Public Papers - 1991
Remarks at the Bush-Quayle Fundraising Dinner in Dallas, Texas
Thank you, Ray Hunt, and thank all of you. Barbara and I are thrilled and delighted to be with you. And, Ray, thank you for your leadership on this dinner, you and Perry Bass, and Elvis, and my dear friends, Bill and Rita Clements, the great Governor of this State. Phil Gramm, and Tom Loeffler, and all the chairmen and cochairmen, thank you for this fantastic welcome back home.
And I might say, if I don't get in trouble with the FEC, that's the Federal Election Commission, thank you for a wonderful send-off. I am grateful to each and every one of you. And Phil put it pretty well; I do feel a lot of love in this room, a lot of friendship. And I don't care if you're starting out in Midland or Odessa, as Bar and I did in 1948, or whether you come up through the precincts in Houston, Texas, or run with the support of friends statewide with a spectacular lack of success for the Senate in 1964 and '70, you couldn't make it without friends. You couldn't make it without people who care. And we have been blessed in our life by the friendships from the people of this State, and we will never, ever forget how we got this opportunity to serve our country.
And it's the greatest time in history to be President of the United States, and I'm grateful to each and every one of you.
And I'm very proud of our statewide political team. I mentioned Bill Clements. I must say I wish you were in Austin right now. I shouldn't wish that on anybody, but -- [laughter] -- we miss him badly. And I miss his counsel as Governor and his leadership.
But I salute our State chairman Fred Meyer, who is doing a superb job. And he's working hard to see that we get a fair shake in redistricting, I might add. And then, of course, our statewide office holders, my dear and old friend, Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry, who did the Lord's work by getting selected to commissioner of agriculture. [Laughter]
Reverend Benton, thank you. And to this magnificent music, I don't know how to begin to say thank you to the Texas Boys Choir, to the Vocal Majority, University of North Texas Band. You are magnificent, and thank you all for this very special treat.
And I debated what to talk about. Really, we're here to talk about America's bright hopes for the future, a future that really is built on special values that we've always held dear. These values are special to Texas: A commitment to economic growth, a steadfast respect for the individual, a proud determination to carry faith in democracy to the rest of the world.
Phil Gramm knows what I'm talking about. So do thousands of other Texans, millions of Americans. We have an extraordinary opportunity before us. Together we can cement the gains that Phil talked about, that Ray talked about. We can build on those gains. And let me tell you why. I think we can build on them not only in foreign affairs, but I think we can build on them domestically. And the reason is I really believe that the values we all share are right for the United States. The program that I have is right for the United States. And we've got a slight problem: We've got too darn many liberal Democrats controlling every House of the United States Congress, every committee, every subcommittee, and they can't think of one new idea. All they can try to do is block my domestic agenda.
And that's what I want to talk to you tonight about. We need your help in making some of these changes.
Frankly, we believe that government should ease the burdens on the people. And we believe that for a fundamental reason. We believe that because we have an abiding faith in the communities, in the neighborhoods, in the people themselves. And we understand that when we talk about issues, what we're really talking about are human values; we're talking about people. For example, too often we talk of the economy as if it were something dry and technical, rather than what it really is: The lifeblood of the American dream.
Years ago I learned that economics focuses mostly on people, not on numbers. And I do remember those early days in Odessa, 1948, and then Midland right after that. Then your word was your bond. You shook hands with a guy on an oil deal, Perry, and it kept; it took. That's all you needed. You didn't need 25,000 lawyers drawing up escrow agreements. You had the values out there.
The neighborhood meant something. The strength of family was strong and meant something. And as Ray touched on it and this music said faith was terribly, terribly important. You chose your schools, taught people without being afraid of it, to say the Pledge of Allegiance or to express their patriotism.
Now, it doesn't take long for anyone to understand that the great strength of our country is in the neighborhoods and in the cities and in the towns and, yes, in the family and in our churches and synagogues. It is not shielded and isolated in subcommittees on Capitol Hill. Not by a long shot. It is in the neighborhoods and the families of West Texas and Dallas and Houston and South Texas and the Panhandle and Waco and wherever. It's a strength that comes from a simple source: freedom. Let the liberal Democrats then pursue these programs that enlarge Government, that dictate to every single community by mandated benefits how you're going to run your schools if you want that Federal money. That's your money. If you want that Federal money, you have to live by code A, B, C, or D. And you have to have 25 regulators coming in to be sure that you live by the mandate set by a subcommittee chairman that's been in office 30 years. That's not good enough for America, and I want to change this Congress.
The problem is in the Congress of the United States on the liberal Democrats that control it. And I have been a javelin catcher too long up there. I have been kind, and I have been gentle. And I have tried to work with these guys that control the Congress, the liberals on one side, and I'm tired of it. And I can't wait to be a candidate, when I decide to be one -- [laughter] -- and take this to the American people. They are tired of it. They are sick and tired of it.
I'll tell you something. They say, ``No domestic agenda.'' They've got a domestic agenda, and that's blocking my domestic agenda. Those old guys who control those subcommittees haven't had a new idea in the 30 years they've been there. [Laughter] And it's time to change it. And I mean it.
Why do you think the American people are so excited about term limitations? They've wised up. They understand it. And I'm going to fight for that, too, all next year. It only seems fair. I've got to limit my term. Why shouldn't they limit their term? [Laughter] Fairplay.
Let's talk about a growth package. I've been pressing the Congress for a real growth package. It started in my first State of the Union, second State of the Union, third State of the Union. Let me just give you my views on what -- if we had more decent-thinking people in the Congress like Phil Gramm -- what we could do to help the economy.
There are some people hurting in this country, and they're hurting bad. And their families can't make ends meet. And some people are getting put out of work. And they need a growth package that's going to create jobs. And I've called for the things that I believe would help, and they've been opposed day in and day out by the liberals that control and the United States Congress.
One of them, let them call it a tax break for the rich. I will bear, as I said last night in Houston, all the political burden that they can heap upon me for calling a capital gains cut a tax for the rich. It is a jobs creator. It is an entrepreneurship bill. We can get more jobs and more businesses going by a capital gains differential than any other single thing. So, call it what you want to, but give it a try. The American people want it. It shows up in the polls, and they ought to have it. And they don't have it because the Democrats want to make political hay instead of putting this country back to work through new jobs created by small business.
We've got to increase our savings base in this country, and that's why I've pushed for incentives like IRA's. Particularly those that can stimulate the housing business. And that's all caught up in an old thinking of the leadership of the United States Congress. I've called for the creation of a permanent R D tax credit, research and development, so we can retain the cutting edge that we have in technology. And it's absolutely essential. Not a shortrun boost to the economy but something long-run that is going to guarantee our competitiveness around the world. And that means jobs.
I want to see more investment in science and technology to keep us ahead of the curve in world competition. I want to see us do more in cutting needless Government redtape that frustrates innovation and efficiency. And instead of that, the Congress comes out with more and more regulations. And thank God we've got a good Vice President up there that's trying to cut through them and lift the regulatory burden on the small businessmen of this country.
Jobs -- we need jobs. I'll tell you a job intensive improvement bill, and that's the transportation bill. My State of the Union message, I said to the Congress, I need two pieces of legislation. We've got plenty that we need. We need to do more on education. We need to do more on these economic incentives. But give me a crime bill and give me a transportation bill in 100 days. It is now 242 days, and I haven't had either one of them on my desk.
A transportation bill would put a lot of Americans to work and put them to work fast. And we need it. Our infrastructure needs it. And yet, we've got people that are haggling up there, moving the previous question, seconding the motion, going about all this parliamentary gobbledy-gook when the American people want action. And you give me a Senate controlled by people like Phil Gramm, and you'll get plenty of quick action. And it will be sensible, and it will keep the taxpayers' interest in mind.
I've told you why this economy hasn't gotten the kind of shot in the arm we need. In short, one party has controlled both Houses of the Congress far too long. We did control the Senate when President Reagan came in, and you can take the offense. He took his case to the people. He said, here's what I want to do: A, B, and C. And at least in the Senate you could begin to move the process. You could get your ideas tried.
Today I pointed out these things, and they aren't even willing to try them. The only way I have gotten some good legislation passed is to veto bad legislation and make clear to this Congress I am not going to pass any more of your bad legislation. Now, if you want to compromise, fine. But I am not going to accept it the way you send it down because the people elected me to go forward with these ideas, and you ought to give our ideas a chance. And I'm not going to change. I don't care what title they have on it.
You've heard the question: Why does the President seem to have successes in foreign affairs, difficulty in domestic affairs? The answer is a cinch. [Laughter] It's very, very clear. If I had had to get Ted Kennedy's approval to move General Schwarzkopf to the Persian Gulf, Saddam Hussein would be in Saudi Arabia and Schwarzkopf would have been in Florida still. That's the difference. And that's a fact. And the American people know it's a fact.
It's not a political statement. That is a fact. [Laughter] You just look at the record on those things. [Laughter] Suppose I had to call up the subcommittee chairman of the Armed Forces Subcommittee on Latin America and say, ``Hey, do you think we ought to take a drug dealer out and save the lives of Americans, and get Noriega out and give democracy a chance in Panama?'' They'd still be moving the previous question, asking some parliamentary order, ``Mr. President, can I speak now?''
We do it because you have the power, the national security responsibility and the Presidency. And that's clear, and the American people know it's clear.
The other night I was in Madrid, maybe still on Madrid time. I feel a little groggy here. But the other night I was in Madrid. I think we've done something great. We've got a great Texas Secretary of State in Jim Baker who is working his heart out for peace. And we've done something that the most cynical believed we could never do. Because of the new profound strength of the United States and prestige, frankly, of the United States around the world, as a result of Desert Storm, we were able to bring warring factions together, as Phil said, people who have been at war for thousands of years to at least talk, to come together under the same roof in Madrid and to begin to at least talk about peace.
I don't know what's going to happen in that. I don't know how successful we're going to be. But it was success to just bring those parties together. And it was hard work. And you had to stand up against the skeptics and you challenge old shibboleths and you had to go foward and try the most complicated diplomacy. And whether it succeeds or not, it's worth the candle, it's worth the effort.
And I'm over there. I'm dead tired. I flip on CNN, which was in my bedroom there in the Embassy in Madrid. And I hear the assistant Democrat leader of the House demonstrating his interest in the domestic agenda, criticizing the President of the United States for being in Madrid and trying to bring about peace between these warring factions. I'm sorry, I don't care what this little man thinks. I'm going to keep on leading and try to do my best for the United States of America and peace for his kids and for my kids.
Let him carp. Let him criticize. It's not going to get to me one bit, because I'm going to take my case to the American people, I think, if I decide to become a candidate for President of the United States. [Laughter]
The Democratic leaders in the Senate, they won't permit a straight up and down vote on capital gains. More of them are beginning to talk about it. I have key economic appointments to the Federal Reserve Board, been sitting there, one of them, Bob Clark, a Texan for comptroller. That nomination has been up there for 9 months. We have two directors of the Fed, Federal Reserve Board, the Fed. We've got some problems there. We need the best minds we can have there. And yet, they're blocking these two nominations.
My suggestion to them is do the people's business. If you don't want the people I have up there, send them back. Say you won't approve it. But don't let everybody sit in limbo. And the Senate ought to reform itself and stop putting holds on nominees. Consider them. Advise, consent, but don't just sit there doing nothing when we need good people on the Fed.
I think the American people know that I've tried to reach out. I've tried the kinder and gentler approach, and I'm going to keep on because I want to see some good. Might not sound like it tonight -- [laughter] -- but I'm going to keep on because I really believe that you can get something done. And we have. We've gotten some good -- a good legislation through in a compromised way. And sometimes when I beat back their bad legislation, we come together and get reasonable legislation done.
