Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks at a Utah Republican Party Picnic in Hooper

September 10, 1982

Thank you Dick Richards, Mrs. Orrin Hatch, Congressmen Jim Hansen and Dan Marriott, and our State chairman for the Republican Party, Chuck Ackerlow. It's good to be in Hooper, and it's good that all of you would come out here, particularly under these circumstances, for this meeting. You know, this is almost as big a crowd as an Osmond family reunion. [Laughter]

Now, just out and back here before I came up, I was made a member of the Weber County Sheriffs Mounted Posse. I'm greatly honored. I'm also relieved, because when they rode up I thought maybe I had done something wrong and was going to get put in the slammer. [Laughter] I thought Tip O'Neill might have arranged to take me out of circulation for awhile. [Laughter] But now with this badge that they gave me, maybe I can stop some of the highway robbery that's going on in Washington.

You know, it's always a pleasure to come here to your State, but this morning I had an extra pleasure. You know that I've talked for a long time about Americans doing for themselves, about the private initiative, about citizens' groups doing so many things that government thinks only it can do. And I have just toured a cannery—part of the program of the Latter-day Saints—they have for meeting the needs of people who must depend on the rest of us in times when they have to have help. And here were people working in this cannery, doing everything that has to be done—peeling of the tomatoes, and the sorting for those for juice and those for canning, and everything else, and they're all volunteers from the church—[noting a problem with the sound system]—Tip is here— [laughter] —doing all of that; all of the things that are canned. All of the produce is raised, again, by volunteers from the church, picked by the volunteers from the church, and then brought in, and the church distributes this to people who truly have a need for it. No costly bureaucratic overhead. And those who make this program possible, work at the same time to help the needy among you become self-supportive, while they care for them until that can take place.

It's an idea that once characterized our nation. It's an idea that should be reborn nationwide. It holds the key to renewal of America in the years ahead.

Now I know that you're delighted that we have Mrs. Hatch with us today. Maybe you're wondering where the Senator is. Well, we flew out here together yesterday afternoon, and he was to be here and would be speaking to you now. But last evening, word came that the Senate might be short of votes to sustain the veto that I had made of a spending bill, and a bill that I felt could begin to set a pattern for future budget-busting. And without any hesitation, Orrin climbed on a plane and went back to Washington where he was needed. So, your Senators are there, where they voted.

I regret to tell you that his trip proved fruitless. It would have required 31 votes to block the override of the veto. We got just 30 votes, so the veto was overridden. But I want to tell you something: They'd better practice at that because they're going to get a chance to do that every time they send an appropriation down that is over the budget—I'm going to veto it again.

One of the reasons I came here today-I'm sure you know how essential it is for all that we're trying to do in Washington and to tell you what Orrin is doing, your Senator, and why you should send him back there. His proposal for a constitutional amendment to balance the budget is one of the most important bills to pass the Senate this year. And I defy anyone to tell me why it doesn't make common sense that the Federal Government should start restricting its spending to be within the limits of its revenues.

Traditionally, the Labor and Human Resources Committee is the big spending operation in Washington. Well, with Orrin Hatch as chairman, that committee now has been responsible for 25 percent of the budget cuts that we got last year. And in addition to that, he serves on the Budget and Judiciary Committees and is a member of the Select Committee on Small Business. He was floor leader of the balanced budget amendment when it passed the Senate. I think he deserves a second term.

Working closely with Jake Garn, working together as they do, no State has a better representation than Utah in the United States Senate.

Now we've started to turn America to a different course. Do you want to continue on the course of reducing the size and cost and power of the government, or do you want to go back to the course we've been on for the last 30 years of tax-and-spend that led us into the present economic trouble? I think I know your answer.

Twenty months ago, spending was out of control. It was increasing at a rate of 17 percent a year. We've cut that rate in half in these 20 months. Inflation had been double digit, back to back, 2 years in a row. It was 12.4 percent 20 months ago. It's now 5.4 for so far this year, since January. You know what that would mean to a family, say, with an income of $15,000, a family of four? They have $1,000 more purchasing power just from the reduction of inflation than they would have had if inflation had stayed at 12.4.

