Public Papers

Remarks to the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association in Universal City, California


Thank you very much. And Pete, thank you, Governor Wilson, for that introduction. And let me just say at the outset of these remarks how much I respect Pete Wilson. Here he is, with the economy obviously not doing well in California, but taking a tremendously courageous position, trying to whip that legislature in line and saying the way to solve our fiscal problems is by getting spending down, not taxes up. And we all deserve a big vote of thanks for him.

Let me also extend a thank you to our host -- he and the directors and others here -- but to our host today, Joel Fox, who is the president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. If you want a good leader, get a strong man, get somebody in there that's going to take the positions he did and has taken. We respect him, and I thank him for this morning's hospitality.

And to each and every one of you, I apologize for being a little late. The weather got us, and we've been orbiting around out there. We've just landed, but we landed in an alternative air zone.

May I congratulate, on his primary win, one who really stands with you on principle, Bruce Herschensohn, who will make a great United States Senator. Speaking of Bruce and what he stands for, I will simply say it's a shame that I don't have time to tour the Universal Studio. But if I want to see behind-the-scenes tricks or outrageous fantasy, I don't have to visit Hollywood -- [laughter] -- I can watch the Congress try to deal with the budget of the United States of America.

And may I say, on a very sincere personal note, what a pleasure it is to see Estelle Jarvis. It's a special privilege to be with you and the members of the association. And Estelle, your late husband really was a true pioneer. In the Utah mining town where he grew up, he learned from his parents to love freedom, to take on responsibility, to dream dreams as big as the desert horizon. His political credo was simple and yet profound. He said, ``Our freedom depends on four words: Government must be limited.''

Here in California 14 years ago, Howard Jarvis won that famous victory, obviously assisted and helped by everybody here, that tax limitation plan called Proposition 13. He fired the first shot in what later became known as the Reagan revolution. And we're still feeling the reverberations today as we fight to expand freedom and hold back unnecessary burdens of Government. And it couldn't be more fitting that we meet this week, as Joel pointed out, just 2 days after the historic United States Supreme Court decision upholding Proposition 13. This was another tremendous victory for the rights of the taxpayer and the legacy of the late, great Howard Jarvis.

Our revolution isn't the work of a single Presidency; it's the mission for a whole generation of reform. Since President Reagan and I went to Washington in 1981, tax rates have been cut across the board. We made them flatter; we made them fairer. We've cut the top rate from 70 percent to 31 percent. We've raised the standard deduction. We've taken millions of low-to-moderate-income people off the tax rolls altogether. And we've made landmark reforms to get big Government regulation off the backs of our families and our businesses.

But we have much more to do. With the tax-and-spend liberals still in charge of the Congress, Government keeps growing. And Congress now spends nearly a quarter of what people in this country work to produce; that's right, almost 25 percent of the gross domestic product of the United States of America. The habit of deficit spending has brought us to the point that the national debt now equals about ,000 for every family of four in the United States of America. And that is a mortgage on our kids' future. And it says we're not really as free a society as we should be. And why? Because Government is just too big, and it spends too much.

Again and again and again, the liberals in Congress have said no to spending reform. And it's no wonder that Americans keep clamoring for stricter limits on the power and the cost of Government. From coast to coast, people are mobilizing for change. The air is crackling with the feeling that Howard Jarvis made his battle cry: I am mad as hell.

Maybe you're like millions of other Americans. You shop at K-Mart. You go to Carl's Jr. You work to get your kids through school and pay off a mortgage. And you know it's not only your right, it is your duty to your family to fight high taxes and Government waste. And when liberal elitists ridicule you and say we have social problems because of you, because you're greedy, well, naturally, you stand up and fight back.

