Public Papers - 1991
Remarks at the Fundraising Dinner for Senator Christopher S. Bond in St. Louis, Missouri
Thank you so much. And Kit, thank you. You're setting the tone. Thank all of you out there in this audience for supporting a great United States Senator, and for supporting this party -- 1992's a critical year. And what a tremendous sendoff this is.
May I salute Senator Danforth. And thank you for being a tower of strength. May I salute all our statewide officers that are here. I'm also told that hall of famers Bobby Bell and Buck Buchanan are here. The great Gatlin Brothers, great friends of Kit's and mine that we'll hear from in a little bit.
And I'm just delighted all of you could be here. My brother, I would like to single him out, my brother, Buck, finance chairman. You're tired of hearing from him, I know, but nevertheless I'm glad to see him. Talk about all in the family.
Governor Ashcroft, whom I forgive for declaring broccoli the State vegetable. [Laughter] I can't tell you how closely we work with this Governor and how much respect I have for his judgment. And most of all, though, we're to salute our now and future Senator Kit Bond and, of course, his lovely wife Carolyn. And it is nice to have a chance to spend a little time in this city where my own mother was born and raised. My favorite mystic, St. Louis', also New York's, Yogi Berra, once said of a restaurant, ``Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.'' [Laughter] Get it? Nope. Okay. [Laughter]
Well, I'm pleased to see this capacity crowd. There's not a nobody in the room. And I know we have other entertainment, including, as I mentioned, one of our Bush family favorites, the Gatlin Brothers, who've been up with us at Camp David. And I really enjoy coming here, though, to honor this bright star of Missouri, a bright star of the Senate. And, of course, I mean Kit.
We first met in 1968. He came over to our house for hamburgers. The next year, he became Assistant Attorney General for the Consumer Protection Division.
[At this point there was a disruption in the audience.]
That's all right. This happens every place you go. They have their say here, and they'll be escorted quietly out. But let me just say something while they're taken care of. The Federal Government is doing a first-class job on research for AIDS. And we are going to keep on doing it until we can bring a compassionate end to this American tragedy. And I have no problem at all with their speaking their mind.
I don't want to get off the beaten text here. But I just thought Magic Johnson was fantastic the other day when he faced up to this. And I believe speaking out with compassion, doing what we're doing on research is the answer to this terrible problem that plagues not just the United States but many others. So, I have no anger in my heart when I hear people that are expressing their concerns.
I was talking about Kit -- right after he had hamburgers with us, he became the Assistant Attorney General for the Consumer Protection Division. No relationship between the two events, I don't believe. [Laughter] But then he went on, was elected State auditor; at 33, your Governor -- the youngest in Missouri history; and finally, junior Senator. And he impressed us all so much that we knew we had to have him to be the campaign chairman for Bush-Quayle in '88.
And there's an old saying, that what goes around, comes around. And in 1986, Kit Bond was elected to the United States Senate. And the time has now come to send him back. And he deserves it. He's earned the support of the people in Missouri. And he has a record to build on, not empty rhetoric to run around. We hear a lot of political demagoguery from the other party, but it won't sell in Missouri. The motto here is ``Show me,'' not ``Snow me.'' And that's why I believe he's going to win this race.
Kit and Jack Danforth and your great Governor, Governor Ashcroft and I have fundamental differences with the liberal Democrats who control both Houses of the United States Congress. Let me just try tonight to define some of these differences. They want mandates. This means they want to pass more and more bills dictating to the States how to solve problems: education programs, crime programs, health programs. Some subcommittee chairman that's been for 30 years telling the people of Missouri how they ought to solve the great social problems. And we want federalism. We want the power to be in the hands of the Governors and in the hands of the local authorities and, bless them, in the hands of the families of the United States by providing choice when it comes to education and child care.
The national Governors, and I'm talking Democrats and Republicans, tell me that the major problem they have is being saddled with more and more mandates by some of these empowered committee chairmen in Washington that pass legislation after legislation or attempt to pass it that just tells the States how to do everything. And we've got to stand up against that.
And the liberals just don't understand that Federal money, as they call it, is your money. It is the taxpayers' money. And I am determined to protect your interests.
We all saw Jack Danforth's, I'd say not just heroic, but, try to say this right, wonderful example of his character as he stood beside Clarence Thomas. And here's a little something that irked me, plenty did out of all of that. But did you know that with all the pious talk by some of those Democrats about sexual harassment, which is a concern and which we should do something about, but all the pious talk about sexual harassment, the Senate, as the debate went on, had exempted itself from the same sexual harassment laws that everyone else in the land has to live by. And I don't think that's right. And if we had different leaders up in the United States Senate, that would be changed.
You see, we believe that it's time that people felt they had more control over their own lives when it comes to these Federal programs. And we want to enlarge personal dignity, push back this concept of impersonal government.
People matter to Kit. He cares deeply about them, just as they do to all of us here. And that's why we want to do more than complain about this economy that concerns us all. We want to give it a good boost. And as Senator, Kit has backed our growth initiatives: A cut in the capital gains tax; banking reform; personal savings incentives like IRA's to stimulate home buying; an R D, a research and development tax credit; more investment in science and technology and infrastructure. We need a new transportation bill that he's working hard on that will give Americans jobs and do it soon. We need our America 2000 education program that all three up here are helping us on.