Interest rates had reached the highest level in 100 years. The prime rate was 21 1/2. This more than anything else brought on the present recession. The prime rate is now 13 1/2.

In Kansas, yesterday, we were informed that one of the top half dozen Federal savings and loan organizations in the country, the Capital Federal Savings and Loan, there, had just brought down its own interest rates to 12 3/4 for people who wanted to borrow for mortgages and investments. And this is well below the going rate.

In Kentucky, 25 banks got together and made loans available at well below the ongoing or the present rate of interest for people who wanted to buy automobiles. Ninety-day Treasury notes a few weeks ago were 15 1/2 interest that we were paying on those notes. Today, it is less than 8. And with your votes, you helped bring that about. Don't stop now.

In the House of Representatives, where we're still a minority, Jim Hansen and Dan Marriott have been instrumental in reducing this burden of government. They played a major role in getting our economic recovery program through the House last year. In all the previous recessions since World War II, the Democrats' leadership had resorted to the quick fix, the artificial stimulants of government spending. And we've had only one balanced budget in 22 years. Our debt is more than a trillion dollars. And after each quick fix, it seemed that there would be a recovery. But in about 2 years, there would be another recession, and it would be deeper and worse than before, with more unemployment and a higher inflation rate.

Unemployment didn't just come upon us in this recession. Unemployment has actually been building in America for 15 years. It's averaged 7 percent or better since 1976. I campaigned in 1980 in cities in this country where the unemployment rate was already 20 percent. In Detroit, it was 18 percent. And I remember calling what we were seeing then a depression. And the then incumbent President corrected me publicly and said that there was a difference between a depression and a recession —and gave me one of the happier lines I had in the campaign, because I replied that, "Yes, I knew there was a difference. A recession was when your neighbor was unemployed; a depression was when you were unemployed; and recovery would come when he was unemployed." [Laughter]

But the answer lies in a solid recovery that is based on reduced government spending, on a reduction of the percentage of the peoples' earnings that government is taking in taxes, and incentives to get the wheels of industry turning again.

Now, our opponents, when we launched that economic recovery program that these two Congressmen helped so much with, as did Orrin and Jake Garn—Orrin Hatch and Jake Garn—our opponents said that the program was a failure. But they were a little ahead of themselves, because the program didn't go into effect until last October, and they were saying this in July and August and September.

Well, the first phase went in in October, and already I've told you of the changes that have taken place in inflation and the interest rates and so forth. But there are others. Last month, housing starts went up 34 percent. Four months in a row—we've had the economic indicators that indicate whether you're coming out of a recession-for 4 months in a row, they've been going up, and that hasn't happened for a long time. The real earnings of the people, discounting for inflation, the real earnings are going up and have been going up now for the first time in a number of years. The rate of personal savings has gone up above 7 percent.

We've been the lowest among the industrial savings [countries] in the ability of our people to save any of the money that they earn. What that means is billions of dollars over a period of time in the capital pool that can be called upon for investment, so that when government has to borrow for the deficit—we'll still continue for awhile-we won't be taking all of the money and making it impossible for business to expand and provide the jobs that we need.

In spite of the recent tax reform, which was only an adjustment of the tax cut that was passed last year, you will be getting over the next 3 years $335 billion in additional tax cuts. This year, if it was averaged out, the average person has $400 more in tax savings because of that program than they had before. And next year, even with this tax reform, that will go up to $788. And following that, indexing is to come, which is going to make it impossible for government to profit from inflation by shoving people up into higher income tax brackets just because they get a cost-of-living pay raise. But the measure that we passed a few weeks ago will cut the deficit over these same 3 years by $380 billion.

We're canceling regulations that are unnecessary, that have burdened the American people and business and industry with unwanted and unnecessary paperwork. So far, the task force that's doing that under George Bush has saved the people of this country 200 million man-hours of filling out government forms. So far, it has saved $6 billion.

