Public Papers - 1990
Remarks at a Rally for Gubernatorial Candidate Bill Price in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
I'm delighted to be back here. First, let me pay my respects to a man that campaigned for me way back in the early sixties. He's been my friend and Barbara's friend and your Governor: Henry Bellmon, over here. Henry, delighted to see you, sir. Of course, two who are with us today who are so active in Washington in leadership roles -- one in the Senate and one in the House. I'm talking about Senator Don Nickles and, of course, Mickey Edwards, the Congressman. We're delighted to have them with us here today.
Bill, thank you for that introduction. Oh, what a joy it is to be with your wonderful family. Barbara sends her love. It's not that our dog is writing another book, but she, too, is out on the campaign trail. I'm just delighted to bring you her greetings. It's a pleasure to be here for a man who will make a difference -- he always has -- your next Governor, Bill Price. All of you know his story. Well-qualified man -- well-qualified. The son of a doctor. Went to Georgetown U, Ohio U -- Ohio -- OU -- [laughter] -- Oklahoma University Law School, the Big Red. Finally, he became, as he referred there to it, U.S. Attorney for western Oklahoma, supporting law and order, battling against the craze of narcotics. He's been a good man, a great servant to this country -- and now you've got to elect him Governor of this State.
I have looked at the record. He has conviction. He's not a follower who gets lost in the current. He's a profile in character who alters the tide. Look at how he cracked America's then-largest corruption case back in the early eighties. Or his work for the organization he founded, the Oklahoma Alliance Against Drugs. We need a leader with his vision to follow Henry in Oklahoma City. I'm here to talk for Bill, not against his opponent. And I refuse to take it personally that his opponent was the Dukakis chairman in this State -- had nothing to do with my being here.
We could use more of his kind of thinking back East, too. All Americans are asking: What on Earth is wrong with Washington? And I know you've been standing, but let me give you the full load about how I see it, as one who thinks we need to change this Congress out and get more Republicans and fewer of those liberal Democrats.
After what seemed like endless negotiations, we finally have a budget. And the negotiations were tough because the one party that has ruled Congress for almost 40 years is dedicated to perpetual reelection. And that party, the Democratic Party, has a bias for redtape over choice, for Washington solutions over community solutions, and for bureaucracy over people. And you add all of this up, and what do you get? You get a liberal Democratic-controlled Congress that's committed to two things: taxing and spending. We went into negotiation, and the final agreement is an example of how the Democratic Congress works -- or doesn't work. For the sake of the Nation, I honestly felt that we had to reduce the deficit now. It is high time that we stop mortgaging the future of these young kids here today. And the Democratic spending binge has got to stop.
I discovered, as Harry Truman did, that the buck does stop there on the desk in the Oval Office, and every once in a while, a President of the opposite party than the one that controls the Congress has got to make a compromise. And I felt really that we had to reach an agreement, and I felt strongly about reducing the deficit with spending cuts, not raising taxes. And in fact, that's exactly the kind of budget that I sent to the Congress last February. Predictably, the Democrats instead wanted to slash defense and then raise your taxes. What we got was a compromise.
And there is some good in it. We've got 2 billion in deficit reduction over 5 years; over 0 billion in spending cuts -- the largest cut in history. There are some incentives built in it so that we will become less dependent on foreign oil -- incentives to stimulate domestic oil and gas drilling and production. And we also got Congress to reduce the rate of spending growth with the first-ever 5-year curb on spending.
Now, we put Congress on a pay-as-you-go plan so that the liberal Democrats will no longer be able to fund programs with red ink. This agreement has strong enforcement provisions. And if Congress tries to raise spending one dime, they've got to cut other excess spending or find the money for it right there and then.
And finally, we held the line -- and this one is very important to me and, I believe, to the people of Oklahoma and the whole country -- we held the line against the reckless cuts of our Armed Forces. I will not be the President to provide [preside] over the weakening of this nation's defense.
An enforceable deficit reduction agreement is unprecedented. It is long overdue and it is absolutely necessary, but I cannot join the liberal Democrats in an orgy of self-congratulation. After all, we discussed three kinds of proposals: the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I told you about the good. Now let me tell you about the bad -- in a word, the taxes. To get an agreement we had to pay a ransom to get the 0 billion in spending cuts. And the American people have had to pay a price for divided government.
