Public Papers

Remarks at the Beacon Council Annual Meeting in Miami, Florida


Thank you for that welcome back. And I'm delighted to be here. And Jim Batten, thank you, sir. What is it about the water in Miami? I think about Alvah Chapman and all he did as a civic leader in addition to running Knight-Ridder. And now in that same marvelous, unselfish tradition, you have Jim Batten who introduced me here today, and I'm very grateful to him for that warm introduction. And I listened carefully to his counsel. And, yes, the Federal Government must help when you have active citizens like Miami, trying to take care of their own problems. We have a role. We understand it. And we want to be your partners in these efforts for economic development. So, thank you, sir, very, very much.

I want to thank John Anderson, the council president. I want to salute Burt Landy, the incoming chairman. And I would like to just say what a great job your outgoing chairman has done. [Laughter] I'm entitled to my opinion. Now, wait a minute here.

I'm also pleased that one of the representatives from here, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, flew down with us. And your State insurance commissioner is with us today. And I hope I'm not neglecting others, but that is a marvelous turnout.

Jeb, I've got to hand it to you. You've been telling me Miami is friendly territory, and I'm beginning to see what you mean. Imagine winning a new major league baseball franchise and naming it for my Press Secretary. I hear Marlin, Fitzwater that is, is serious about these rumors that he'll get to throw out the first pitch. [Laughter] Marlin thinks I don't notice these things, but last time I gave a press conference he'd left his rosin bag there at the podium in the newsroom. [Laughter]

Commerce in Miami, it's always been an adventure. Dade County now numbers 2 million residents, but in an exciting sense it's still an outpost of opportunity. Your organization's symbol, the beacon on the old Cape Florida Lighthouse, reminds us that less than a century ago, south Florida was a frontier less developed and more forbidding than the Western deserts. And in the year 1900, Miami was a sultry settlement of fewer than 1,700 souls. And today, Miami serves as the gateway of the Americas, a powerful magnet for economic growth.

Here, you look beyond your borders, and beyond your time. And you take seriously your obligation to build a prosperous economy not just for today, but for the future.

For instance, you do care deeply about education, and your schools reflect that commitment. Educators across our country admire Dade County's international schools program. Graduates of the program will meet all the requirements for university admission not only in the United States but also in participating foreign countries.

This sort of imagination, this commitment to quality lies at the heart of our administration's America 2000 strategy, to spark a veritable revolution in education. Miami can take pride that our Secretary of Education, Lamar Alexander, this month gave special recognition to the Dade County schools' innovations.

But you should not rest on today's laurels because you'll need to do even better in the future.

You know, we talk a lot at our students and about our students. Well, tomorrow I will be going into a junior high classroom to talk to and with our students about their role in this revolution.

All across the United States via CNN and PBS, other students in their own schools will be able to hear this message about the need for educational excellence. And we're determined to deepen the involvement of parents. We want to give parents the freedom to choose their children's schools, public, private, or parochial. We're challenging parents, students, businesses, and community leaders to help develop schools that simply break the mold. Because Dade County already is in the forefront, in the vanguard, I count on you to light the way, to show the whole Nation how we can reinvent American education.

You also build a better future with just plain common sense. You invite business, rather than shooing it away. Miami enjoys a large tax base with some of the lowest tax rates in the country. But one important tax remains not just for Miamians but for taxpayers all across the country. And I'm talking here about the Federal tax on capital gains. A capital gains tax cut will boost startup companies and other small businesses. And these are the primary sources of new jobs in our country.

And I may be talking to the choir here with some of the entrepreneurs in this crowd, but that's because I want you to sing a louder chorus. Some folks in Congress still haven't gotten the message. They don't understand that a capital gains tax cut is not a sop for the rich. It offers a helping hand to entrepreneurs and dreamers, people who aren't rich today but whose contributions could enrich our entire society tomorrow.

A capital gains tax cut also will help beleaguered industry, especially the real estate business. And a cut will produce an immediate increase in property values, which in turn can offer new hope for struggling financial institutions.

So, I hope you'll make the truth vivid to Congress. Talk about your own experiences and needs. Tell them to cut the capital gains taxes and give our people jobs. The two things are interlocked.

