Public Papers - 1992 - April
Remarks at a Bush-Quayle Fundraising Dinner in Columbus
Thank you, George, and thank all of you. It's a great honor to be introduced by Governor Voinovich, a man I've known for a long, long time and with whom I've worked for a long, long time. And thanks for that introduction, and to Janet, my respects. Barbara sends her love. And let me say what a great job the Pickerington High School Tiger Band has done with us tonight. Thank you all very much once again; appreciate it very, very much. And thank you, Rabbi Huber, for the invocation. Mr. Stokes, thank you for leading us in the pledge. And may I salute Columbus' mayor, Greg Lashutka; and my old friend with whom I've worked in Washington, now doing a great job here, and who I want to see back in Washington, the Lieutenant Governor, Mike DeWine. Mike, delighted to see you; Fran, to you let me just say Barbara is looking forward very much to being at your house in the next few days, and so I'm glad to see you here.
And may I salute Bob Bennett, our State chairman, doing a superb job in that great Ohio organizational way. With me tonight is our national finance chairman for Bush-Quayle, Bobby Holt, from west Texas, and I want to thank him and our regional chairman, Dick Freeland; our Bush-Quayle State chairman and dinner chairman, Tim Timken, another old friend from whom we heard tonight. He is always out on the firing line doing a superb job for the President, but also for the party of Ohio. Nobody has done more, and I'm very, very grateful to him. And may I thank fundraiser extraordinaire Vinny Gupta, and I'd be remiss if I also didn't thank the Indian community. And also I don't know who is looking after the hospitals in Ohio tonight, but I feel very safe here tonight. [Laughter]
And Jim Rhodes, the man who fought the lonely battle in favor of the caribou up in Alaska, is here with us tonight. What a job he did serving this State. Jim, delighted to see you. What I'm referring to about those caribou, Jim was very far-sighted, recognizing that this country ought not to become more and more dependent on foreign oil and pointing out that a pipeline would not bring environmental disaster to Alaska. And he was absolutely right. He's been proven right. So you have a clairvoyant in your midst as well as an ex-Governor. Jim, I'm glad to see you.
Now, I was here just a week ago for the opening of AmeriFlora, and I want to congratulate Columbus. I see Mr. Wolfe sitting here, and he had some help on this. I know he's been in the forefront of it all, John, but what a job Columbus has done on this major international event.
I was here to commemorate a voyage 500 years old; made me think of the Democrats. They aren't impressed with such antiquity. Most of their ideas are older than that. [Laughter] While the Democrats build their agenda, literally, if you look at it, on timeworn policies, we have built the Republican agenda on timeless legacies, three underpinnings: good jobs, strong families, and George dwelled on this one a little, world peace.
Yes, it is campaign season. I've seen these seasons come and go. I've watched sound bites compete with sound policy, the battles of the bumperstickers and the war of words. But I believe democracy is more than that. During one political season in Great Britain, here's what Margaret Thatcher said: ``We were told that our campaign wasn't sufficiently slick. We regard that as a compliment.'' You see, I believe that elections are about more than winning people's votes; they're about winning the trust of the American people. And that's what I will try to do again come November.
I've watched candidates try to convince people that the sky is falling just so they can promise the moon. But our national symbol is not Chicken Little; it is the American eagle. Our national spirit isn't self-doubt; it is self-confidence, self-reliance. What is the American dream? It's a dream that we struggled to make come true.
Now, I know this, and we all know it, and we all feel it in our hearts: There are places in America where people are caught up in a tragic cycle of despair and poverty. But the answer to a system that perpetuates such a cycle is change, peaceful and thoughtful change. Tonight I call on every American to show restraint and to respect people's rights and property.
The violence that we saw last night wrenched our hearts. We saw it there in east L.A., and it must not be repeated. It was ugly, mob brutality, selfish attack, mob brutality, the ugliest kind. And TV cameras didn't capture it all by any means. According to Los Angeles fire officials, between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m., they were called to respond to an average of three new fires every minute. But worse, there were firemen, public servants, unheralded firemen risking their lives fighting arson, who were assaulted themselves, sometimes with gunfire, even with axes.
We must condemn violence. We must make no apology for the rule of law or the requirement to live by it. At the same time, we must not tolerate racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, or hate of any kind, anywhere. Not over the dinner table, not in the board room, not on the playground, nowhere in America. We must stand together on that. When we're in troubled times, and these are, we must work to make the dream of such a society, just society, real for our children. I believe in my heart, I really believe that we can do just exactly that.
As President, I pledge to this Nation I will do what I can to heal the wounds. I will see that the law's enforced. When it comes under the responsibility of the President, yes, I'll do that. Society deserves that sense of order. But I will do my level-best to heal the wounds and to bring people together in the aftermath of the ugliness that we witnessed last night. A President should do no less.
