September 19, 1984
The President. Thank you very much. You know, it's been almost 8 weeks. I was even starting to get a little lonely, but now I feel glad again. I'm glad I'm back in your great State of New Jersey. And I'm glad to be back with a leader that I know you respect as much as I do, your fine Governor, Tom Kean.
Tom understands that we build a better future with economic growth and that we build economic growth from opportunity and that we create opportunities by ensuring excellence in education. Well, your Governor has helped you create economic growth. He's helped you bring unemployment down and is helping you create one of the best educational systems in the country. And in my book, that makes Tom Kean one of America's best.
You know, today my treat is seeing for the first time the Blueberry Capital of the world. It's the home of the fighting Blue Devils and the St. Joe Wildcats and your fighting State Senator, Bill Gormley; a town whose schools offer 4 years of three different foreign languages -- your town, Hammonton, New Jersey.
You know, when I was in Elizabeth, I told them their band was very good. And now I know I was right, their band is up there with Hammonton's Blue Devil band.
But I'm honored to be with you. We've come to Hammonton, just as we went to Elizabeth and Hoboken and Doylestown and Buffalo and Endicott and Waterbury, because you're what America is all about. You are America's future.
Americans like you -- and your mothers and fathers and their parents -- here in Hammonton I know that means many proud Italians and hard-working farmers who want to keep those farms in your family. All of you have given the ideas, the muscle, the moral courage and, yes, the spiritual strength that built the greatest, freest nation the world has ever known.
You didn't come here seeking streets paved with gold. You didn't come asking for welfare or special treatment. You came for freedom and opportunity. And we see that spirit in the faces of Hammonton: two people who recently you honored on their 50th wedding anniversary, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Mazza, and a woman who's still a picture of youthful vitality named Mrs. Mamie De Marco, who recently celebrated her 89th birthday.
And we see that spirit, also, when tragedies bring forth the nobility and kindness of our people, pulling us together, giving us strength to go on, to keep living for tomorrow. These moments show us that America's great because -- as a French philosopher said many years ago -- America is good.
I think there's a new feeling of patriotism in our land, a recognition that by any standard America is a decent and generous place, a force for good in the world. And I don't know about you, but I'm a little tired of hearing people run her down.
We've come through some tough times, but we've come through them together -- all of us, from every race, every religion, and ethnic background. And we're going forward with values that have never failed us when we lived up to them -- dignity of work, love for family and neighborhood, faith in God, belief in peace through strength, and a commitment to protect the freedom which is our legacy as Americans.
All that we've done and all that we mean to do is to make this country freer still. America's future rests in a thousand dreams inside your hearts. It rests in the message of hope in songs of a man so many young Americans admire -- New Jersey's own, Bruce Springsteen. And helping you make those dreams come true is what this job of mine is all about.
We hear shrill words from some who were in charge 4 years ago. But may I suggest that those who gave us double-digit inflation, record interest rates, tax increases, credit controls, farm embargoes, long lines at the gas stations, no growth at home, weakness abroad, and told us that it was our fault, that we suffered from a malaise -- they're not exactly experts on the future of growth and fairness in America.
I will say, however, their policies were fair. They didn't discriminate; they made everybody miserable. But I didn't come to dwell on their failures, I came to talk about how together we're going to make this great nation even greater.
With your help, we've knocked down inflation from 12.4 to 4.1 percent. And today, from the Jersey shore to San Francisco Bay, economic expansion is carrying America forward. I'd like to ask you some questions, if I could -- I know there are some young people present -- some questions about a certain country. Now, I won't give away the answer by naming the country, but I will give you a little hint. It has three initials, and its first two are U.S.
Now, of all the great industrialized nations in the world, which has shown by far the strongest, most sustained economic growth?
The President. All right, what country can say its investment is up, its productivity is up, its take-home pay is up, and its consumer spending is up?
The President. And what country during the past 20 months created 6 million new jobs?
The President. And what country created, on an average, more new jobs each month during the past 12 than all the countries of Western Europe created over the past 10 years, all put together?
The President. Now, you get a hundred. You got it right. And, my friends, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
Today, more of your earnings are staying with your families, in your neighborhoods, in your State, where they belong. And we have the rare opportunity to give our children the gift of peace and prosperity without inflation. America has worked too hard for this progress to let anybody destroy it with a massive tax and spending scheme. That would be the equivalent of about $1,800 more in taxes per household, and it would ruin the growth and your opportunities for the future.
For them to introduce that blueprint for bondage in Philadelphia, the very birthplace of our liberty, was a betrayal of the American people. Now, they could have introduced their tax increase in Atlantic City, but then that would have been unfair. The people who go to Atlantic City gamble with their own money, not yours.