And we also must fight as a Nation to battle another tax, an invisible tax. And many in this room have been in the forefront of this. I'm talking about crime. Crime exacts enormous costs. I think of the job that many of you did in battling the narcotics coming into this country, battling the crime related to all of that. I'm talking about crime. Crime exacts enormous costs in security systems, in business losses, in workers' morale, in pain, and in fear.

Our administration has proposed a comprehensive crime package that offers people hope, and it gives them a chance to reclaim their streets. The Senate has passed a bill that incorporates many of our suggestions. It's important that you urge the House to do the same thing. We must prevent the criminals from holding up our economy. And we need fewer stickups and more lockups, and this bill will help get the job done.

On a more positive note, Miami faces an exciting future in international banking and financial services. Among American cities, only New York conducts more foreign banking business. And with expected growth in foreign trade, the market for Miami-based financial services should grow ever more robust. And unfortunately, you must be dealing now, at the Federal level at least, with banking laws that lag way behind our times. Our administration wants to bring them up to date.

I worry about the economy. Jim Batten touched on it. These are tough times. But we can do something about it. We sent Congress a comprehensive package of banking reforms earlier this year. Our plan would protect depositors' hard-earned money, strengthen and modernize our banks and financial institutions, and make them more competitive in global markets.

So, this is no time for delay. And this is no time for anticompetitive measures. If we want strong banks and a strong economy, Congress must enact comprehensive banking reforms. And I might add, parenthetically, we also need a full and vigorous team on the Federal Reserve. This is a matter on which the United States Senate needs a loud wake-up call. Two of the seven seats on the Fed sit empty right now. And my nomination for the first vacancy, Larry Lindsey, won an overwhelming endorsement from the Senate Banking Committee, but one or two Senators have held up his nomination for months. And given the problems the country faces, the financial problems, that's just plain inexcusable.

And when the Senate confirms Larry Lindsey, we hope it will move quickly to confirm Susan Phillips, my choice for the other open seat. The Senate also needs to act on my renomination of Alan Greenspan as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. He's doing a good job. There's no controversy, but they ought to get on about the Nation's financial business, it seems to me.

The Fed faces a host of important decisions in monetary policy, in bank regulation, and international affairs. And it shouldn't have to address them with anything less than a full team, a team dedicated to ensuring price stability and fostering economic growth.

Our administration wants to take on issues that you care about. And here I've touched on just a few: the education, crime and economic growth, the capital gains tax, Fed and banking reform. And I could talk, too, about energy or transportation or homeownership or tenant management in housing or in defense. But the point is, we need Congress' help if we want to move forward toward our goals. And looking out on the enormous collection of talent, of business talent, I can't resist asking you to volunteer in helping me persuade Congress to get moving, not tomorrow, not next year, not the next congressional session, but now.

And now I'd like to briefly look ahead. As we gather here, we can almost see a new age of liberty dawning around the globe. I can't think of a more exciting time in the history of our country to be President than right now. The changes around the world are amazing, and freedom and democracy is on the move, and I think peace has a much better chance than it's had in a long, long time.

Now, I spoke of that new age just this past Friday night in an address to the American people. And because of the dramatic changes that have swept our world, particularly in the Soviet Union, we are now able to take equally dramatic steps to make our world safer from the threat of nuclear weapons. I am very pleased with the positive worldwide response to our announcement, particularly from President Gorbachev.

I believe that this announcement the other day really does have the chance of removing fear from the minds and hearts of our young people in schools, not just in our country, but all around the world.

We are seeing that new age of democracy and freedom also dawn right here in our own hemisphere. With each passing day, we move closer to realizing the dream of free trade, from the Arctic Circle to the Strait of Magellan. Under President Carlos Salinas, this outstanding young President of Mexico, Mexico has enacted breathtaking economic reforms. And now, with the Fast Track procedures in place, we are negotiating with Mexico and Canada to create a North American free trade agreement that will create an open market of 360 million consumers, one that produces trillion a year in economic output.

