Remarks at Dedication Ceremonies for Santa Maria Towers in Buffalo, New York

September 12, 1984

Thank you all, and Bishop Head, thank you. Senator D'Amato, Mayor Jim Griffin, Congressman Jack Kemp, Ned Regan, Ed Rutkowski, ladies and gentlemen:

It's a wonderful tonic to be in Buffalo and to be with so many of America's finest. I know that I'm looking today at citizens who don't consider themselves Democrats or Republicans, so much as deeply patriotic Americans who are concerned about your country and determined to do all you can to make tomorrow better.

From our first day in office this has been our objective, as you've been told, was to reduce the growth of spending, to lower tax rates, provide incentives for investment, rebuild our defenses, and fight crime, so we can get our economy moving again, build a stronger America, and make your future more secure.

Well, America is moving forward again, but we won't be satisfied until the economic expansion reaches into every community of our nation. The America we're fighting for is one in which no one gets left behind, from Buffalo to the Bronx, from the Great Lakes to the Great Salt Lake.

I want to talk about our challenge, but let me just say how honored I am to help you celebrate the dedication of the Santa Maria Towers. It's people like you, and inspiring projects like this, who show us that the heart of America is good, the spirit of America is strong, and the future of America is great.

No single sector of our nation -- government, business, labor, or nonprofit organization -- can solve our problems alone. But by working together, pooling our resources, and building on our strengths, we can accomplish great things. And the Santa Maria Towers, this wonderful project for senior citizens and the handicapped, is truly a great thing.

I have had an opportunity, briefly, to see what is inside the Towers here, and you all have every reason to be proud. We peeked out the window a little while ago. [Laughter]

But older Americans want and deserve to be full participants in the economic and social life of America. As Longfellow said, ``age is opportunity no less than youth itself.''

Santa Maria Towers, under the sponsorship of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and Catholic Charities, and with the support of the Federation of Italian American Societies and our Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be doing its part. I'm also encouraged by the efforts of the Saint Stanislaus Community Organization to establish the Monsignor Adamski Village just a short distance from here. Buffalo is telling America that your neighborhoods and communities are caring for your senior citizens and handicapped.

The handicapped may face limitations, but they have no limitations on their courage to do what others say cannot be done. Our disabled citizens want what all of us want -- the opportunity to contribute to our communities, to use our creativity, and to go as far as our God-given talents will take us. They deserve no less, and I believe that we can make their dream come true.

We've seen remarkable achievements in medicine and technology, education and rehabilitation, in equal access and greater economic independence. Voluntary efforts by the private sector and the many worthwhile Federal programs help in a thousand ways, but we've only made a beginning.

His Holiness Pope John Paul II recently remarked we must meet the challenge to build a society ``where to live is to work for the good of others, where to govern is to serve, where no one is used as a tool, no one left out, no one downtrodden, where all can live in real brotherhood.''

We live in a time of great challenges. Well, do you know something? Americans are very good at meeting challenges. Ask the senior citizens in Santa Maria Towers. They kept the world going during the tough years of the thirties and the Great Depression, through the forties and the war and beyond.

But our senior citizens also know that when you lose faith in the people, you can go wrong in a hurry. I think they remember what it was like only 4 years ago having to live on a fixed income with back-to-back years of cruel, double-digit inflation. In fact, all of us remember what it was like to have a broken economy, with the highest prime interest rates since the Civil War, taxes roughly doubling in 4 short years, and real after-tax income of the average family actually declining.

Well, that's behind us now. And it's behind us because there's no limit to what proud and free people can do if they're given a chance. The people of Buffalo understand that. Americans everywhere have always understood that. It was you that told us it was time to put earnings back into the hands of the people, time to put government back into the hands of the people, and time to put America back into the hands of the people.

And that's exactly what we've been trying to do with the strongest economic expansion in 40 years and inflation all the way down from 12.4 percent to 4.1 percent. But we must remove the remaining roadblocks to growth and jobs, without inflation, so a city like Buffalo will finally enjoy all the warmth from the sunlight of prosperity. And with your support, and with strong leaders like Jack Kemp back in Washington and Jill Emery of New York's 34th District, who we need in Washington, that's exactly what we're going to do.

