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National Archives

Public Papers - 1992 - September

Remarks at the National Salute to the President and His Black Appointees


The President. Thank you very much. Josh, thank you, Josh Smith.

Audience members. Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!

The President. Thank you, Josh Smith, and all of you. Thank you very much, Josh, and thank all of you. My heavens, 27 different States, I'm told, represented here by all of you. Josh, I can't begin to thank you, not only for your friendship and loyal support but your service to the Government, to the people, I would put it that way, and also for your outstanding commitment to small business and your own accomplishments in that field.

I also want to acknowledge Josh's wife, Jackie Jones-Smith, who is the Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission; my old friend Milton Bins here, chairman of the Council of 100. Kay James from the Office of National Drug Control Policy gave up an awful lot to move over there to fight this drug scourge, and I'm very proud of her.

Reverend Thad Garrett, we all know Thad. He ought to be praying more and talking less out there on the campaign -- [laughter] -- I need that, I'll tell you. But somebody once gave me a little rug, and it said, ``What would we do without friends?'' I am grateful that Thad and so many others out here are true and loyal friends. When the going is tough, they're hanging in there.

I want to salute Fred Brown, the chairman of the National Council of Black Republicans. I was very grateful to Reverend Larry Haygood for that invocation, for his leadership in education, for his commitment and faith. Thank you, sir, for coming and for doing that.

Of course, I can't say too much about Lou Sullivan. I love it when we talk about genuine health care reform for this country. He summarized it in his remarks there, giving me the credit. But he's out there on the cutting edge. When a paper like the New York Times, which has not been overly friendly to me this year -- [laughter] -- points out that we've got a sound, or the best of the health care reform programs out there, why, I'm very grateful to Lou. He's tireless in taking the message across the country, and he's leading this, the largest Government bureau, with such distinction and honor. I tell you, we're lucky to have him in the Government.

Ginger is not clapping too hard. Maybe she wants him back; I don't know. But nevertheless. [Laughter]

May I salute Gary Franks, distinguished Member of Congress. I don't see him, but I know he's here. Where's Gary? Well, he's not here. All right, he's late. [Laughter] He's to be here; Andy Ireland, a Member of the United States Congress, with us here today, too.

I want to single out a warrior. Some of you know her just by seeing her on television. Some of you know her for seeing her at my side as I climb on the helicopter or Air Force One or go to take on some political debate. And I'm talking about Marlin's able deputy, Judy Smith, who is standing right over here. Judy, I don't want this to come out wrong, but you talk about tough women. [Laughter] I mean, she is strong, and in a wonderful way. She takes it and can dish it out just as well. It is tough out there in that press arena. But boy, she's doing a superb job for me and I think for the country because she gets out our position on fundamental issues that are important to the Nation.

Let me just talk for a few minutes. I'm off to Wisconsin in a few minutes and then to New Jersey. So I want to just talk a little bit about the concerns that we share about the future of this great country, about the choice that we have in shaping that future. I will spare you a stemwinding political oration, but I will just point out that we've got a great task before us, and the differences are clear. With the end of the cold war that Reverend Haygood very generously referred to, now we've got to turn our attention to winning the new global economic competition.

The other side is telling us everything that's wrong about the economy, and I'll accept my share of the blame. But we're caught up in something worldwide. And any fair-minded observer knows that it's not just the United States that's had difficult economic times. It's England. It's France. It's Canada. It's Germany now. A lot of countries in this, and we have the strongest economy of all of them. It's my objective to make it even stronger. I call that winning the peace, for only then will we keep the promise of opportunity that is the birthright of every American. I am proud of the fact that our kids go to bed at night without that same fear of nuclear weapons that their predecessors had. This is, I think, a significant accomplishment, and I salute everyone in our administration that worked to help end that nuclear nightmare.

