why you campaign. Well, I just thought as I came walking down here between those two lines of those lovely young ladies, why not? [Laughter]

But it's great to be back in these parts, where the Texas spirit is every bit as big as your wide open sky. Now, if you think I'm just a visitor saying that for possible political profit, let me point out I could have said "our wide open sky," because it was just about 25 years ago that I was commissioned an honorary citizen of the Lone Star State. So, you have to believe me when I say Texas is number one in hospitality, and a lot of other things, also.

You probably know that story about the young fellow that once asked a stranger if he was from Texas, and the kid's father kind of took him in hand and he said, "Son, I want you always to remember one thing: If a man comes from Texas, he'll tell you without being asked"— [laughter] —"and if he doesn't come from Texas, there's no need to embarrass him." [Laughter]
But I want to say a few words about your Texas stars that we need to help us finish the job that we began less than 2 years ago. In 1980, we pledged to work for policies that would strengthen the values crucial to a strong, successful country. You know what they are, because here in Texas words like self-reliance, personal initiative, opportunity and, yes, as Jim said, love of family and neighborhood, and patriotism, and belief in God, describe everyday facts of life.

There's a man here whose philosophy and voting record reflect a life-long commitment to those bedrock values that made America great. He loves this State. He has put together a strong campaign. He has closed a big gap in a hurry. I believe in him, and with your all-out support, Jim Collins can and will be the next elected Senator from the State of Texas.

And I have to say this: Jim's opponent talks like a Texan, but when he's back in Washington, he doesn't vote like one. Wouldn't it be great if John Tower, who does such a fine job for Texas, could work with a colleague, his fellow Senator, who reinforces his vote, instead of with someone who cancels it out?

We're hoping, too, that you will go all out for your excellent House candidates. We need them in Washington. And let me say a few words about your leader who's out campaigning and couldn't be here. He's going to have a debate, and he told me that some place in the debate he was going to find a place to say, "There you go again." [Laughter] His leadership, his competence—this is what he's all about. In this State, it isn't good enough to say that Texas has one of the toughest, most effective Governors in the country; you have to say Texas will elect the best Governor, and that means making sure Bill Clements stays right there where he is doing his great job. [Speaking to Jim Collins:] I almost nominated you for Governor just then. [Laughter]

Now, and this goes not only for these congressional candidates who are here and your incumbents, and sending them back, also your State constitutional officers—Allen Clarke is here running for treasurer.

You and I know what it means to be in the minority party. Our candidates need Republican and Democratic votes. I'm confident we'll continue to attract that broad support. The plain truth is rank-and-file Democrats by the millions in this country don't share the bigger-and-bigger-government-is-best philosophy of the Democratic leadership in Washington—the kind of leadership that Jim Collins was talking about. Millions of grass roots Democrats have something the leaders of their party wouldn't recognize if it was sitting on their nose, and that is plain common sense. You know, when you mention common sense in Washington, you cause a kind of a traumatic shock. [Laughter]

These rank-and-file Democrats I'm talking about—and that we must count on for help and support because we have so much in common with them—they know you can't drink yourself sober, you can't spend yourself rich, and you can't pump the prime without priming the pump. You know something? I said that backwards. I didn't say that right at all. [Laughter] You can't prime the pump without pumping the prime is the way it should have been said the first time. It's a tongue-twister. [Laughter]

The problems of overspending, big taxing, and runaway bureaucracy that drained America's strength didn't just begin 20 months ago. You and I know these problems have been building for at least 20 years. In the 4 years before we took office, those who are now our biggest critics had total power—the White House and both Houses of Congress. They had the whole enchilada. [Laughter] And it was then that the problems became acute and nearly brought America down.

When Gerald Ford left office in January 1977, inflation was 4.8 percent. The prime interest rate was under 7 percent. You could get a home mortgage for 9 percent, and consumers could afford auto loans.

But then America took a giant step backward, spending and taxing like there was no tomorrow, opening the floodgates of printing press money—it increased in the last 6 months of 1980 faster than it has ever increased in our history. Those in power managed to create a crisis unlike America had ever seen before. When we took office in 1981, we faced double-digit inflation, high unemployment, 21 1/2-percent prime interest rate, nearly a trillion-dollar debt, and the highest peacetime tax burden we had ever known.

Now, lest I be accused of exaggerating, or even being partisan, let me quote a Democratic Senator from Massachusetts. [Laughter] In May of 1980, Teddy Kennedy warned that under Jimmy Carter America was sliding into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Of course, he was a candidate himself then when he said that, and he didn't add that for years he has continued to be one of the biggest spenders in the United States Senate.

The bottom line in 1980 was an unacceptable decline in the wealth of the working families and senior citizens of America—the very people that our critics claim they care so much about. Government was growing like toadstools after a rainstorm, spinning out of control like a washing machine that's out of cycle. Washington grew fat by making everyone else poorer. Washington has a habit of doing that. Federal spending increased by 17 percent in 1980 alone. Not many Texas blue-collar workers, working mothers, or pensioners saw their earnings, pensions, or savings grow by 17 percent in 1980.

It's up to us to make one thing plain in this election: There is no morality in those big taxing, big spending policies which brought so much misery to so many people. Inflation is the greatest enemy of all the people and of our hopes for jobs and growth. It's at the root of the problems that we're trying to solve today.

How did it all come about? Well, the answer to that takes us back to the Great Depression, when Government assumed a role that was entirely new to it. Government launched programs which were, frankly, experimental. And many of them did serve a purpose, because they eased the misery of people for whom there was no other answer to their problem. But it was actually not those programs but World War II that ended the Depression. When the war was over, the Government went right back to its old habits and continued to administer the medicine it had applied before the war, but the patient then was no longer in need of that medicine. Many of us had believed in those prewar remedies and, indeed, as I say, some had served us well. But in more normal times, we came to see that many of these programs were distorting the balance between the different levels of government and working against the economy.

But the leadership of the Democratic Party remained addicted to a policy of government intervention, and we're paying dearly for those past mistakes. For one thing, as I said, there is the trillion-dollar debt. The Government this year must spend $110 billion just to cover the interest on that debt. We wouldn't be worrying about a deficit if we hadn't wallowed in red ink for 21 of the last 22 years. And we wonder why it's been so hard to bring interest rates down.

Now, far too many people are out of work, and I share their ache and frustration. Every American should be aware of the economic chaos which created today's needless results, so we won't repeat our past mistakes. It's excruciating to me that there is not a quicker, easier cure for this terrible economic illness. But it was a long time coming, and it is worldwide. Indeed, we have been in the longest sustained period of worldwide inflation in the history of man. Many other countries went down the same garden path of spend, tax, and borrow. The further they went, the worse off they are today. Our administration is determined to cure the disease, not just treat the symptoms with make-work, quick fixes. And I pledge to you today that I will not be satisfied until every American who wants a job can find a job.

From our first moment in office, we've been working around the clock to make America well again. And we're opposed by those who have never given up their belief that government's economic fine tuning and tinkering is superior to the free marketplace and the abilities of a free people to run their own lives.

Well, let me tell you something. Despite their resistance, we are beginning to succeed. We've pulled America back from the edge of disaster. Yes, I'd hoped that we'd be further along by now. But make no mistake, we're better off than we were 20 months ago. The problems that were destroying America in 1980 are being confronted today, and they're paving the way for recovery.

Our first emergency priority was to beat down double-digit inflation. Until people are convinced that inflation will come down and stay down, they'll demand higher rates of interest so the dollars they lend won't lose value. Expectation of double-digit inflation caused interest rates to zoom, as I said, to 21½ percent. High interest rates made it impossible for families to get home mortgages, for consumers to carry auto loans, for firms to modernize machines to keep product prices competitive. Double-digit inflation and high interest rates crippled the economy's ability to provide the jobs our people must have, even as they squeezed the earnings and buying power, forcing more families to seek a second income in the job market.

