April 24, 1985My fellow Americans:
I must speak to you tonight about a serious problem that demands your immediate attention. I need your help.
Today the United States Senate began a rendezvous with history. The threads of our past, present, and future as a nation will soon converge on the single overriding question before that body: Can we at last, after decades of drift, neglect, and excess, put our fiscal house in order? Can we assure a strong and prosperous future for ourselves, our children, and their children by adopting a plan that will compel the Federal Government to end the dangerous addiction to deficit spending and finally live within its means?
Throughout our history, we Americans have been willing to meet great challenges and do what is right when our destiny demanded it. Just 4 years ago this week, I asked your support for our bipartisan recovery program. That was the program the spenders said wouldn't work, and they called it Reaganomics. You might remember April 1981: a time when our defenses were weak, inflation still in double digits, and economic growth almost dead from a government that taxed too much and spent even more than it taxed.
We knew it would take a great effort to turn that around. We knew that letting you keep more of your earnings to get our economy moving again would be resisted by the old guard in Washington. But we also knew the answer to a government that's too fat is to stop feeding its growth. We wanted America to rediscover opportunity. We asked for your help then, and you gave it to us.
You turned America around -- turned around her confidence, turned around her economy, turned around over a decade of one national nightmare after another. We're into our 29th straight month of economic growth, with inflation staying down and more of us working than ever before -- that's 8 million new jobs. Now that our program is working, you may have noticed they're not calling it Reaganomics anymore.
Once again, the United States is the flagship economy for the world. A new generation of entrepreneurs is coming up, pointing us toward a 21st century full of amazing change and vast new opportunities.
We must seize this historic moment to shape America's future -- to completely overhaul our tax code, changing it from a source of confusion and contempt to a model of fairness and simplicity, with strong, new incentives for even greater growth.
So many good things lie ahead for America. And yet all our progress, all the good we've accomplished so far, and all our dreams for the future could be wrecked if we do not overcome our one giant obstacle.
The simple truth is: No matter how hard you work, no matter how strong this economy grows, no matter how much more tax money comes to Washington, it won't amount to a hill of beans if government won't curb its endless appetite to spend. Overspending is the subject we must now address -- how budgets got so far out of balance and, yes, what together we can and must do to correct this.
You know, sometimes the big spenders in Congress talk as if all that money they spend just kind of magically appears on their doorstep, a gift from the Internal Revenue Service. They talk as if spending were all giving and no taking.
Well, there is no magic money machine. Every dollar the government spends comes out of your pockets. Every dollar the government gives to someone has to first be taken away from someone else. So, it's our moral duty to make sure that we can justify every one of your tax dollars, that we spend them wisely and carefully and, just as important, fairly.
Unfortunately, hardly anyone could honestly call Federal budgets wise, careful, or fair. Is it fair to ask one small business to help subsidize its competitors? Is it fair to ask workers in the private economy to pay for civil service pensions that are much more generous than the retirement benefits they receive? Is it fair to ask low-income families to help pay for the college education of children from families with incomes as high as $100,000 a year? Is it fair to ask taxpayers to help pay billions for export subsidies to a handful of America's biggest corporations?
Well, it isn't fair, and you know it. But that's the law of the land right now, just part of the legacy of 50 years of trying to do good things for all by treating your earnings like government property.
The time has come to decide what benefits we can properly expect from the Federal Government for ourselves, our neighbors, and those in need; and what government can take from us in taxes without making everyone worse off, including those who need our help. The one thing we cannot do is stay on the immoral, dead-end course of deficit spending.
If we want to continue trying to make these the best years of our lives, if we want to protect our retired and disabled, boost small business, create jobs, strengthen our farm economy, our exports, improve our cities, and help your families send your children to college, there is one sure-fire way to do it: We're all going to have to pitch in together. But if we refuse, if we go back to the old pattern of business as usual, then let there be no mistake: Business as usual will eventually destroy our prosperity and all the blessings it has given us.
My fellow citizens, you remember the words of young John Kennedy, words of challenge to America in 1961: ``Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country.'' In those days Federal spending was only a fraction of what it is today. Since then government programs have grown to the point where they touch almost half the families in America.
Today his question is more relevant than before. All of us are being challenged again to ask what we can do for our country, challenged to work together -- 237 million strong -- to build a secure and lasting foundation for the American dream.
Even with all our cuts and reforms, our plan still provides $560 billion for nondefense programs next year -- the highest level in history. Congress has before it a budget that doesn't mortgage our future to higher taxes and expanding debt. It is a fair program; it is a balanced program; it will protect the neediest among us; it will stop the worst abuses of overspending; and it not only deserves your support, it must have your support to pass.
So, let me stress as strongly as I can, this shared effort we're asking you to make now will be our best assurance of avoiding painful hardship down the road.
We stand at a crossroads. The hour is late, the task is large, and the stakes are momentous. I ask you to join us in making your voices heard in the Senate this week and later in the House. Please tell your Senators and Representatives by phone, wire, or mailgram that our future hangs in the balance, that this is no time for partisanship, and that our future is too precious to permit this crucial effort to be picked apart piece by piece by the special interest groups. We've got to put the public interest first.
My fellow Americans, I hope history says of us that we were worthy of our past, worthy of our heritage. We can seize the moment; we can do our best for America to keep our future strong, secure, and free. Our children will thank us, and that's all the thanks we'll ever need.
Thank you, God bless you, and good night.
Note: The President spoke at 8 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House. His address was broadcast live on nationwide radio and television.
- President Ronald Reagan, April 24th, 1985
Click here to read the whole speech.
For European FFWPU/HSA-UWC members: 33rd European CheonSong Condition
Also, a reminder to all FFWPU/HSA-UWC members. True Parents have given the blessing of inheritance to Hyung Jin Nim and Yeon Ah Nim in which they received copies of the Divine Principle, Cheon Seong Gyeong, and Pyungha Hoongyeong (The Peace Messages). We should unite with them and pray sincerely for their success, that they may equal, even surpass True Parents in their connection with God, their accomplishments on earth and in the spirit world, and in their ability to lead our movement.
I encourage all who can to
participate in this Cheon Sung condition, which I imagine is not just for Euorope, it's ju
st different for each region. However, perhaps even more importantly, I think we should all put in prayers for Hyung Jin Nim and Yeon Ah Nim. If they do not succeed, our movement as a whole will fall apart the same way Islam did, and Christianity before them, and Judaism before them.
I am very thankful to True Parents for naming an heir to the throne before they passed on to the spirit world to insure our unity. We should look to the Bahá’í Faith for inspiration, for the Bahá’ís have remained so very united through such terrible strife. Their home nation, Iran, still treats them as second class citizens, yet they are still able to stay united, strong, and close to God all over the world. I pray that we can do the same.