Remarks of the Vice President at the Annual Republican Senate-House Dinner
April 7, 1981
Thank you, Senator Packwood. And first let me just express my deep appreciation to Joe Rodgers, the chairman, to Bob Packwood and to Guy Vander Jagt for this spectacular dinner, for the enormous effort that so many people out there put in to making this the obvious success that it is.
I also want to thank Ambassador Brock, Chairman Bill Brock, if you will, and John Heinz, who though not in their political offices now in terms of the Senate and National Committee, both of whom did this magnificent job in shaping the victories that were ours last November, and also to convey my best wishes to our new, very able chairman, Dick Richards, the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, who has a tough act to follow in following Bill Brock, but whom I'm confident will do a magnificent job.
All of these people have made a tremendous contribution, not just to this dinner but to the results we're all here complimenting ourselves on for what happened in both the House and the Senate. They're fantastic leaders, and I want to pay my respects to every one of them.
You know, being asked to substitute for President Reagan as a guest speaker at a gathering of Republicans is like pinch hitting for George Brett out there in Kansas City. You know, it's almost impossible, and there's no way that you can possibly do the job as well as the person you're filling in for. But it is a pleasure to be here in front of this distinguished audience and to thank so many solid party supporters who helped make the great Republican victory of 1980 possible and now and are hard at work, as you've heard from previous speakers, laying the groundwork for 1982.
And thanks to your efforts we now have a Republican President, and thanks to your efforts we now have a Republican Senate. But two out of three, while it may be pretty good -- .666 in baseball -- may be okay, but it isn't good enough when it comes to turning this country around completely. We have Howard Baker as Senate Majority Leader, and now we need, and President Reagan needs, Bob Michel as Speaker of the House of Representatives. That is our objective.
Every American, regardless of party, regardless of where you come from, is heartened by the magnificent progress that our President is making on his road to recovery. I stopped over there just for a couple of minutes on the way to this dinner, and I must say that he looks well. That fantastic humor and spirit is there, and I'll tell you, here's one guy that just can't wait for him to get out of that hospital and get back to the Oval Office. The country needs it so much. We need his strength, we need his resilience, we need his articulation about division of our country's future, and we need his will and his determination to make the decade of the eighties one of a great new beginning for our country.
And while we're at it, I expect I express the sentiments of everybody here when I say the same goes for Jim Brady, the same goes for Secret Service Agent McCarthy, who did get out of the hospital today, and the same goes for that heroic policeman, Mr. Delahanty. We need them. We need them back at what they were all doing, each in their own way, so very well indeed.
It's been only 2 months since the President launched what Joe talked about, this new beginning for the Nation, but the signal is clear for everybody to see -- in President Reagan we have a leader now who inspires new confidence, who inspires new hope in our country's future. I see it at home, and I see it abroad, as we meet with leader after leader from overseas. Ten days ago, speaking here, the President outlined the basic philosophy that guides his administration, the philosophy that those of us who work with him day to day have heard him express in various ways whenever key issues are being discussed.
This is what the President told members of the National Conference of Building and Construction Trades, and here's the quote, ``We've gone astray from our first principles. We've lost sight of the rule that individual freedom and ingenuity are at the very core of everything that we've accomplished.'' And then, summing up the meaning of the Reagan mandate, the President had this to say: ``Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.'' And let me repeat that: ``Government's first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.''
We Republicans, as Guy Vander Jagt put it, we believe in the American people. We have faith in the people's ability, through exercising individual freedom and their God-given ingenuity, to make better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities. And the record of the past half century shows that under Democratic leadership we've had ever expanding, ever more centralized government trying to run the lives of our citizens. And the Reagan mandate of 1980 was a clear and unmistakable message from the people to turn that trend around, to make America once again a government of, by, and for the people, and not of, by, and for the bureaucrats.
Until this year the opposition party had held control over both Houses of the Congress for 46 years out of the last 50 years. And last November, thanks to the help of many here, we broke that monopoly by winning a majority in the Senate. And next year, 1982, with your help, we're going to finish the job on Capitol Hill by electing a Republican majority in the House. And we're going to strengthen the Republican majority that now exists in the Senate. I feel that deep down inside me. If this program, and I want to mention briefly, is successful, we are going to win control of the House of Representatives and get this country back to work again.
The mandate of 1980 was only a beginning. It was a birth of the new coalition in American politics, a major realignment, if you will, of the Nation's electorate. This new coalition, the Reagan coalition, created that mandate last November. It repudiated the old and discredited opposition philosophy, and it endorsed a real, not simply a rhetorical, program to restore our country's economic stability at home. And that program calls for several things.
First, a reduction in the growth of Federal Government spending. And if we're going to curb inflation and unconscionable interest rates, we've got to begin by curbing the excessive, wasteful spending policies and programs inspired and supported by the opposition leadership year in and year out, fighting the very concept that we must control the growth of spending. That is the first ingredient of the Reagan program. And last week, under the great leadership of Senator Howard Baker and Pete Domenici, the inspired leadership in that Senate, we took a major step in that direction with the Senate cutting some $40 billion odd from the fiscal '82 budget.
And I'm happy to note that many members of the opposition, Democrats, joined in, responding to the people's wishes -- joined the Republican majority in supporting the President. The vote was, I believe, 88 to 10. And we all owe a tremendous debt to Howard Baker and to Pete Domenici for spearheading this legislative effort to make that victory possible.
Let me tell you something about that vote. Amendment after amendment, I believe Howard told me today at lunch, there were 43 amendments -- and a lot of them popular amendments, a lot of them molded so you could try to pull away a vote or two, voting for something that had a very attractive label on it. And under the leadership of Howard Baker and of Pete Domenici and others, we held that line firm in the United States Senate, and thus set the pattern saying to the people, ``We are going to do what we were elected to do -- control the growth of Federal spending'' -- a masterful job by the majority leader and by the chairman of the Budget Committee.
Now, we hope that that same approach will have the same results in the House of Representatives. And, believe me, if the people are heard from, if the people that vote out there across this country are heard from, I believe those same results are possible.
Secondly, the Reagan program for economic recovery calls for creating new jobs for millions of unemployed Americans who want to work by revitalizing our nation's productive capacity and encouraging investment in the private sector. And to do this the President's economic program calls for a bold, innovative tax program providing for a 10-percent, across-the-board rate cut every year for the next 3 years, and that next 3 years is important. We've got to be able to plan ahead so that we can invest and so that we can build and so we can put this country back to work again. This program is the program that President Reagan campaigned on, was elected on last November, and its enactment is absolutely essential if we're going to make the promise of the Reagan mandate a reality and pull America out of this quagmire of economic stagnation.
And thirdly, the program for economic recovery calls for the elimination of excessive, wasteful Federal regulation. Within 24 hours after he took office, the President created a Regulatory Task Force and let it be known that he wanted that Task Force to go forward full speed toward one goal -- getting the Federal Government off the backs of the American people in their daily lives and livelihood. We have regulated ourselves to death in the United States, and President Reagan is going to change it.
The President made me Chairman of that Task Force, and I can tell you his leadership is continual. That pressure is on us to perform, and we recognize the responsibility of government in protecting the environment. Of course we do. We recognize the Government's responsibility in the safety of the workingplace. Of course we do. But unrealistic, overzealous regulators have made a mockery of the good intentions, and by their arbitrary actions they've added tens of thousands of workers to the unemployment rolls, and they've threatened the very existence of some of these small businesses. Large businesses can cope, with big computers, a lot of people out there. But small businesses are being driven to their knees by the excesses of Federal regulation, and our Task Force has already taken action in several key areas of the economy.
Yesterday we moved to eliminate needless, burdensome regulations that have held down the productive capacity of the American automotive industry, and we're going to put unemployed Americans back to work. And our first step must be to free this economy from the shackles of unneeded bureaucratic regulation, and I just can't tell you how much I enjoy my job when it comes to this Regulatory Task Force. Something's going to happen out there, and it's going to be good for the working man in this country.
And fourth, as the President told the National Conference of Building and Construction Trades, we intend to cooperate with the overall economic program and have with it also, working with it, a monetary policy designed to stabilize the money supply, reduce inflation, and bring down interest rates.
And a fifth element of the program, though not directly related to economic recovery, is also fundamental to the meaning of the Reagan mandate, and we're determined to reverse the trend of recent decades where bureaucratic decisionmakers in Washington increase power at the expense of State, local, and county governments. The Founding Fathers created a Federal system based on the premise that the closer the government is to the people, the more responsive government will be to the needs and desire of the people. And that idea, untested in recent years as powers gravitated to Washington, is as true today as it was two centuries ago. And restoring that concept to relations between the national, State, local, and county governments is an integral part of the way President Reagan views his November mandate.
He feels strongly about getting those answers closer to the people and not having them all done right here in Washington, D.C. And as this federalism unfolds, I believe that those local governments will increase in excellence and increase in their responsiveness to the people if they feel they can have, through block grants, the funds to make possible their own priorities, take care of their own priorities at these various levels of government.
These are five ingredients, and three of them -- the control of the growth of spending and the tax thing and the regulatory thing -- are all part of it. But let me tell you what concerns me tonight, and I don't want to assign guilt to anybody that puts out a thousand bucks for a plate. That gets you in, and you shouldn't be harassed. But I'll tell you something about my own office.
I've had business guys come in, and they come down to the office and they say, ``George, please tell the President down the hall we're all for him.'' And I say, ``Oh, well, great. Thank you, sir,'' show them to the door. But, ``While I have your attention, don't cut the XYZ Bank, because every dollar we spend on the XYZ Bank gets $10 down the road.'' ``Thank you, sir, very much for your support.'' He goes out. Some guy from the university comes in. He says, ``George, please tell the President that we're all for him. We are being clobbered by regulations.'' I had one president of a college tell me, $3 million for one medium-sized college and wrote, ``Please tell him down the hall, we think he's doing a magnificent job.'' ``Oh, thank you, sir.'' Start showing him to the door. ``But while I have your attention, please don't touch student loans. Please don't tighten up on student loans. It's going to kill us.'' You cannot nickel and dime this program to death, and let me tell you something -- we've got to hold it together.
We get this country back to work and produce and create and innovate and save, and then we'll have plenty of time to second-guess the President of the United States. But for now, we need your help in holding this program together and getting it through the House and getting it through the Senate, so the people will say at last, ``We have a President who did, after elected, what he said he was going to do.'' And that President, my friends, is Ronald Reagan.
Thank you very, very much.
Note: The Vice President spoke at 9:57 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel.
Earlier in the evening, the Vice President attended a reception for the dinner chairmen in the East Room at the White House.
As printed above, the item follows the text of the White House press release.