Ronald Reagan picture

Toasts at a White House Dinner Honoring the Nation's Governors

February 27, 1983

The President. First of all, let me just say that I'm not used to being up here alone without a hostess at these affairs, but right about now Nancy's getting ready to walk into the sound stage at Twentieth Century Fox, where the dinner is being held for Her Majesty, the Queen of England. So, you'll just have to put up with a host. [Laughter]

Our dinner tonight begins another round of discussions between us, a time when we can exchange ideas, explain our points of view, and work toward closer cooperation. Since I've been in this office, I've benefited greatly from your advice and counsel in our many meetings with individual Governors, your executive committee, and your able spokesman, Governor Scott Matheson. I hope you found them useful, too.

The year that's passed since our last state dinner has been a trying one for each of us and for all Americans. Our economy suffered the depths of this recession. Many of our citizens lost their jobs, and millions found themselves suddenly in need of government support. Our budgets were strained and our administrations sorely tested. But by working together, through cooperation, with give and take, we've weathered the worst of the storm.

And now the economic recovery in America has begun. Inflation has plummeted. Real wages are rising. Industrial production is increasing. Our housing industry is rebounding, and our auto industry is on the upswing. The Big Three are predicting their first year of profits since 1979. One company alone is recalling more than 21,000 workers.

Interest rates, once crippling our economy, are half what they were—10.5 percent as of this weekend. And we hope to get them still lower. Unemployment has begun to drop. Personal savings are building, and our overall productivity is up. In fact, our leading economic indicators have been up, signaling a recovery for 8 out of the last 9 months.

I know that times are still difficult. I remember what it was like to be elected Governor and immediately face an enormous revenue shortfall. It has happened before. But our programs for sound fiscal management, spending control, and tax-rate reduction are based on economic principles that consistently produce prosperity.

Our federalism proposals, designed to return decision-making to governments closest to the people, are fundamental to our Republic. I would like to thank each of you, and especially your federalism negotiating team, for the efforts that you've made to achieve our federalism reforms.

I hope that in the year ahead we can continue to work together in a bipartisan spirit in the best interests of all our people. We stand at the threshold of great economic growth. But I need your help and your support if we're to realize the potential before us.

As Benjamin Cardozo, the Supreme Court Justice, once said, "The several states must sink or swim together." The Federal Government cannot solve America's problems without your help, just as you need assistance from us. Let us act together, so that when history looks back on our days of decision, it will record that we found the courage, met the challenge, and worked as one to bring about better days for all Americans, in each region and in every walk of life.

You know, we are unique in all the world with our exact setup, and that is that we were meant to be and must always be a federation of sovereign States. I know of no other government in the world that maintains this, and I believe it is the greatest guarantee of individual liberty that this country has.

So, I thank you for your help and guidance, not only this week but in the last year. And I ask you to join me in a toast to continued cooperation between State capitals and Washington as together we lay the foundations for a more accountable government and a more prosperous future. Thank you.

Governor Matheson. Mr. President, we're grateful for your hospitality this evening. Many of us have been here many years, and this is the seventh occasion for Norma and for me. It's always as delightful and as exciting as ever.

And this is especially excellent this evening, because normally we come on Tuesday night. [Laughter] But you have other responsibilities. We thank you for the special attention you have given the Governors and their ladies by allowing us to come here on Sunday night and join with you in this great, traditional event.

We're here to do the Nation's business. We're working very hard and spent a day facing up to the responsibilities that chief executives have—budget problems throughout the country. You were Governor of California. I'm not sure that Governor Deukmejian wouldn't be very happy to trade places with you right now with that- [laughter] —$1.8 billion deficit which he's coping with. But the States are in serious trouble in terms of their economies, and we see glimmers of hope, change in the economy. And we're grateful for that. And we're here to do the job for all of the people.

We're grateful for the support, for the cooperation and the assistance that you have given us as President and the people that serve us from the White House. Coming from the small State of Utah, I think I should point out to you, Mr. President, that you successfully garnered 73 percent of the vote in 1980. And I must tell you I was very grateful to win that year. [Laughter] But this is a time for all of us to work closely together.

And as chairman of the National Governors' Association this year, it's our pleasure to be here with you this evening and my pleasure to offer a toast to the President of the United States.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Ronald Reagan, Toasts at a White House Dinner Honoring the Nation's Governors Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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