But now we've got to do the same thing, apply that same leadership, and lift this country up. You know, the Governor, Governor Clinton, and I offer very different choices. They're really based on very different philosophies, different experience. He's spent most of his life in government. He believes that government, kind of a Washington elite, should take the lead in shaping the economy. He uses the word ``investing'': investing your money, that's taxpayers' money, more wisely than you can as entrepreneurs and individuals.

Well, that's not the way I see it at all. Like so many of you, I've spent exactly 50 percent of my adult life in business and 50 percent in government. Not with the sparkling success that some in this room have had as business people, but nevertheless, I understand it. I built a business from the ground up. I met a payroll, created jobs, and worked for a living. I happen to think that that is a good qualification for being President of the United States, because I believe it's a prospering small business or large business environment that's going to do more to help people. Put it this way, a job in the private sector is going to do more to help people than Government programs can.

I learned in that private sector what many of you not only have learned but have mastered: what makes an economy grow. It is not central planning, quote, ``investing,'' unquote, the taxpayers' money. It is not the people who take your taxes and spend them. It is you who make the economy grow, ordinary men and women with the extraordinary dreams who have the grit to make those dreams real. And I'm very grateful to what Josh does in taking this message of small business out around this country.

That understanding is really at the heart of what Larry Haygood again referred to as the Agenda for American Renewal. I talk about the global economy and then what we're going to do now to be the lead. We are the only remaining military superpower. We have the strongest economy; I want to help make it stronger. I want to see us become an export superpower as well. To do this, we've got to unleash the energy, the brainpower of our workers and our entrepreneurs, and again, particularly in small business because this is the area that employs the most and takes the risks and creates the new opportunities.

I want to encourage investment so that wages rise and those unemployment lines shrink. That's why I'm helping small business in particular and, hopefully, all business in general. We unveiled a good small business program the other day down in North Carolina. I'll just touch on a couple of points: Reducing the corporate tax rate for small business 15 percent to 10 percent; increasing the amount of equipment that small business can expense, and thus that would create more jobs and new opportunities; simplifying the tax filing. Most small-business people know that the onerous reporting for tax purposes takes too many work hours, too many people hours, and we're trying to change that. Then, of course, I still feel that to stimulate risk-taking, the reduction in the capital gains is very, very important, bringing people into the enterprise zones in the minority areas; a reduction in capital gains, a break on that will help attract jobs to the areas that need it the very most.

So to the business people here, we are trying to streamline so you won't have to be second-guessed back here in Washington by some bureaucratic establishment. And that's why we've put an end to the Federal regulations that turn redtape into pink slips. We just put out a moratorium on them. We're going to go forward with safety and health; obviously we have to do that. But we've got a moratorium, a blanket on new regulations, recognizing that there is too much control and regulation on the back of the small entrepreneur and the small-business person.

We really do want to do what Lou was talking about, and that is to make health insurance available to everyone. We want to make health care more accessible and more affordable for everyone. That's why we're all -- have our shoulders to the wheel, fighting for health care reform without burdening small businesses with expensive new mandates and more payroll taxes.

Our program is good. It keeps the quality of American health care where it belongs, number one in the entire world, and still says to those who cannot get insurance, we're going to make it available to you through pooling, and also we're going to reduce the costs. We're doing something about these crazy malpractice suits and also doing something about lifting the regulatory burden and streamlining the operating processes of our health care system.

So we've got a good program there, and I hope that it'll get the kind of support in the very next Congress that we need to have it enacted into law.

I want to reward the risktakers who bring capital and jobs to our inner cities; I touched on that. But it's very interesting to me that when we went to Los Angeles in the wake of the South Central problems, all the civic leaders there were saying we must have enterprise zones. It's an idea whose time has come. We ought to try it at the Federal level. So we're fighting hard to bring the enterprise zones into reality.

On issue after issue, you see the very sharp differences between my opponent and me, because he really does want a Government. He's already proposed more taxes, more spending, more regulations. He's already proposed programs that would result in the latter, in the last item, and tax plans and spending plans that would tax at the outset 0 billion more in taxes and 0 billion more in spending. It's going to kill off a lot of small business.