Now, think of what we've accomplished, building on what George said, around the world. It is indeed inspiring. Years ago when we thought about the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, we dreamed of free people with freer markets and fewer bombs, and then we all worked to make that come true. I take great pride that it was American leadership that has diminished for our children the threat of nuclear war. No longer do they go to bed at night worrying about whether we're going to be caught up in a nuclear holocaust. That is big; that is important, significant change for the whole world. I am proud to have been a part of it.
For our neighbors in South America, we envisioned peace and democracy. Now we are on the threshold of an entirely free and democratic hemisphere. When the Iraqi nightmare threatened to engulf the Middle East, America protected the people of Israel and Turkey and Saudi Arabia and helped liberate that small country of Kuwait. In the process we turned what had been the mirage of 44 years into an oasis of hope. We brought Arab neighbors, in something that is truly historic, face to face with Israel for the first time, for the first step towards peace.
There were those that said that the defeat of communism, the liberation of the oppressed, the triumph of democracy, that all these things were nothing but a dream. They were right. It was an American dream.
America helped create a world of freer people and freer markets. That has brought greater prosperity, but it's also brought greater competition. There's good news: All around the world more and more people are buying American. Our exports shot up 7 percent in February to a record high of almost billion. That's bad news for this Chicken Little mentality, but that's good news for America. It sums up words that will help chart a new American destiny: If we are to succeed economically at home, we have to lead economically abroad. We are not going to pull back into some isolationistic or protectionist mood as long as I am President of the United States.
You see, by expanding trade with other countries, we expand opportunity within our own. And sure, the competition's tough; we know that. But the answer isn't to build up trade barriers; it's to get other countries to tear down theirs. Last week I met with the heads of Europe's Common Market, Mr. Cavaco Silva and Mr. Delors, to talk about the world trade negotiations. If these negotiations succeed, an agreement could pump trillion into the global economy over the next 10 years, with the U.S. share topping trillion.
We're also working on our southern trade front with negotiations on what we call NAFTA, the North American free trade agreement, an agreement that would increase trade with Mexico by billions of dollars and create good American jobs right here in the State of Ohio. This agreement isn't about good politics; it's about good policy and good American jobs. And I have faith in open trade because I have faith in the American worker. And when trade is free and fair, the American worker can beat the competition fair and square, outwork, outhustle any worker anywhere in the world.
Fair competition, though, doesn't just mean playing by the same rules, it means competing with the same tools. I'm talking about the cost of capital. Tough competition from Germany, no capital gains tax there; Japan, an entrepreneur who sells the company he's built from scratch pays a tax of one percent. A low capital gains tax rate encourages investment, and that means new jobs.
When I listen to our critics rail against capital gains and then turn around and complain about foreign competition, it makes me think of someone who would price eggs at 0 a carton and then complains that no one wants to make omelets. A lower capital gains rate wouldn't just benefit someone who runs a business, it would help people who own homes or farms or simply seek better jobs. It's time to quit playing politics with this issue and cut the capital gains tax. And I will keep pushing the Congress to do just that.
While they're at it, I'd like to see them pass my first-time homebuyers credit -- it would stimulate the housing market -- and our investment tax allowance that would stimulate investment in our productive machinery in this country. We're going to keep on trying to get that through Congress in spite of this election year.
If America is to remain truly competitive, we've got to stop regulating our businesses out of business. Washington really doesn't understand the deadly process that can turn redtape into pink slips. And here in Columbus, the city government -- the Mayor knows this -- they have projected that over the next decade the cost of complying with Federal environmental regulations alone would be .6 billion. That's for a community whose entire city budget last year, Greg, was what, 1 million?
It's time to put a stop to costly, counterproductive regulations. In January I announced a 90-day moratorium in that State of the Union Message -- that was what, 92 days ago -- moratorium on Federal regulation. We blocked regulations that hurt growth and speeded up regulations that help growth, and our efforts have paid off. Just since January the reforms we've set in motion will save consumers billion to billion a year. That is a saving of 5 to 0 a year for the average American household, and that is just the beginning. It is not being done to put worker safety at risk or the environment at risk. Wednesday, I ordered a 120-day extension of the moratorium on new regulation. And I put Congress on notice, telling them that I will veto any bill that attempts to put excessive new burdens of regulation on the backs of our families, our consumers, our workers, and our businesses. There will be no return to business-as-usual in the field of regulation.
