• This speech came more than three months before Bush officially announced his candidacy, but as one can see the campaign was already underway...

President George H.W. Bush
Bush-Quayle Fundraising Dinner
Sheraton Astrodome Hotel
Houston, TX
October 31, 1991

[White House Transcript via American Presidency Project  |  C-SPAN Video]

Please be seated. And, Bob, thank you. Thank you for the superior and wonderful job you've done. You know, this is the very first event for the Bush-Quayle fundraising effort. And we wanted to start amongst friends, and we wanted to get somebody good, somebody effective to head this dinner. And I can't think of anybody better than Bob Cruikshank and all those up here and all those out there that have come through. It is wonderful beginning. And I'm grateful, and I know Dan is, to every single one of you.

I want to thank my Vice President, your Vice President and his marvelous wife, Marilyn. I can't begin to tell you of all the things he does. But I think the country now sees his substance and his value, and it's something I see every single day that I'm President as we take on a Congress that, frankly, needs a little leadership up there. I've heard him take the gloves off a little bit there, and that's fine. That suits the heck out of me.

I also want to say to Bob Mosbacher how grateful I am to have him at my side. I know all of you know him. Everybody in this room knows him as a friend. But I know him not just as a friend of longstanding but as an effective member of our Cabinet. And I can tell you, he is out there, domestically, and around the world promoting the American free enterprise system, looking after the interests of American investment, American jobs, here and abroad. And, Bob, I'm very grateful to you.

May I also thank Bobby Holt. Yes, Midland's out there somewhere. [Laughter] Holt is everywhere, and he's doing a wonderful job as our chairman, our national chairman, taking the role Bob Mosbacher had so successfully filled for us in the previous campaign.

Senator Phil Gramm, I agree with everything Dan Quayle said about him. I see him in action. And I'll tell you, when you have the minority in the Senate, when you have to play defense because of the numbers, you want a tenacious bulldog, free thinker, enterprising Senator at your side like Phil Gramm. I'm grateful to him every single day that I'm President.

I want to thank Willie Alexander for being with us, and Reverend Claude Payne, my pastor; Milo Hamilton, of course; and then the Aggies, the Texas A&M Singing Cadets. I don't know how they can still stay standing. This is about a 45-minute speech. Let's see how they do at the end of this one. [Laughter]

It's great to be back. Milo, one slight correction, you said I said, "There's so-and-so." I was looking at Red Adair, and I said, "There's that so-and-so." [Laughter]

You know, coming back here really does take you back in a sense to roots. I first became active in politics out in Odessa and Midland in `52 when I headed the Eisenhower-Nixon campaign, Barbara at my side. In '56, the same role. I think it was in that year that she and I conducted the very first primary that was ever held in Midland, Texas. Three people -- some of you have heard this story; it happens to be true -- three people voted all day in that precinct: Barbara, me, and one drunk that thought he was going to the Democratic precinct. [Laughter] And that's the gospel truth. [Laughter]

Then, I came down here to Texas, and early in the sixties I became Harris County Republican chairman. There, I think more than anyplace, Barbara and I first got a taste of what was to become a way of life for us. The party was small, very, very small in those days. And yet, the ideals and the ideas were sound: Fiscal sanity; people controlling their own destinies more; limited government; trust in the people; a compassionate, fair Government; strong defense; a country not afraid to lead. Those were some of the things that brought us together in this tiny party matrix 30 years ago in Harris County. And I must say, those are the same ideals that both Dan and I have, the same ideas that we believe in. Thirty years later, I still feel strongly about those principles and other fundamental principles that join us here tonight.

Lately, the opposition up there in Washington says we don't have an agenda. But I've noticed that their agenda for Congress is stopping our agenda for America. They are old thinkers, tired, old ideas, and all they want to do is block the agenda that I was elected to perform on by the American people. And I'm a little tired of it. You work your heart out for new ideas in trying to bring new systems to this country, and you face the old, same old tired liberal cliches in Washington, DC. We are pro-growth. We are pro-family. We are a pro-freedom agenda. And that is our agenda, to build a better America. And I wish we had more people in the Senate like Phil Gramm, and we'd be singing swiftly ahead, I'll tell you.

I was privileged to work with my dear friend, Hugh Liedtke, and others in starting two or three very small companies here in Texas. And I never forgot, and I never will forget that America owes to its small business men and women. That's one reason that, for over the last 3 years, I've fought against policies that would drive small business into the ground through Government mandates.

Every time you turn around, you've got some subcommittee chairman that's been there 30 years trying to mandate new benefits and tell some guy in Midland or Odessa how to run his life. And we're sick and tired of it. And next year, we're going to change it.

Dan Quayle has a committee trying to do something about overregulation. And you ought to hear them squirming over there in the House of Representatives, refusing to let him get his job done because they're thinking old, tired thoughts that the Federal Government ought to regulate every inch of your life. And we're tired of that one, too.

Look, I'll be the first to agree we need economic growth in this country. But we can't get it if Congress keeps piling on mandated benefits. Wonderful new programs designed by a subcommittee chairman in Washington, DC, telling everybody exactly how they're going to take their leave, what they're going to do about helping people in their neighborhoods. This isn't the way America ought to be operating. I have this wonderful sense that -- I get frustrated at times, but I've got this wonderful sense that we can change that next year by taking our message that the Congress has been around there too darn long, controlled by the same party. And it's time to change it.

Let me give you an example. I'm just getting warmed up because I heard George Mitchell on the television a few minutes ago. Now, let me tell you something here. [Laughter] Let me talk to you about an issue. I don't think there is anybody in this country, any fairminded man or woman who doesn't sympathize with someone who wants to work and is out of work. It's very easy to demagog on this issue. Nobody who has one grain of compassion likes to veto an unemployment compensation bill. But someone -- and I think I was the one elected to do this -- must consider the welfare of all the people in this country.

So, let me tell you what my position is on this unemployment compensation. Number one: I want to see the Democrats in the Senate lay politics aside and help those whose unemployment benefits have run out. Families are hurting out there. And I've said for months that I want to help them.

Secondly, I want a bill that, in helping them, does not burden every single taxpayer in this country, those that are working and those that aren't working. I don't want to see the budget agreement that Phil Gramm and others worked so hard to get into place, the spending caps on it, the only control that you as taxpayers have on a spendthrift Congress, I don't want to see it broken. And the only safeguard we have against more and more spending is that budget agreement.

Every time I turn around, the liberal Democrats want to bust the agreement. That would add to the deficit and eventually add to the tax burden of present generation's and the debt burden of future generations.

Number three on this same subject: We have a proposal before the Congress that extends benefits. It lays aside all this political rhetoric that you hear from these Democrats and get the checks in the mail to those families that are hurting and does it within the budget agreement. Bob Dole proposed that weeks ago. But the Democrats want to ram it down my ear in a political victory, and I'm going to veto their bill if they send it down in a way that's going to bust this budget again. Now, they can mark that one down.

I think it's a crying shame to play politics when people are hurting in this country. I really believe that. And they can get a bill signed by me tomorrow if they get going and send something down that lives within the budget agreement that we all agreed to, that they themselves agreed to. You tell me who's playing politics with that issue when people are hurting in this country.

It's not all negative. At times, we're able to persuade -- I remember how Lyndon used to talk: "Come reason with me." Wrench the guy's arm out of his socket. [Laughter] And he was working with control of both Houses of the Congress. I don't know how he'd do it today.

But sometimes we are able to persuade the opposition to cooperate, to join with us. I've reached out to the Congress. I don't believe there's a person in America that thinks I haven't reached out to the Congress, not always in a kind and gentle way, but always reached out to the Congress, trying to get something done for the American people and do it in a manner I was elected to do it. I was the one that was elected, Dan Quayle and I were the ones that were elected by all the people in this country. And the Senators have their responsibilities. Of course they do. But I think I have a responsibility to perform on what I told the people 3 years ago that I would do.

We did get the Clean Air Act through, compromise. Good, fair negotiation with the Democrats, amendments that employ free-market incentives and really do help the environment. We advanced the cause of property rights and home ownership with this HOPE, this homeownership initiative. We're broken down the barriers to employment of 43 million Americans with our landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, which I was very proud -- emotional in signing last year on the South Lawn of the White House.

Other times we can do some positive things on our own. Just last week, I signed an Executive order to take the first steps in reforming our legal system. Dan Quayle's committee came up with some very sound recommendations, and I was proud to incorporate them into an Executive order. We're trying, frankly, to put an end to some of these outrageous lawsuits and monstrous settlements that scare every small businessman, every doctor, and everybody else in this country to death.

There's only so much of it we can do with Executive orders. We need liability reform legislation. And yet, that legislation is bottled up by these people I'm saying tonight are old thinkers. They just don't want to take on the pressure groups, the lobbies, the tough constituents that come together and try to get for the few that which the many are denied.

Americans want liability reform. And I'd like to see the Congress move out now and do something about it. Dan Quayle has been out there on the cutting edge of this, and I am 100 percent behind him.

And I might say that he's touched -- he referred to it -- touched a sore spot with some of the members of the ABA, the American Bar Association, when he called for legal reform. But he touched a nerve with a whole lot more everyday Americans who just plain stood up and cheered. He's done a great job on it, and I am very proud to have him by my side on this issue and all the other issues we're talking about here tonight.

The Senate did a good job in a bipartisan manner on the crime bill. But then it goes over to the House, and some of these old thinkers I'm telling you about are denying the changes that the American people so clearly spoke about in the Presidential elections of 1988. We've got -- you talk about these incentives to get jobs -- we've got some incentive in a transportation bill, a job-heavy transportation bill and yet a good one. We beat back some bad legislation. We've got a good one there.

In the State of the Union message, I said to Congress, "Hey, how about passing a transportation bill in 100 days?" That was 241 days ago, and they haven't got it down to my desk to be signed yet. I think the people are tired of this kind of old thinking, old politics.

One area where we don't need a lot of legislation, need some but not a lot, is in education. We have an initiative called America 2000, a concept designed to literally revolutionize our schools.

Lamar Alexander, David Kearns, coming together as a fantastic team there, rethinking, working with Governors, Democrats, Republicans alike, to redefine what we need to achieve educational excellence.

And you talk about an exciting concept, one that's gathering momentum and excitement around the country, it's that one. And fortunately, we don't need a lot of legislation because one of the key education committees that you have to go to is tired. Think how much money are we going to spend for this, how much money are we going to spend for that, programs that have failed.

It's not a question of money. It's not a question of that. We spent $190 billion in 1980 on education. We spend $400 billion today, and we're way back in the tail end of education around the world. It isn't good enough. And we've got to think anew. Give me more Senators like Phil, and give me more congressmen like Bill Archer, and by golly, you'll see the change in education that the American people want.

You hear about consumer confidence. Yes, there's a lack of confidence. And one thing that would change it right now is sound, forward-looking banking reform legislation. And we've got those proposals, and they've been gutted by partisan infighting. How I long for a Congress where we can at least take the offense on these important issues.

One subject that many of you know an awful lot about in this room, a national energy strategy. We need that from the Congress. It would mean jobs. It would mean increased production, and it would mean less dependence on foreign oil for our energy requirements.

And I am going to continue to support environmentally responsive access to ANWR, the Alaskan Refuge, for energy production. We need it. And if you're worried about caribou, take a look at the arguments that were used about the pipeline. They'd say the caribou would be extinct. You've got to shake them away with a stick. They're all making love lying up against the pipeline. And you've got thousands of caribou up there. And yet the same voices, the same voices are arguing against ANWR today. I mean, come on. [Laughter]

I want to see us reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and we can if we pass an energy bill, one like the one that came out of Senator Bennett Johnston's -- good Democrat on this issue -- and Senator Malcolm Wallop, came out of their committee.

You know, we hear a lot about economic growth. I've called for economic growth initiatives in three State of the Union messages, and a part of that, one part of the economic growth was a capital gains tax cut. So, what happens in Washington, DC? They jump up and down and scream, "This is a tax cut for the rich." Let me tell you, I'll make them a proposal right here tonight. I will take all the political heat that they can muster. Whatever country, however much demagoguery they can bring to bear on that issue, I'll take that heat if they will give this capital gains cut a chance. Because it will create jobs and get America back to work again. And it is not a tax cut for the rich. It is a jobs measure, a small-business-creation measure, a shot-in-the-arm-for-a-sluggish-economy measure.

History has already shown that it does not add to the deficit. The Treasury scores it as a plus, not a minus. It reduces the deficit. So, let the opposition carry on all they want. We've all heard it before -- good heavens, I'm 67, I've heard it for a thousand years -- "tax cut for the rich, breaks for the rich." Let's try something a little bit different than the mandated programs from Washington that offer people a lack of dignity and a lack of hope. And in the meantime, give the Americans a break. Give them some jobs. Get going with our motivation package.

Finally, it's time we got rid of a practice where a privileged few stand outside the law, where attending to the national interest takes a back seat to serving the special interests. And very frankly, it's time that the United States Congress started following the laws it imposes on every citizen in this country.

I gave the Congress a gentle nudge on this the other day, pointing out that with all the pious cries during those Thomas hearings, Congress, now, get this, has exempted itself from sexual harassment laws. Word of honor. Yesterday the Senate did take one step to put itself under the same laws that the rest of the people have to obey. But that's just not enough. It's time that those who make the laws, live by the laws that they make others live by. Now, that is fairplay, and it's long overdue.

And speaking of Clarence Thomas, I am delighted that he's on the Supreme Court. Men supported him overwhelmingly. Women supported him overwhelmingly. Blacks supported him overwhelmingly. But the liberals in the Senate didn't support him at all. And I'm glad that the people won out on that one.

When I hear the critics in Congress arguing about our priorities, foreign policy or domestic policy. I wonder where their priorities are. The "global marketplace" isn't off in Europe or Asia or in Africa. It's right here in our neighborhoods, in our businesses, in our schools. Take a look at our North American free trade agreement. It will have a monumental effect on the quality of life here in the United States over the next decade.

We're not doing this to be nice to Mexico. We're doing it because it is in the best interest of the workers and the people of the United States of America. Every billion dollars in new trade means 20,000 more jobs. A better-educated work force means higher quality products, which means more economic growth. The cycle continues, and growth means more jobs, more opportunity for everyone.

But the world beyond our borders affects us in other ways. And we've got to make a choice: Do we meet its challenges, or do we fall behind?

And yes, since I've been President, we have been called upon to meet one crucial challenge after another. And meet them we did, each and every one. From Eastern Europe to Panama to the Persian Gulf, to dealing with the Soviet Union as history unfolds before your very eyes, in all of these, it is America that stands as a beacon of freedom throughout the world. And our prestige around the world has never been higher than it is today.

I'm still on Madrid daylight saving, or something. My eyes kind of -- because yesterday I was in Madrid, and I helped open that Middle East peace conference in Madrid. But over there, I made a terrible mistake. I flipped on CNN, and I say that with respect to CNN guys down here. But I turned it on, and I saw one of the Democrat leaders, one of the elected Democrat leaders in the House of Representatives attack me for being at that historic conference. I could not believe the small-bore nature of that partisan criticism. Here you have a historic peace conference. You're bringing together people that have been hostile and wouldn't even have been in the same room at any time in their history. And this guy gets on and says I shouldn't be in Madrid for 36 hours.

Come on. We have a responsibility here. I have a responsibility to lead, and I'm not going to let Democratic, liberal carping keep me from leading.

If I had to get -- let me put it to you so you can understand it. Let me put it in Red Adair's terms, "If I'd have had to let Ted Kennedy tell me whether I could move a quarter-of-a-million troops to the Middle East or let Schwarzkopf move from St. Petersburg or Tampa to Saudi Arabia, Schwarzkopf would still be there. The troops would still be there, and Saddam Hussein would still be in Kuwait, maybe moving into Saudi Arabia. That's what was at stake. And thank God, I didn't have to listen to these carpers telling me how to run that war.

I'm getting warmed up for next year. [Laughter] I told them I was not going to do this until about March or April of next year. [Laughter] But they get under your skin for a while. I've reached out to this Congress. [Laughter] I really have tried. And I'm getting sick and tired, as the Congress winds up, of this partisan, liberal criticism. I can't wait now to roll up my sleeves and become a candidate. [Laughter]

My point is simply this: We live in an integrated world. And in that world, you can't neatly divide foreign policy from domestic policy. When I talk with foreign leaders about new markets for American products, is it foreign policy or domestic? When I meet with groups of Latin American leaders, as I did in Cartagena, to help try to keep drugs out of America's schools and neighborhoods, is that foreign policy or is that domestic policy? When Desert Storm reignited Americans' faith in themselves, was that just foreign policy?

No. It demonstrated our special role as the world's preeminent moral, political, economic, and military power. The pride that we felt in our fighting men and women, and in ourselves shouldn't be trivialized as something "foreign."

Anyone who says we should retreat into an isolationistic cocoon is living in the last century, when we should be focusing on the next century, and the life that our kids can have in that next century. They should know that America's destiny has always been to lead. And if I have anything to do with it, lead we will.

I'll tell you, yes, there are plenty of real problems out there all across our country. They're human problems where real people, real lives are at stake. Dan talked about the family, where families are ripped asunder. Tons of problems out there. But we are going to prevail because I firmly believe that the American spirit is alive and well.

In Texas or in Washington, I know we'll keep up the fight. And we will hold as our banner the frontier resolve and the commonsense ideals of those early Texans who built our great State. I am absolutely convinced, no matter what the obstacles we face in a partisan nature, that we can do something for the kids, that we can build a better America.

So, I want to thank you for being here with us tonight. It means a great deal in many, many more ways than I can possibly tell you, for Barbara and me to start this journey, this fundraising journey right here where we feel, what Bob talked about, a sense of love and warmth and friendship. That means an awful lot, whether you're President of the United States or still living around the corner.

Thank you and God bless each and every one of you. Thank you very much.

  • Bush sought to frame the election-year discussion. He started out providing an overview of the internation situation, then turned to the economy.  "If we can change the world, we can change America," Bush declared, urging members to "put partisanship aside." The State of the Union Address came just three weeks before the first-in the-nation New Hampshire primary.

President George H.W. Bush
Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC
January 28, 1992

White House Transcript via American Presidency Project  |  C-SPAN Video]

Mr. Speaker and Mr. President, distinguished Members of Congress, honored guests, and fellow citizens:

Thank you very much for that warm reception. You know, with the big buildup this address has had, I wanted to make sure it would be a big hit, but I couldn't convince Barbara to deliver it for me. [Laughter]

I see the Speaker and the Vice President are laughing. They saw what I did in Japan, and they're just happy they're sitting behind me. [Laughter]

I mean to speak tonight of big things, of big changes and the promises they hold, and of some big problems and how, together, we can solve them and move our country forward as the undisputed leader of the age.

We gather tonight at a dramatic and deeply promising time in our history and in the history of man on Earth. For in the past 12 months, the world has known changes of almost Biblical proportions. And even now, months after the failed coup that doomed a failed system, I'm not sure we've absorbed the full impact, the full import of what happened. But communism died this year.

Even as President, with the most fascinating possible vantage point, there were times when I was so busy managing progress and helping to lead change that I didn't always show the joy that was in my heart. But the biggest thing that has happened in the world in my life, in our lives, is this: By the grace of God, America won the cold war.

I mean to speak this evening of the changes that can take place in our country, now that we can stop making the sacrifices we had to make when we had an avowed enemy that was a superpower. Now we can look homeward even more and move to set right what needs to be set right.

I will speak of those things. But let me tell you something I've been thinking these past few months. It's a kind of rollcall of honor. For the cold war didn't end; it was won. And I think of those who won it, in places like Korea and Vietnam. And some of them didn't come back. Back then they were heroes, but this year they were victors.

The long rollcall, all the G.I. Joes and Janes, all the ones who fought faithfully for freedom, who hit the ground and sucked the dust and knew their share of horror. This may seem frivolous, and I don't mean it so, but it's moving to me how the world saw them. The world saw not only their special valor but their special style: their rambunctious, optimistic bravery, their do-or-die unity unhampered by class or race or region. What a group we've put forth, for generations now, from the ones who wrote "Kilroy was here" on the walls of the German stalags to those who left signs in the Iraqi desert that said, "I saw Elvis." What a group of kids we've sent out into the world.

And there's another to be singled out, though it may seem inelegant, and I mean a mass of people called the American taxpayer. No one ever thinks to thank the people who pay a country's bill or an alliance's bill. But for half a century now, the American people have shouldered the burden and paid taxes that were higher than they would have been to support a defense that was bigger than it would have been if imperial communism had never existed. But it did; doesn't anymore. And here's a fact I wouldn't mind the world acknowledging: The American taxpayer bore the brunt of the burden and deserves a hunk of the glory.

So now, for the first time in 35 years, our strategic bombers stand down. No longer are they on 'round-the-clock alert. Tomorrow our children will go to school and study history and how plants grow. And they won't have, as my children did, air raid drills in which they crawl under their desks and cover their heads in case of nuclear war. My grandchildren don't have to do that and won't have the bad dreams children had once, in decades past. There are still threats. But the long, drawn-out dread is over.

A year ago tonight, I spoke to you at a moment of high peril. American forces had just unleashed Operation Desert Storm. And after 40 days in the desert skies and 4 days on the ground, the men and women of America's Armed Forces and our allies accomplished the goals that I declared and that you endorsed: We liberated Kuwait. Soon after, the Arab world and Israel sat down to talk seriously and comprehensively about peace, an historic first. And soon after that, at Christmas, the last American hostages came home. Our policies were vindicated.

Much good can come from the prudent use of power. And much good can come of this: A world once divided into two armed camps now recognizes one sole and preeminent power, the United States of America. And they regard this with no dread. For the world trusts us with power, and the world is right. They trust us to be fair and restrained. They trust us to be on the side of decency. They trust us to do what's right.

I use those words advisedly. A few days after the war began, I received a telegram from Joanne Speicher, the wife of the first pilot killed in the Gulf, Lieutenant Commander Scott Speicher. Even in her grief, she wanted me to know that some day when her children were old enough, she would tell them "that their father went away to war because it was the right thing to do." And she said it all: It was the right thing to do.