But the price could have been worse. The Democrats' bill that passed the House before this compromise that was enacted -- that Democratic bill tried to raise income taxes on all working Americans. And they attacked these indexing provisions of the current tax law in a way that raised taxes on every hardworking citizen. And they called it their bill to soak the rich, and what it really did is go after the paycheck of the working man and woman in this country. And we said, we are going to stop you -- and we stopped them cold. And let me say this: that was not -- and I am grateful to Mickey Edwards and I'm grateful to Don Nickles for their stand -- that was not, as these demagogs would have you believe, Republicans protecting the rich; that was Republicans standing up for the working family in this country.
And now we're hearing it again. Some of us are old enough to remember this. It happens all the time with the Democrats. And let those liberals that control Congress raise their ugly old cry of divisiveness and class warfare and of soaking the rich. And we, the Republicans, are going to continue fighting for the working people by holding the line on taxes. You send me more Republicans for the United States Congress, and we'll get the job done.
I don't want you to get the feeling I'm down on the Democratic Congress -- [laughter] -- but the budget was due last April. The Democratic Congress came to me 6 months late -- so late, in fact, that we are on the brink now of an economic downturn. And it's time to call them as you see them, to tell it like it is. And this agreement could have come together in May, in June, or in August -- anytime during the last 6 months. But the Democrats choked the throttle, pulled the throttle back of a slowing economy while they hunted for every last morsel of partisan advantage, all in the name of politics and of higher taxes. And we're not going to let them get away with it.
In April, when the budget was due, unemployment was 5.4 percent -- a troubling sign. Unemployment last month was 5.7 percent. And since April, when the budget was due, inflation has accelerated and economic growth has slowed. Even after the economy was threatened by the Persian Gulf crisis, Congress delayed. This Congress was content to stall an agreement and stall the economy. We are not going to let them get away with it. There are Congressmen, thank heavens, there are Congressmen -- and you've got some good ones from this State, men like Jim Inhofe and Mickey Edwards and our distinguished Senator Don Nickles -- who reject this failed tradition of tax and spend. But they're outnumbered by the big taxers and the big spenders. These three are the real defenders of working America, and I am grateful indeed that they are fighting for you and for Oklahoma and, I'd say, for America up there on Capitol Hill.
You know, as we got into these negotiations, even in the middle of them, the big spenders were looking for the pork-barrel bonanzas. At the 11th hour, in the midst of the budget crisis, congressional conferees on one panel alone pushed through an almost 19-percent increase for pet projects. At the same time, this President and these Republican Members were doing our level-best to curtail spending, Congress voted to spend a half a million dollars to create a Lawrence Welk tourist attraction. And we all like Lawrence Welk -- ``dah-dee-dah'' -- you know how he is. [Laughter] But I cite this as a symptom of the problem.
Audience member. Get the line-item veto.
The President. I'm getting to that. [Laughter] Believe me, the American people know when their Congress asks them to tighten their belts and Congress loosens its own. And I'll tell you what I'd like to do about it. Yes, give me what 43 Governors have: Give me the line-item veto. They've failed to cut spending. Let me have a shot at it. While we're at it, let's have a balanced-budget amendment that would discipline the Executive and darn sure would discipline the Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
There's one other tool I need even more than the line-item veto and a balanced-budget amendment. And I really mean it: that is more Republicans in Congress that think the way these two do. God, I'm glad to be out of Washington. I am thrilled to be out of Washington. And let me say, I hear that talk back there that people don't know the difference between the Republicans and the liberal Democrats. In education, we are the ones that are fighting for reform to empower parents to choose their children's schools. In child care, Republicans are the ones who demanded reform to empower parents to choose who will watch over their children. And we now have that bill, as a matter of fact. And we're the ones still determined to bring hope and opportunity to the most desolate of the inner cities.
The Democrats are still pushing that old line of liberal programs, more taxes, more bureaucracy, more government control -- tell the people of Oklahoma City how to mandate things, tell them what they've got to do. They're still peddling that tired old saw about Republicans and the rich. Well, you and I both know that that is hogwash, and we're not going to let them get away with that anymore. I'm taking this message all across the country: We are for the working people in this country.