And I mentioned yesterday that credit card interest rates, in my view, should come down. This isn't a Government decision. But I believe those rates should come down. And I'm pleased to say that some banks yesterday lowered their rates, and then one of the large credit card companies today lowered its rates. And I believe that's right. And I think that's good for the American economy. Give it a kick. Let's get this thing moving.
Kit supports our Council on Competitiveness, headed by our Vice President, who I think is doing a superb job. You talk about unfair criticism. The way this man holds up to it, he's doing just fine, thank you. And what he's trying to do, and we've got to redouble our effort, is to free workers and businesses from redtape, regulations, and again, these mandates. And people have better things to do than fill out plenty of reports all the time, reporting, reporting to Uncle Sam. And I might add, the Council is doing a good job trying to get a recalcitrant Democratic leadership to move on much needed tort reform, liability reform. These outrageous damage settlements are finishing off a lot of the small businesses in this country. We need to place caps on some of these outrageous claims.
So, we've got a growth program. It's there. It is a sound agenda. But while the people seek action, the liberals in Congress go out and hold a lot of press conferences, sell their funny little T-shirts, and sabotage the initiatives that the American people want. And I'm getting sick and tired of it.
They even refused to permit a vote on our capital gains tax cut to propel the economy when we had majorities in both the House and the Senate for this a couple of years ago. Couldn't even get it to the floor by some fancy parliamentary procedure out there.
They talk about fairness, and what they're really talking about these days, you listen to the proposals and listen to the load they're putting on me, they're talking about class warfare. And America grew out of that years ago. We're all in this together. And we cannot be divided by Democratic demagoguery.
We've got a good agenda, and they've got an agenda. Their agenda is to block our agenda. And so far I regret to report they're having some success because they've got our good troops here outnumbered. And worse, they try to lay the blame at my door, and I don't like that, and at yours, and I'm sure you don't like that either. Well, I think it's time to reject their propaganda and their excuses and demand some action. And frankly -- and I think the American people see this -- these guys that write these stories think I live and die by the polls. Well, I don't. I certainly don't want to die by them. [Laughter] But I see these polls out there. And I've got to confess every once in a while, I look at it. And the American people aren't dumb. You know who they blame for the dilemma that we're in today, that we're trying to fight our way out of? They blame the United States Congress, and that means the one-party control, the Democratic leadership in the United States Congress.
You want to talk a little domestic agenda? You want to talk a little more domestic agenda? Okay. On March 20th, I submitted a banking reform legislation to the Congress. That was 238 days ago. No legislation. And our banks should be able to compete with these domineering foreign banks. And they can't do it if we don't change the law. No action, 238 days. On March 11th, I sent Congress a crime bill. That was 247 days, and our policemen are out there and they need our support on the streets. And we need a crime bill that says we care a little more about the law enforcement and a little less about those who commit the crimes.
Domestic agenda? Okay. On March 4th, I sent energy legislation. We need a national energy strategy. It is my view we are too dependent on foreign oil. And the war over there ought to have taught us that. That was 254 days ago, no bill. On February 13th, up went our transportation legislation. That was 273 days ago, and you guessed it, no bill on my desk. And on May 22d, I sent Congress a national education strategy legislation. And 175 days later, surprise, surprise, no bill.
Look, I think the American people understand that from the very first day I took office I held out my hand to the Congress. And some of the Republican Party thought maybe I did it a little too much. Some thought that I was a little too willing to negotiate, to compromise. I tried. I have held out my hands to those leaders. I have caught their javelins. I have absorbed their blows because I've been trying to get something done for the good of the American people. And I've tried to work with that Democratic leadership. And I owe it to the American people to continue to try, because I do believe that our kids need a good chance at a good education, not just some dozen years of babysitting.
We've got a great education program. And I'm going to keep on trying. But I'll tell you this: When this election rolls around, if I decided to become a candidate, I'm getting warmed up here -- [laughter] -- but if I do, I'm going to take this case to the American people and say, ``Give me more men like Kit Bond. Give me some good women on our side like Nancy Kassebaum. Give me more Senators like Jack Danforth, and you watch this country move ahead.''
Oh, there's so much to do. I mentioned America 2000, our education program. It's good. We've got a great man, a great friend of John Ashcroft's, Lamar Alexander is our Secretary, bringing this revolutionary new approach to the parents and the families, saying we've got to do better for our kids. Trying to restore peace in our streets, give people an opportunity to live free of fear. And we've got to have a new crime bill. The Senate passed a good crime bill, and I credit these Senators right here. But the Democrats in the House tried to undo much of it.
One area where we have gotten bipartisan cooperation, and this is important to every family, transcends party lines, is on our national drug strategy. And we launched a strategy to combat drugs; it is producing real results. Casual use of heroin in this country and cocaine, these things are going down. We're making progress. We have a long way to go, but at least there's some good signs out there for the American family on that front.
