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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at a Republican Fundraising Breakfast in Des Moines, Iowa

1990-10-16

Thank you so much for that welcome. Please -- thank you very much. What a magnificent turnout for Governor Branstad and Senator-to-be Tom Tauke. I'm delighted to be here. Let me first pay my respects to my former runningmates -- kids from Dowling here. I still have my T-shirt that I ran on the track out there with some of you all. And I'm very pleased, really, to be back here in Des Moines.

Last December, I spoke here on behalf of your next Senator, Tom Tauke. And then in June, I returned for your current and future Governor, Terry Branstad. And since I was here, things have really moved for both of them -- moved in the right direction in terms of the electorate. Now we only have 20 days to go, and I can't think of a single State that has two more important races for the future of this country than the State of Iowa 20 days from now.

You've got my warmest memories and great sentiments in this State. I've had wonderful times in so many towns and so many cities here. And it was in those visits -- --

[At this point, audience members interrupted the President's remarks.]

I'll have a little say about that in a minute. You know, some people never get the word: The fight isn't about oil; the fight is about naked aggression that will not stand. Where were we? [Laughter]

You know, we were talking about the qualities that we need in the United States Senate and that we need to keep in the Governor's mansion here. Let me first single out our statewide candidates who I want to see elected to help Terry Branstad run this State. They are outstanding men and women, and you have the very finest in compassionate, committed public servants in these people right over here. So, please work hard for them in the last 20 days. They prove what Alf Landon meant when he said, ``There are some intelligent people in Washington. There are more of them in the Middle West.''

But back to Senator-to-be Tauke and to Governor Branstad. Both have fought for the family, for the taxpayer, and for the farmer. They fought for the working people of this State. And as a result, I think we are seeing -- and I've been proud to be at their side -- and I think we are seeing an agricultural economy that's rebounded from its recent lows.

And now we are in a battle in Washington to keep the economy moving forward, to get it revitalized. And the best thing we can do to revitalize it is to get a budget-deficit agreement that gets the deficit down by 0 billion over 5 years and does it in an enforceable way. And that's what I'm fighting for in Washington, and that's why I need the support of people like Tom Tauke.

But the battle isn't only about fiscal sanity. It's about things like education, where Terry Branstad has been in the lead nationally, supported ably -- I am -- in the Congress by Tom Tauke. This excellence record in Iowa is well-known nationally: Iowa students ranking fifth in high school graduations all across the country, first in SAT and ACT scores -- an outstanding record. So, I want to do nationally that which you have done locally. So, 18 months ago, we proposed our National Educational Excellence Act to encourage flexibility, accountability, increased educational choice for parents and students. And Terry Branstad is a leader in the Governors' Association, was a leader as we set these national goals for this decade. He took the bastion of leadership, the symbol of leadership, and carried it forward to hammer out these national goals. He's well-known in the State of Iowa. He deserves reelection here. But I'll tell you, he has shown himself to be a national leader in the field of education.

I've sent an educational bill up there -- I think it embodies the values of Iowans -- sent it up to the Congress, and Tom Tauke is giving it strong support. We need some straight talk -- that's what Tom -- his motto, ``Talking Straight.'' He's right, he is. And he's strong. And that straight talk is what we need to help elect Republicans who are going to end this delay and pass an educational bill which will help make American education number one -- not the old thinking of the tired liberals in the United States Senate but the new thinking of Tom Tauke in the House, moving into the Senate, and of Terry Branstad right here at the Governor's level.

A major national question is crime and drugs. And for 16 months, the liberal Democrats who control all the committees in the United States Congress -- the national Democrats -- have sabotaged our violent crime bill. Evidently they think they can soft-pedal the need to be hard on crime. And Tom and Terry both disagree with that. They back a workable and a real death penalty for those who kill Federal law enforcement officers. And I back that. I support it, and I believe the country supports it overwhelmingly.

I hope some of you will have an opportunity -- and maybe you're working with them -- the victims of crime groups. I think it's time in the country that we showed a little more sympathy for the victims of crime and a little less for the criminals themselves.

And just one more word about agriculture. Five years ago, Tom Tauke helped pass -- and Terry backed strongly -- a farm bill to help a community in crisis. And it's no coincidence that farm income has hit near-record levels or that Terry Branstad has created over 300,000 new jobs, many of them agricultural, since 1983. And our job is to make that progress still better. And how? By recalling that when it comes to farming, Washington does not know best. Iowans know best. And we want to keep the control in the marketplace.

As we're drafting this new farm legislation, let's see that it emphasizes market-oriented policies. We don't need more government in Middle America -- we need more Middle America thinking in the Washington Government. And that goes double when it comes to passing a sensible Federal budget.

It's no secret that I could use more Republicans in the United States Senate and in the United States House right now. Frankly, it would be a luxury to have a Senator in this Iowa seat that would vote with me at least as much as Teddy Kennedy has done. Take a look at the record. Take a look at the Congressional Quarterly. And in Tom Tauke we'd have somebody that would support our ideas much, much more than that. So, send him to Washington to be our Senator.

Republicans know: It's our heartbeat that we need to control Government spending and keep the taxes down. But unfortunately, the simple fact is the Democrats do control both Houses of Congress, and they control every single congressional committee. The American people know that they have control of both Houses and control all these committees. And it's also a fact that, year after year, Congress fails to meet its own timetable for producing the budget.

Year after year, the Congress has to pass emergency measures -- it's all Washington jargon called continuing resolutions; after you've been there a month or two, you call them CR's -- just to keep the government operating. Enough is enough. I think we've had something like 37 of these CR's in the last decade because Congress can't meet its own deadlines. Enough is enough. And this Friday, the Congress must face the budget deadline once again. But this time let them face up to their responsibilities as well.

I know that the Americans are fed up with much of the political debate coming out of Washington. It's the same old inside-the-beltway hogwash that obscures what's really at issue, so let me try to clarify it.

America must have a real and significant deficit reduction -- real and significant deficit reduction -- to get the economy moving. And that deficit reduction will, indeed -- and almost instantly -- bring down the interest rates that are holding back new job creation and holding back job opportunity. The deficit rate is going to bring those interest rates down. You're going to have more home purchases, more car loans, create new jobs.

And to get these results, Congress simply cannot play with the numbers in order to get phony savings. We can't afford business as usual in Washington anymore. So the budget must be real, it must be enforceable, and it must preserve our incentives for growth. I want to see this economy grow, not shrink from higher taxes and more government spending.

And I told you, Terry Branstad's right, and he's sure right when he says that the President ought to have the line-item veto. If Congress can't control the spending, give the President a shot at it.

We're not dumb in this country. Most people know that the failure to hold down spending is inevitably followed by higher taxes. They might be just around the corner. And that said, let me reiterate right here that the one thing that appeals to me about the current Senate package -- you've got a House bill that looks like it's going through: raise the rates, index the taxes that's on the middle class and on the lower middle class. That's every taxpayer in this country. Nobody understands it, but that's what indexing means. So, they're saying it's a ``soak the rich'' bill. But inevitably, it gets into your pocket. It gets in the pocket of every working man and woman. And that's exactly what's coming out of the House.

But the Senate bill has some merit to it. It holds the line on income tax rates. And I've always been concerned -- and I think the American people share this concern -- that the Congress will continue to pay for its spending habits by going back and starting to raise the income tax rates on everyone. And I want to hold the line on the tax rates.

So, we're in a countdown. We're in another countdown. The next 4 days Congress has the responsibility and the obligation to act. And the American people have every right to see this Congress act responsibly.

You know, I have a difference, I think, on some of this with Speaker Foley. We had good cooperation with the Speaker on trying to hammer out a budget agreement -- frankly, one in which I had to compromise and he had to compromise and the Senate had to compromise. But in my view, even though there were things in it I didn't like, I think it was a good deal. But where I've got a difference with the Speaker, it appears, is that he doesn't think it's useful to keep Congress in. He doesn't think it's useful to hold their nose to the grindstone by refusing to go along with business as usual by signing yet the 38th continuing resolution. So, we have an honest difference of opinion of that. But I think, in spite of the inconvenience to the American people, that there is support for this concept, whether it hurts the President or not, that the Congress ought to finish the job it was sent to Washington to do. And if we had more like Tauke in the Senate it would be getting done because we'd control the United States Senate.