And we did it together. There were honest differences right here in this Chamber. But when the war began, you put partisanship aside, and we supported our troops. This is still a time for pride, but this is no time to boast. For problems face us, and we must stand together once again and solve them and not let our country down.

Two years ago, I began planning cuts in military spending that reflected the changes of the new era. But now, this year, with imperial communism gone, that process can be accelerated. Tonight I can tell you of dramatic changes in our strategic nuclear force. These are actions we are taking on our own because they are the right thing to do. After completing 20 planes for which we have begun procurement, we will shut down further production of the B - 2 bombers. We will cancel the small ICBM program. We will cease production of new warheads for our sea-based ballistic missiles. We will stop all new production of the Peacekeeper missile. And we will not purchase any more advanced cruise missiles.

This weekend I will meet at Camp David with Boris Yeltsin of the Russian Federation. I've informed President Yeltsin that if the Commonwealth, the former Soviet Union, will eliminate all land-based multiple-warhead ballistic missiles, I will do the following: We will eliminate all Peacekeeper missiles. We will reduce the number of warheads on Minuteman missiles to one and reduce the number of warheads on our sea-based missiles by about one-third. And we will convert a substantial portion of our strategic bombers to primarily conventional use. President Yeltsin's early response has been very positive, and I expect our talks at Camp David to be fruitful.

I want you to know that for half a century, American Presidents have longed to make such decisions and say such words. But even in the midst of celebration, we must keep caution as a friend. For the world is still a dangerous place. Only the dead have seen the end of conflict. And though yesterday's challenges are behind us, tomorrow's are being born.

The Secretary of Defense recommended these cuts after consultation with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And I make them with confidence. But do not misunderstand me. The reductions I have approved will save us an additional $50 billion over the next 5 years. By 1997, we will have cut defense by 30 percent since I took office. These cuts are deep, and you must know my resolve: This deep, and no deeper. To do less would be insensible to progress, but to do more would be ignorant of history. We must not go back to the days of "the hollow army." We cannot repeat the mistakes made twice in this century when armistice was followed by recklessness and defense was purged as if the world were permanently safe.

I remind you this evening that I have asked for your support in funding a program to protect our country from limited nuclear missile attack. We must have this protection because too many people in too many countries have access to nuclear arms. And I urge you again to pass the Strategic Defense Initiative, SDI.

There are those who say that now we can turn away from the world, that we have no special role, no special place. But we are the United States of America, the leader of the West that has become the leader of the world. And as long as I am President, I will continue to lead in support of freedom everywhere, not out of arrogance, not out of altruism, but for the safety and security of our children. This is a fact: Strength in the pursuit of peace is no vice; isolationism in the pursuit of security is no virtue.

And now to our troubles at home. They're not all economic; the primary problem is our economy. There are some good signs. Inflation, that thief, is down. And interest rates are down. But unemployment is too high, some industries are in trouble, and growth is not what it should be. Let me tell you right from the start and right from the heart, I know we're in hard times. But I know something else: This will not stand.

In this Chamber, in this Chamber we can bring the same courage and sense of common purpose to the economy that we brought to Desert Storm. And we can defeat hard times together. I believe you'll help. One reason is that you're patriots, and you want the best for your country. And I believe that in your hearts you want to put partisanship aside and get the job done because it's the right thing to do.

The power of America rests in a stirring but simple idea, that people will do great things if only you set them free. Well, we're going to set the economy free. For if this age of miracles and wonders has taught us anything, it's that if we can change the world we can change America. We must encourage investment. We must make it easier for people to invest money and create new products, new industries, and new jobs. We must clear away the obstacles to growth: high taxes, high regulation, redtape, and yes, wasteful Government spending.

None of this will happen with a snap of the fingers, but it will happen. And the test of a plan isn't whether it's called new or dazzling. The American people aren't impressed by gimmicks; they're smarter on this score than all of us in this room. The only test of a plan is: Is it sound, and will it work?

We must have a short-term plan to address our immediate needs and heat up the economy. And then we need a longer term plan to keep combustion going and to guarantee our place in the world economy. There are certain things that a President can do without Congress, and I'm going to do them.

I have, this evening, asked major Cabinet departments and Federal agencies to institute a 90-day moratorium on any new Federal regulations that could hinder growth. In those 90 days, major departments and agencies will carry out a top-to-bottom review of all regulations, old and new, to stop the ones that will hurt growth and speed up those that will help growth.

Further, for the untold number of hard-working, responsible American workers and business men and women who've been forced to go without needed bank loans, the banking credit crunch must end. I won't neglect my responsibility for sound regulations that serve the public good, but regulatory overkill must be stopped. And I've instructed our Government regulators to stop it.

I have directed Cabinet departments and Federal agencies to speed up progrowth expenditures as quickly as possible. This should put an extra $10 billion into the economy in the next 6 months. And our new transportation bill provides more than $150 billion for construction and maintenance projects that are vital to our growth and well-being. And that means jobs building roads, jobs building bridges, and jobs building railways.

And I have, this evening, directed the Secretary of the Treasury to change the Federal tax withholding tables. With this change, millions of Americans from whom the Government withholds more than necessary can now choose to have the Government withhold less from their paychecks. Something tells me a number of taxpayers may take us up on this one. This initiative could return about $25 billion back into our economy over the next 12 months, money people can use to help pay for clothing, college, or to get a new car. Finally, working with the Federal Reserve, we will continue to support monetary policy that keeps both interest rates and inflation down.

Now, these are the things I can do. And now, Members of Congress, let me tell you what you can do for your country. You must pass the other elements of my plan to meet our economic needs. Everyone knows that investment spurs recovery. I am proposing this evening a change in the alternative minimum tax and the creation of a new 15-percent investment tax allowance. This will encourage businesses to accelerate investment and bring people back to work.

Real estate has led our economy out of almost all the tough times we've ever had. Once building starts, carpenters and plumbers work; people buy homes and take out mortgages. My plan would modify the passive loss rule for active real estate developers. And it would make it easier for pension plans to purchase real estate. For those Americans who dream of buying a first home but who can't quite afford it, my plan would allow first-time homebuyers to withdraw savings from IRA's without penalty and provide a $5,000 tax credit for the first purchase of that home.

And finally, my immediate plan calls on Congress to give crucial help to people who own a home, to everyone who has a business or a farm or a single investment. This time, at this hour, I cannot take no for an answer. You must cut the capital gains tax on the people of our country. Never has an issue been more demagogued by its opponents. But the demagogs are wrong. They are wrong, and they know it. Sixty percent of the people who benefit from lower capital gains have incomes under $50,000. A cut in the capital gains tax increases jobs and helps just about everyone in our country. And so, I'm asking you to cut the capital gains tax to a maximum of 15.4 percent.

I'll tell you, those of you who say, "Oh, no, someone who's comfortable may benefit from that," you kind of remind me of the old definition of the Puritan who couldn't sleep at night, worrying that somehow, someone somewhere was out having a good time. [Laughter] The opponents of this measure and those who have authored various so-called soak-the-rich bills that are floating around this Chamber should be reminded of something: When they aim at the big guy, they usually hit the little guy. And maybe it's time that stopped.

This, then, is my short-term plan. Your part, Members of Congress, requires enactment of these commonsense proposals that will have a strong effect on the economy without breaking the budget agreement and without raising tax rates.

While my plan is being passed and kicking in, we've got to care for those in trouble today. I have provided for up to $4.4 billion in my budget to extend Federal unemployment benefits. And I ask for congressional action right away. And I thank the committee. [Applause] Well, at last.