But let me give you an example on what's going on on that one. There are some Americans that have had their benefits run out for unemployment. They're hurting. Their families are hurting. I don't care whether you're Republican or liberal or conservative or Democrat, whatever you are. When somebody in America is hurting like that you've got to try to do something about it. You've got to care. You've get to feel a sense of compassion for those that are hurting in this country, and there are plenty, unfortunately.
So, I'd like to see an extended benefits check go out to these people. And I've told the Congress what I want. What I want is a bill that will extend these benefits; do it on a temporary basis. We're not going to mandate some whole new program there. Take care of those that are hurting now, and get the economy moving so they won't be hurting in the future. Take care of them, and get those benefit checks out. But do it without burdening everybody that's working in this country, all those that are not working that are paying taxes.
Do it within the budget agreement with the caps on spending is the only control that the taxpayers have over the reckless spending of the Democrats that control the Congress. Do it in a way to protect the taxpayer and still demonstrate the compassion that we feel for these people. And they'd rather, as I said last night -- I used an unfortunate analogy. I said they were trying to stick it up my ear. [Laughter] Let me try to rephrase that for you. [Laughter] No, what they're doing, what they're doing is trying to make political capital while these people are hurting out there.
I hate to tell you, but I read in the paper this morning that the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, who, yesterday, compared me to Herbert Hoover, wants to get his people to vote one more time so I'll have to veto one more time so he can then go to, in a demagogic fashion to the American people one more time to say that I'm against those people that are out of work. And, fortunately, it appears that the other Democratic leaders are much more interested in helping the people that need help and coming together with me to get a deal that will extend these unemployment benefits in the way I've told you I want it done.
And I don't care what the Majority Leader of the Senate thinks about my performance or what he thinks about what he can embarrass me into doing. If he sends me down a bill that's going to bust this budget agreement, I'm going to veto it and send it right back and get some legislation that is good for these people and good for the taxpayer.
I've been 3 years in this job now, and I've never criticized the Majority Leader before. But he is not going to dish it out and then be unable to take it. I refuse to catch his javelins anymore. I'm going to throw them right back because I've got the truth on my side.
And let me just say on other bills, I am going to veto -- I'm not going to worry about it -- any bill that busts this budget agreement, that increases the outrageous deficit that we are laying on your kids and my grandchildren. We've gone too far. And we have in place constraints on spending. Every day, you find some new dire emergency, they call it, to bail out some special program. And I'm going to hold the line because that is the only protection that all the American people have against reckless spending that is dry-mortgaging the future of our grandchildren and our children.
Let me say that I am pleased when we do get cooperative work with the Congress. I don't want to say we never do. We can get a crime bill. We can get one that says to every guy that's patrolling the drug areas in Dallas, every policeman, ``We're with you. We're going to help you. We're going to get you exclusionary rule reform, or habeas corpus reform. And we're going to have a death penalty for those that kill police officers, and it's going to be prompt and fair.'' The problem is, we've got a good bill out of the Senate, and now we've got these same subcommittee old thinkers in the House trying to block it.
I believe we can get a decent crime bill. I believe we can get a decent transportation bill. Unfortunately, today the extremes blocked a bipartisan energy bill. Bennett Johnston, a Democrat; Malcolm Wallop, a Republican, have a decent bill. And it was blocked by some parliamentary procedure up there because they're worrying about the caribou in Alaska when I'm worrying about jobs for the American people. I'll go with the people. Let them go with the caribou.
Bipartisanship -- we've got something going in education. We've got a great Secretary of Education. He's got a great deputy in David Kearns. We're working with the Democrats. We're going around those subcommittee chairmen. We're working with Democratic Governors and Republican Governors on this program America 2000. It's good. It revolutionizes education, moves our people up, gives families a choice of where they want their kids to go to school.
And if we can somehow manage to keep that program out of those subcommittees I'm talking about, we can really offer our children a brighter future, and I want to be a part of that. I want to see that succeed. And I believe we can do it.
The liberal Democrats, they've got one formula: Spend a little more money. Do you know what the figures are in education? We spent 0 billion on education, total, around '80 or '81, and it's now up to 0 billion. And their answer is, ``Hey, you cut out billion here, or you didn't add this or that.'' That's not the point. You've got to revolutionize these schools. You've got to think anew, as Lincoln said, ``You've got to start over.'' And that's exactly what we're trying to do.
