May 20, 1981

I'm still not getting used to the fact that in my own house, somebody has to tell me whether I can come in a room or not. [Laughter]

Well, anyway, good afternoon. I'm very pleased to welcome you here to the White House. You may not know this, but the Advertising Council is a pretty popular group with my administration. As a matter of fact, you may be too popular. I've just looked at you schedule, and I saw the list of our people who will be speaking to you tomorrow. And it includes about half the Cabinet -- [laughter] -- which means that while you're getting briefed, I won't be. [Laughter]

That's all right. By the time they've given you all the latest information -- or they have, I'm sure, on spending and taxes, we may just ask you to go on up to Capitol Hill then and give the word that I'm still hanging tough for a good tax bill. [Laughter] I'm just as eager for this as I was for the bill on cutting spending. So, we'd just like to have them just get it over with and give us the tax cuts, and we'll go forward from there.

Let me say on behalf of Nancy, who couldn't be here but who wanted to be -- she's got a schedule too, I found out. I used to just come home and open the front door and say, ``I'm home.'' And now I come home, look through 132 rooms, and then look at her schedule -- [laughter] -- to know where she is. But on her behalf -- you who worked on that great Foster Grandparents spot, and on behalf of our administration and millions of our citizens, I'm very honored to continue the tradition that has been observed by every President since FDR. I salute you and your organization on this, your 37th annual conference. My goodness, I was only a small boy when you started. [Laughter] And may I add a simple, ``Thank you, '' for all that you've done.

Through the years you've done this both for peace and in wartime, and your public service work has provided an indispensable source of communication between our Government and the American people. Your ad campaigns have educated, have motivated, have united, have improved the quality of our lives. And you've demonstrated what is really the American spirit, and that is what voluntarism is all about. As you've probably suspected, I'm a great believer in this spirit of voluntary service, cooperation of the private and community initiatives. And that spirit flows like a deep, mighty river through the history of our nation.

In recent years, we've seen the river go down a little bit as government has steadily expanded its own influence over our economic and our personal lives. And as government did this more and more, Americans developed an attitude of, ``Well, why should I worry or get involved? Let the government handle it. That's their business.'' And it really isn't. It's ours, as I think you've always known. So, we know that letting government handle it, as it has done, has done to our economy just about what Mrs. O'Leary's cow did to the city of Chicago -- [laughter] -- which makes organizations like yours all the more important.

I was very gratified to hear that once again you were planning to take action. And this, together with the National Association of Broadcasters, that you're preparing a giant public service ad campaign to educate Americans on the need to improve productivity -- nothing could be more welcome. And if it will help cut through any redtape, let me pledge to you right now the full enthusiastic support of our administration.

Improving productivity, you know, really only requires two things: people who have better ideas and people who have savings and want to invest in those ideas. Now, we have the first. Our problem is today we don't have the second. So, this need for greater savings and investment is why our administration insists that while reducing excessive spending, monetary growth, and regulation, we must also enact tax rate reductions across the board.

I was just looking at some figures up there, and we have doubled the taxes of the people of this country since 1976. What we're asking in our tax cut actually is only the prevention of a gigantic tax increase that is built into the system for the coming year, and we're not really reducing them, we just want to reduce the increase. And I think if the people get to know that, then I think maybe up on the Hill they'll get to know that.

So, we're willing to enact the total recovery program -- economic recovery program, which I think is what the people of this country want. Then we'll provide incentives for greater economic growth than we've had in more than a decade. And when that happens, we'll not only restore strong productivity, we'll reduce inflation, and we'll save that American dream that we all love. The ultimate objective in everything that we're trying to do is to give this economy back to the American people, where it belongs, because they are the most valuable resource of our nation.

You know, America's revolutionary gift to the world is the idea that individual freedom is the inalienable right granted by God to all of us as a birthright, and this is at the core of everything that we've accomplished so far. Now, I know that some call this idea old-fashioned, even reactionary. Well, it's still the most unique, the newest and the most exciting and successful idea the world has ever know.

Albert Einstein, one of the greatest of geniuses, probably summed it up best when he said, ``Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by individuals who labor in freedom.'' Now, this is the message that all of us, and that you and your Advertising Council, we in this administration, must give to our countrymen and the world beyond, because when we do, they'll be telling millions of people the true story about hope and a better tomorrow. And we'll be telling them about America.

So, now, thank you very much, and I'll have a chance for a minute or two to say hello. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 5:37 p.m. in the East Room at the White House.