October 2, 1984
The President. Thank you very much, and thank you, Phil Gramm. And I hope the next time I'm here, I'll be able to say Senator Phil Gramm. But thank all of you for a most heartwarming welcome.
It's great to be in Brownsville, and it's a real pleasure to visit one of the most spirited campuses I've seen. All I can say, after touring your school, is viva Texas Southmost College.
Well, it's great to be in Texas again, and to be here with -- as I said a little earlier in different words -- one of Texas' greatest contributions to economic sense in Washington, Phil Gramm, and to see this Texas spirit in action here.
You know, when we were in Dallas in August, there were some of our people that were driving by the Texas Stadium, where the Cowboys play, and they were remarking about the stadium and how big it was and all, and then they noticed the interesting way in which the top sort of was scooped out to let in the sunlight. And they mentioned this to a Texan who was with them. And he said, ``Sure, we do that so God can watch.'' Well, we can use more of that kind of spirit.
Now, there are so many things I want to talk with you about today, and just one of them is how the Texas spirit is spreading throughout the Nation. In the past 3 1/2 years, as Phil was telling you, there's been a broad economic renewal in our country. The economy is expanding again, millions of jobs, as he told you, are being created; hundreds of thousands of new businesses are being incorporated. Inflation is down; interest rates are down, not down far enough, but at least they're moving in the right direction.
So, there's good news to report. And all of that good news is the direct result of the efforts of the American people, the efforts of all of you. It's your recovery. All we did was get the Government out of your way.
You know, the other day I was on a campus -- a college up in Ohio, and I was taking some questions from the students. And one of them said to me, ``What do you want the American people to remember most about your Presidency?'' Well, I hope they won't have to be remembering soon, but -- [laughter] -- I was taken aback. It's the kind of question you don't often hear -- and you're a little surprised you hadn't thought about it -- and then I said that I just felt if they'd remember that I gave the Government back to the people.
It's your government, after all, just as it's your country. And our guiding philosophy has been that you know best what's right for you. You don't need a big government in Washington to tell you what's right for you.
I look at all of you today, and I think of the people I met this morning as -- just a little while ago here, in touring this campus. And it's just so clear that the people of Brownsville are a marvelous mixture of pride and enterprise, and you have a lot to be proud of here in your city.
Audience. We want Reagan! We want Reagan! We want Reagan!
The President. Thank you.
Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!
The President. Thank you. Okay, I'm willing. [Laughter]
But we know that Brownsville and some other cities here in the Rio Grande Valley have had some special problems the past few years -- economic problems and some bad turns in the weather. And I don't want you to think for a second that you're left out of the American renaissance.
Things are better in many cities in our country, but it's not enough, and we've got to do better. There are so many things left to do, so much of the future yet to be seized and shaped. But the first thing we've got to remember is that together we're on the right track.
John Kennedy once said that "A rising tide lifts all boats.'' Well, a rising tide of economic growth is going to lift the valley.
We must continue to keep forcing personal tax rates down, not up. We're going to fight for the working men and women of this country to keep a bigger share of what they earn. And as they spend it or save it, sales will go up, businesses will expand, the spirit of investment will continue to grow. Expanding businesses and new businesses will mean new jobs. And that'll mean new workers who join the work force and who pay their modest -- and I underline modest -- taxes. And the Government will get enough to operate. But the people -- we, the people -- will keep enough to flourish.
What I'm describing is a healthy spiral that is already growing and picking up speed like a whirlwind.
In contrast, there are those who say that to end poverty in America, we must go back to the old days of raising taxes again and again and again.
The President. Oh, I don't doubt that they mean well in their own way. But their ideas are hopelessly old fashioned. They just don't understand that the American people are tired of the tax-and-tax and take-and-take mentality. And so, I know, are all of you. And I'm going to be ashamed of myself in a second for what I'm going to say. But I understand they did borrow their campaign song from your State. It's called, ``Deep in the Heart of Taxes.'' [Laughter] Isn't that awful? [Laughter]
But our program doesn't rest only on growth. It rests on creative new ideas that'll make the future brighter for all of us -- ideas like enterprise zones, in which the parts of a city that have known steady economic setbacks are revitalized by giving businesses tax incentives to go in and create jobs and opportunity. It's a great idea. And we're not going to stop fighting until enterprise zones flourish in those towns and cities that would benefit from them.
Incidentally, that's been before the Congress for 2 years now, and the leadership in the House of Representatives has refused to let it out of committee so they can vote on it.
There are ideas that we've already been able to implement. For instance, a year ago yesterday we started a real jobs program that works in partnership with private employers, determining in the local areas what are the jobs that are there available for the trained workers. And, now, there used to be a costly Federal program called CETA, and lots of its jobs were just make-work, and the people who held them didn't receive any sound training. Well, in the first 6 months of our program, the Job Training Partnership helped train 500,000 people; and its placement in jobs, its rate is over 70 percent of those that go through the training, already placed in employment. Now, that's a program that works. And it's a success not just because it involves private employers who know the marketplace. It's a success because it operates on the principle that people don't want a handout; they want some help that will enable them to operate in the world as the independent souls they want to be.
