Remarks at a Utah Republican Party Rally in Salt Lake City
The President. Well, thank you very much for, believe me, a warm Utah welcome. It's great to be in the Beehive State again. I love to be out West, and it's especially good to be able to stop the plane and recharge my batteries here in Utah, a State that's just as famous for its good, old-fashioned, clean living as its fresh, clean air.
Here you understand the importance of honest work, family life, and dedication to those traditional values that made the Utah desert bloom. And let me tell you, that same American spirit will make this great country of ours come alive again, too, and I must add, and your faith and belief in God.
As a nation, we've awakened from a long and painful nightmare. We're rebuilding America, and ours is the courage of hope charted by the Founding Fathers. We intend to handcuff big spenders, get the Federal Government off your backs, promote recovery, and put you, the people, back in charge of your country again. Now, we aren't there yet, but unlike those before us, this administration intends to get the job done and get it done right.
Now, our critics are determined to beat their drums of doom and gloom. They say our economy is on its knees. Well, you know something? If the economy is on its knees, that's quite an improvement, because 2 years ago it was fiat on its back. Now, I heard it said recently by someone on the other side that the economy was in a state of boom when I took office. Well, if they mean that was the sound the economy made 2 years ago when it fell off the edge and hit bottom, okay. [Laughter]
But already we've made dramatic progress in four of the five worst economic problems that faced this country when we took up the challenge. We've cut the rate of growth in government spending—once raging out of control—we've cut it by almost two-thirds. When we took office, the largest tax increase in history was just beginning to take effect, and there are more installments of that tax increase yet to come between now and 1990, built into the law by those who preceded us. But our administration is a little old-fashioned. We still believe that the dollars you work so hard to earn actually belong to you, not to the Federal Government. So we took on the big spenders, ignored their screams of pain, and won the first real tax cut for every American family in nearly 20 years.
Inflation was public enemy number one in 1980. It had hit 18 percent in January of 1980. Well, we're doing a little better. We're doing a lot better. We've brought the inflation rate for 1982 all the way down to 4.8 percent. Now, that's a kind of an interesting coincidence, because the last time that inflation was down at 4.8 percent, it was when the last Republican President, Gerald Ford, was leaving office.
Do you remember those crippling interest rates that sent businesses into bankruptcy and pushed home mortgages beyond reach? Well, we don't have a 21 1/2-percent prime rate anymore; we have a 12-percent prime rate, and one major bank is down to 11 1/2.
We're not out of the woods yet, but we can see daylight beyond the trees. We're determined to find jobs for our people, to balance the budget, to protect the tax cut, and to whittle away at the national debt. There's one thing our generation must do before we leave the stage and that is not turn over to these young people that are here today that trillion-dollar debt without at least making some effort to reduce it before we go.
Now, no President can do all that alone. I need all the help I can get in Washington. And that brings me to the point of this visit. I count on Utah's delegation in the Congress. I'm talking about Jake Garn, Orrin Hatch, Dan Marriott, and Jim Hansen. And without them, we couldn't have made the progress that we have. Without them, America would risk a further slide to economic ruin—the return to bigger, more intrusive government, higher, more punishing taxes, growing deficits, more spending, soaring inflation, and record interest rates. Well, we've left that litany of despair behind. Together, we've turned a corner in the history of America. We've put aside the policies of fear and despair and replaced them with a program of hope.
Each week brings fresh evidence that our program is working and momentum for recovery is building. Yesterday, we learned that productivity increased sharply in the third quarter. This morning—I don't know whether the news has reached here yet or not, but in the East it has been announced already—Americans awoke to see another patch of blue. The leading economic indicators, which measure the vital life signs of our economy to forecast its future direction, were up in September, and that's the fifth month of increase in the last 6 months. And I might add that at the same time the 1 month out of the 6 in which those indicators were down, they readjusted and corrected, because in August they had said that the economic factors were down ninetenths of 1 percent. Well, they were only down two-tenths of 1 percent. So, the whole 6 months looks pretty good. And those are the statistics, small as they may seem, by which we indicate whether the economy is going up or going down. Pretty soon, even the diehard doom-peddlers will have to admit it: America is on her way back, and we will lead the way out of this worldwide recession.
America has a future of courage and hope—hope that grows brighter as more people respond to the drop in inflation, tax rates, and interest rates. We've begun to receive reports of a surge in homebuying during October that is way above normal for that particular period of the year. As mortgage rates decline, the average monthly payment for a new home has dropped by as much as $200. This makes housing affordable again for up to 4 million families. As homes are built, more jobs will be created, and you and I know that's mighty good for America. Not every statistic is strong yet, but the trend is unmistakable.