So we want to free up, instead, the genius of American enterprise and initiative. This is going to be one of the clearest distinctions as people begin to really make up their minds on this election.

Let me be clear: I am not anti-Government. Government must never shirk its responsibilities. The fine men and women honored here today who I've been proud to have at my side for the past 3 years are a testament to the good work that Government can do. We believe it's Government's role to create opportunity, though, and not stifle it, and to clear the path for individual accomplishment, not to block it; to facilitate, not to dictate. Together, we believe that there is no room in our country, and I want to repeat this here, for discrimination of any kind whatsoever. As long as I am President, I am going to do absolutely everything I can in my power to drive bigotry and anti-Semitism and racism from our great land.

You know, I hope you know that I have strong feelings about this. Lou and Josh and I were talking. I'm not sure the American people know how strongly I feel about this. That's one of the reasons I hope we get these debates on. We've proposed four debates with the Governor. Let him step up now and debate. We've accepted his formula for two of them, and so, we'll have an opportunity there without any filters, without any Monday morning quarterbacks telling you what you thought you heard, to take the case directly to the American people.

I've tried in my public life -- like supporting fair housing when I was a Member of Congress from Texas and fighting for I think decent civil rights legislation, whether it's the ADA bill or an antidiscriminatory civil rights bill. I think we got, and others here have mentioned this very generously, an excellent record of appointing officials on the content of their character and their competence to positions of high authority in the Government. I am proud of what both Josh and Lou talked about, to have appointed a higher percentage of blacks and women in the history of the Presidency to important positions.

Some are here with us today: Gwen King at the Social Security Commission, who is now going on to new pursuits. I mentioned Kay James, who served with such distinction in several capacities. Some are nonpolitical. I think it's a wonderful thing that Colin Powell is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. I don't know anything about his politics, and I couldn't care less. I know something about his character, though. I know something about his ability, though. I know something of how it is when he's making tough, tough decisions regarding the life of somebody else's son and daughter, and that's all I need to know in selecting the best Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Connie Newman, we all know her, how she served with great distinction in this administration; and a most beloved figure, Joyce Berry. I mentioned Lou, of course. I mentioned Josh for the Commission. But we've got others, Carla Hills, Antonia Novello, Lynn Martin, Bernadine Healy, all women in high-level positions. I'm proud of Wayne Budd over at Justice. You talk abut a tough assignment, there's a decent man and a man of honor, fulfilling an extraordinarily tough assignment over at the Department of Justice. My old friend Art Fletcher is head of the Commission.

Let me tell you something: I am not going to let the political diatribes going on out there and attacks coming out of some radical groups diminish the pride I take in having appointed Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. So let others try to smear a decent man. I'm standing with him. He's going to be a great Justice. You watch. You just wait. He's just beginning. He's going to be outstanding.

So we're here to salute all of you -- I came over to do that -- and to thank you, those in Government, for serving and serving with integrity. I'll tell you something: Our administration has been a clean administration. You look back over your shoulders. We haven't had scandals because we have honorable men and women who sacrifice to serve their country. I'm proud of each and every one of you. And in terms of those others who are out in the private sector employing people, creating opportunity, living the American dream, I salute you as well. We want to facilitate what you're doing, not get Government in the way and make it tougher.

So this is the message we'll be taking to the American people, and I believe we're going to get this job done. It has not been a very pleasant political year for Barbara Bush and me; I'll have to confess that. Indeed, I've been around the political track for a long time, and I've never seen quite the anger and the ugliness in the political process, the willingness to twist and distort and make things ugly. But it's worth it; you know it. It is worth it because we have accomplished a lot for this country. We've accomplished a lot on the world scene as well. Now I want to finish the job, finish the job by bringing opportunity and hope to all Americans, and I am very grateful to each and every one of you.

Thank you, and now off to the political wars. May God bless the United States of America. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:23 a.m. at the J.W. Marriott Hotel.

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