Let's be frank. Let's be frank. Let me level with you. I know and you know that my plan is unveiled in a political season. [Laughter] I know and you know that everything I propose will be viewed by some in merely partisan terms. But I ask you to know what is in my heart. And my aim is to increase our Nation's good. I'm doing what I think is right, and I am proposing what I know will help.

I pride myself that I'm a prudent man, and I believe that patience is a virtue. But I understand that politics is, for some, a game and that sometimes the game is to stop all progress and then decry the lack of improvement. [Laughter] But let me tell you: Far more important than my political future and far more important than yours is the well-being of our country. Members of this Chamber are practical people, and I know you won't resent some practical advice. When people put their party's fortunes, whatever the party, whatever side of this aisle, before the public good, they court defeat not only for their country but for themselves. And they will certainly deserve it.

I submit my plan tomorrow, and I'm asking you to pass it by March 20th. And I ask the American people to let you know they want this action by March 20th. From the day after that, if it must be, the battle is joined. And you know, when principle is at stake I relish a good, fair fight.

I said my plan has two parts, and it does. And it's the second part that is the heart of the matter. For it's not enough to get an immediate burst. We need long-term improvement in our economic position. We all know that the key to our economic future is to ensure that America continues as an economic leader of the world. We have that in our power. Here, then, is my long-term plan to guarantee our future.

First, trade: We will work to break down the walls that stop world trade. We will work to open markets everywhere. And in our major trade negotiations, I will continue pushing to eliminate tariffs and subsidies that damage America's farmers and workers. And we'll get more good American jobs within our own hemisphere through the North American free trade agreement and through the Enterprise for the Americas Initiative.

But changes are here, and more are coming. The workplace of the future will demand more highly skilled workers than ever, more people who are computer-literate, highly educated. We must be the world's leader in education. And we must revolutionize America's schools. My America 2000 strategy will help us reach that goal. My plan will give parents more choice, give teachers more flexibility, and help communities create new American schools. Thirty States across the Nation have established America 2000 programs. Hundreds of cities and towns have joined in. Now Congress must join this great movement: Pass my proposals for new American schools.

That was my second long-term proposal, and here's my third: We must make commonsense investments that will help us compete, long-term, in the marketplace. We must encourage research and development. My plan is to make the R&D tax credit permanent and to provide record levels of support, over $76 billion this year alone, for people who will explore the promise of emerging technologies.

Fourth, we must do something about crime and drugs. It is time for a major, renewed investment in fighting violent street crime. It saps our strength and hurts our faith in our society and in our future together. Surely a tired woman on her way to work at 6 in the morning on a subway deserves the right to get there safely. And surely it's true that everyone who changes his or her life because of crime, from those afraid to go out at night to those afraid to walk in the parks they pay for, surely these people have been denied a basic civil right. It is time to restore it. Congress, pass my comprehensive crime bill. It is tough on criminals and supportive of police, and it has been languishing in these hallowed halls for years now. Pass it. Help your country.

Fifth, I ask you tonight to fund our HOPE housing proposal and to pass my enterprise zone legislation which will get businesses into the inner city. We must empower the poor with the pride that comes from owning a home, getting a job, becoming a part of things. My plan would encourage real estate construction by extending tax incentives for mortgage revenue bonds and low-income housing. And I ask tonight for record expenditures for the program that helps children born into want move into excellence, Head Start.

Step six, we must reform our health care system. For this, too, bears on whether or not we can compete in the world. American health costs have been exploding. This year America will spend over $800 billion on health, and that is expected to grow to 1.6 trillion by the end of the decade. We simply cannot afford this. The cost of health care shows up not only in your family budget but in the price of everything we buy and everything we sell. When health coverage for a fellow on an assembly line costs thousands of dollars, the cost goes into the products he makes, and you pay the bill.

We must make a choice. Now, some pretend we can have it both ways. They call it "play or pay," but that expensive approach is unstable. It will mean higher taxes, fewer jobs, and eventually a system under complete Government control.

Really, there are only two options. And we can move toward a nationalized system, a system which will restrict patient choice in picking a doctor and force the Government to ration services arbitrarily. And what we'll get is patients in long lines, indifferent service, and a huge new tax burden. Or we can reform our own private health care system, which still gives us, for all its flaws, the best quality health care in the world.

Well, let's build on our strengths. My plan provides insurance security for all Americans while preserving and increasing the idea of choice. We make basic health insurance affordable for all low-income people not now covered, and we do it by providing a health insurance tax credit of up to $3,750 for each low-income family. And the middle class gets help, too. And by reforming the health insurance market, my plan assures that Americans will have access to basic health insurance even if they change jobs or develop serious health problems. We must bring costs under control, preserve quality, preserve choice, and reduce the people's nagging daily worry about health insurance. My plan, the details of which I'll announce very shortly, does just that.

Seventh, we must get the Federal deficit under control. We now have, in law, enforceable spending caps and a requirement that we pay for the programs we create. There are those in Congress who would ease that discipline now. But I cannot let them do it, and I won't.

My plan would freeze all domestic discretionary budget authority, which means no more next year than this year. I will not tamper with Social Security, but I would put real caps on the growth of uncontrolled spending. And I would also freeze Federal domestic Government employment. And with the help of Congress, my plan will get rid of 246 programs that don't deserve Federal funding. Some of them have noble titles, but none of them is indispensable. We can get rid of each and every one of them.

You know, it's time we rediscovered a home truth the American people have never forgotten: This Government is too big and spends too much. And I call upon Congress to adopt a measure that will help put an end to the annual ritual of filling the budget with pork barrel appropriations. Every year, the press has a field day making fun of outrageous examples: a Lawrence Welk museum, research grants for Belgian endive. We all know how these things get into the budget, and maybe you need someone to help you say no. I know how to say it, and I know what I need to make it stick. Give me the same thing 43 Governors have, the line-item veto, and let me help you control spending.

We must put an end to unfinanced Federal Government mandates. These are the requirements Congress puts on our cities, counties, and States without supplying the money. If Congress passes a mandate, it should be forced to pay for it and balance the cost with savings elsewhere. After all, a mandate just increases someone else's burden, and that means higher taxes at the State and local level.

Step eight, Congress should enact the bold reform proposals that are still awaiting congressional action: bank reform, civil justice reform, tort reform, and my national energy strategy.

And finally, we must strengthen the family because it is the family that has the greatest bearing on our future. When Barbara holds an AIDS baby in her arms and reads to children, she's saying to every person in this country: Family matters.

And I am announcing tonight a new Commission on America's Urban Families. I've asked Missouri's Governor John Ashcroft to be Chairman, former Dallas Mayor Annette Strauss to be Cochair. You know, I had mayors, the leading mayors from the League of Cities, in the other day at the White House, and they told me something striking. They said that every one of them, Republican or Democrat, agreed on one thing, that the major cause of the problems of the cities is the dissolution of the family. They asked for this Commission, and they were right to ask because it's time to determine what we can do to keep families together, strong and sound.

There's one thing we can do right away: Ease the burden of rearing a child. I ask you tonight to raise the personal exemption by $500 per child for every family. For a family with four kids, that's an increase of $2,000. This is a good start in the right direction, and it's what we can afford.

It's time to allow families to deduct the interest they pay on student loans. I am asking you to do just that. And I'm asking you to allow people to use money from their IRA's to pay medical and education expenses, all without penalties.