Our program has been on the books now for just 1 year and 11 days. The inflation rate that hit a peak of 18 percent in January of 1980 has been beaten down to 5.1 percent for the first 8 months of this year. Experts said it couldn't be done. For those experts, I've got news. We're going to do even better. The prime rate has dropped 40 percent, from 21 1/2 down to 13. And on Friday, the Mellon Bank announced it was going further, that tomorrow it will be 12 3/4. And that isn't the last word—
[At this point, a 10-year-old girl fainted in the front row of the audience. She was attended to by paramedics. ]

All right? We've got a doctor here. The young lady that I think that—all right. They tell me it's going to be all right.

The Federal Reserve, as you know, has dropped the discount rate from 10 to 9% [percent] just a few days ago.

Progress against inflation and the first real tax cut for everyone in nearly 20 years have produced more savings, higher real earnings, and more purchasing power. Families' paychecks are buying more.

We hear so much in Washington about fairness and compassion. Well, we're providing compassion that never existed under the policies of the past. A family of four today on a fixed income of about $20,000 is about $1,500 better off than if inflation and taxes had stayed at the 1980 rate. But take it below that, to the family with a poverty-level income. They are $500 better off than they were at the previous rate of inflation alone, because they don't pay taxes.

Some decisions were not easy. It was going against the wind of the times to curb runaway spending. Likewise, when we went to bat for taxpayers when others before us had refused, we revived an old idea that the earnings of the people of Texas belong to them, not to government handymen in Washington, D.C. And here's what that tax commitment means to you and your family. As of when the third installment comes in July next year, it will have been a 25-percent tax rate cut. We are then indexing the tax brackets to end the bracket creep when you get a cost-of-living pay raise—doesn't improve you any, except it pushes you into a higher tax bracket; a reduction in the marriage penalty; an increase in the child care credit for working mothers; new incentives for retirement savings; raising the estate tax exemption to $600,000 for farmers and family businesses-and, of even greater help, there will no longer be any estate tax for a surviving spouse. It's not right that widows and orphans must lose a business or a farm that generations of love and toil had created, just in order to pay the government a tax because of death. And now they won't. Of course, according to our opponents, there's no compassion in this.

Our program, I think, is beginning to work. It's bringing down inflation. It's bringing down interest rates. It's increasing purchasing power, and it's promoting new savings. It's doing the things that must be done to clear away wreckage dumped in our laps by today's Monday morning quarterbacks. Yes, we will have recovery from recession, but we will not have another counterfeit recovery like before that sent inflation and interest rates right back through the roof. Unlike those before us, we're going to get the job done, and for once, we're going to get it done right.

Now, you heard the charge that our program has failed and that we must change course. Well, I have one question: Has anyone heard a single proposal by our critics who say that, as to what they would do instead?
Audience. No!

The President. Not one. They constantly criticize what we're doing, but they've offered no real alternative. If what we're doing is wrong, how do they explain the tremendous surge of investment in our equity and bond markets in the last few weeks—from small investors to those who manage billions of dollars, including workers' pension funds?

The world knows that America is on her way back. And I'm pleased to announce a little news item right here. It's just happened. At the closing bell of the stock market on Wall Street a few minutes ago, the stock market was over the magic 1,000.

Now, so some of my friends in the press, if they get a later figure won't jump on it, let me point out— [laughter] —the bell had rung, the market was closed, but the tape-there was so much trading, the tape was 4 1/2 minutes behind. Now, in those 4 1/2 minutes, if somebody sells some stocks or the price comes down, well, they take a profit. But it did pass the 1,000 mark at the bell.