I have one other thing about the Congress I'd like to bring up here to see if I can generate any support. I have an old-fashioned feeling that Congress ought not to exempt itself from the laws it makes others comply with. I don't know whether that makes any sense or not.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. I don't know whether you were glued to your TV when the Clarence Thomas hearings were on. We heard a lot about sexual harassment. But did you know, did you know the liberals that control this Congress have seen to it that Congress exempted itself from the sexual harassment laws at the same time they were piously lecturing the rest of the country?
I think the American people want Congress to comply with the same laws that you and I have to live with.
And the last point, and this is the last one, I really do believe that there is an interaction between foreign policy and domestic policy. Somebody mentioned, either Phil or Ray mentioned the free trade agreement with Canada. Yes, I go down to Mexico, and yes, I deal with their marvelous new President, Carlos Salinas. And yes, we're working, spending a fair amount of time trying to get that done. But that's not foreign policy per se. That's a better border for Texas. That's a better environment along our border. That's more jobs for Americans. And I'm going to keep right on working with President Salinas until we can get this historic free trade agreement through. And the same with Canada.
When I meet with Mr. Gorbachev, as I did Monday night, ``Okay,'' you say, ``that's foreign policy.'' I think it is in the interest of every child and every school in Dallas that this marvelous, majestic move towards privatization and market economy succeed. And it is in the interest of every kid in this country that this revolution that's taken place in the Soviet Union be successful. And it is only the United States of America that's strong enough, knowledgeable enough, believes enough to see it happen.
Ask Bob Mosbacher. What a job he has done taking technology over there and business expertise to the Soviet Union. And so, let them carp, criticize all they want. Let them make their political brownie points. I am glad that our chance for peace has been enhanced and our chance for trade will be enhanced much more if we are successful in working with these new leaders in the Soviet Union and in the Republics.
I'm very proud of our country, and I am not negative about our country. Frustrated at times with the Congress? Yes. Willing to take my case to the American people? Absolutely. Willing to reach out my hand, as I have over and over again to the Democrats that control Congress? Yes, I'm going to keep right on trying because I want some things done, and the only way I can get them done under the status quo is to reach out.
But let me tell you this: Next year, I am going to go to the American people as clearly as I can. I'm going to put my record of the line, shortcomings, and hopefully, the people will think maybe the progress has outweighted the shortcomings and say, here's where I'm coming from. Here's the kind of help I need, and that a man like Phil Gramm needs in the United States Congress.''
We believe in these same values today in 1991 that I believed in, in Odessa that I mentioned in 1948: Neighborhood, family, freedom of individuals to make the choice on where their kids go and how we lead our lives, the importance of faith in our lives. I'm not embrassed to stand up and salute the flag. I'm proud of it. And America is proud of it again because of the way our kids behaved in Desert Storm.
And I want to take this message: Foreign policy, domestic policy successes we're had, and then those initiatives that need to be performed on. And there's plenty of them. But we've going to need your help, and you've given us a wonderful sendoff by this dinner here tonight. But we're going to need your help at the polls. We're going to need your help to see that our great Texas officers have more support in the elections that lie ahead. And we're going to need your support in working to help me change, change the character of this Congress so that your values and the values of Congress will be hand-in-hand and will be compatible.
I can tell you I never thought I'd look forward to another campaign. I thought I was getting a little too tired for that. And I'm ready. I'm ready because I believe there's so much at stake in this country, and I believe I'm blessed with a wonderful wife who absolutely has enraptured this country because they see in her something strong and decent. And you've given us your support. You've given us your support. And I'm going to do what my mother told me to do, ``Do your best. Try your hardest. Be a decent guy in the process, but work your heart out for what you believe in.'' You've helped me do that.
Thank you all, and may God bless the United States of America.
Note: The President spoke at 8:46 p.m. at the Reunion Ballroom in the Hyatt Regency Hotel.