September 12, 1984
The President. Thank you.
Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!
The President. All right. Thank you. Thank you, Senator, and Madame Mayor, and the others here on the dais, and all of you ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for a most heart-warming reception.
By the way, during our flight into Link Field, Air Force One might have gotten off a little, a little off course, and the pilot came back to say he had just a little trouble finding Broome County. And I told him just to radio down and ask a simple question: ``Which way E.J.?''
It's good to be here in Endicott at the very center of your beautiful ``Valley of Opportunity.'' Warm greetings to your outstanding Senator, Alfonse D'Amato, your county executive, Carl Young, and your mayor, Marion Corino, and to a superb candidate for the Congress, Connie Cook. Connie, America needs more Republicans in the House of Representatives, and I can't tell you what a pleasure it'll be to have you there on our team.
And of course, as I said already, a special greeting to the majority leader and president pro tem of the New York State Senate, Warren Anderson. Andy, for more than three decades you've served in the New York State Senate with skill and devotion. You've dedicated yourself to justice, liberty, and economic growth. And because of your efforts, people in this valley and throughout New York State lead fuller, freer lives. On behalf of all Americans, I thank you.
Traveling today, we've flown over a good part of the Empire State. New York is lovely this time of year. And I thought, looking down from that altitude, that I detected just a touch of color beginning to appear in the trees. And there were great rivers like the Susquehanna threading their way across the land. And I couldn't help thinking of those majestic towers of Manhattan, the hard-working, patriotic neighborhoods of the boroughs, and the thriving cities and towns that dot your upstate -- places like Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse and, yes, Binghamton, Vestal, Johnson City, and Endicott.
You know, it occurred to me that maybe the other side thinks that we'll just concede this great State of New York. Well, they're in for a little surprise. We're not conceding anything to anybody; we're in New York to win.
I know that this valley holds a special story -- one of hardship overcome, of determination, hard work, family, and faith. And in many ways, your story is America's story.
It began almost a century ago, when one of the men legendary in the history of this valley, George F. Johnson, came here and established a shoe factory, the Endicott-Johnson Corporation. Soon the factory prospered, word spread all the way to Europe, and when immigrants from Poland, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Italy, and a dozen other countries reached America's shores, thousands of them are said to have asked the way to this valley of opportunity in the only English they knew -- ``Which way E.J.?''
They came here with few possessions, many with nothing but the clothes on their backs. And they asked only the chance to work, and work they did -- long, hard hours tanning hides, cutting leather, stitching together the finished shoes. And as family helped family and neighbor helped neighbor, schools were built, houses were constructed, churches and synagogues were established. And this valley became home to some of the proudest communities in our nation, towns that had seen firsthand all that free men and women can accomplish.
In time, however, the shoe business changed. The factories in town began to offer fewer jobs, and some feared that prosperity would leave this good valley forever. Yet one group of men and women had a great vision, a vision to bring this valley prosperity it had never before dreamed possible, a vision to launch a revolution that would change the world.
Their leader was Thomas Watson, Sr. He had grown up in a small town called Painted Post, down the road from here, where he learned how to stick with a job until it's finished. Watson started with a company whose mainstays were punchcard machines and time clocks. And in 1953 -- a long time ago for some of you, but just the other day for some of us -- [laughter] -- the company that Watson had renamed IBM began making the first mass-produced commercial computer in history -- the 650 -- less than a half a mile from this spot.
Scores of the IBM workers were sons and daughters of immigrants who had worked in the shoe factories. When they began, the best market researcher predicted that fewer than 1,000 computers would be sold in the entire 20th century. Well, IBM's first model sold almost twice that number in just 5 years, and now there are IBM plants in Endicott and around the world. And the computer revolution that so many of you helped to start promises to change life on Earth more profoundly than the Industrial Revolution of a century ago.
Already, computers have made possible dazzling medical breakthroughs that will enable us all to live longer, healthier, and fuller lives. Computers are helping to make our basic industries, like steel and autos, more efficient and better able to compete in the world market. And computers manufactured at IBM Owego -- where some of you work -- guide our space shuttles on their historic missions. You are the people who are making America a rocket of hope, shooting to the stars.
Today, firms in this valley make not only computers but flight simulators, aircraft parts, and a host of other sophisticated products. The shoe business has adjusted to the economic conditions and is working again. Your schools are better than ever. Your neighborhoods are strong. You still have a vigorous sense of ethnic pride. You can't talk to Mayor Corino for long without feeling how proud she is to be an Italian American. And here, you carry a sense of civic loyalty that shows up in organizations like the Tri-Cities Opera and the Roberson Center. I know how proud you all must be to live here. You've shown me that. And I just have to believe that the lesson of this valley is a lesson for our entire nation: With opportunity, there's no limit to what Americans can achieve.
Opportunity, the chance to work hard and make our dreams come true -- this is just what our administration is laboring to provide.
You know, in 5 years, taxes doubled, average monthly mortgage payments more than doubled, and the real after-tax income of the average American actually began to decline. Our opponents preach a great deal about fairness. Well, it's true, their policies were fair in one respect: They didn't discriminate; they made everybody miserable.
Now, we could go on, but we don't want to talk about their failures, do we? I can assure you, they don't. Well, then, let's talk about how, by working together, we're achieving great successes today, and we'll go on to build an even greater nation tomorrow.
