Public Papers - 1992 - May
Remarks at a Texas Victory '92 Fundraising Dinner in Dallas, Texas
Thank you for that wonderfully warm introduction, Senator, and I am just delighted to be at your side. I won't rave about Phil Gramm; we know what kind of Senator we have. But as I listen to him on the floor of the Senate from time to time, as I see him in action up there, I am absolutely convinced that with his leadership now of this Senate campaign committee which is taking him all across the country, and then given what I'm about to tell you how I see this country moving, I really believe with his leadership we have an opportunity to get control back of the United States Senate and to move this country forward. And he's doing a superb job for our State.
Dr. Criswell, it is very nice to see you again, sir. Last time I saw him was in his own church, and it was a moving experience for me. I am delighted that he is with us tonight. When you want to get somebody that knows how to sing ``The Star-Spangled Banner,'' sign up an Aggie. And Fred McClure did it once again. As you may know, Fred was one of the top people in the White House, running all of our relationship with Congress, and did a superb job there. And now he's back here in business in Dallas. I want to thank the Rangerettes from Kilgore for their dance performance. I want to thank Rob Mosbacher who's heading this program, Victory '92; and of course, Dan Cooke who's just done a superb job on this dinner. A great success, and thank you to both of you. Then my State chairman for the Bush-Quayle campaign, Jim Oberwetter. He's beginning to peak a little early. He's out on that television all the time, but he's saying smart and sensible things. It saves me from doing something that I look forward to doing, but I'm not going to do it now, and that is get after these opponents. But I'm going to wait a little bit, and I'll tell you why in a minute. I'm grateful to Jim. I'm grateful to Barbara Patton, our cochairman; she's here from Houston. And of course, to salute Kay Bailey Hutchison, an old friend; Rick Perry, our commissioner; and then our State chairman, Fred Meyer, who continues to do a great, great job.
So welcome to all, and thank you for being here. Phil put it right: These are not easy times. They're not easy. But in my view, we have a great deal to be grateful for as a Nation. Phil touched on some of it. When you look at big things having happened, take a look around the world, the very fact that these little kids here, sitting over here, go to bed at night and do not have the fear of nuclear war that kids a generation before, is something significant. And we helped bring that about. I happen to think that a foremost responsibility of any President is the national security of this country. You don't read one single word about it in all this gloom-and-doom television we're getting in this country, not one.
There have been significant changes. Ancient enemies are talking to each other in the Middle East, something that nobody dreamed could happen. Democracy's on the move south of the border. Almost every single country where there used to be military dictatorships, there are democratic regimes. South Africa's on the move; the states of the former Soviet Union, struggling to become democratic; Eastern Europe, free; the Baltics, free. So there's a great deal of gratitude that I have in my heart for the changes that are taking place in the world. It is only the United States of America that can lead and effect this change. And I am going to remain involved in bringing about more change for peace for the whole world.
Now, I hear the revisionists talking about Kuwait. If I'd have listened, as Phil said, to some of the critics on the Democratic Party up there, Saddam Hussein would be sitting in Saudi Arabia, and we'd be paying a gallon for gasoline. And that's the fact. We ought not to let somebody revise history because they were wrong on the Persian Gulf war.
So we've changed the world with a lot of help. I salute my predecessor that I met with yesterday, Ronald Reagan, a steadfast contribution -- ``that wall will come down,'' and thank God, it did. So we've got a lot to be grateful for. We have helped change the world.
Here's now what we're doing to help change this country. Phil touched on some of it. We have a strong domestic agenda. It is significant, and it is in keeping with the principles that unite everybody here tonight: empowerment, government close to the people, trying to hold the rein on the ever-increasing Federal Government, and getting the action right back where it belongs, right here in the towns and cities around Dallas, Texas.
We're working hard for free trade. Some want us to retreat and pull back. Agricultural trade with Mexico is 3 times higher than it was just a few years ago, and we haven't even gotten the free trade agreement. I am going to continue to work for a job-creating free trade agreement with Mexico and a successful conclusion of the Uruguay round to the GATT. You watch, when we get that done, a level playing field, the creation of American jobs in this country. We're not pulling back. We're the United States. We're moving forward.
