Remarks on Signing the
Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 in
The President. Thank you all very
much, and thank you, President Talin, Ambassador Yeutter, Members of the Congress. I thank you all for being
here. And I must tell you, this harbor brings back
some memories for me. Of course, when you're my age, everything brings back
memories -- [laughter] -- even other memories. [Laughter] I was here nearly 6
years ago for a similar ceremony. And since then, we've seen a record number of
people employed in this country. We've seen a blossoming of new technologies
unlike any in world history. And we have seen an unparalleled boom in exports,
a boom that, in a very real sense, can be said to have started right here at
yet, watching the bustle and flow of the harbor then, as now, I was struck by
the fact that, while the globe seems to shrink in size as our ability to speed
around it expands, still we must, as in olden days, rely on the gallant and
hardy folk who go down to the sea in ships to transmit our bounty to other
nations and receive theirs on our shores. It's for the purpose of improving and
On that day in 1982, I sat here in front of one of the most impressive vessels I've ever seen. And it's here today again, right here behind me. And as I look at this massive creation, our century's answer to the schooners and other trading ships of a century past, the word that comes to mind now, as it did 6 years ago, is an old sailing term not much in use any more, and that word is ``yare.'' It means easy to handle, quick to respond, bright, and lively. And it seems to me that yare is a word that applies just as well to our vibrant economy as it does to this fine ship.
1981 George Bush and I arrived in
You'll hear some people talk about how our nation is in decline. Well, I want to ask you: Is a nation that creates 17\1/2\ million new jobs in 5\1/2\ years a nation in decline?
The President. Is a nation where more than 62 percent of the working population -- that is everyone, male and female, age 16 and up -- have jobs -- more than 62 percent of them, the highest rate in American history. Is that a nation in decline?
The President. Is a nation where manufacturing productivity has been rising at 4.3 percent a year since our recovery began a nation in decline? I know. No! [Laughter]
The President. And is a nation that exports more than it ever has before a nation in decline?
In decline? No way. Our merchandise exports are up
more than 40 percent in the last 2 years in real terms. And that boom isn't
coming just from a few big corporations. Much of it comes from
we're here to sign a piece of legislation that will help our economy continue
to grow and compete. Our administration and Congress have come together in an
effort to ensure open markets around the world. And yet this bill is just the
latest step in that direction, in that effort, which began the first day that
George Bush and I entered office and has already opened vast markets to
American products all around the globe. It hasn't been easy, but I've never
doubted our ultimate victory because we're riding a global wave. Country after
country is recognizing that free trade is the key to a more prosperous future
and that protectionism protects no one, not even the special
interests that want it so much. This bill will help us continue our
efforts to open markets. It'll help insist on standards of fairplay
for our products abroad. It'll strengthen the ability of
important, it brings Congress and our administration together in firm support
of the new round of multilateral trade talks that began in
I'm delighted to see that this bill also eliminates the so-called windfall profits tax, a pernicious piece of law from the old tax-and-spend years. You know, the truth about the windfall profits tax is that it was a windfall for those who think the Government knows best what to do with our money. Now, with that tax abolished, many thousands of Americans who've lost their jobs as the result of the downturn in energy prices may find themselves back at work.
Let me be plain that there are some things in this bill I don't like. It is possible this bill could lead to an import fee that would be illegal according to international law and inconsistent with our goal of moving toward free world trade. Its language claims to require the executive branch to negotiate with foreign countries on certain specified trade topics. And that's inconsistent with our constitutional principles. It also claims to require the International Trade Commission to conduct investigations in response to a resolution passed by a single House or Senate committee. And that, too, is inconsistent with our constitutional principles.
Well, finally, there are also provisions that assign specific authority to executive officials, such as the United States Trade Representative. It must and will be understood that all officials of the executive branch of this government are subject to the direction and control of the President. And so, in signing this bill, I'm specifically noting that it will be implemented in a constitutional manner.
we see before us today is a future filled with promise and hope. This bill will
allow us to provide up to a billion dollars a year for retraining workers to
adjust to our turbocharged economy, an economy that, with the right leader,
will remain yare. Yes, there are challenges ahead of us, but we Americans know
that nothing worth having comes without a challenge. Challenges and
opportunities are just two words for the same condition: the condition called
freedom -- from the freedom of the human soul to the freedom of choice that is
the hallmark of our democracy to, yes, the freedom we speak of today, the
freedom to exchange goods, services, and ideas in the world market.
Now, I thank you, and God bless you all. And I'm going over and sit down and sign that bill -- less talk and a little bit of writing right now.
Note: The President
spoke at at Pier G, Berth 228.
In his opening remarks, he referred to George F. Talin,
Sr., president of the