And I'm asking for more. Ask American parents what they dislike about how things are going in our country, and chances are good that pretty soon they'll get to welfare. Americans are the most generous people on Earth. But we have to go back to the insight of Franklin Roosevelt who, when he spoke of what became the welfare program, warned that it must not become "a narcotic" and a "subtle destroyer" of the spirit. Welfare was never meant to be a lifestyle. It was never meant to be a habit. It was never supposed to be passed from generation to generation like a legacy. It's time to replace the assumptions of the welfare state and help reform the welfare system.

States throughout the country are beginning to operate with new assumptions that when able-bodied people receive Government assistance, they have responsibilities to the taxpayer: A responsibility to seek work, education, or job training; a responsibility to get their lives in order; a responsibility to hold their families together and refrain from having children out of wedlock; and a responsibility to obey the law. We are going to help this movement. Often, State reform requires waiving certain Federal regulations. I will act to make that process easier and quicker for every State that asks for our help.

I want to add, as we make these changes, we work together to improve this system, that our intention is not scapegoating or finger-pointing. If you read the papers and watch TV, you know there's been a rise these days in a certain kind of ugliness: racist comments, anti-Semitism, an increased sense of division. Really, this is not us. This is not who we are. And this is not acceptable.

And so, you have my plan for America. And I'm asking for big things, but I believe in my heart you'll do what's right.

You know, it's kind of an American tradition to show a certain skepticism toward our democratic institutions. I myself have sometimes thought the aging process could be delayed if it had to make its way through Congress. [Laughter] You will deliberate, and you will discuss, and that is fine. But, my friends, the people cannot wait. They need help now.

There's a mood among us. People are worried. There's been talk of decline. Someone even said our workers are lazy and uninspired. And I thought: Really? You go tell Neil Armstrong standing on the moon. Tell the men and women who put him there. Tell the American farmer who feeds his country and the world. Tell the men and women of Desert Storm.

Moods come and go, but greatness endures. Ours does. And maybe for a moment it's good to remember what, in the dailiness of our lives, we forget: We are still and ever the freest nation on Earth, the kindest nation on Earth, the strongest nation on Earth. And we have always risen to the occasion. And we are going to lift this Nation out of hard times inch by inch and day by day, and those who would stop us had better step aside. Because I look at hard times, and I make this vow: This will not stand.

And so, we move on together, a rising nation, the once and future miracle that is still, this night, the hope of the world. Thank you. God bless you, and God bless our beloved country. Thank you very, very much.

  • The Rodney King verdict precipated riots in Los Angeles...
President George H.W. Bush
Address to the Nation on the Civil Disturbances in Los Angeles, California
The Oval Office
Washington, DC
May 1, 1992

[White House Transcript via American Presidency Project  |  C-SPAN Video]

Tonight I want to talk to you about violence in our cities and justice for our citizens, two big issues that have collided on the streets of Los Angeles. First, an update on where matters stand in Los Angeles.

Fifteen minutes ago I talked to California's Governor Pete Wilson and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley. They told me that last night was better than the night before; today, calmer than yesterday. But there were still incidents of random terror and lawlessness this afternoon.

In the wake of the first night's violence, I spoke directly to both Governor Wilson and Mayor Bradley to assess the situation and to offer assistance. There are two very different issues at hand. One is the urgent need to restore order. What followed Wednesday's jury verdict in the Rodney King case was a tragic series of events for the city of Los Angeles: Nearly 4,000 fires, staggering property damage, hundreds of injuries, and the senseless deaths of over 30 people.

To restore order right now, there are 3,000 National Guardsmen on duty in the city of Los Angeles. Another 2,200 stand ready to provide immediate support. To supplement this effort I've taken several additional actions. First, this morning I've ordered the Justice Department to dispatch 1,000 Federal riot-trained law enforcement officials to help restore order in Los Angeles beginning tonight. These officials include FBI SWAT teams, special riot control units of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Border Patrol, and other Federal law enforcement agencies. Second, another 1,000 Federal law enforcement officials are on standby alert, should they be needed. Third, early today I directed 3,000 members of the 7th Infantry and 1,500 marines to stand by at El Toro Air Station, California. Tonight, at the request of the Governor and the Mayor, I have committed these troops to help restore order. I'm also federalizing the National Guard, and I'm instructing General Colin Powell to place all those troops under a central command.

What we saw last night and the night before in Los Angeles is not about civil rights. It's not about the great cause of equality that all Americans must uphold. It's not a message of protest. It's been the brutality of a mob, pure and simple. And let me assure you: I will use whatever force is necessary to restore order. What is going on in L.A. must and will stop. As your President I guarantee you this violence will end.

Now let's talk about the beating of Rodney King, because beyond the urgent need to restore order is the second issue, the question of justice: Whether Rodney King's Federal civil rights were violated. What you saw and what I saw on the TV video was revolting. I felt anger. I felt pain. I thought: How can I explain this to my grandchildren?

Civil rights leaders and just plain citizens fearful of and sometimes victimized by police brutality were deeply hurt. And I know good and decent policemen who were equally appalled.

I spoke this morning to many leaders of the civil rights community. And they saw the video, as we all did. For 14 months they waited patiently, hopefully. They waited for the system to work. And when the verdict came in, they felt betrayed. Viewed from outside the trial, it was hard to understand how the verdict could possibly square with the video. Those civil rights leaders with whom I met were stunned. And so was I, and so was Barbara, and so were my kids.

But the verdict Wednesday was not the end of the process. The Department of Justice had started its own investigation immediately after the Rodney King incident and was monitoring the State investigation and trial. And so let me tell you what actions we are taking on the Federal level to ensure that justice is served.

Within one hour of the verdict, I directed the Justice Department to move into high gear on its own independent criminal investigation into the case. And next, on Thursday, five Federal prosecutors were on their way to Los Angeles. Our Justice Department has consistently demonstrated its ability to investigate fully a matter like this.

Since 1988, the Justice Department has successfully prosecuted over 100 law enforcement officials for excessive violence. I am confident that in this case, the Department of Justice will act as it should. Federal grand jury action is underway today in Los Angeles. Subpoenas are being issued. Evidence is being reviewed. The Federal effort in this case will be expeditious, and it will be fair. It will not be driven by mob violence but by respect for due process and the rule of law.

We owe it to all Americans who put their faith in the law to see that justice is served. But as we move forward on this or any other case, we must remember the fundamental tenet of our legal system. Every American, whether accused or accuser, is entitled to protection of his or her rights.

In this highly controversial court case, a verdict was handed down by a California jury. To Americans of all races who were shocked by the verdict, let me say this: You must understand that our system of justice provides for the peaceful, orderly means of addressing this frustration. We must respect the process of law whether or not we agree with the outcome. There's a difference between frustration with the law and direct assaults upon our legal system.

In a civilized society, there can be no excuse, no excuse for the murder, arson, theft, and vandalism that have terrorized the law-abiding citizens of Los Angeles. Mayor Bradley, just a few minutes ago, mentioned to me his particular concern, among others, regarding the safety of the Korean community. My heart goes out to them and all others who have suffered losses.

The wanton destruction of life and property is not a legitimate expression of outrage with injustice. It is itself injustice. And no rationalization, no matter how heartfelt, no matter how eloquent, can make it otherwise.

Television has become a medium that often brings us together. But its vivid display of Rodney King's beating shocked us. The America it has shown us on our screens these last 48 hours has appalled us. None of this is what we wish to think of as American. It's as if we were looking in a mirror that distorted our better selves and turned us ugly. We cannot let that happen. We cannot do that to ourselves.