I would hate to take my case to the people in the fall that the only way I could win is if everything was bad, capitalizing on the gloom and doom and on the dreariness of the recession and of the slow growth that we've been in for the last couple of years. It has been bad. Families have been hurt, and they've been hurt bad. But this economy is beginning to move, and each inch of the way it starts up, the Democratic Party is panicking, because the only way they can win is if things are going to hell in this country. I wouldn't want that. I think we're much more positive than that, and the economy is moving. As it begins to go forward we have good answers.
We need health care reform. We need to keep the quality of health care we've got, and we have to make health insurance -- give it access to all, rich and poor alike have a chance to have insurance. But what we don't need to do is put a socialized medicine or a nationalized medicine program in that will diminish the quality of the health care in this country. We have a good plan to take to the American people, and they'll see it loud and clear in the fall. It will be there.
Education: As I look at what we need to give those kids a break and to be competitive in the world, it gets right back to my passion for a change in education. We've got a good program. We've sent it to the United States Congress, and what did they do? They threw out this whole innovative approach that we call America 2000 and simply added more of your taxpayers' money to the programs that have failed. I want to take this case for education reform to the American people in the fall, and I'm confident we have a winner. We are right to fundamentally reform education in this country.
I might say I strongly favor parental choice in schools. It works at the college level, and it can work at the lower school levels. Where it's been tried, it's benefited not just the chosen schools, but because of the old American theory of competition, it's benefited those that weren't chosen. They get their act together. So school choice and America 2000 is a positive program. But we have got to get more people elected to the Congress that don't want to do it the old-fashioned way.
Legal reform: Phil and I have been trying for at least 3 years to reform the legal system. The bottom line is simply this: We sue each other too much and care for each other too little. We're trying to change that. The political opposition -- and don't take my word for it, ask Phil -- the political opposition is so afraid to offend a powerful lobby they won't even let our liability reform proposals or malpractice reform proposals be voted on. We've got to change the Congress and get people there who will do what the people want done.
I am worried about these deficits and leaving these kids with a greater legacy of debt, and we've tried to do something about it. I'll give you a four-point program if you want one, and I'll be proud to take this one to the American people this fall:
One, you've got to cap the growth of mandatory spending, all these programs that a President never gets a shot at, that are just locked into the law. You can permit them to grow; they can grow at the rate of inflation plus population, and then that's it. And that in itself will have billions, literally trillion of savings over the next 5 or 10 years. We've got to do that.
The second point is we've got to pass some of the things that we've got up in the Congress for stimulating economic growth. The biggest one is a reduction in the capital gains tax. It will encourage entrepreneurship.
The third one is an idea that the Texas Republican Party and many in this room have been in the forefront for for many, many years, but I believe its time has come, unless it gets blocked by the leadership, the Democratic Party in the House and Senate who are now nervously conniving to find out how to block it. I'm talking about a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution that will discipline the executive branch and discipline the Congress. The votes are there. It obviously has to be phased in, but it can work. And I'll be glad to make the tough decisions that go with it.
Then the fourth point: Give me what 43 Governors have now -- and this one, the case I'm taking to the American people -- you give me that line-item veto that 43 Governors have, and let's see what we can do.
We're talking about change -- people in the cities, horribly brought to our attention because of what happened in Los Angeles. And we moved immediately and forcefully because I didn't have to ask the Congress what to do. We mobilized SBA and FEMA and Agriculture Department and HHS and all. We put in seven central locations in the areas, in South Central, the burned areas. We brought what we could without having one piece of legislation, the Federal Government to help these people. I was there yesterday and saw it, and it was very, very moving.
Now, I've said to the Congress, and again, Phil is in the lead on this, ``We want to do something better now. These programs haven't worked. We want people to have jobs with dignity.'' The time has come, and I heard this in the Boys Clubs, I heard it in the churches in South Central, the time has come to pass enterprise zones to draw the businesses like a magnet into the inner city through getting rid of the capital gains tax in those green-lined areas.
Let me tell you this: The Mayor of Los Angeles wants it. The council of Los Angeles wants it. The Congressmen give a lot of lip service to it. Peter Ueberroth tells me that it will make his job a lot easier as he's trying to bring businesses in there. And yet, it's hung up because some of the leadership is afraid to give the President or to give the Republicans in Congress a victory. I want to get that clearly in focus for the American people. This isn't time just to have some broad, general thesis; this is something that will really help. We've got to get it done. We may have a chance, still, to get that passed -- I hope we will, Phil -- in the next few weeks.
