Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks on the 10th Anniversary of Mission Viejo, California

May 23, 1976

Thank you very, very much, Dick. I could have used these rules and orders in the House of Representatives for the 25 years that I had the privilege and honor of serving there. I think these rules might be quite helpful if I sent it up to Capitol Hill right now. [Laughter]

Thank you, Dick, Congressman Chuck Wiggins, Phil Riley, Wendy Edgren, honored guests, ladies and gentlemen:

I really look forward to being with you here today in this wonderful community. Mission Viejo is an exceptional community. What a great high school marching band, and the drill team is awfully good, too, and I hope to hear the Diablos again in Washington next month.

Being a swimmer myself, I'm impressed by the number of championship swimmers that Mission Viejo produces. And I'm gambling that you will prove it again in the Olympic trials this summer.

As one of the new towns in the United States, Mission Viejo stands out because of your tremendous community being built entirely with private funds. And I congratulate Phil and all of the others who have had a part in doing this without the aid and assistance--with the initiative of all of you in this tremendous location in this wonderful atmosphere. I enjoy the opportunity of being with you this afternoon.

During the 10 years that you have grown, I understand you have handled your own problems with your own money, and boy, you can be proud of that. What you have accomplished here is what I have been trying to do with the Federal Government. You have been a little more successful than I have. [Laughter] But what we have been trying to do is keep the government from interfering with the free enterprise system and allowing people to do what they want to do with their own lives.

A little more than a year ago our economy was in the worst recession in 40 years. Unemployment was climbing, inflation was running at a rate of better than 12 percent per year. The prophets of doom and gloom were arguing that the only way to solve the problem was massive Federal spending programs. They said that would save us. I didn't agree, and I don't agree today.

I opposed more and more, bigger and bigger Federal spending programs. I am sure they would have created more deficits, and I am certain they would have added to our inflationary pressures. And we didn't want that under any circumstances.

Because we kept the lid on spending, because we had great faith in the free enterprise system, we have reduced the annual rate of inflation in the last 22 months by over 50 percent. We have increased national employment by 3,300,000 jobs in the last 12 months. We have broken the back of the recession. We are on the road to rising prosperity, renewed trust, and lasting peace.

Our government should spend less and tax less at the Federal level, and that's what I'm trying to do for us. Last year we reduced Federal income taxes, and I have proposed an additional tax cut of $10 billion to take effect on July 1. This proposal would increase the personal exemption from $750 per person to $1,000 per person. That would achieve some equity in the Federal tax system.

But in order to do that, let's be honest and frank. We have to keep a tight control on governmental spending, a balanced budget. If we do that, we can have more tax reductions by 1979. And I want to make sure in the process that we make your tax dollars work as hard for you as you did for them.

There is no reason that the Federal Government should continue to grow. The larger it gets, the more distance between it and between the citizen that it is supposed to serve.

Most of us work hard for our living. Most of you have worked from early youth, and your children are beginning to participate in the work ethic. And the financial decisions affecting you and your family should be made right here, not by some distant Federal Government.

I'm working to restore the local government for local people. You have a better capability, a wiser judgment to make these decisions right here in Mission Viejo than some bureaucrat on the banks of the Potomac.

In this Bicentennial Year, our challenge is to foster the basic appreciation we have always had for the American home, the American family, the moderation of the relationship of the government to the governed, and continued American strength throughout the world.

In the first century of our great country, our government was devoted to the establishment of a strong and stable and fair and equitable system of government. It was a unique experiment in self-government by the people.

In the second century of our country, it was a century of industrial progress in which America became the most powerful nation in the history of mankind. As we became the most productive nation, we found that our growth created the problems of bigness. In the process, the individual became dominated by huge institutions of all kinds--mass government, mass labor, mass industry, and mass education.

As I see the third century of our wonderful country, I see it as one in which we return responsibility to the individual, to encourage all Americans to help themselves. And as I travel around America it's easy to see most of us want a renewed. personal responsibility to each other and to the Nation as a whole as active citizenry makes a vital nation. It may sound awfully trite, but we have been letting Uncle Sam do it far, far too long. I'm for cutting out the unbearable Washington red tape, rolling up our own sleeves and doing it for ourselves.

Some Americans have been disillusioned and some have become skeptical, and I can understand it. But I have found, as I travel from one State to another, that the great majority of us want to make things right in America. What we want to do is best for our society and for our country. We want to live up to that great heritage that our ancestors gave us, as a free and independent country and free and independent people. In response to that desire I want to devote my efforts to confidence and trust in our institutions, a task that must succeed if we are to rebuild our faith in the future for our children, our grandchildren and the country that we love so much.

We've made a good start. We will work together, you and I. What I promise you I will deliver. In return, I need your help, your simple strength, discipline, maturity, truth.

Let me say this in conclusion: Certain things are temporary; some things are permanent. In 200 years our beliefs have not changed in America. This is still a country where the government serves and the people rule. Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 6:08 p.m. at the Mission Viejo High School. In his opening remarks, he referred to Phillip J. Riley, developer of the community, Wendy Edgren, chairman of the Mission Viejo Cultural Heritage Committee, and Richard A. Lowcock, chairman of the Mission Viejo Municipal Advisory Council, who presented the President with a copy of the Congressional Code of Ethics, dated 1851.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks on the 10th Anniversary of Mission Viejo, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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