We've seen images in the last 48 hours that we will never forget. Some were horrifying almost beyond belief. But there were other acts, small but significant acts in all this ugliness that give us hope. I'm one who respects our police. They keep the peace. They face danger every day. They help kids. They don't make a lot of money, but they care about their communities and their country. Thousands of police officers and firefighters are risking their lives right now on the streets of L.A., and they deserve our support. Then there are the people who have spent each night not in the streets but in the churches of Los Angeles, praying that man's gentler instincts be revealed in the hearts of people driven by hate. And finally, there were the citizens who showed great personal responsibility, who ignored the mob, who at great personal danger helped the victims of violence, regardless of race.

Among the many stories I've seen and heard about these past few days, one sticks in my mind, the story of one savagely beaten white truck driver, alive tonight because four strangers, four black strangers, came to his aid. Two were men who had been watching television and saw the beating as it was happening, and came out into the street to help; another was a woman on her way home from work; and the fourth, a young man whose name we may never know. The injured driver was able to get behind the wheel of his truck and tried to drive away. But his eyes were swollen shut. The woman asked him if he could see. He answered, "No." She said, "Well, then I will be your eyes." Together, those four people braved the mob and drove that truck driver to the hospital. He's alive today only because they stepped in to help.

It is for every one of them that we must rebuild the community of Los Angeles, for these four people and the others like them who in the midst of this nightmare acted with simple human decency.

We must understand that no one in Los Angeles or any other city has rendered a verdict on America. If we are to remain the most vibrant and hopeful Nation on Earth we must allow our diversity to bring us together, not drive us apart. This must be the rallying cry of good and decent people.

For their sake, for all our sakes, we must build a future where, in every city across this country, empty rage gives way to hope, where poverty and despair give way to opportunity. After peace is restored to Los Angeles, we must then turn again to the underlying causes of such tragic events. We must keep on working to create a climate of understanding and tolerance, a climate that refuses to accept racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hate of any kind, anytime, anywhere.

Tonight, I ask all Americans to lend their hearts, their voices, and their prayers to the healing of hatred. As President, I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, an oath that requires every President to establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility. That duty is foremost in my mind tonight.

Let me say to the people saddened by the spectacle of the past few days, to the good people of Los Angeles, caught at the center of this senseless suffering: The violence will end. Justice will be served. Hope will return.

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

  • The Murphy Brown speech precipitated a major debate in the media.  In it the Vice President sought to find an explanation for the riots which had broken out in Los Angeles three weeks earlier...
Office of the Press Secretary

EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY          -- 12:00 p.m. PDT --               May 19, 1992


San Francisco, California

[White House Transcript]

As you may know, I've just returned from a week-long trip to Japan.  I was there to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the reversion of Okinawa to Japan by the United States, an act that has made a lasting impression on the Japanese.

While I was there, Japan announced its commitment to join with the United States in assisting Eastern and Central Europe with a 400 million dollar aid package.  We also announced a manufacturing technology initiative that will allow American engineers to gain experience working in Japanese businesses.

Japan and the United States are allies and partners.  Though we have our differences, especially in the area of trade, our two countries -- with 40 percent of the world's GNP -- are committed to a global partnership in behalf of peace and economic growth.

But in the midst of all of these discussions of international affairs, I was asked many times in Japan about the recent events in Los Angeles.  From the perspective of many Japanese, the ethnic diversity of our culture is a weakness compared to their homogenous society.  I begged to differ with my hosts.  I explained that our diversity is our strength.  And I explained that the immigrants who come to our shores have made, and continue to make, vast contributions to our culture and our economy.

It is wrong to imply that the Los Angeles riots were an inevitable outcome of our diversified society.  But the question that I tried to answer in Japan is one that needs answering here: What happened?  Why?  And how do we prevent it in the future?

One response has been predictable: Instead of denouncing wrongdoing, some have shown tolerance for rioters; some have enjoyed saying "I told you so;" and some have simply made excuses for what happened.  All of this has been accompanied by pleas for more money.

I'll readily accept that we need to understand what happened.  But I reject the idea we should tolerate or excuse it.

When I have been asked during these last weeks who caused the riots and the killing in L.A., my answer has been direct and simple: Who is to blame for the riots?  The rioters are to blame.  Who is to blame for the killings?  The killers are to blame.  Yes, I can understand how people were shocked and outraged by the verdict in the Rodney King trial.  But there is simply no excuse for the mayhem that followed.  To apologize or in any way to excuse what happened is wrong.  It is a betrayal of all those people equally outraged and equally disadvantaged who did not loot and did not riot -- and who were in many cases victims of the rioters.  No matter how much you may disagree with the verdict, the riots were wrong.  And if we as a society don't condemn what is wrong, how can we teach our children what is right?

But after condemning the riots, we do need to try to understand the underlying situation.

In a nutshell: I believe the lawless social anarchy which we saw is directly related to the breakdown of family structure, personal responsibility and social order in too many areas of our society.  For the poor the situation is compounded by a welfare ethos that impedes individual efforts to move ahead in society, and hampers their ability to take advantage of the opportunities America offers.

If we don't succeed in addressing these fundamental problems, and in restoring basic values, any attempt to fix what's broken will fail.  But one reason I believe we won't fail is that we have come so far in the last 25 years.

There is no question that this country has had a terrible problem with race and racism.  The evil of slavery has left a long legacy.  But we have faced racism squarely, and we have made progress in the past quarter century.  The landmark civil rights bills. of the 1960's removed legal barriers to allow full participation by blacks in the economic, social and political life of the nation.  By any measure the America of 1992 is more egalitarian, more integrated, and offers more opportunities to black Americans -- and all other minority group members -- than the America of 1964.  There is more to be done.  But I think that all of us can be proud of our progress.

And let's be specific about one aspect of this progress: This country now has a black middle class that barely existed a quarter century ago.  Since 1967 the median income of black two parent families has risen by 60 percent in real terms.  The number of black college graduates has skyrocketed.  Black men and women have achieved real political power -- black mayors head 48 of our largest cities, including Los Angeles.  These are achievements.

But as we all know, there is another side to that bright landscape.  During this period of progress, we have also developed a culture of poverty -- some call it an underclass -- that is far more violent and harder to escape than it was a generation ago.

The poor you always have with you, Scripture tells us.  And in America we have always had poor people.  But in this dynamic, prosperous nation, poverty has traditionally been a stage through which people pass on their way to joining the great middle class.  And if one generation didn't get very far up the ladder -- their ambitious, better-educated children would.

But the underclass seems to be a new phenomenon.  It is a group whose members are dependent on welfare for very long stretches, and whose men are often drawn into lives of crime.  There is far too little upward mobility, because the underclass is disconnected from the rules of American society.  And these problems have, unfortunately, been particularly acute for Black Americans.

Let me share with you a few statistics on the difference between black poverty in particular in the 1960's and now.

λ In 1967 68% of black families were headed by married couples.  In 1991, only 48% of black families were headed by both a husband and wife.

λ In 1965 the illegitimacy rate among black families was 28%.  In 1989, 65% -- two thirds -- of all black children were born to never-married mothers.

λ In 1951 9.2% of black youth between 16-19 were unemployed.  In 1965, it was 23%.  In 1980 it was 35%.  By 1989, the number had declined slightly, but was still 32%.

λ The leading cause of death of young black males today is homicide.

It would be overly simplistic to blame this social breakdown on the programs of the Great Society alone.  It would be absolutely wrong to blame it on the growth and success most Americans enjoyed during the 1980's.  Rather, we are in large measure reaping the whirlwind of decades of changes in social mores.

