November 3, 1983
Thank you. And for all of us up here, thank you very much for a very warm welcome. It always makes you suspect there's a Republican or two in the crowd. [Laughter] But I'm pleased to be here and to see so many old friends. And a special greeting -- I know someone is here -- my Press Secretary, Jim Brady, and his lovely wife, Sarah.
Well, I want to thank all of you for giving so much of your time and labor to make this administration possible. In the end, it's not glitter and gloss but the grit and determination from an army of supporters that makes victory possible -- and will make it so again in '84.
You know, back in 1980 our administration inherited a mess: an economy with raging inflation and soaring interest rates, a dangerously weakened national defense, a foreign policy that had allowed American influence -- a force for freedom and peace in the world -- to shrink. What the Democrats had done to our country reminds me of a story. [Laughter] A little girl said to her mother, she said, ``You know that beautiful jug you told me had been handed down to us in our family from generation to generation?'' And her mother said, ``Yes, what about it?'' She said, ``Well, this generation just dropped it.'' [Laughter]
With your help, our administration was elected to put the pieces back together again. We cut the growth of Federal spending. We pruned needless regulations. And George Bush was in charge of the team that was doing that, and it has saved hundreds of millions of man-hours of work in filling out needless government papers. We reduced personal income tax rates, and we passed an historic reform called tax indexing.
Now, today, just 2 years after we set our policies in place, our nation has one big program to help every American man, woman, and child. It's called economic recovery. And you can tell it's working because, as I've said several times already, they don't call it Reaganomics anymore. [Laughter]
You know, I've said something else before, but it needs saying again: We didn't come to Washington to raise the people's taxes; we came here to restore opportunity and to get this economy moving again. We don't face large deficits because Americans aren't taxed enough; we face those deficits because the Congress still spends too much. And I am still opposed to those who suggest that now we should raise taxes on individuals and businesses, and I'm prepared to veto tax increases if they send them to my desk, no matter how they arrive.
Let them keep their hands off the recovery and start doing what they were elected to do, which is to get spending under control once and for all.
Now just as we're turning the economy around, we've strengthened our national defense and have given a new sense of purpose to American foreign policy. In the military, the number of combat-ready units has increased a third since 1980, and morale has shot up high. We're attracting better recruits, and we're keeping them longer, because we're finally giving them better pay, better equipment, and the respect they deserve.
In foreign policy, we've let the world know once again that America stands for the political, religious, and economic freedom of mankind. And something else: Under this administration, our nation is through wringing its hands and apologizing. Americans don't put up walls to keep people in. We don't have armies of secret police to keep them quiet. And we don't put political and religious dissidents in jail, and we would never coldbloodedly shoot a defenseless airliner out of the sky.
In two places last week -- Beirut and Grenada -- Americans lost their lives and were wounded while protecting lives, defending freedom, and fostering peace. In Beirut, we won't be intimidated by terrorists. We will redouble our efforts to help the people of Lebanon find peace.
In Grenada, the thugs who seized power in a bloody coup have already been replaced by administrators of good will who will prepare the country for democratic elections. We've had broad and bipartisan support for our actions in Grenada. Yes, there were some critics, but I'd like to suggest that those critics take a moment to listen to interviews with Grenadians rejoicing at their new freedom, or to meditate on the photo of an American medical student rescued by U.S. Rangers, kissing the good earth of South Carolina after he got off the plane at Charleston Air Force Base.
You know, as of last night, those in charge of that marvelous operation -- which they put together in 48 hours and kept it a secret until they could land there -- they, last night, declared hostilities at an end. And today, the engineers of the 82d Airborne are repairing roads and bridges and damaged buildings and homes down there. And the Medical Corps, now that our wounded have been evacuated, are taking care of the people on Grenada, vaccinating children, doing those things that are associated with public health chores. In other words, we're doing what America has always done, and I don't know that we've ever had any better missionaries for our country abroad than GI's in uniform.
We all grieve over the lives of those splendid young men that were lost in Beirut and Grenada. But I just have to believe we can honor their memory best by not withdrawing from our role in the world, but by remaining the force for freedom and peace that makes America the brightest star of hope in the world today.
In 1980 our nation faced a crucial choice: We could continue to decline or we could work, instead, to make a new beginning. The American people chose the path of courage, and our administration was elected to make that new beginning. Everyone here, whether you stuffed envelopes or planned campaign strategy, helped to change the course of American history.
In 1984 we'll have another great political battle to wage. Republican candidates across the country will once again need your support, your time, your skill, and your sweat. For the good of our country, let's wage this battle with all the determination and dedication that we have in us. I believe all of us share a dream. It's a dream of an America that offers opportunity to all her citizens. It's a dream of America as a mighty force for good will among the nations. And with faith in our God and confidence in our cause, we're making that great dream come true.
So, from all of us, thank you, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 7:09 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel.