Remarks at a Luncheon With Community Leaders in Buffalo, New York

September 12, 1984

The President. Thank you all very much. Bishop Head and Mr. Mayor, I thank you for a most gracious introduction, and all who have spoken here. I have to say a nerve was touched when our master of ceremonies referred to the Gipper and his first ball carrying at Notre Dame as a freshman. You know, that was all true. That was a part of his life story. You didn't finish and tell them that I ran through the varsity all the way -- 80 yards -- for a touchdown. [Laughter]

And then Gip, as he came back from crossing the goal line, tossed the ball to Rockne and said, ``I guess the boys are just tired.'' [Laughter]

But the real thrill was -- 8 years in the line in high school and college, and I wound up carrying the ball for 80 yards on a touchdown. And to have two quarterbacks here saying so many nice things about a right guard -- [laughter] -- --

Q. You were a right guard?

The President. Right guard. Oh, I wouldn't have played the other one. [Laughter]

It's wonderful to be here at D'Youville College and be able to break bread with members of the Federation of Italian American Societies and the Saint Stanislaus Community Organization.

It's good to be in your city. You know, when friends from foreign countries come to the United States -- and I do see a lot of them lately -- and ask where they should go to see America, I always say, well, don't go to the obvious places, the biggest cities or the resorts that are well known and such. Go to a small town in South Carolina, or spend some time in a suburb outside Phoenix, or go to upstate New York and head west and spend awhile in a town like Buffalo.

Now, Buffalo, I'm told, has a great motto. It's ``The City of Good Neighbors.'' And that's instructive, I think. Buffalo was settled by waves and waves of immigrants from Germany and Ireland and Italy and Poland and -- name it -- virtually every other country. And there was great migration here from within the United States. New Englanders and people from eastern New York came to work on the Erie Canal. And after that, black citizens came from the South. Buffalo is a real melting-pot town, and it's been very easygoing about it, very open and embracing of everyone. That's a great triumph, and something for all of you to be proud of -- just another reason why you should be talking proud.

I was just over at Santa -- I'd been saying Santa -- the Santa Maria Towers, and that place is a splendid example of what individual people and groups can do to better their society. I would also like to applaud your efforts to establish the Monsignor Adamski Village. Together, the Saint Stanislaus Community Organization, the Diocese of Buffalo, Catholic Charities, and your Italian-American associations have a lot to be proud of.

You know, a few years back when I told the Congress and the reporters and the journalists of Washington that the people of America are a great and vigorous people who are awfully good at ordering their own lives and running their own towns and cities, well, there were a few snickers here and there. But I think all of you prove that in America, where there is private need there is private response. And the response of the citizens of this country is worth a million times what government intrusion is worth.

Now, this is a political year, which I have a feeling you've noticed. [Laughter] And I speak here today as President, of course, but also as a candidate for reelection. And I don't want to stand at the stump and tell you all the reasons our administration deserves a second term. I'd just like to talk to you a bit about how we see the world and what we've done in Washington and all that we mean to do to make this a freer country.

We want to take a free country and make it freer. Part of human freedom is economic freedom, and our policies respect that. We believe that when you tax something you put a kind of artificial limit on its production. When you put heavy income taxes on a working man or woman, you make it less worth their while to work hard and get ahead. But let them keep more of the fruits of their labor, and you encourage greater work and greater productivity. You encourage investment, and the economy grows. Jobs are created and more people work and pay their modest taxes, and the healthy spiral continues.

And we tried to achieve prosperity while lowering inflation, because inflation is a terrible thief and another discourager from saving your money and investing in the future. After 3\1/2\ years of our stewardship, I don't think it unfair to report that what we've created so far is the first real cycle of peace and prosperity without inflation since the 1960's.

We've got the economy growing again, and it's created 6 million jobs in the past 20 months in this country. Last year 600,000 new businesses were incorporated, and that was a record. The prime interest rate, which 4 years ago had reached the highest point since the Civil War, has fallen. Retail sales are up. Consumer confidence is up. So much is up that I almost hate to give you the downer: Inflation is down to just about 4 percent. [Laughter] And I don't need to remind you that 4 years ago, it was up more than three times that high.

There's still a lot that remains to be done; our work isn't finished. But the point I'm making is that for the first time in years our economy is on the right track again; not only on the right track, but chugging along like a big, powerful locomotive. And I don't think we want to go back. And I just want to highlight here that some of our opponents would go back. They've already told us that as soon as they're in, they'll start raising your taxes. And they'll do it again and again and again.

How do I know that? Because they've been running Congress for 42 of the last 50 years, and that's what they did for 42 of the last 50 years. Well, I think the only bills that we want to see go higher are your Buffalo Bills, not your tax bills. [Laughter]

Opportunity creates growth, and together they give everybody a better chance to take part in the good life that America promises. And one way to help the economy keep growing and keep expanding is through some prudent and helpful legislative initiatives.

We think it's time for America to move into the future with an historic simplification of the tax system -- a tax system more fair, easier to understand, so we can bring everybody's income tax rates further down, not up. And with regard to making it simpler, you know, one of our truly great mathematicians, worldwide, actually had to confess he had trouble with his 1040. [Laughter]

You know, you have a great Congressman here, Jack Kemp. Jack is one of that great breed of creative new Republicans bursting with new ideas. And I think that all of us converge around one principal idea -- opportunity. We don't believe in an America divided by envy, each of us challenging the other's success. We believe in an America inspired by opportunity, each of us challenging the best in ourselves.

Now, sometime back Jack put forth an idea called enterprise zones, which we strongly support. This bill is a shining example of a legislative initiative that will encourage economic freedom and get cities that are in trouble back on their feet again.

The enterprise zones bill would declare the older, distressed parts of a city to be special zones where special economic opportunity is encouraged. Businesses that go into those zones would be taxed at a much lower rate than if they were up on Main Street. Imagine adding to enterprise zones a bill that offers, during the summer months, a youth employment opportunity wage for teenagers, so that shopkeepers and others would be encouraged to hire those who are often disadvantaged and members of minority groups. It would be another -- but lower -- minimum wage for young people who are trying out for that first, or that summer, or that part-time job.

Now, you take these ideas, and you apply them to the distressed parts of Buffalo. Imagine those parts of your city blooming again, with kids coming home from school and having jobs to go to, with parents having a reason to care about the neighborhood, and with new local businesses adding to your tax base.

These are the things we need, and if you give us your support, these are the things we'll fight for in that second ``4 more years!''

The liberal leadership in the House of Representatives, people who speak on and on about their compassion for the needy, have not only failed to pass enterprise zones, they've refused to even allow the Members of the Congress to vote on it. That's why we need new leadership in the House. We need people who recognize when opportunity knocks; we don't need people who knock opportunity.

Now, people, of course, don't live by economic matters alone. What's in their soul is more important than what's in their bank account. And that's why I'm so heartened and moved by the return to values that we've witnessed in the past few years. Young people love their country again and are trying to make it a better, kinder place. And once again, the family is being recognized as the center of society.

I think our government should help make it easier for those who believe in traditional values. And that's why I've supported, and will continue to support, tuition tax credits for those who pay into the tax system to support public schools, but who also take their savings to send their children to a parochial or independent school. And I support, and will continue to support, the right of voluntary prayer in the schools. And I don't mind telling you that we need the help of people like Al D'Amato and Jack Kemp and Jill Emery in the Congress if we're to prevail.

I'm running for reelection because I believe in the future, and I want to help make it a better and freer place for our children and our children's children. Together, we can build an American opportunity society that will give every person an equal chance and a much greater chance to pursue the American dream. Our work has just begun, and I'd feel like a quitter if I just packed up and went back to the ranch and forgot about the great challenges of our time.

This is an important election. It offers people of this nation the clearest, sharpest choice in half a century. And that's just fine, because the issues are really so big. Your vote is important; your decision is critical.

I want to say just one last thing here. Of all the things that I've been proud of in these going on 4 years since I've been in Washington, one of them is the quality of the young men and women who today wear the uniform of our country. They're at the highest level by actual statistics of any that have ever served our country. And I remember back -- I know there was a time in recent years when we worried and we wondered -- but I remember back when General Marshall was asked in World War II what was our secret weapon. And Bishop and reverend clergy and Sister, if you'll forgive me, the General said, ``The best damn kids in the world.''

Well, I guess an awful lot of the kids today are the grandsons of those best kids in the world. And believe me, they're carrying on the tradition, those young men and women in uniform. When you see them now and then on the street, maybe smile and tell them you're proud of them. I know I am.

Thank you all. Thank you for having me here. God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:23 p.m. in the dining hall at the student center of D'Youville College. The luncheon was sponsored by the Federation of Italian American Societies and the Saint Stanislaus Community Organization.

Following the luncheon, the President met at the college with Erie County Republican leaders and Reagan-Bush campaign leaders. He then traveled to Endicott, NY.