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Remarks at a Target '82 Republican Fundraising Reception in Los Angeles, California

August 17, 1981

You know, being back here and seeing all of you, I just wish one thing about George Washington. [Laughter] He set so many precedents, why didn't he set one that the capital would henceforth be where the President lived? [Cheers]

Well, I thank all of you for being here. I know the cause that brings you together, and I think it is doubly important, more important than it has ever been. Next year, '82, that's an election year for all of our assemblymen, the administration, for the Senate. And if I have my figures correct, we would only have to hold our own in the assembly, where all are up for election, and win 10 of their seats, and we'd have a majority there. And in the Senate, there are 14 of them up for reelection, and only 6 Republicans -- we'd only have to hold our own and win 4, and we would control that house.

Then, of course, we want the administration also. And the reason it's doubly important is because of some of the things that have been going on in Washington. I am determined that we're going to do everything we can to restore federalism to this land, to make this once again a federation of sovereign States, in which State governments, local governments would have more autonomy than they've had for 50 years. And while we didn't get all we wanted in the block grant process -- to take off the backs of State and local government the redtape and the regulations, the strings that go with categorical grants -- we'll keep on trying and fighting, because my dream is that the block grants are only a means to an end. And the end would be when the Federal Government turns back to the States and local governments sources, actual tax sources, of revenue, allowing the States and the local governments to perform those functions which are theirs by the Constitution and that they would have the tax resources with which to support those functions.

The other day up in the fog -- [laughter] -- on the hill, [Rancho del Cielo] we signed those two bills. And I got so mad, because I kept looking and looking -- they wouldn't show enough of the size of them. The budget cuts alone were a stack of paper that high. I've read every page. [Laughter] And the tax cuts were only that high. [Laughter] But even so, in those tax cuts, it's going to amount to hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few years. It's going to reverse a tax increase built into the system that was going to take $92 billion more out of your pockets next year and $300-and-some billion out of your pockets over the next 3 years.

But the budget cuts, I think, have reversed a trend of the last half century -- the idea that government can voluntarily reduce itself in size. And what we have actually done with those budget cuts is reduce the growth of government, reduce it by more than half, from more than 14 percent, almost 16 percent, some say, depending on who's doing the figuring, down to 6\1/2\-percent increase in the annual spending. And we still have a job to do. That's only the beginning.

This fall, when we start in on the 1983 budget, we have to find tens of billions of dollars of additional cuts. And in 1984 we're going to find more tens of billions of dollars of additional cuts. And then we're going to depend on those tax reductions that we've made to do what we've always said they would and that is to stimulate the economy, to create employment, and to make everyone, even including the government, more prosperous because of the increase -- [applause].

Nancy is signaling me that I should get away from here -- [laughter] -- and we could get down there for the little bit of time that we have and say hello to you.

There are a couple of other things going on at the national level, also; one of course, that's caused a lot of comment. Maybe I could seriously just say something. The air controllers strike in violation of the law and in violation of an oath taken individually by each member -- and I've seen myself heralded as setting out to union bust. I'm the first union president that ever got elected President of the United States. [Laughter]

But you know, some years ago, when public employees first started to unionize, Phillip Murray -- some of you here will remember that name. He was the head of the CIO. And John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers, and Eleanor Roosevelt said that, ``Yes, they could organize to bargain, but they could not strike against their fellow citizens.'' Franklin Delano Roosevelt said a strike by public employees would be insurrection against the people and the Government of the United States. And we know what Cal Coolidge said. He says, ``If they go on strike, they're out of a job.''

Seriously, I am sorry. I'm sorry those people were misled, and I'm sure they're nice people. But I don't think there was any choice but to do what we've done. Public employees cannot strike against the public. Well, I just knew you'd be wondering what we've been doing back there. [Laughter]

Well, God bless you all for being here and make sure that we have the kind of a government in California in 1982 that'll be ready and willing to accept the responsibilities that heretofore have been usurped by the Federal Government. And we'll try to see that they've got the resources to make them work without all that administrative overhead.

You know, the difference between local government and Washington is very simple. Recently, there was a little town. Their traffic signs were only 5 feet high, and they decided to raise them, for better visibility for the motorists, to raise them to 7 feet above the ground. And the Federal Government came in and said they had a program that would do that for them. They lowered the pavement 2 feet. [Laughter]

Thank you all very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:08 p.m. in the Westside Room at the Century Plaza Hotel.