This is a Congress that can only act at the last minute when their political feet were held to the fire, a Congress who would rather pass feel-good proclamations than address problems. Look, this is the Congress that passed a resolution called National Crime Prevention Month while it gutted, took the heart right out of our anticrime bill. Bill Price knows that we need strong Federal legislation to back up our prosecutors and our law enforcement officials. And Congress passed that crazy Crime Prevention Month, but did nothing about the toughness of the crime bill that we called for.
This is the Congress that declared Clean Water Month, but bickered for months over the clean air bill. And if you find all this tough to swallow, don't worry -- they've also served up National Digestive Disease Awareness Month. [Laughter] But I guarantee you one thing: If they send me that bill to make these kids eat their broccoli, I will veto that legislation. No liberal Democrat Congress -- and notice I say ``liberal Democrat Congress.'' I know my State next door. And I know the State here, and there's plenty of sound conservative Democrats in the State of Oklahoma that are going to vote for the next Governor standing right here.
But this liberal Democrat Congress has become America's biggest and most entrenched special interest. In 1959, Congress was served by 5,800 staff members. Today it is served by almost 20,000 staff members, who control the perks and pass out the pork. And the Democratic Congress is a confusion of committees and turf-conscious chaos. The House intended to be closest to the people has become a House of Lords -- 98 percent who seek reelection and reelection -- and it is time to turn the tables. The American people deserve a new Congress -- this time a Republican Congress. And they still block my proposals for campaign reform. We want to abolish special interest PAC's. The Democrats want the taxpayer to foot the bill for the reelection. Democrats talk about taxing the rich, but they all want to have every one of us throw in money for congressional elections. America needs a change. America needs a better deal.
You know, maybe I'm a little old-fashioned, but I think that a .3 trillion budget gives us ample room to dream again, to advance new ideas, to renew our government, to rethink and to restructure our priorities. But the Democratic Congress would rather raise taxes than raise the issue of reform. The problem isn't with the American people and their dream; the problem is this Democrat Congress that protects its perks and privileges and turns its back on the American dream. And I say we have had enough. That bill 2 weeks ago by the Democratic Congress would have raised the income taxes on every working family in America. They call it soak the rich -- every single family, because of the indexing, would have had a tax increase. And we fought it, and we beat it. And America needs a Republican Congress that will balance the budget by cutting spending, not by raising taxes on everybody here.
The Democratic Congress turned its back on our police officers. America needs a Republican Congress that will pass those laws that are necessary to finally get tough on crime. And there's only one way, there is only one way to send this message to Washington, and that is not to send the liberal Democrats back there so they can keep on going down the same tired old road.
You know, last month Oklahoma voters sent politicians a message, and they voted overwhelmingly to restrict State legislative terms to 12 years. Next week voters across this country can follow your lead. Term limitations applying to State officials will be on the ballot in California and in Colorado. But America doesn't have to wait for a ballot initiative to limit the terms of the Democrats in Congress; they can start next Tuesday. I have great confidence in the American people, the American ideals, which is why the remaining days of this campaign, and for the rest of Presidency, I'll take a message out there to the people: America doesn't need a liberal House of Lords. America needs a responsible Congress. America needs a Republican Congress.
Harry Truman reminded us that only a President represents all the people, can stand for the national interest and stand against the special interests. And in this spirit -- I think you'll all remember this -- I did extend my hand. I worked for a bipartisan solution to this horrible budget mess. And you sent me to Washington to govern, to make something good happen for our country. And I've tried very hard, only to have a parade of liberal Democrats march to the microphone in the well of the House to blame me for their failures. And my good will has been rewarded with business as usual. Well, I'll tell you something: America has had enough of business as usual, and we don't have to take it anymore. I say send me more Members of Congress who will vote like these two here today. I need them up there. And here in this State, people think straight and they like straight talk. So, do your talking at the polls on November 6th, and roll up your sleeves and elect this good man Governor of the State of Oklahoma because you deserve the best.
And as for me -- I know you're glad this is over; it's hot in here. But I'm just getting warmed up. But I'm really not. [Laughter] As for me, I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to crisscross this country from coast to coast and take this message to the American people: More Republican Congressmen means more men and women fighting against raising taxes and against the big spenders, and for the values of faith and family, government close to the people that everybody in the State of Oklahoma believes in. More Republicans means a better deal for America. And it doesn't get any straighter than that. And I can't wait to get out on that campaign trail for the rest of the days before the elections.
Thank you. Elect this good man Governor. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you all very much.
Note: The President spoke at 3:40 p.m. at the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.