We've got other programs that I think will help. We've got a good one for crime: ``Weed and Seed,'' it's called; weed out the criminals, because I don't believe that this is the time to go soft on those who commit crime. We need a tough crime bill, and we need this ``Weed and Seed'' program.
I was amazed out there in California, listening to some of the television commercials for the people running now out there in their primaries or running for the United States Senate, Democrats who come back to Washington and vote against our tough crime bill, out there on those 30-second spots: ``I'm going to be tough on law and order.'' We have a good crime bill up there. It's tougher on the criminals, and it's kinder to the victims of crime. And it has been frustrated. As Phil said, he said 1,079 days; it seems like 3 million years. But we're going to keep fighting until we can get done what our police officers deserve and what the neighborhoods of this country are crying out for.
Welfare reform: You've got to be careful on that, because some say you're playing a race card. Who gets hurt the most by a system that's failed? Those who can afford it the least, and I want to reform the welfare system. A little girl saved about ,200, and they came to her and said, ``Well, you can't do that. Your mother's on welfare, and the law says you can't accumulate over ,000.'' We've got to change it. We've got to structure it so it does not discriminate against saving but encourages the saving and encourages work and encourages learning. We are going to reform that welfare system. If I can't get it done before the fall, I'm taking that case to the American people, loud and clear.
Homeownership: Isn't it far better to have a Federal program that encourages owning homes than going into these tenements that strip you of your dignity? Of course it is. We've got a good program for that, and I'm hoping we can get that through the Congress, Job Training 2000, a forward-looking job training program.
Now, there are six incentives that would help the cities immediately. Dallas would be a beneficiary as well as Los Angeles or Houston or wherever else it might be.
Now, on those six points I've asked the Congress to put partisanship aside. I said, ``Look, the American people really want something done.'' It's not just the cities, as a matter of fact. I think the whole country wants something done. If you look at the core of these proposals, there are themes that all of us can agree on, once again: Responsibility, opportunity, ownership, independence, dignity, empowerment. These are not partisan values. They are fundamental American values, and we have a duty to make them real.
Now, so far I've talked about what the Government can do. But as I finish here, let me just say the more I am in this wonderfully challenging job -- and again, I'm very grateful to the people around this room because I see many, many that go back to my earliest days in Texas politics -- but the longer I am in this job, the more convinced I am that Government alone simply cannot solve these problems. It can't be done.
You might say, ``What keeps a kid in school? What keeps a kid away from drugs? What keeps a kid out of the gangs?'' It's not Government. It is family. Barbara Bush said it right: What happens in your house is far more important than what happens in the White House. We have got to find ways to strengthen the American family, and we must find ways to see that not one piece of legislation passes that diminishes the American family.
I've been in politics a long, long time. I computed it the other day. Half of my adult life since I got out of the Navy and went to school and then moved out to Odessa in the spring of 1948, half of my adult life has been in public life, and exactly half has been in the private sector. We have been blessed, both Barbara and I have been blessed, by the challenges and the joy that we've had in all kinds of fascinating assignments.
The more I think of our country, I'd say this: We have been through tough times. The country's been through tough times. That's changing. Things are beginning to move. We are not a pessimistic Nation. We are a rising Nation, and we are full of promise for the future. I have vowed, as we try to get something done with Congress before the shift goes entirely into politics in this every-4-year dance that we're all engaged in, that I will not attack any single opponent. I haven't done it since it started. Five people in the Democratic side, one on the Republican side, bolstered by the press that love a good fight. I am not going to do it. I am going to concentrate on trying to lead this country. I'm going to concentrate on trying to build and get something done.
But I want each and every one of you to know that I am ready for the battle that lies ahead. I have never felt more confident of a victory, and I have never felt more fired up about taking our sound message of values and opportunity to the American people in the fall.
So let all these other balloons go up. Let everybody else have their day in the sun. Our day is going to prevail because we are right on the issues, because we are compassionate and caring about the American people, and because our fundamental values, our fundamental values of faith and family is what this country is all about.
Thank you all for what you're doing, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 7:37 p.m. at the Grand Kempinski Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to Dr. W.A. Criswell, pastor, First Baptist Church of Dallas; Fred McClure, managing director, First Southwest Co.; Robert A. Mosbacher, Jr., chairman, Texas Victory '92; Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas State treasurer; and Rick Perry, Texas commissioner of agriculture.