I know there's been a lot of talk about change in this election year. Most of it has been just talk. But that's not good enough if we're going to build a truly better America. I've called for reform. More importantly, I've acted with far-reaching proposals for reform, and George generously referred to one of them: education, also in health care, in our courts, and in our campaigns. We've won our battles, but we've not yet won the war. Too often, in too many ways, Congress and an army of special interests have stood in the way of change. They're not interested in reform. They stand squarely behind the status quo. They may be powerful. They may be influential, too. They may be well-connected. But let me tell you this: They are wrong. They are not going to stand in the way of bringing the kind of change that American people want.
First, our legal system: Volunteers -- and everyone has a horror story on this -- volunteers are afraid to volunteer, doctors are afraid to deliver babies, parents afraid to coach Little League, all because of the fear of lawsuits. And that's wrong. People should spend more time helping each other and less time suing each other. That's why we've introduced proposals to reform our legal system. And sure, the system's complicated, and yes, people's rights must be protected. But the system needs reform, and we are not going to let any powerful lobby stand in the way. This is going to the American people to be decided in November if I can't get action by the Congress this summer.
Second, in education, our America 2000 reforms are gaining steam, break-the-mold schools, national standards and testing, community by community. And whether it's among public schools or private schools or religious, parents deserve the right to choose their children's schools. It's a giant undertaking to change the Nation's education system, but we are going to do it with or without a note of approval from the NEA or the Congress. Fortunately, much of our America 2000 program can be decided by the people in the communities. This is happening with Ohio 2000.
Third, health care: No one should have to go broke just to get better. That's wrong, and it's got to change. While our health care is still the finest quality in the world, too many people can't qualify for health insurance or simply cannot afford it. Some say the answer is what they call nationalized health care. Ask the Canadian waiting months for critical surgery; ask him what he thinks of that idea. Our health care proposal is comprehensive. It opens access. It lowers cost. But it does not and will not lower the quality of American hospital care. National health care is a prescription for national disaster. We cannot let that happen, but we will fight to pass the new program that I favor.
In these and so many areas that demand reform, our Government can play a positive role. I figured this out the other day, as we get into the campaign: One half of my adult life has been spent in the private sector, working for a living, and one half in the government. I think I'm working for a living, but it's different, believe me. One half in the private sector, one half in government, and I've seen this country change, sometimes for the better, and yes, sometimes for the worse. You need to know what needs to be changed. Change, as I said, for change's sake, that's meaningless. It takes more than happy talk, more than lip service to reform and then full service to special interests.
The Democratic Party, I am convinced, will always revert to form, attacking problems by creating programs. They don't understand that people want a return to some old-fashioned values like responsibility, accountability. When it comes to Government, the American people know as Government tries to do more and more, it ends up, regrettably, delivering less and less. And next year the Federal Government will spend .5 trillion. There's just no question about it: The Federal Government is too big, and it spends too much. We must get control of the deficit, and that is going to take some tough medicine for the American people and for everybody. But it is essential for the children of this country.
In conclusion let me say this: Major reforms are in order. So the fourth reform of this reform agenda is about Government. First, it's time -- I really believe this one, and I served in the United States Congress -- for the Congress to govern itself by the same laws that it imposes on others. They must abide by the same laws that you and I do. And yes, it is time for sweeping campaign reform. But real reform is not saddling the taxpayer with the cost of congressional campaigns. It's time for real spending reform, time for the President to have what 43 Governors have. Give me that line-item veto, and see if we can't save a little money for the hard-working American taxpayer.
And the President's term is limited, and I think it's time to limit the terms for Members of the United States Congress. It will keep them closer to home. So I favor six 2-year terms for the Congress and two 6-year terms for the Senate. And I really believe it would keep Government more active, more vital, and closer to the people.
Thomas Jefferson knew, and here was the quote, ``The people are the only sure reliance of our liberty.'' The people are the only sure reliance of our liberty. That's why you're here today. You're not among the cynics because, you know, I think you still feel you can make a difference. Think of a littered park; you clean it up one piece at a time. Then think of our Government; we can reform it, one vote at a time. And it makes a difference. I've been trying for 3 years to effect fundamental change in these fields, whether it's tort reform or education reform or whatever. And I'm going to keep on trying.
You might ask, ``But why should we care?'' It's the age of cynicism. Because this Government, just like a public park, isn't just something we inherited from our parents. It's something we borrow from our children.
And I know this country, as you do. America's got a heart of gold. We've got a will of steel. It's honest, and it's generous, and it's good. With your help, it's about to become even better.
Thank you all very much. And on this troubled night, may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very, very much.
Note: The President spoke at 8:10 p.m. in the Lausche Building at the Ohio State Fairgrounds. In his remarks, he referred to Rabbi Gary Huber of Bath Tikvah Temple and Dewey Stokes, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police.