Remarks at a Reagan-Bush Rally in Decatur, Illinois

August 20, 1984

The President. This is a very special treat. Having been a Governor myself, I decided that the uniform for up here on the platform had already been determined by Jim Thompson, so I joined him. And I'm happy he made it that way, too.

Well, this is a very special treat. When I was growing up -- and it wasn't too far from here -- I never dreamed that I'd be flying into Decatur on Air Force One. As a matter of fact, when I was growing up, there wasn't an Air Force One. [Laughter] But I am proud of my Illinois roots. This is where I learned about the values of faith and family and work.

A century and a half ago, a young Frenchman named Alexis de Tocqueville toured our fledgling democracy, and he claimed that he was in search of the secret of our greatness, even that -- 150 years ago. And then he finally declared that he had found it. He said, ``America is great because she is good. When America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.''

Well, I firmly believe in the goodness of our country and our people. And I think we're witnessing a transformation in America, a return to those values that we all learned here in this heartland. The roots of the new patriotism are right here, and it is the heartland of America.

There's been much talk about the work ethic, of late. The first job I ever had was working on a construction crew, and it was here in Illinois. I was 14 years old. And I want you to know I haven't forgotten something. I was swinging a pickax on that job; and I wasn't swinging it to help somebody in Washington live better, I was working so our family could live a little better.

In the last 3\1/2\ years, we've kept taxes down so that people will be able to keep more of what they earn. And that's the way to develop a work ethic. There are some people around right now that you're hearing from that -- they've made it evident that a tax increase is their first resort. Well, believe me, it's our last resort. In these last 3\1/2\ years, we've kept taxes down so that people will be able to keep more of what they earn. And that's the way it's going to be.

For the last 3\1/2\ years, we've been trying to restore the economy so there would be jobs for those who wanted them. It took time to put our program in place, and it took time for it to take hold. The debate now, however, isn't whether the program is working. People are arguing about how long the expansion will last. Well, don't worry about the gloom-mongers. They're the same ones who said the program wouldn't work in the first place.

We've ignited, for the first time in decades, high growth, decline in unemployment, and inflation going down all at the same time. Now, this is creating so many jobs that our European allies are calling it the American miracle -- 6\1/2\ million new jobs just since the recovery began. More people in our country are working right now than ever before at any time in our history. We're not tied to the failed policies of the past, policies that relied on more taxing, more spending, and more government.

Right here in Decatur, as the Governor told you, you're trying out an idea that I'd like to see put to use nationally. Thanks to Governor Thompson and your Mayor Anderson, Decatur is one of eight areas designated by the State of Illinois as an enterprise zone, and I understand the list is growing. Your community and your State are in the forefront of this novel approach to development.

All over America, entrepreneurs are investing in new ideas. All we needed to do was to get government out of the way. This is no time to go back. America is moving forward again, and together we can keep her moving forward.

I would like to point out to you -- this idea of the enterprise zones, and being done here at the State and local level -- it is an idea that we have been trying for almost 3 years to get done at the national level -- nationwide. And in the Democratic-dominated House of Representatives, they have kept that program buried and will not even allow it to come out to the floor for a vote. Remember that when you start voting for Congressmen this year.

But I know the schedule calls, and we have to move on to some other errands here in this community. I want to thank you, Governor Jim Thompson and Senator Chuck Percy and each of you, for coming out here to welcome me back to my home State.

But before I go, I just want to add one thing. I want to congratulate your new world champion fast-pitch softball team.

Dais guest. There they are, Mr. President.

The President. Where?

Dais guest. Right up there -- --

The President. Ah!

Dais guest. -- -- on the top row.

The President. There they are, waving their caps. Congratulations.

And a special greeting to Dr. George and Mary Waller, whose son, David, raised right here in Decatur, is most helpful on my staff in Washington, DC.

So, thank you again for coming out here. Oh, boy, nostalgia's beginning to move in. I could stay and visit, but I know we haven't time, and we've got to move on. But God bless you all. This is just wonderful to see you and be here again.

Thank you. Thanks very much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:02 p.m. at the Decatur Municipal Airport.