On the economic front, we've knocked inflation down from 12.4 to 4.1 percent. And today, from Maine to New York to California, a vast economic expansion is surging ahead.
And now, I think I see at least one or two students in the audience. It's test time.
The President. [Laughing] I'd like to ask you some questions about a certain country. Now, I don't want to give away the answer by naming the country. I'll give you just a little hint. It has three initials, and it's first two are U.S.
Now, of all the great industrialized nations in the world, which has shown by far the strongest, most widespread, and most sustained economic growth?
Audience. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
The President. All right. All right.
Audience. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!
The President. All right, I've got more questions. What country had a record 600,000 new business incorporations last year alone?
The President. U.S.A.!
The President. What nation is showing the fastest rate of business investment in four decades?
The President. And what country can say that its productivity is up, its consumer spending is up, and its take-home pay is up?
The President. And during the past 20 months, what country created 6 million new jobs?
The President. And what nation created, on the average, more new jobs each month during the last 12 months than all the countries of Western Europe put together created over the past 10 years?
The President. You scored 100. That's right, U.S.A.!
And, my friends, you ain't seen nothin' yet. For the first time since the administration of President Kennedy, the share of earnings flowing to the government is not increasing. Today more of your earnings are staying with your families, in your neighborhoods, in your State, right where they belong.
To all those Democrats who have been loyal to the party of F.D.R., Harry Truman, and J.F.K., but who believe that its current leaders have changed that party, that they no longer stand firmly for America's responsibilities in the world, that they no longer protect the working people of this country, we say to them, ``Join us. Come walk with us down the new path of hope and opportunity.''
I can speak to that because I did that already. I was a Democrat, and I changed when I found I could no longer follow the course of the leadership of that party.
With your support, during the next 4 years, we'll keep going forward. We'll start by keeping government under control, by enacting a line-item veto and a constitutional amendment mandating that government stop spending more than it takes in. We'll fight for enterprise zones to help Americans in disadvantaged areas get off unemployment and welfare and start climbing the economic ladder.
Others would raise your taxes and the taxes of working families all across America. Well, we're not going to let them enact their tax plan, not on your life. Our pledge is for tax simplification, to make the system more fair and easier to understand, so we can bring yours and everybody's income tax rates further down, not up.
The American people aren't undertaxed; the Government in Washington is overfed. You know, I sometimes think that the main difference between ourselves and the other side is we see an America where every day is the Fourth of July, and they see an America where every day is April 15th. [Laughter]
Now, as our economy grows we'll need to go forward with the values of faith, family, neighborhood, and good, hard work. And together, we're already making an impressive start.
In the past 4 years, we've helped lead a grassroots revolution to recommit our schools to an agenda for excellence that will reach every child in this land. Teachers, school principals, and school boards are joining with parents to bring back discipline and higher standards. And what do you know? After 20 years of decline, achievement, by all the records, is up.
And today, schools like Union-Endicott have begun using computers to give our sons and daughters better education and to prepare them for an exciting world where the great challenges will lie not just here at home, but in the limitless frontiers of science, technology, and space.
We're cracking down on crime. We say with no hesitation, yes, there are such things as right and wrong and, yes, for hardened criminals preying on our society, punishment must be sure and swift. Last year reported crime dropped 7 percent, the steepest decline since 1960.
We're rebuilding America's defenses, and our nation is at peace. In New York's beautiful north country, 165 miles due north, lies the Army's Fort Drum, one of the finest all-weather land training installations anywhere in the United States. As the Secretary of the Army announced yesterday, we have chosen Fort Drum to be the home base for one of the Army's new light infantry divisions. Troops stationed at Fort Drum will be able to reach quickly any of the world's potential troublespots. And they'll have the benefit of some of the finest year-round training available.
And let me make one thing plain: We're not out for any territorial gain or to impose ourselves on anyone. But believe me, America must never again let its guard down. And since 1980, not a single nation has fallen to Communist aggression. And the people of one nation, Grenada, have been set free.
Now, you may remember that some on the other side compared the American mission in Grenada with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
The President. When I first heard that, it sort of touched my temperature control. The people of Afghanistan risked their lives to combat the Russian troops. Our men, by contrast, entered Grenada at the request of six Caribbean democracies and received from the Grenadian people themselves an emotional demonstration of gratitude. And today, less than a year after that mission, when the job was done, every American combat soldier has come home -- every one.
We'll let our opponents ponder Soviet motives in world affairs all they want. We intend to concentrate on America's goal, which is human liberty.
When those immigrants came to our shores and said, ``Which way E.J.?,'' they were asking which way opportunity, which way peace, which way freedom.
My dream for America, and I know it's one you share, is to see the kind of success stories in this valley multiply a million times over. And with you by our side, I just know we're going to make history again. Our victory will be a victory for America's future and the land that President Lincoln called, ``the last, best hope of Earth.'' And that nation will rise to meet her greatest days.
I can't tell you how grateful I am and how you've warmed my heart, but I thank you. And God bless you all.
Note: The President spoke at 4:34 p.m. at Ty Cobb Field at Union-Endicott High School.
Earlier, the President went to the IBM Systems Technology Division facility, where he toured the plant and was briefed on computer production and the final product assembly. He then went to Union-Endicott High School, where he met with Tri-Cities Republican leaders.
Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.