Our fighting spirit has brought us to a turning point. We're on the threshold of something big. And already we're rolling back needless restrictions on innovation and job creation through my moratorium on new Federal regulations. Here's a small but symbolic example: A construction project, oddly enough an expansion -- it's quite ironic here -- an expansion of a homeless shelter, was being delayed by the bureaucracy because it was counter to a rule regarding wetlands. But what no one quite could understand was that this project was on a developed downtown city block, totally surrounded by concrete and pavement. Something was all wet all right, but it certainly wasn't the building site. The project is now underway. We're going to keep it up. For businesses, for charities, for homeowners, we're getting unreasonable regulation off of their backs. And I am pledged to continue that program of regulatory relief.

And I'm pushing hard to reform our civil justice system. We are simply suing each other too much and caring for each other too little. Americans want to stop nuisance lawsuits. Someone asked me the other day, if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what works for lawyers? [Laughter] Let me add, parenthetically, I will continue to appoint well-qualified judges to our Federal courts, including the Supreme Court, who will interpret our Constitution and not legislate from the Federal Bench.

And I'm committed as strongly as ever to win more tax relief and reform. We need to lift the dead weight that punishes homeowners and prevents more investment and job creation, those sky-high taxes on capital gains. Get people back to work in this country. Frankly, I wish Congress would move on our other growth incentives. We need to enact another proposal to ease tax burdens on families and homeowners, like a ,000 tax credit for that first-time homebuyer. I want those young families to participate in the American dream by owning their own homes.

As you may know, we are fighting for fundamental change in our education and welfare systems. It's time for parents to have the freedom to choose their kids' schools, public, private, and religious. That's how we'll give parents the muscle to change our schools and make them the best in the entire world.

And here, with Pete Wilson sitting here, we're preaching to the choir a little bit. But right now we have a welfare system designed by the liberal politicians and these social theorists. It's a burden on taxpayers, but that's not the worst of it. That's not my major concern, even. Much of the time, this system hurts the very people that it claims to help. The system discourages single mothers from getting married. It leaves too many young women and children without the stability of a home, two-parent home. And let's face it, the welfare state system traps too many people in a cycle of dependency, destroying dignity, telling the little guy who wants to pick himself up that he really doesn't have much of a chance. And I am determined to change that.

I'm working to transform this failed welfare system into something that makes sense, something that gives people a shot at dignity. Right now, I'm working with tough-minded, creative Governors like Pete Wilson, like Tommy Thompson -- some of you may have read about his reforms, the Governor of Wisconsin -- to give them flexibility under the Federal laws to try out new ideas and to turn around their State welfare programs. And with Governors in all 50 States like Pete and Tommy, we'd soon be making major progress fostering dignity and the rewards of work. We'll make more headway in connecting welfare with requirements for work, training, education. We'll get more deadbeat dads to pay the child support they owe. And we'd help a lot more families come together and stay together.

My proposal -- another area -- for health insurance reform is a model of the new way of thinking about social programs. You probably haven't heard much about it. It's before the Congress now. The liberal Democrats that hold control of Congress are too busy beating the drum for that stale idea of a Ted Kennedy-style system of nationalized health care. And I am going to veto anything that makes socialized medicine for America. We are not going to have that.

The plan I have makes good sense. It would help working people and needy people with vouchers and tax credits. It would provide access to insurance, make that available to everybody. And it would provide Americans like yourselves with quality care, care you can afford, while wringing out the excesses and the waste. That's because it uses old-fashioned American ideas: free markets and choice.

In the long run, reforming education and welfare could make a major contribution to increasing productivity and solving fiscal crisis. And health care reform can make a major contribution to improving and, put it this way, to getting rid of the worry that so many American families have. And we can make these reforms without raising taxes and without piling new burdens onto State and local taxpayers.

