Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Republican Fundraising Reception in New York, New York

November 06, 1981

Thank you very much, Chairman-George, I'm very delighted to be here. I'd be more delighted if Nancy were here with me, but she's temporarily grounded by the bug.

George Clark, let me just say I thank you and the Empire State. I think that you were made for each other, because George stands as tall as any man I know. George was a friend and a supporter from the very beginning. And then when others advised us to write off New York in 1980, George stood up and said, "No, we can win this State." And we listened to him, and you know the rest.

Now, right down here we have some other people that you can be very proud of that have been giving us invaluable support in our economic recovery program. One of them, and a real leader in that support, was Jack Kemp, along with Barber Conable. Now, Barber Conable isn't here tonight, but your Senator D'Amato is and Representative Jerry Solomon and Norman Lent and other Congressmen are here. And they've been having more fun up on the Hill than they've had in years past, I think.

Our goal is to bring all the people together in a campaign for economic progress. I don't know if anyone has pointed out to you what the tax bill we passed will actually mean to the people of the Empire State. Forty-two billion dollars that otherwise would have gone to Washington will remain in the pockets of your taxpayers. Nearly $2,500 for every man, woman, and child in the State of New York.

Our party believes in growth, in spending restraints, a sound dollar, lower taxes, and getting rid of inflation. We want to create more permanent jobs and real hope for a better future.

Now, a neighbor of yours recently delivered this same message. He told his fellow citizens that he would work to put the future of their State back where it belongs, back in their hands. And while we may have to wait a few weeks, I guess, for a recount to take place, just a formality, we just may be able, in a few weeks, to salute Tom Kean, the second Republican in 28 years to be elected Governor of New Jersey.

And we don't have to stop there. George was absolutely right. If we keep working together, we can plan for a reunion one year from now, a reunion to celebrate economic recovery, new legislative victories, and the election of your new Governor, the new Republican Governor of New York.

Much is riding on our economic program, and we can succeed if we remember a few facts. First, we came to Washington with a plan to rebuild this economy. And that plan is on track, even though the train was a little late leaving the station, later than we had planned or wanted.

What we call supply side economics is just now being born. If you listen closely, you can hear the spank and then the cry. But only one-fifth of the personal income tax rate reductions are in place, and they will not be fully in place before 1983. The incentives to stimulate new savings, in IRA and Keogh retirement accounts, will not go into effect before January 1982, nor will the reduction of the maximum tax on income, intended to coax investors out of their tax shelters. Important incentives for business to stimulate new investment and production will also begin in the next few months of 1982, and then they'll be phased in over the next several years.

Those Monday morning quarterbacks who insist our program hasn't worked are a little too anxious. They're Monday morning quarterbacks, but they are doing the quarterbacking on Friday night; they're not waiting. It makes you wonder if some people just don't really want our program to fail, if they're not really rooting for recession and misery on Main Street. They just can't face discovering that their tax and tax, spend and spend philosophy over all these years didn't work, doesn't work, and won't work.

Whenever I hear these rhetorical attacks made against our program, a question pops into my mind. Where on Earth have these people been'? Who controlled the Congress for 26 straight years? Who passed every law, every tax, and piled up the major part of our trillion dollar national debt? It wasn't us.

Our economic problems didn't begin on January 20th, 1981, but we can start to solve them if we stick to our plan. Now, I've been disturbed lately by a lot of talk that our administration is thinking of changing that plan, that some of the new estimates, born of high interest rates and the fact that reducing inflation faster than we'd anticipated has actually reduced our revenue, has caused us to at least think of pushing the panic button. Well, don't you believe it. We're going to keep right on asking the Congress for more spending cuts until we get government costs down to within government's revenues.

A balanced budget has never been an end in itself, justifying any means. We never agreed to balance the budget on the backs of the taxpayers the way the last administration tried to do it. We have always believed that a balanced budget must result from our spending and tax reductions, which together will shrink the size of government and expand the private economy, generating new tax revenues. Maybe it'll take a little longer than we'd planned, but we're not retreating 1 inch.

Now some people, many of them well-intentioned, have proposed a different way to reduce the deficit—through tax increases. The Congress has already raised taxes to record levels during the last two decades. Yet, during this entire period, the government just managed to balance one budget. The tax reductions we just passed, the largest in history, will do little more than offset the built-in increases already scheduled between now and 1984 by our opponents when they were there.

Let's be honest. If the deficit continues to grow, it will not be because the Congress cut taxes too much, but because it refused to cut spending enough. And there is room for more cuts. Let's get something straight. With the massive $35 billion budget cut, Federal spending is not less in 1982 than it was in 1981. We didn't cut the spending back to less than has been going on. It's almost $100 billion more. Our cuts were greater than any that have ever been made in the history of this country, but that seems that they're hardly horrendous or austere.

The Congress, we're told, can't significantly cut spending further, so we must dismantle our own program of needed incentives to accommodate them. Well, we made a commitment to the American people, and we're going to honor that commitment. Your tax reduction will not be rescinded. It will not be delayed, and it will not be reduced. We didn't select our program because it would be easy or quick or politically expedient. We chose it because it's the right solution to cure the economic mess that we're in.

You know, if you ask people in sports what enables them to come back late in the game and win it all, invariably their answer is the same. Some may call it desire or mental toughness or second effort or unfailing determination. What they're all talking about really can be summed up in one word—character.

Well, for nations in history, just as for individuals in everyday life, character determines destiny. America faces a test of character that may well decide its destiny. As I say, we never said it would be easy and we never said it would be quick. But if we make up our minds to pull together the American economy and all that we hold dear, we'll prevail.

So, let me leave you with the words of Herb Brooks, who was coach of the gold medal Olympic hockey team—and I think all of us remember that thrilling win in Canada—and now your New York Rangers, the coach of them. He was in the locker room at Lake Placid. His team was about to take the ice against the Russians. And Brooks told them they were born to play that game. He said, "You were meant to be here at this time. This is your moment."

And my fellow Republicans, I believe that we are here to lead this struggle to save our economy, that this is our moment, yours and mine.

With hard work, faith in God and in each other, we can and will rebuild this wonderful land. I wish I could make public or show all of you or tell you of some of the letters that I've been receiving that make you realize how much we can trust each other. One of them, just a little, short letter that I got the other day, that I had to have translated because it was written in braille. This man, in World War II, lost his eyesight in Germany 37 years ago, but he was writing a short letter to tell me that if it required cutting the benefits to people like himself, he was in favor of it if it would help our country get back to fiscal responsibility.

I've had letters from people telling me about the volunteer efforts that are going forth in their community, where they're picking up the slack. They see the things that need to be done, and they're writing letters and thanking us for having reminded them that they have this capacity to do these things on their own.

Now, I've had faith in all of you for a long time. And I know that we're going to do what has to be done, and I know it's going to work. So, thank you all for being here tonight in the cause that brings you together, and God bless you because we're on our way.

Note: The President spoke at 6:15 p.m. in the Hilton Room at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Republican Fundraising Reception in New York, New York Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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