Remarks to the Business-Government Relations Council


December 13, 1988


Well, thank you all very much. I'm very happy to be with you today to talk about what we've accomplished these past 8 years and to look forward to what there is yet to accomplish. The Business-Government Relations Council stood with this administration as we fought the established wisdom that once ridiculed our ideas about economic growth and taxation. The companies that you represent recognize that they would not be able to succeed in the increasingly competitive world marketplace without major reforms at home. And that's why you supported us as we fought to cut taxes, eliminate unnecessary regulations, and restrain the growth of Federal spending.


That was quite a battle, but the battle was worth it, and the facts bear this out: 6 full years of uninterrupted economic growth, the longest peacetime recovery in history; an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent; and almost 19 million new jobs created since our recovery began. Today more Americans are at work than ever before in the history of this great country. And a greater percentage of the total work force is currently employed. Now, that total work force -- I had to come here to find out what they meant by that. That's everybody in the United States, male and female, 16 years and up. And 62.6 percent of them currently employed.


Well, let's take a look at our successes from a Yuletide perspective. According to a Philadelphia bank, the index of the cost of giving your true love the gifts mentioned in the carol ``The Twelve Days of Christmas'' declined by six-tenths of a percent this year. [Laughter] The price of pear trees fell -- [laughter] -- and the price of partridges was unchanged. [Laughter] However, I must sadly report that costs rose for pipers piping and drummers drumming. [Laughter] So, you see, we still have some work to do.


We understood the key to prosperity was low-inflationary growth, and we achieved it. Our other aim -- cutting the budget deficit -- was hampered by a budgetary process that can only be called insane. And so, I continue to support two measures to stop runaway Federal spending: The line-item veto and the balanced budget amendment. George Bush needs them, and I hope you will help him get them.


Now, I know Clayton will be talking to you about the Uruguay round mid-term review in Montreal last week, but let me just say this: We've made remarkable strides during this decade toward our goal of free and fair world trade not only in the GATT but also through our passage of the U.S. - Canada free trade agreement. There are many who said that we could not stem the tide of protectionism, that the only way to respond to unfair trading practices was to close off our own market. Well, we didn't want to succumb to this defeatist attitude. So, we launched the Uruguay round against all odds 2 years ago. And the mid-term review -- we reached agreement on a framework to move the negotiation forward in all but the two most difficult areas: agricultural and [for] intellectual property.


We remain committed to an international trading system based on the principles of freedom and fairness. And we'll continue to press for the end of agricultural subsidies and the protection of intellectual property. We're confident these aims can be achieved. And when they are, I believe the people of the world will know a prosperity of which we have only the slightest glimmering.


So, as I take my leave of you, I ask you to continue the battle -- the battle for the line-item veto and the balanced budget amendment and free trade throughout the world. I was one of the 43 Governors in this country that had the line-item veto. I used it 943 times in the 8 years and was never overridden once. When you line-item those things that may be passable when they're all buried with other things and then send them back for them to vote on them, standing out there all by themselves, they don't vote the same way. [Laughter]


Well, thank you all, and God bless you all.


Note: The President spoke at 2:08 p.m. during a briefing in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to Clayton K. Yeutter, United States Trade Representative.