One of the interesting parts of this job is some of the mail you get. And it gives you a certain trust in the American people. It's a way a President can get a feeling for what people are thinking. Some of it isn't particularly complimentary; and some of it, fortunately, is. But the people are smart. They want a budget that makes sense. And let me give you the wisdom from the mouths of babes.

It's a letter from Lisa Lilla, a 10-year-old from Clearwater, Florida. She writes that she wants us to solve our budget problem so that she ``won't have to pay million when she grows up.'' Then she adds this P.S.: ``I really think you should not enlarge the taxes because when I'm 18 I'll have to pay 0 tax on a can of peas.'' [Laughter]

Well, she may be off slightly -- [laughter] -- but her logic is sound. Her logic is very, very sound. And even 10-year-olds know fiscal insanity when they see it, and they know where it starts. And they know that the Congress, controlled by the Democrats, appropriate every dime and tell us how to spend every single dime.

And it's not going to get better until we do something special on November 6th. We've got to send Congress a wake-up call, if you will. And so, let's reject the tax-and-spend policies that created the problem in the first place, and let's tell the Congress to remember kids like little Lisa. She does not want to pay 0 tax on a can of peas when she's 18 years old.

I think of Iowa as an international State, and I was interested in the opinion of these individuals here who wanted to make their statement. But I think of Iowa as an international State. I think you've always been out front in the terms of being engaged and being involved in foreign policy, whether it's through farsighted policies on international trade, whether it's through the earliest support and strong support for the United Nations that has now been revitalized, or whatever.

So, let me simply say -- and I have to tell you, I understand where these kids are coming from. I understand that. I went through World War II. We've been through a couple of agonizing periods with the Korean war and the Vietnam war. So, their view shouldn't be entirely written off, but they've got it wrong. They've got the facts wrong. They're looking introspectively in a bit of an isolationistic way. We can't do that. We have the responsibility to lead -- the United States does.

If we don't stand up against aggression around the world when it's naked and brutal, who will? The United States has the responsibility to lead and to put together this coalition that says to Saddam Hussein very simply: You cannot bully your neighbor; you cannot wipe him out -- a member of the Arab League, a member of the United Nations. And that's what the issue is about.

Let me try to put it in perspective for those three kids that left -- and I mean this in all seriousness, because this affects my thinking very much -- what's happening. We've got to stand up for civilized values. But what's happening is unprecedented acts of brutality inflicted by Iraq.

I want to mention -- and I don't mean to be overly shocking here -- but let me just mention some reports, firsthand reports. At a hospital, Iraqi soldiers unplugged the oxygen to incubators supporting 22 premature babies. They all died. And then they shot the hospital employees. At another hospital, troops reportedly cut off oxygen supporting the 75-year-old mother of a Kuwaiti Cabinet Minister. Iraqi aggression. Iraqi naked aggression -- taking dialysis machines, taking the patients off them, shipping the machines to Baghdad -- systematically dismantling a member of the United Nations, a member of the Arab League.

And so, the bottom line for us is that Iraqi aggression will not be allowed to stand. Saddam Hussein will be held accountable. And the legitimate government of Kuwait will be restored. And America will remain in the Persian Gulf not one single day longer than necessary. I look forward to the day that every single man and woman serving there now with pride -- and beautifully trained -- every single one of them comes home. But we must stay for as long as it takes to complete our mission.

Now, in your great State, common sense has never gone out of style. You know that while our forces -- and there's a unit from Mason City on the way -- you know that while our forces are defending us abroad, we must defend them here at home. And I know that Iowans want policies which empower people and bring prosperity and opportunity to communities all over this State.

So to sum it up, Tom Tauke, whom I've known for years and with whom I have worked for years and whose record I have admired for years, must be elected to the United States Senate. And Terry Branstad, who has served this State with such distinction, and now a high official in the National Governors' Association because of the way his fellow Governors look at him -- look at his record of achievement, look at his leadership -- must be reelected as well.

And so, I came out here to enthusiastically stand with you Iowans in support of these two fine men. We can send the rest of the country a signal by reelecting Terry Branstad overwhelmingly and by sending Tom Tauke to the United States Senate.

Thank you, and God bless the people of Iowa. Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:04 a.m. in the atrium of the State Historical Museum.

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