Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan

July 05, 1984

I had a few notes here for some remarks based on very little information, but some in anticipation of what I was going to see. I thank you and Roger and Howard and all of you who have been giving this demonstration and this look into the future. All I can say is, I like what I see.

You know, Mark Twain, we all know, was one time reported dead. And he replied with a statement that his death had been exaggerated. [Laughter] And I couldn't help but recall that with regard to some of the people who have been counting this industry out and announcing its demise. And they're going to be proven, I'm sure, as wrong as the doomcriers who were going to bury Mark Twain.

I know there are some very distinguished—I see some very distinguished faces around this table. You represent an enormous productive power, and your industry is vital to the health, the vitality of our country. And it isn't taken for granted by anyone in this administration. Unlike some socialist countries, the future is not in the hands of government; it's in your hands.

And I was going to come here and suggest or urge you to be bold. You have been bolder than I was even going to suggest. Your vision and confidence are crucial if America is to meet the great challenges that face us in the—and remain prosperous-in the eighties. And many of us here remember, I'm sure, when American business was untouched by war and was the undisputed leader of the world. But that era is over. Government, industry, and labor are operating under different rules in a much more competitive world. And all of us will have to do better if we're to remain an industrial and economic force such as we have been.

But I have seen enough to know I don't have to tell you that. You're already doing it. And you're already working together, which I was going to say would be admirable if it was done.

Something we've tried to end, which I never could understand when it was prevalent, was the adversarial relationship between government and business in our country. And those in government should want business to succeed, should want new workers to be hired and want you to make a profit. We're trying to create an economic climate of success by bringing inflation under control at our end and holding down taxes and unnecessary regulation. But, as I say, it isn't just up to government. Ingenuity, courage, and hard work were the essential ingredients of the American success story, and I think what is happening here is in keeping with that great entrepreneurial spirit.

With the Saturn concept, as I've seen, General Motors is heading into the future not just with an idea of survival, but with an idea of triumph, and that's the attitude that all American business should have. And I think we're seeing more than that—more of that spirit that's cropping up all over our country.

I've always had a faith that American business, working in cooperation with American labor, can meet and beat the combination [competition]. 1 And I say that I also speak from your standpoint; I think I'm the only one that's ever held this job who is a lifetime union member— [laughter] —and six times president of my own union.

1 White House correction.

And I have seen such miracles so far, and I feel like I've just been to the Pentagon-with the Chiefs of Staff over there, I can't talk about that, either— [laughter] —so I can't talk about all that I've seen.

But as inspiring as all of this and this great technological advancement that I've seen was that great advance that's on that planning board over there. And I just—well, what I've seen has reaffirmed my faith in American business and American industry. And, my goodness, I can't wait for the next summit meeting. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 1:35 p.m. in Design Studio 3 at the center, after several briefings on the company's Saturn project. Following his remarks, he was given the opportunity to test drive a prototype of the experimental automobile on the grounds of the center.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives