Remarks at a Fundraising Reception for Representative Robert J. Lagomarsino in Santa Barbara, California
August 26, 1983 Bob, thank you very much, and thank all of you for letting us join you today.
I can think of no better reason for us to get together than to support the reelection of a close friend, a man on whom I have relied so heavily, both as Governor and now in my present job -- Congressman Bob Lagomarsino. And I'd like also to offer my words of thanks, too, for some other friends, Barney and Diane, for all of their hospitality today.
You know, it's no secret that in the last few years, Nancy and I have grown to view this area as home. The Santa Ynez Mountains and the beautiful coastline are as precious to us as I know they are to you. One of the nice things about living here is that we're represented in the Congress, as he told you, by Bob Lagomarsino, a man whose roots go very deep, a good and decent man who reflects the values and traditions of this unique part of California.
Bob was born and educated here. He was first elected mayor of Ojai when he was just 33 years old, and then 2 years later, 1961, he was elected to the State Senate. That ancient history wouldn't be so important, except that the elected Governor of California in 1966 was anxious for advice and guidance of a seasoned pro like Bob. [Laughter] Well, Bob was with me during those things -- the welfare reform and the tough days and the other battles that we had here. And, Bob, wherever Nancy and I go, it seems that you and Norma Jean all get there a few years ahead to scout the territory. [Laughter]
In '74 Bob won his seat in the Congress. And by the time I arrived, 2\1/2\ years ago, he was already well accustomed to fighting the growth of Federal taxes and spending. In fact, when it comes to responsible government, to keeping control of the budget and taxes, few in the Congress can boast a record that is equal to Bob's.
Now, I may have to fish around in my notes here for what I'm going to say next, because -- well, you get the idea when I tell you that what I was going to say, with his help, we've managed to turn around an economic situation that was destroying much of what we know and love about this blessed land. And when I say ``with his help,'' though, I mean he was instrumental to the whole game plan.
Bob is a member of the House Republican leadership group, and that's why we meet frequently, because they come down and we get together there on the problems and how we as a minority are going to have our way. And we've done pretty well at it. Some of those problems Bob talked about, we were told, were unsolvable. I've just come from speaking to a group of Republican women in San Diego, and I explained to them why maybe some of them turned out to be solvable.
You know, inflation was supposed to be institutionalized, couldn't get rid of it in less than decades. Well, we just didn't know that, so we did it. [Laughter] And it's been, as he told you, running at those double digits, and now down to the 2.4 percent. Government spending -- he left that out -- was running at 17 percent a year -- increasing at 17 percent a year, and we've cut that by 40 percent. Taxes were rising faster than people's incomes, pushing working people into tax brackets that had been reserved for the wealthy only a short time before.
The Federal tax take doubled in just the 5 years of 1976 to 1981. But that's been turned around, too, with the 25-percent cut across the board. And beginning in 1985, your taxes -- and it's already been passed, so it will go into effect automatically -- your taxes will be indexed to inflation so that never again can government make a profit on inflation off the people of this country.
And you were told by Bob about the growth, the increase in housing and in construction and in retail sales and auto sales and all of those things. Last quarter, the economy grew by 9.2 percent, and that was a much bigger jump than had been expected. As a matter of fact, they had to announce it twice, because the first time they had it at 8.7, and then they had to correct themselves. It was 9.2. The leading economic indicators have been on the rise. Even unemployment has begun to drop. Last month gave us the biggest single monthly decline in unemployment in almost 24 years.
But, Bob, I've got some new ones for you that just came out as of 10 o'clock this morning -- [laughter] -- and that is that the growth of all business output in the second quarter was up 12\1/2\ percent. Now, that means an annual productivity rate of increase of 5.7 percent. And, at the same time, unit labor cost, the labor cost per unit of productivity in the country, was down 2.1 percent, which means we do have control of inflation.
But Bob recognized early on the threat confronting America from the south. It's our sacred responsibility to see that Central America does not become a string of anti-American, Marxist dictatorships. And I pledge to you right now, we don't intend to let that happen. We will stick by our friends, helping them develop their democratic institutions and to strengthen their economies, while at the same time we will provide them what they need to defend themselves. We don't intend to let Soviet-supported Marxists shoot their way into power in those countries of the Americas. To do that would be to gamble with our country's security and with our children's future.
You know, it's strange that the last few days I've been reading that because I have spoken to some groups of our fine Hispanic Americans that, well, I'm doing this all now just in the interest of trying to fence build and because there's an election year coming and so forth. How many remember that within 24 hours after I announced my candidacy in 1979, I made a speech outlining my dream for the Americas? -- that these borders that separate us here in the Americas are separating us, even though we're all Americans from the South Pole to the North Pole. We all worship the same God; we all have the same pioneer heritage. And my dream has been -- and that's why I have continued and why I went to South and Central America a year ago to talk to the leaders there.
Yes, we've proposed plans before of what we could do. But always it was the big colossus of the north coming down with our idea and saying, ``Hey, here's what everyone should do.'' Well, I went down there and asked them what we should do. I said, ``How can we recognize that we are, even when we cross a border into another country here in this hemisphere, we're among Americans. And I said, ``Maybe you think that we've taken that name for ourselves because we call ourselves Americans. But,'' I said, ``that's just because of the name we picked for our country. We can't walk around calling ourselves a united state.'' [Laughter] But they were very pleased to hear that we felt that way and recognized they, too, were Americans.
And so this isn't any last-minute thing. And the other day, speaking to an Hispanic group in Los Angeles, the man who introduced me, chairman of one of those business groups, gave me a line that I think we should all adopt. He said, ``We talk about the international boundaries here in the Americas.'' ``Well,'' he said, ``a boundary kind of sounds like something that separates us.'' He said, ``Why don't we start calling them the international seams, because seams bring you together and hold you together.'' So, I've just been waiting to be among some friends where I could explain that I'm not a Johnny-come-lately on this whole idea of the Americas getting together. [Laughter]
But now -- --
Audience member. You're among friends with Hispanics, too.
The President. What?
Audience member. You're among friends with Hispanics, and don't listen to those few that are against you.
The President. God bless you, and thank you very much. Thank you. I'm very proud to be friends; they have been good citizens in our land here.
Audience member. And the women are for you, too. [Laughter]
The President. And that's very nice to hear. [Laughter]
Well, I must conclude, but I just want to say due to the disgraceful redistricting that we've gone through here in California, redistricting that hit even new lows in the annals of power politics, Bob is in the fight of his political life. And we need him, and therefore, he needs all of us.
So I hope that as election day draws near, you'll redouble your efforts on his behalf. Bob Lagomarsino is a man whom I respect, and I'm proud to be here helping any way that I can in supporting him today, because he has been of great support to all that we've accomplished and all that we're trying to do there in Washington.
I used to say when I was here in California that if they'd only listened to us -- as a matter of fact, I had the presumption when Her Majesty was here on that wonderful visit -- [laughter] -- to point out to her that if those first settlers to this country had only come across the Pacific instead of the Atlantic, the Capital would be in California. [Laughter] Of course, maybe it's just as well, because the rest of the country never would have become developed. [Laughter]
Well, God bless you all, and thank you very much. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 1:30 p.m. at the residence of Barney and Diane Klinger. Following the reception, the President and Mrs. Reagan went to Rancho del Cielo, their ranch near Santa Barbara.