I believe we need this job-creating transportation legislation. Kit knows the condition of Missouri roads and bridges. And he told me he was surprised I could drive to this event and glad I don't have to cross the bridge to St. Charles to get here. [Laughter] Help me elect a Congress that knows that if we want to keep America on the rise, we've got to keep it on the move.
And let me just mention, before closing, some international aspects to this, international leadership, worldwide economic competition. Some in Congress, including some from Missouri, pretend that trade and security and international cooperation don't help the working men and women of this country. Well, just tell that to the more than 40 million Americans working in jobs that involve importing or exporting. Today, an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 Missouri jobs depend on exports. You know that military, economic, and political issues cross continents, and they cross borders. For instance, checking foreign protectionism means more American exports and more American jobs.
But some Democratic leaders in Congress just don't get it. They seem to be sounding again -- and yes, people are hurting -- they seem to be sounding again the siren call of protectionism. The worst thing we can do is to pull back into some protectionist cocoon. The job loss would be staggering. There are one or two of you old guys out here, old enough like I am to remember what happened when we went the protection route right there around the time of the Great Depression, and the whole world market shrank. And I am not going to be the President that shirks my responsibilities to expand our markets abroad.
There's a lot of change in the world, and we are the leaders, not just of the free world but of the emerging democracies around the world. And progress demands we accept that role and accept it eagerly, as a great people should. And we are a great Nation, a great people. And when a dictator threatened American lives, yes, we helped the Panamanian people validate their own free elections by kicking him out, seeing that he's brought to trial.
When a brutal tyrant invaded Kuwait, we helped roll back aggression and liberate a land. Was that victory foreign, was that domestic; what was it? I think it was in the fundamental national interest of the United States that we led the world to say one country's not going to brutalize its neighbor. It's good for your kids and mine, and it's good for the entire world.
And as communism crumbled, we made it clear, typical American spirit, we made it clear that we will support those who promote democracy and free enterprise, and thank God we did. Is democracy, is that foreign or is that domestic? Is it right to work with Gorbachev and Yeltsin for exciting peaceful change? Can you imagine if all this new democracy and freedom and market economy works in the Soviet Union, what that means in terms of our own trade? Certainly I know what it means in terms of peace for generations to come. Is that neglecting my job to pay attention to these major problems of change that face the world?
Is it historic and wonderful, as I believe, to bring the warring parties together to talk peace in the Middle East as we did at Madrid, or am I neglecting something? I wish every one of you could have been in the room with me and felt the wonder of that moment when ancient enemies came under the same roof. We've a long way to go before we can say peace, but I am going to keep on working for peace around the world. It benefits your kids, again, and it benefits mine.
Today, we need more leaders like these two Senators up here and this Governor. They know what I'm talking about. Missouri is linked to trade in Singapore. Kit understands this. He helped draft the 1990 farm bill, which has made America more competitive overseas. Someone asked Kit how he got 23 provisions in the bill. ``Simple,'' he said, ``Missourians gave me the best ideas.'' He listens to the people and makes something happen in Washington, DC.
He understands that military aircraft built in St. Louis can help keep the peace. He led the successful fight to make the F - and A - 18 the Navy's carrier-based aircraft for the next decade. And he believes in exports that work, whether it is corn or soybeans or the sunshine of democracy, and so do I. And last year, I was in Cartagena, Colombia. Why? To help work with them to keep drugs out of our cities and out of our schools and away from our families. Was that foreign or was that domestic?
Last week, I was in Rome and The Hague. Why? To work for peace at home and abroad and to promote the cause of free and fair trade and to say to every farmer in the State of Missouri, we are going to keep hammering away on these GATT talks until the Europeans open their markets to the agricultural product of the United States of America. And it is in our interest that I do that, and I'm going to keep on doing it. I don't care what your Congressman from Missouri says about it.
As we approach the 21st century, let's remember, isolationism makes no sense; never did. It represents an old ignorance that was scorned by my predecessors Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy, and that all Presidents and the American people since have looked upon with disdain. I speak of the ignorance that inspires people to hide from the rest of the world, wishing our problems away instead of creating solutions. It urges them to blame others rather than to call forth the best in ourselves.
I want to do better. I will continue to work my heart out to see that this economy gets on the move. I just wish I had more Members of Congress to implement this program I've outlined for you here tonight. More Members like Kit and Jack, we could be moving sooner. But we're going to keep on. And I'm going to keep that hand of friendship and cooperation extended to the Congress of the United States. I think I owe that to the American people. But I am not going to do it their way. The only way you can make -- when you don't have a majority -- make something good happen, is to veto bad legislation. And I'm going to keep right on vetoing it until we can make something good happen for this country.
Kit Bond's work embodies his motto, I think there's some of the things I've talked about tonight, ``Values we believe in, experience we trust.'' So, my plea tonight is let's make the most of those values. And let's use them to celebrate America. Let's use them to reelect Kit Bond to be Senator from the great State of Missouri. Let's use them to enhance the standing of the United States of America at home and abroad. We are lucky to be Americans and God bless the United States of America.
Note: The President spoke at 6:38 p.m. at the Riverport Amphitheater. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.