Remarks at a Rally for Senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming in Cheyenne
March 2, 1982 Mr. Mayor, officials and officers of your State government, Senator Simpson, Congressman Dick Cheney, my old friends Governors Hansen and Hathaway, members of the State legislature, Republican State chairman, your National Committee members, and the man that we're here to honor today and to pledge our support to, Senator Malcolm Wallop:
Malcolm, I thank you very much for those very generous and kind words. Why doesn't the Washington Post write like that? [Laughter]
It's not only a great pleasure to be with you this afternoon, it's something of a relief. Whoever said the worst place to get a perspective on America is Washington, D.C., was absolutely right.
But, you know, before I go on, I have to tell a little story here. As that plane was coming in to land and I was looking out, suddenly my memory went way back -- and I mean way back. I was a sports announcer, Des Moines, Iowa, WHO. And one day I received an offer of a contract at a studio in Hollywood. And so, I packed up in an old Nash Lafayette convertible everything that I owned in the world and took off in the morning from Des Moines. And my first stop that night was Cheyenne, Wyoming.
I checked in at a hotel. I had dinner, and then I went to a movie. And the movie just happened to be a thing called, ``A Star is Born.'' Not the remake, the first time they'd made it. [Laughter] And those of you who might have seen it remember that it was a picture about the horrors and the vicissitudes of someone trying to get started in Hollywood. I didn't sleep very well that night. [Laughter] I almost turned around and went back the other way.
But to get back to the subject at hand. You know you don't have to spend much time in Washington to appreciate the prophetic vision of the man who designed all the streets there. They go in circles. [Laughter]
I've been looking forward to coming home to the great American West. While Washington, as usual, seems paralyzed by handwringers, the people here are filled with just what Malcolm was talking about -- frontier spirit. And I'm still sure that the future is ours to shape.
Your senior Senator, Malcolm Wallop, embodies that Wyoming courage and optimism in the United States Senate. He's working hard to restore incentive and productivity to our economy and accountability to our system of government. He sounds the Wyoming call for fiscal responsibility loud and clear in Washington. But the economic mess that we're in has been piling up for decades, and it's going to take some time to straighten out. That's why the people of Wyoming and all Americans need Malcolm Wallop's service and dedication for another term in the United States Senate.
I have a message for the pessimists on the Potomac: The rest of the country still believes in America and in tomorrow. Together we'll get control of this economy, strengthen our defenses, and restore health to our nation. And we'll do it by returning our economy and our government to the American people. With the help of leaders like Malcolm Wallop, Alan Simpson, and Dick Cheney, we'll guide our country out of this dark tunnel of recession and decline. But we must stick to our course -- a difficult but straight road to recovery.
Incidentally, just a moment ago in the other room before we came in, attention was called to the fact that of all the total State delegations in the Congress in Washington, none has a higher record of support of what we've been trying to accomplish than the delegation that sits before you here today.
Those who would have us return to the failed policies of yesterday, offering only the equivocating and uncertain leadership that got us into this mess, would take us once again down a garden path that's laid out like the traffic circles of Washington: We would continue going around and around getting nowhere, constantly in motion yet neither coming nor going. This nation has turned away from the dizzying years of tax and spend and tax and spend. We will not go back.
Some of the same people who ran this country for the last 20 years -- who pushed us to the brink of economic disaster -- now want to steal your tax cut before you even get it. And let me point out that the so-called tax cut, historic as it is, only lessens the previous tax increase. The government is still taking in more money every year. Yet some say that raising your taxes more is the only way to balance the budget. Well, I don't think they've gotten the message yet.
Let's look at the record. A fellow named Al Smith used to say that. Under past leadership in Washington, our taxes went up more than 200 percent in the last 10 years, and in the last 10 years we ran up a string of gigantic deficits. We don't have a budget deficit because we don't tax enough; we have a budget deficit because we spend too much.
You know, the people that are complaining the loudest because now, yes, this recession which came upon us and was coming upon us for the last several years has increased what even our conservative estimates of the deficit was going to be, because every time you add 1 percent to the unemployment rolls, you add 25 to 27 billion dollars to the deficit. And yet, I don't recall any of them in those past years, when they were in control of both Houses of the Congress, ever protesting much about deficits. It seems to me that I remember hearing them say, ``Oh, we don't have to worry about the national debt. We owe it to ourselves.'' And I remember them saying, ``A little inflation each year is good for us. It maintains prosperity.'' Well, listening to the born-again budget-balancers moan about deficits now is kind of like hearing a mugger in Central Park complain about crime in the streets. [Laughter] I don't believe that I was sent to Washington to raise your taxes, and neither was the new majority in the United States Senate.
Others say the way to balance the budget is to cut back on defense. But the very survival of our nation requires that we go forward with the defense spending program. And one of the reasons we must go forward can be seen in these young people that I'm so happy are here today. It is not because we envision someday sacrificing them on a battlefield. We want that defense so that someday a generation of young Americans or in no future day will ever have to go and do that anyplace in the world.
