January 29, 1985

The President. Hello, Peter Herder.

Mr. Herder. Good morning, Mr. President. We have -- [applause]. That's our 1,500-member board of directors, and most of them are very optimistic.

The President. Well, I'm glad to hear that. And, Peter, it's good to talk to you, and greetings to all of you members of the National Association of Home Builders.

I'm glad that Sam Pierce represented me at your meeting yesterday, and I hope he brought you my very best wishes.

Mr. Herder. Yes, he did, did a great job.

The President. Good.

Well, last year was a good year for America, and I know it was for housing. In fact, 1984 was, as I understand it, the best year for builders since 1979.

Mr. Herder. That's right. It was a very good year for us.

The President. Well, your industry played an integral part in the national economy. Your contributions to the revitalization of America's fundamental values of personal initiative and perseverance have been especially significant.

And today, our economy is showing solid growth. Just as of about 55 minutes ago, here in Washington, we released some figures that over the past four quarters productivity has increased at the highest rate since 1971, and manufacturing productivity in those same four quarters was at the highest rate since 1973.

More people are working now than at any time in our history, and those people are keeping more of what they earn. And I think that's good news for your industry.

Our efforts to lower taxes, cut government spending, and rid our economy of inflation have paid off. And I really appreciate the role that your association, the National Association of Home Builders, played to make our program succeed.

And, Pete, I want to give a special thanks to you for your leadership and support. And I appreciate your participation in the Housing commission. We're implementing those recommendations.

And, also, I send greetings and congratulations to your new incoming president, John Koelemij, who met yesterday -- I met with him here at a meeting on the deficit. John, we have a full platter of issues this year, and we're looking forward to your help and support.

Our primary goal for the second term is to ensure continuation of strong economc growth with low inflation and lower interest rates. And to achieve this, we have to cut Federal spending to control the deficit.

We got into this deficit mess not because government collects too little in taxes, but because government spends too much. And this year we're planning to take bold steps to remedy the situation and to start a trend of declining deficits as a percentage of gross national product.

You've helped us in the past, and I'm sure that we can count on you again. Let's finish the job we started in 1981, building an economy that keeps America strong.

Thank you for giving me this chance to be with you. I wish it could have been in person.

Mr. Herder. Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for your commitment to homeownership. Thank you, and goodbye.

The President. Well, thank all of you. God bless you all. Goodbye.

Note: The President spoke at 10:55 a.m. from the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, the President referred to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Samuel R. Pierce, Jr.