With all the crying today that the issues of this campaign, based on that one factor of the unemployment which is always the last to recover, what are our opponents ignoring? What are they trying to keep you from realizing? Listen to this: Real wages are up; retail sales are up; housing starts and building permits are up; the value of the dollar is up higher than it has been in 10 years; productivity is up; research and development spending are up; venture capital in small business near a record; business starts—in spite of the bankruptcies—new starts of business near a record; personal savings rate at a 6-year high; new IRA accounts pumping $30 to 35 billion into savings and investment for more jobs.
Tell me something, would you? Does all this really sound like an economy getting weaker, or might it just be that our economy is beginning to grow stronger every day?
We are doing everything we can to make a sick nation well again. But is it too much to ask those who controlled the Congress for 26 years and who spent this country to the brink of bankruptcy that they stop trying to reap political gain by preying on the people's fears? All they offer is a return to the past—more big spending, big taxing, more regulations, meddling, and make-work, more big government coming through the windows, under the door, and down the chimney, and that's something the American people don't need. If they can't at least acknowledge the truth and at least encourage, if they can't work with the rest of us, then let them get out of the way, because we're going to keep on.
Just 2 years ago, our critics warned that double-digit inflation was here to stay. Well, we ended double-digit inflation, and we're putting the Age of Inflation behind us.
One year ago—one year ago—they warned that interest rates would soar back above 20 percent, breaking all the old records. Well, they were wrong again. The prime rate, as we've told you, has been cut nearly in half, and we're not finished yet. We're going to keep it heading down.
One year from now they will be warning us that the recovery cannot be sustained. But with the help of your Jake Garn, Orrin Hatch, Dan Marriott, Jim Hansen, and others like them, we can give the American people something brand new—a recovery built to last, not just another cure of a recession like the seven that we've had since World War II. We can do it if we finish the job and get Federal spending under control once and for all.
Audience member. We love you! [Applause]
The President. Thank you very much. [Applause] Thank you. Thank you very much. Believe me, I love all of you.
Your Senator and my friend, Orrin Hatch, is one of the leaders in our quest. He led the fight to pass a constitutional amendment to balance the budget this year. That proposal was one of the most important to pass the Senate in this Congress, but, as you know, a minority of big spenders in the House blocked it, thwarting the express wishes of the people of Utah and the overwhelming majority of Americans everywhere. The liberal House leadership claimed the balanced budget amendment was too much of a risk. Well, I think you and I should make something plain: There is no bigger risk to America or to the children we leave behind than deliberate, planned inflation that would destroy our country, and we will not permit it.
Key votes on issues like the balanced budget amendment show why it's so important to reelect Orrin, Jim, and Dan, and to send Howard Nielson to Washington. Utah needs them. You didn't think I was going to leave him out did you? [Laughter] No, you know your delegation in the Congress may be small, but they're scrappers. They remind me of something that Dwight Eisenhower once said: It's not the size of the dog in the fight that counts; it's the size of the fight in the dog.
As a people we've suffered setbacks in the past, but we've never given up when the cause was a good one for America. We aren't about to quit now. Together we can make our nation great again.
Please do me one favor. I know how you feel, but mobilize an army of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents between now and Tuesday. Tell the good people of Utah: Vote for your hopes, not your fears. Vote for your children's future. Vote for your children's future and not the return of a failed past. Vote for the real hope of Utah—Orrin Hatch and Dan Marriott and Jim Hansen and Howard Nielson.
Let me just interject something here. We've heard cries from the other side that in this time of tragic unemployment—and no one could feel worse about it than any of us and, certainly, not someone like myself and those of you who lived through the Great Depression. We know the tragedy of unemployment. But we've heard so much about, well, we should resort to more make-work programs as they have in those seven other recessions in the past—spending money for temporary jobs that don't do anything but add to the deficit and set the country back. And I think we have a better approach.
We have passed and are going to put into effect a job training program. It's going to be a little different than some in the past, because the Federal Government is going to work with local officials and community business and industry leaders all across the country to train the people in those communities for the jobs that are open in those communities. And even in this time of great unemployment, the need for this kind of improvement in job skills and training and spreading of job skills to newer lines of activity can be indicated by the fact that, well, just a week ago Sunday, I counted the pages of help wanted ads in the Washington Post—34 full pages of employers advertising for people to work. It doesn't mean that people were shirking and not taking those jobs. It means there were people—that we lack the skill and training and enough people to fill them. On that same day in Los Angeles, across the country, it was 52 full pages in the Los Angeles Times. And this is true of metropolitan newspapers on Sundays all over the United States.
Well, previous work training programs by the Government before averaged spending about 18 cents out of each dollar for training. Our program will spend 70 cents out of each dollar for actual training.
I thank you all for the help that you've given me and our party. With leaders like yours and with the help of the people of America and the God who watches over us all, we will secure our way of life for generations to come.
Thank you, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 11:47 a.m. in the arena of the Salt Palace following remarks and an introduction by Senator Orrin G. Hatch.
Ronald Reagan, Remarks at a Utah Republican Party Rally in Salt Lake City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/245101