The rate at which the Soviet Union is increasing its capabilities leaves us still a number of years before we'll even begin to close the gap. Now, this is one subject on which the man holding the job that I now hold is practically the only one who has all the facts with regard to our national security. And I tell you we dare not reduce our defense budget.
The bulk of our increase is not going for fancy new planes or elaborate weapons systems. Most of that money is going for basic essentials now in dangerously short supply. It's going for manpower, maintenance, and readiness. If we eliminated all the major weapons systems, all the programs that are scheduled in the present budget, it would only reduce next year's deficit by $6\1/2\ billion in an economy that will be $3 trillion. I don't think Americans want their American forces held together with chewing gum and baling wire, unable to move for want of spare parts.
We must not resign ourselves to life as a second-rate power, tempting aggression with our weakness. America has never gone to war because it was too strong. We must rebuild our defenses and secure our freedom so that once again America will be second to none in the world. It's my duty as President, and the responsibility of us all as United States citizens, to keep this country strong enough to remain free and at peace.
We have submitted to the Congress a budget that will reduce deficits, rebuild our defenses, and begin to control the runaway costs of so many of our Federal programs. We're open to suggestions and alternatives from the Congress. We welcome ideas for spending even less. But as the volume of voices rises in debate, there's one thing I want to make very plain: My commitment to cutting taxes and rebuilding our defenses is every bit as strong today as it was the day I took office. There will be no retreat in those areas.
America today is at a turning point. For too long we've been stalled in history, repeating mistakes of yesterday because our leaders have been afraid to share a new tomorrow. But our people are ready. Our people know that they can solve any problem, that no challenge is too great. They're fed up with promises and platitudes. They're calling for the government to have faith in the governed.
You know, when I was in that other business, I used to say about some Hollywood producers that they didn't really have faith in the intelligence of the American people. Well, that can be said of many in Washington today. Faith in the American people -- one of the most inspiring things that happens to me is the mail that I get. A letter from a blind veteran, World War II, lost his sight 37 years ago in Germany in combat. I had to have his letter translated from the braille. He wrote to tell me that if it would help our country to cut his pension, cut his pension -- the elderly gentleman, quite elderly, who sent me his entire monthly social security check and asked that it be used to help retire the debt. And a young man -- this was last year when we were still trying for the tax cuts and for our first cuts in the budget -- a young man who wrote to tell me that he'd been going to college on one of the Federal loans, college loans, and he said, ``But I'm going lay out a year and work and earn the money to go back the next year, so that I won't be a burden on our country any longer.''
And then just yesterday a packet of letters all came in one little bundle, each letter from a little girl, and each little girl -- they live in Tennessee -- writing to tell me how much they love America, how beautiful America is, how much they can see the opportunities that lie before them. Every one of the little girls is a refugee from the Communist invasion of Laos. They're children of the boat people that came here for sanctuary -- and now telling us how much they love this country.
Unshakable faith in the American people is at the heart of our program for economic recovery and our proposal to return power and resources to the levels of government closest to the people. The principle is the same. There's no one in Washington who should enjoy an open season spending your hard-earned money. And there's no one in Washington with a corner on the compassion and wisdom that it takes to run this city or this State.
In the last 2 weeks mayors, city councilmen, legislators, and Governors from both parties, county officials have applauded our overall proposal to strengthen the partnership between the levels of government. Americans by a 2-to-1 majority favor more power closer to home. I think it's time we listened to the millions of voices west of Washington.
It's time we tapped the well of human spirit that runs so deep in our land. We'll find more than the strength of numbers and the strength of resources. We'll find the strength of individual courage, know-how, and love of country.
I believe the American people are with us in our cause. We can't make things right overnight, but we will make them right. I'm asking you, as I'm asking all Americans in these long months of decision, to stay with us as we hold to this new path.
You and your forebears, as Malcolm said, tamed a wild frontier. And, believe it or not, you did it without an area redevelopment program or urban renewal. [Laughter] So now, load up the musket and help us conquer this wild growth and centralization of power which threatens all that we've created.
I'm counting on the advice and support of Malcolm Wallop in the months ahead and the years ahead as we return this country to our first well-charted course. Now, I'm going to say that I'm sure we probably don't agree on every issue. No two people do. But we share the overriding philosophy that individual freedom, individual integrity, and individual ingenuity made us the greatest country the world has ever known. And I know that these gentlemen you sent to Washington who are here with us, I know Malcolm and myself, we put our trust in God and in the American people.
I urge you, return Malcolm to the United States Senate where you and I and all Americans need him, and together we'll make America great again.
Thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at 12:15 p.m. in the Storey Gymnasium.
Following his appearance at the rally, the President attended a fundraising reception for Senator Wallop at the Hitching Post Inn in Cheyenne.