Now, together we'll move forward into a brighter future with an historic simplification of the tax system. We must make that system more fair and easier to understand so we can bring everybody's income tax rates further down, not up.

Now, I don't believe, as my opponent most assuredly does, that government's greatest challenge is to convince us higher taxes will be good for America. I believe that F.D.R., Franklin Delano Roosevelt's words remain true today: ``The only way to keep the Government out of the red is to keep the people out of the red.'' And that means more jobs through opportunity and economic growth, not fewer jobs through unfair tax increases that destroy growth.

The Democratic candidate contends that working Americans wouldn't be hurt by his tax increases. That's a fairy tale. [Laughter] His plan would hurt working Americans by raising their taxes and by stifling economic growth. With your support, we'll make sure that no one puts that ball and chain around America's neck.

We will move forward into a brighter future by insisting that government spend no more than government takes in. And we could make that happen if the Congress would give us a balanced budget constitutional amendment and a line-item veto, giving a President power to veto specific spending requests without vetoing an entire bill. I'm so homesick for that. [Laughter] As a Governor I had that right, and in 8 years I vetoed line-item things more than 900 times without ever having a veto overturned by the Legislature.

We can move forward into a brighter future with enterprise zone legislation, which Congressman Kemp and I support, and which could bring opportunity to so many distressed areas if the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives would stop stonewalling and give us a vote on our enterprise zones proposal.

We can move forward into a brighter future by strengthening incentives to create sunrise industries and make our older firms more competitive. If we enhance our leadership in the marketplace of tomorrow -- high technology, science, education, and space -- we'll create more opportunities, more jobs for all our people.

We'll move forward into a brighter future by making it possible for you to walk your neighborhood streets without being afraid. For too many years, crime has sapped the strength and vitality of our people. Well, common sense is finally beginning to pay off. In 1982 reported crime dropped 3 percent. Last year there was a 7-percent drop, the sharpest decline since 1960. Right here in Buffalo, reported crime last year dropped a remarkable 9 percent.

But we need to do even more, and we can. The Senate has passed our core crime proposal, an historic and tough anticrime bill. They passed it by a vote of 91 to 1. But the liberal Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives has kept it bottled up in committee ever since. Isn't it time for your voices to be heard in Washington, DC? You know, you don't have to make those people see the light, just make them feel the heat. [Laughter]

Finally, the future of America relies completely on our ability to keep the peace and protect our freedom. We're not out for any territorial gain or to impose ourselves on anyone. Ours is the most peaceful, least warlike nation in modern history. But believe me, America must never again let its guard down. The reason we have a military is symbolized by a sign over the entrance to the Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington State. That sign says, ``Peace is our profession.'' Well, as far as we're concerned, that's America's message to the world.

Now, to all those who have been loyal to the party of F.D.R., Harry Truman, and J.F.K., but who believe that its current leaders have changed the party, that they no longer stand firmly for America's responsibilities in the world, that they no longer protect the working people of this country, we say to them, ``Join us. Come walk with us down that new path of hope and opportunity.''

Together, we're going to build an economy that you can give to your children and that will ensure and fulfill the lives of the next generations.

[At this point, the President was briefly interrupted by shouts from someone in the audience.]

There's an echo in here. [Laughter]

We're going to go to work to break the cycles of dependency on government so that free men and women have the surging spirit of boundless opportunity. We're going to build a peace that won't fail if we don't fail. And we're going to be unafraid of exploring all that's beyond this Earth. We're going to leave -- and proudly leave -- sturdy and indestructible values so that in the 21st century, our shield will be their shield.

That's our message this year. We'll carry it across America. I've said, and I'm going to keep on saying, Al Jolson was right: You ain't seen nothin' yet.

I want to thank all of you of Santa Maria Towers for my needlepoint flag, and I got your other gift inside there. And I thank you all very much. And to all of you, thank you all, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:55 a.m. at Santa Maria Towers, a nonprofit, low-income housing project for the elderly and handicapped.

Prior to the dedication ceremony, the President visited Mrs. Anna Grasso, a 74-year-old widow, and toured her apartment in the project.