You know, there's been a lot of confusion about this word ``help.'' It's an election year, and maybe some people think it's in their interest to create a little confusion. But our philosophy has always been to help people achieve prosperity by giving them back their freedom, and to help those who truly need assistance, even if it's only for a while, as they try to get their share of the American dream.
Now, here at this school, for instance, there are a number of students who are receiving some sort of Federal financial aid for their tuition, and, believe me, they're students who really need that help. And their student loans haven't been cut. In fact, we recently asked the Congress to increase to $3,000 the grant aids for the truly needy.
But we've also made it our policy to help only those with a clear, demonstrable need. Those who can do it on their own shouldn't be taking the money we need to help those who couldn't receive a higher education without it. And, believe me, I know whereof I speak, because a long time ago I was on a campus getting a diploma, and I had to work my way through.
And I will say I've never regretted it for one minute. It was back in the Great Depression, so had to do it all. But I haven't regretted it. In fact, one of the better jobs I've ever had in my life was at that time -- I was washing dishes in the girls dormitory. [Laughter]
Now, some of the people in this valley have really been hurt by the devaluation of the peso. And because of that, last year our administration became the first ever to set up a special southwest border initiative to give you the special attention that the border cities need. And after last winter's freeze, we directed the Farmers Home Administration to make more loans to local families without adequate housing. Now, this has encouraged new construction and employment in the valley.
We freed up more Federal funds for small business loans for farmers affected by the freeze. And the city of Brownsville, for example, was given funds to help build a supermarket in a deprived part of the city, and that construction is to create 43 permanent jobs and 30 construction jobs. We also provided financial assistance to help with bilingual programs in the schools of the valley.
Now, these are just three demonstrations of prudent Federal assistance in a case of clear and demonstrable need. In the past year alone, our administration has committed over a hundred million dollars to the valley.
And if I may make one more point on this: We believe passionately in public-private partnerships in this kind of assistance.
The money that we sent for the supermarket here in the valley was matched by $800,000 in private funds. And there's Project HOPE, another public-private partnership. Earlier I toured the labs where local students are being trained to work as health-care professionals here and in other border cities. And I know that program is going to be a great success and a great example of public and private cooperation.
Now, I've been talking on about the economy -- something I tend to do because I think a healthy economy will truly transform the lives of the people of our country. But there's just one more thing I'd like to say about it. Sometimes it takes patience when you try something new. But I tell you, well, it's hard to hang on when times are tough. But I tell you with complete conviction, that if we stay on the right track nationally, then the people in the towns of the valley will make a comeback. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen in Brownsville as it has happened in much of the rest of the Nation.
But let me say in closing that even though economic matters are important -- well, the old, old saying is true: Man does not live by bread alone. Man lives by belief, by faith in things that are larger than himself. We really almost diminish all the things we are when we limit the debate to money and how it's distributed in our country. We lose a sense of the mystery in men's souls and the mystery of life.
I'm proud that we've tried the past few years to softly encourage respect for the traditional values of faith in God and respect for the family. The family, after all, is the main generator of the good things that people bring to the society at large. We're nothing without the family, and we've tried to reflect that knowledge in all that we've done in the past few years.
Now, just one more thing. I know that many of you know the word -- and I hope I pronounce it correctly -- respeto. Respect. Did I get it right?
Respect is an important thing. The United States never wants to be a bully or a braggart, but it's important to show the people of the world that we stand for something and we're proud of it. And though we're patient when provoked, well, Uncle Sam is a friendly old man, but he has a spine of steel.
And one of the things that I'm proudest of -- do any of you have relatives in the Armed Forces -- the Army, the Navy, the Marine Corps? Yes? Well, I'm glad to see that. One of the proudest things -- or one of the things that I'm proudest of, is that we've helped the men and women of our Armed Forces receive the kind of respect they deserve.
Once again, they're being honored as the priceless professionals they are. They haven't had it easy. The men and women who protect this country never do. But we improved pay, improved their standard of living, and we started saluting them again. And morale is higher than it's ever been, and reenlistments are up. And I'll tell you, whenever you happen to see one of those young men and women in uniform on the street, if you just maybe give them a smile and a hello and indicate that you know how proud they make us, I think you'd feel just great after you did it, and I know they'd feel great.
Well, I've probably gone on too long here, but -- --
The President. I like it -- --
Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!
The President. Thank you. Okay, all right. Thank you. I don't get here often enough. I like it here. Can I come back? [Applause]
You know, you're reminding me of something that I saw yesterday. I went to a swearing-in ceremony for 1,548 new citizens, all being sworn in as new citizens of the United States. And it was wonderful, and it was a very moving experience. The oldest of them was 92, and the youngest was only 2. And as they took the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time, they spoke with such a belief, and I thought that this is still -- and will be hearing them always -- ``. . . one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.''
For that we must all be truly thankful, and I thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality. I go away from here feeling a little taller and, believe me, very proud, indeed. Thank you very much, and vaya con Dios. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 12:38 p.m. in Gorgas Hall at Texas Southernmost College.
Prior to his remarks, the President went to the college's Dr. Cortez Allied Health Building, where he received a briefing on Project HOPE by Albert A. Besteiro, president of Texas Southernmost College, and Pat Hobbs, dean of the vocational technical division. While at the building, he also toured a medical technology laboratory.
Following his remarks, the President traveled to Corpus Christi, TX.