We have another task force that is working on fraud and waste. They have brought thousands of indictments; they have done thousands of audits; they have found thousands of people receiving government benefit checks who've been dead for 7 years. They have saved, so far, in the last 6 months, $5.8 billion.

Brigham Young once said, "The framers of the Constitution laid a foundation and it was for after generations to rear a superstructure upon it. It was," he said, "our progressive, gradual work." Will the foundation of our land still be solid? We've just been building a house of cards on it so far. Today we're returning to the principle that I saw this morning in that cannery and that we are beginning to come back to, and that is the principle of reward for honest toil, living within our means, and paying heed to the spiritual values that have always been the inner strength of America.

Yes, Orrin Hatch, Jim Hansen, and Dan Marriott, Jake Garn—they all understand that. Orrin Hatch knows that it isn't someone in Washington that he represents; he's not beholden, as possibly his opponent is, to outside special interest groups or a labor hierarchy in the Nation's Capital far away. He is responsible to the workers and the ranchers and the people of this, his own State of Utah. And I can assure you, the people of Utah, that he has your best interests always in mind.

There are other very important problems to be dealt with, and I'll make it fast, because it is beginning to get damp, isn't it? But these are things that perhaps don't have so much to do with the economy. They have to do with our role in the world in regard to peace. I just talked this morning by radiophone to the commander of our marines. They are safely back on board the ships in the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean now, after the great duty that they performed in Beirut.

And I don't know how many of you noticed, but I was very proud. It was a multinational force, other forces from other countries went ashore as did ours, and that's fine. But ours was the only force that when it landed did not raise the American flag on foreign soil. It raised the flag of Lebanon, showing our intention that Lebanon must once again be an independent nation with its own government and in charge of its own affairs.

But there are other matters that all of us up here must take up. The matter of prayer in schools. I don't think God should ever have been expelled. There is that balanced budget amendment that we must have. There is tuition tax credits for those parents who are sending their children, perhaps, to a church school or an independent school at the same time they pay the full burden for supporting the public school. And I think they should get some recognition of that fact and some relief for the fact that they are supporting two school systems.

And there is another problem very close to my heart: that more than a million unborn children every year are being denied the right to life. And I think it is time that we decide that unless and until someone can prove to us that the unborn are not truly living creatures, then we morally should adopt the principle that they are, until it can be proven otherwise.

In their triumph yesterday when the House overrode my veto, the leadership, Tip O'Neill and his cohorts, went public with their statements that I was hard-hearted and that they were standing in the way of my imposing on the poor and the needy and so forth. Well, what do they think that their inflation over these last 30 years has done to the poor? I know this: that our reduction of inflation has made a family at the poverty level have $400 more in purchasing power than they had before inflation went down. The best social reform program in the world is a job. And the best way to help the people of this country is to stop taking excessive percentages of their earnings away from them and to allow them not only to keep their earnings and to have a job to work at but to see that the dollar that they've put in their savings is worth as much 2 or 3 years from now as it was when they put it in, and not having 10 cents or 12 cents in value taken off every year by way of inflation.

Well, these are some of the things we're trying to do and some of the things that I think so far we've been succeeding in doing, but let me make it plain: We couldn't do a single thing without your support and help. It is you, the people. And when they hear in Washington from you, the people, they heed what it is you want.

Very simply, the policy of our administration is: This government of ours was created to be a convenience for the people, serving at the behest of the people. It was not supposed to be the master of the people. And we're going to get it back to being as convenient as we can and get rid of that master complex as quickly as we can. We owe that much to all of you for your having sent us there.

God bless you, and thank you very much. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:29 p.m. at the picnic at Hooper Park following remarks by Charles Ackerlow, Utah Republican State chairman, and Richard Richards, chairman of the Republican National Committee. Following the picnic, the President went to Camp David, Md., for a weekend stay.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Utah Republican Party Picnic in Hooper Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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