Our prospects south of Mexico look just as exciting. We have signed framework trade and investment agreements with 28 countries in this hemisphere. And I have asked Congress to act promptly on legislation for debt reduction and a multilateral investment fund for the hemisphere. These simple acts will let us put our Enterprise for the Americas Initiative into full effect and make Miami a key gateway to our Nation's economic future.

I might say, having challenged the Congress to take certain action on the domestic side, that we approach this Fast Track authority in a totally nonpartisan way. It wasn't Democrat; it wasn't Republican; it was just sound, good business that will help our neighbors and, in my view, will create job after job right here in the United States of America. It was government at its very best, and now we're working to hammer out an agreement that Congress can accept, a trade agreement with Mexico and Canada that Congress can enthusiastically endorse. And it shows that it can be done when you reach out and work across the aisle Republican and Democrat and even Independent. So, that is what we've got to do, and I must say, I think this sets a good example. And I hope when we bring these things to fruition, Miami and south Florida will be the immediate beneficiaries of what I think is farsighted foreign policy.

But our hopes for the future involve more than just the promise of trade, important though that is. We also see a dramatic increase in individual freedom and empowerment throughout our region. Democratic elections, respect for human rights, economic liberty are fast becoming the rule, not the exception.

This phenomenon just begs for a catchy name. Here's one, ``La revolucion sin fronteras,'' the revolution without frontiers. Now some here will know that I stole the term. It comes from the bad old days of Sandinista rule in Nicaragua. When Marxists used this slogan, it signaled a threat to freedom and sovereignty of Nicaragua's neighbors. Threat to the sovereignty, threat to the freedom.

And how times have changed. Today, a real liberation movement sweeps the globe. And it threatens no one's peace or sovereignty, no one's right to worship, no one's freedom to buy and sell, or to imagine and create. It's the revolution of democracy. And it makes possible the equally startling revolution of ideas that gives rise to economic progress.

In closing, it's absolutely impossible to visit Miami these days without feeling that this revolution soon will sweep away our hemisphere's last dictator, Fidel Castro. Already, a savvy team of experts from the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce has prepared a detailed report on the economic opportunities that will emerge along with freedom in Cuba. Trade and investment will offer new hope to the Cuban people who have suffered enough despotism and deprivation.

Remember how we used to dream about a free Cuba and a prosperous, free hemisphere? Well, it's no longer a fantasy. It's inevitable in my view. Soon our new world, our hemisphere of the Americas, will be a community where liberty, peace, and prosperity know no frontiers. And Miami will flourish, you can see it clearly, as its hub and as its beacon.

Some have suggested to me that now is the time, given the enormous changes in Eastern Europe, changes in the Soviet Union, the changes for democracy south of Mexico, that now is the time to alter our policy towards Cuba.

Let me tell you something, I'm not going to change it one single bit. The Cuban people are entitled to have this wave of democracy fulfill their dreams. And we want to be a part of that answer, a part of that new democracy in which many people in this room can have such an active role as we try to bring commerce and prosperity to people that have been deprived too long because they've been the victim of totalitarianism.

It's a great pleasure to be back here in Miami today. As I say, I think of the activity and the energy of Miami's civic business community. You're an example to the rest of the country. And I salute you, I'm grateful to you, and I might just say on a very personal basis, thanks for embracing my son, our daughter-in-law. We've got a granddaughter here, and these Bushes feel that they're an integral part of the love and honor that is Miami. Thank you all very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:33 p.m. at the James L. Knight International Center. In his remarks, he referred to James Batten, chairman and chief executive officer of Knight-Ridder, Newspaper, Inc.; Alvah Chapman, director and chairman of the executive committee of Knight-Ridder; John Anderson, president of the Beacon Council; Burt Landy, chairman of the Beacon Council; John Ellis (Jeb) Bush, the President's son and former chairman of the Beacon Council; Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; State insurance commissioner Tom Gallagher; Marlin Fitzwater, Press Secretary to the President; Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander; Larry Lindsey and Susan Phillips, Presidential nominees to the Federal Reserve Board; Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board; President Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union; President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico; President Fidel Castro Ruz of Cuba; and the President's daughter-in-law Columba Garnica Bush and granddaughter Noelle. Following his remarks, the President departed for New Orleans.