Hand-in-hand with these reforms goes the crusade to enforce fiscal discipline. This is absolutely essential to make these reforms work. Our burden of debt and uncontrolled spending results from almost four decades of liberal Democratic control of the United States House of Representatives. Time and again, Ronald Reagan and I have pushed for popular reforms. And I believe the American people want the President to have in law what 43 Governors have, that line-item veto. And I believe and I know the American people believe the only way to discipline both the Congress and the executive branch is through a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

I hope you followed that debate. If you did, you'll know that standing in our way is the liberal hardcore of the Democratic Congress, barely more than one-third of the membership. Read the rollcall. Just take a look at it. Go back and look at the papers and read the rollcall from last week's vote in the House on the balanced budget amendment, and you'll see who I'm talking about. And pay attention to the Democrats who belong in a special Hall of Shame. I'm talking here about the 12 Democrats, two from California, who listed themselves as sponsors, as sponsors of the balanced budget amendment. They did that to look good and talk good to the people back home. And then these 12 switched sides and voted to kill the very amendment that they had sponsored. They did that to curry favor with those liberal party bosses that control the House of Representatives, and we'd better change that in this election coming up in the fall.

We know better than to expect these people to discipline themselves. This is the same crowd we've seen for decades, in charge, unchallenged, and out of control. Let me remind you: For the last 30 years, make that 35, I think, the Democrats have controlled the House of Representatives. For 24 out of the last 30 years, they've controlled the United States Senate. And the Congress appropriates -- and people forget this, but let me say it -- the Congress appropriates every single dime and tells the President how to spend every single dime.

Unlike one of my opponents for President, I don't believe the only way to confront a massive deficit is with a ``massive tax increase,'' and that's in quotes because that's what he said. I know we can do it without raising taxes, and I have a detailed plan. This isn't just election year rhetoric. We have a detailed plan sitting up there before the United States Congress right now. It controls the growth of mandatory programs. It doesn't cut them; it permits the growth in inflation and in population. Doesn't touch Social Security. It doesn't raise taxes. And here it is.

So when the election rolls around, let's get some of these people who are saying they're going to change things to talk some specifics and to say how it's going to be done. Here it is. And we need again, though, the discipline and the sense of urgency that that balanced budget amendment will bring. And while I'm at it, I'd like the President to again have what 43 Governors have, let me repeat it, the line-item veto.

It is time for change. Somebody says, ``You're for enterprise zones for the cities. That's not a new idea.'' I said, ``Yes, it is; it has never been tried.'' And isn't it better to try something new, try what hasn't been tried: a Republican House, a Republican Senate, a Republican Congress. That has not been tried in 35 years, and it's time to make that kind of significant change.

In my introduction by our wonderful Governor and my friend, Pete mentioned something about international affairs. You listen to this debate for who should be President, and you might think foreign affairs don't exist, that we aren't really the only undisputed leader of the world today, which we are. So before I finish, I want to say a word about the summit meeting that Boris Yeltsin and I just completed in Washington, where we reached historic agreements for peace and for security. Thousands of visitors joined Barbara and me on the White House lawn to welcome the first democratically elected President of Russia. And I just wish, really, that each one of you could have been there with us to share in that very special moment. That's because it is patriotic people like you who helped make that moment possible.

Now the Russian people can worship freely. They can compete in free markets. They can choose their own government. And our children, our precious kids and grandkids, will no longer live in that same shadow of nuclear war that has haunted us for 40 years. And that is big, and that is important. And your support made that possible. And today, ordinary Russians thank God that ordinary Americans stood fast against the Communist dictatorship that threatened us and oppressed them.

I think what this shows is that if you have the will, the perseverance, there's always a chance to make a difference. Howard Jarvis spent 16 years fighting for tax limitation. He was 76 years old when at last he won, when he shook the establishment of this entire country. I've highlighted for you important proposals for the future, with a new Congress: Revolutionize our schools; put parents and kids ahead of bureaucrats. Reform our system of health care. Overhaul the welfare system; give needy people opportunity instead of dependency. Adopt a balanced budget amendment. And hold the line against excessive spending, taxes, and regulation. With a new Congress that shares our values, we can use the next 4 years to set our country on the right track for the next 40 years. And with your help, I know we can.

Thank you all very, very much, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 a.m. at the Universal City Hilton.