Well, we won't let them put that ball and chain around America's neck. I don't think that you in south Jersey believe your families were put on this Earth just to help them make government bigger. They want to enact a massive tax increase to put in their new so-called trust fund. Well, we don't want their new government trust fund; we want a government that trusts you.
You know, I have to tell you, I'm afraid that the age issue may be a factor in this election after all: My opponent's ideas are just too old.
We're talking about two different worlds. They see America wringing her hands; we see America raising her hands. They see America divided by envy, each of us challenging our neighbor's success; we see America inspired by opportunity, all of us challenging the best in ourselves. We believe in knowing when opportunity knocks; they go out of their way to knock opportunity. They see an America where every day is April 15th, tax day; we see an America where every day is the Fourth of July.
Aren't you saying we want to think big and aim high? And aren't you saying don't hold us back, give us a chance and see how high we fly? Well, that's what we want to help you do. So, I have some bad news for our opponents: Our economy will still be healthy come the November election. But I have some worse news for them: Our economy will still be that way in November of 1988.
Our work isn't done. The future is waiting to be seized; great frontiers in science, in technology, in space -- waiting to be discovered and pushed back. And we can do it. We can do it because, as we saw with our great Olympic athletes, when America goes for the gold, nothing is going to hold her back.
And I think one challenge we're ready to meet as a nation, because it's so crucial to our future, is to make America's educational system a great center of leadership for excellence. And we've begun already. This morning we received word that the average scholastic aptitude test score, that thing we call SAT, the college entrance exams, has gone up a full four points. And that's after nearly 20 years of steady decline of more than a hundred points. And this is the second increase in 3 years, and it's the biggest increase -- it doesn't sound like much, four points -- but it's the biggest increase in 21 years. But it's not enough; we've got to do better.
It's time for America to lift her sights, time for us to resolve that before this decade is out we'll raise scholastic aptitude test scores nationwide. We'll make up half of all the ground that was lost over the last 20 years, and reduce the dropout rate from 27 percent to 10 percent or less. And this will require a great national commitment by students, teachers, administrators, and most certainly, by America's parents.
The challenge isn't easy, but, my friends, we can meet it, just as we can continue to champion strong economic growth with greater individual opportunity. We can simplify our tax system, make it more fair, easier to understand, so that we can bring yours and everybody's income tax rates further down, not up. You know, when I say make it easier to understand, did you know that Albert Einstein once said that he found the 1040 tax return form too difficult for him to understand? [Laughter]
We can pass an enterprise zones bill that would encourage people, through lower tax rates, to start up businesses and to train and hire workers in distressed areas. The House Democratic leadership has bottled up that bill for 2 years in committee.
And we could add to enterprise zones a youth unemployment [employment]* opportunity wage for teenagers, so that employers would be encouraged to hire those who are disadvantaged and members of minority groups and young people who are just starting out with no job experience, to get their first job.
We have, as I said, created 6 million jobs in the last 20 months. That's a good record, better than any other nation, but it's not good enough. I pledge to you, I won't rest until every American who wants a job can find a job.
Now, I propose also that we lift our sights toward a second challenge: By this time next year we must have found ways to simplify that tax system, passed the enterprise zones, passed a youth opportunity wage, and all of us must make this expansion so strong that millions of jobs will be created in distressed areas where our fellow citizens need help the most. This America can and must do.
Our goal is an American opportunity society giving everyone not only an equal chance but a greater chance to pursue that American dream. And we can build that future together if you elect people to the Congress who will not vote for tax increases but vote for growth and economic progress. I'm talking about electing Mary Mochary -- wife, mother, and attorney -- to the United States Senate. Stand up there. There.
We couldn't have done any of the things that we've done if we didn't have that bare majority that we have in the United States Senate. They need more help. You send her up there.
Ms. Mochary. Thank you.
The President. All right.
Ray Massie, businessman and educator of great experience, and other progrowth candidates like Jim Saxton and Fred Busch, to help Jim Courter there in the House of Representatives and to give Tip O'Neill fits. [Laughter]
To all those Democrats -- and I hope there are many here -- who have been loyal to the party of F.D.R. and Harry Truman and J.F.K., people who believe in protecting the interests of working people, who are not ashamed or afraid of America's standing for freedom in the world, we say to you, ``Join us. Come walk with us down that new path of hope and opportunity.''
I was a Democrat most of my adult life. I didn't leave my party, and we're not suggesting you leave yours. I am telling you that what I felt was that the leadership of the Democratic Party had left me and millions of patriotic Democrats in this country who believed in freedom.
Walk with us down that path of hope and opportunity, and together we can and we will lift America up to meet our greatest days.
Thank you all. Thank you for your wonderful New Jersey welcome, and thank you for sharing with us your joy and spirit. And God bless you all. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 4:40 p.m. at Bellevue and Central Avenues. Following his remarks, the President met with local Republican leaders and then returned to Washington, DC.
*White House correction.