Investors have watched inflation fall and interest rates drop for months. Their commitment to put cold, hard cash on the line signals a strong vote of confidence in America's future. People are beginning to understand that we mean business in this battle against inflation, and they're absolutely right.

Markets will go up and they'll go down, but the recent trend has been dramatically higher. That's important, because the stock market has traditionally been a leading indicator of what's coming down the road.

Unfortunately, unemployment is not. It's one of the last indicators to turn around. Until it does, we'll provide assistance with extended unemployment benefits. Last week, I signed an export bill that can create several hundred thousand jobs. And this week, I will sign legislation for a program to train up to a million unemployed people or more per year, for permanent, real, private sector jobs.

I think it's tragic that the House leadership recessed to campaign, leaving so much unfinished business behind, as Jim Collins told you. Enterprise zones, we've been trying to get for almost 2 years, to create jobs in the inner cities; tuition tax credits; regulatory reform; programs to crack down on crime and make our streets safe again. Let me ask you, don't you think that rather than simply campaign and complain about deficits, it's about time they proved they were willing to make the decisions that would bring down deficits?

Well, as Jim told you, they voted down the constitutional amendment to balance the Federal budget. They voted against the will of you, the people, and the financial security of every family in America.

And I just told a few people before coming out here today that immediately after that voting down of the balanced budget amendment, which all the polls showed that the people, about 80 percent of you wanted that amendment, he appeared on national television—Jim Wright appeared on national television and smilingly announced that, and then said, "Well, if the President wants a balanced budget, why doesn't he present one?"

Well, Jim Wright has been one of the prime leaders in increasing the budgets, the two budgets that I have been able to send to the Congress since I've been there.-He has made them bigger with added spending than the budgets that I requested. So, I think there's a little hypocrisy in Mr. Wright's statement about the balanced budget amendment.
People don't want delay and demagoguery. They want action, to reduce the burden of that terrible trillion-dollar debt on their children and grandchildren, and it's up to us to provide it. And I'm so happy that today, just like every day where I've been in this campaign, to see so many young people on hand, because they're what this campaign is all about, and the kind of country they're going to live in.

Now, you know, I have to say, of course, there are some things that are current today and sweeping the country that I haven't had time to get familiar with—Pac Man, for example. [Laughter] I don't know about him. I asked about it, and somebody told me that it was a round thing that gobbled up money. [Laughter] I thought that was Tip O'Neill. [Laughter]

But I want to make a request. If you believe, as I do, that too many people in Washington are out of step, if you believe that we need reforms like the balanced budget amendment, then please send us a Congress that will pass these programs so we can make this great country of ours number one once again. If the liberals do have an alternative, it's the same one they've always had, and maybe that's why they're not mentioning it. They mean to raise your taxes and give government a blank check to spend more money, and we've been down that road now for more than 20 years.

We're on a new road now. Unless we have the courage to stay on course and lick inflation for good, we'll never have lasting recovery. Our problems will grow worse than before. And that's the sad, sorry history of past decades—lost nerve and squandered opportunities.

Well, I intend to stay the course. I need your support. I want you to promise me that you will mobilize an army across this State to get out the vote for a great Republican victory on November 2d. And let us remember that we Republicans have a rendezvous in this city in 1984. Let us remember that we have a mission to renew all the dreams and opportunities that our nation was placed on this Earth to provide. And let us remember the best way to make those dreams come true is to elect Jim Collins to the Senate, your fine candidates to the House, George Strake as Lieutenant Governor, Allen Clarke as treasurer, and to send Bill Clements back to your capital as Governor of this great State.
Thank you very much, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 3:14 p.m. at Wild Briar Farm, an insurance company training facility owned by Representative James M. Collins, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate from Texas. The President's remarks at the rally for Republican volunteers followed remarks and an introduction by Representative Collins.

Prior to the rally, the President attended a Fund-raising reception for Representative Collins at the farm. Following the rally, the President returned to Washington, D.C.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Rally for Texas Republican Candidates in Irving Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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