I was born in 1947, so I'm considered one of those "Baby Boomers" we keep reading about.  But let's look at one unfortunate legacy of the "Boomer" generation.  When we were young, it was fashionable to declare war against traditional values.  Indulgence and self-gratification seemed to have no consequences.  Many of our generation glamorized casual sex and drug use, evaded responsibility and trashed authority.  Today the "Boomers" are middle-aged and middle class.  The responsibility of having families has helped many recover traditional values.  And, of course, the great majority of those in the middle class survived the turbulent legacy of the 60's and 70's.  But many of the poor, with less to fall back on, did not.

The intergenerational poverty that troubles us so much today is predominantly a poverty of values.  Our inner cities are filled with children having children; with people who have not been able to take advantage of educational opportunities; with people who are dependent on drugs or the narcotic of welfare.  To be sure, many people in the ghettos struggle very hard against these tides -- and sometimes win.  But too many feel they have no hope and nothing to lose.  This poverty is, again, fundamentally a poverty of values.

Unless we change the basic rules of society in our inner cities, we cannot expect anything else to change.  We will simply get more of what we saw three weeks ago.  New thinking, new ideas, new strategies are needed.

For the government, transforming underclass culture means that our policies and programs must create a different incentive system.  Our policies must be premised on, and must reinforce, values such as: family, hard work, integrity and personal responsibility.

I think we can all agree that government's first obligation is to maintain order.  We are a nation of laws, not looting.  It has become clear that the riots were fueled by the vicious gangs that terrorize the inner cities.  We are committed to breaking those gangs and restoring law and order.  As James Q. Wilson has written, "Programs of economic restructuring will not work so long as gangs control the streets."

Some people say "law and order," are code words.  Well, they are code words.  Code words for safety, getting control of the streets, and freedom from fear.  And let's not forget that, in 1990, 84 percent of the crimes committed by blacks were committed against blacks.

We are for law and order.  If a single mother raising her children in the ghetto has to worry about drive-by shootings, drug deals, or whether her children will join gangs and die violently, her difficult task becomes impossible.  We're for law and order because we can't expect children to learn in dangerous schools.  We're for law and order because if property isn't protected, who will build businesses?

As one step on behalf of law and order -- and on behalf of opportunity as well -- the President has initiated the "Weed and Seed" program -- to "weed out" criminals and "seed" neighborhoods with programs that address root causes of crime.  And we have encouraged community-based policing, which gets the police on the street so they interact with citizens.

Safety is absolutely necessary.  But it's not sufficient.  Our urban strategy is to empower the poor by giving them control over their lives.  To do that, our urban agenda includes:

λ Fully funding the Home-ownership and Opportunity for People Everywhere program.  HOPE -- as we call it -- will help public housing residents become home-owners.  Subsidized housing all too often merely made rich investors richer.  Home ownership will give the poor a stake in their neighborhoods, and a chance to build equity.

λ Creating enterprise zones by slashing taxes in targeted areas, including a zero capital gains tax, to spur entrepreneurship, economic development, and job creation in inner cities.

λ Instituting our education strategy, AMERICA 2000, to raise academic standards and to give the poor the same choices about how and where to educate their children that rich people have.

λ Promoting welfare reform to remove the penalties for marriage, create incentives for saving, and give communities greater control over how the programs are administered.

These programs are empowerment programs.  They are based on the same principles as the Job Training Partnership Act, which-aimed to help disadvantaged young people and dislocated workers to develop their skills to give them an opportunity to get ahead.  Empowering the poor will strengthen families.  And right now, the failure of our families is hurting America deeply.  When families fail, society fails.  The anarchy and lack of structure in our inner cities are testament to how quickly civilization falls apart when the family foundation cracks.  Children need love and discipline.  They need mothers and fathers.  A welfare check is not a husband.  The state is not a father.  It is from parents that children learn how to behave in society; it is from parents above all that children come to understand values and themselves as men and women, mothers and fathers.

And for those concerned about children growing up in poverty, we should know this: marriage is probably the best anti-poverty program of all.  Among families headed by married couples today, there is a poverty rate of 5.7 percent.  But 33.4 percent of families headed by a single mother are in poverty today.

Nature abhors a vacuum.  Where there are no mature, responsible men around to teach boys how to be good men, gangs serve in their place.  In fact, gangs have become a surrogate family for much of a generation of inner-city boys.  I recently visited with some former gang members in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  In a private meeting, they told me why they had joined gangs.  These teenage boys said that gangs gave them a sense of security.  They made them feel wanted, and useful.  They got support from their friends.  And, they said, "It was like having a family." "Like family" -- unfortunately, that says it all.

The system perpetuates itself as these young men father children whom they have no intention of caring for, by women whose welfare checks support them.  Teenage girls, mired in the same hopelessness, lack sufficient motive to say no to this trap.

Answers to our problems won't be easy.

We can start by dismantling a welfare system that encourages dependency and subsidizes broken families.  We can attach conditions -- such as school attendance, or work -- to welfare.  We can limit the time a recipient gets benefits.  We can stop penalizing marriage for welfare mothers.  We can enforce child support payments.

Ultimately, however, marriage is a moral issue that requires cultural consensus, and the use of social sanctions.  Bearing babies irresponsibly is, simply, wrong.  Failing to support children one has fathered is wrong.  We must be unequivocal about this.

It doesn't help matters when prime time TV has Murphy Brown -- a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid, professional woman -- mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another "lifestyle choice."

I know it is not fashionable to talk about moral values, but we need to do it.  Even though our cultural leaders in Hollywood, network TV, the national newspapers routinely jeer at them, I think that most of us in this room know that some things are good, and other things are wrong.  Now it's time to make the discussion public.

It's time to talk again about family, hard work, integrity and personal responsibility.  We cannot be embarrassed out of our belief that two parents, married to each other, are better in most cases for children than one.  That honest work is better than hand-outs -- or crime.  That we are our brothers' keepers.  That it's worth making an effort, even when the rewards aren't immediate.

So I think the time has come to renew our public commitment to our Judeo-Christian values -- in our churches and synagogues, our civic organizations and our schools.  We are, as our children recite each morning, "one nation under God." That's a useful framework for acknowledging a duty and an authority higher than our own pleasures and personal ambitions.

If we lived more thoroughly by these values, we would live in a better society.  For the poor, renewing these values will give people the strength to help themselves by acquiring the tools to achieve self-sufficiency, a good education, job training, and property.  Then they will move from permanent dependence to dignified independence.

Shelby Steele, in his great book, The Content of Our Character, writes, "Personal responsibility is the brick and mortar of power.  The responsible person knows that the quality of his life is something that he will have to make inside the limits of his fate ... The quality of his life will pretty much reflect his efforts."

I believe that the Bush Administration's empowerment agenda will help the poor gain that power, by creating opportunity, and letting people make the choices that free citizens must make.

Though our hearts have been pained by the events in Los Angeles, we should take this tragedy as an opportunity for self-examination and progress.  So let the national debate roar on.  I, for one, will join it.  The president will lead it.  The American people will participate in it.  And as a result, we will become an even stronger nation.

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  • Vice President Quayle addressed a core constituency group...
Office of the Press Secretary

EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY          -- June 11, 1992 --           11:00 a.m. EDT


Washington, D.C.

Thank you, Wanda, and thanks to all of you for standing up and speaking out with courage and conviction for the unborn.

Your crusade in defense of women, children, and the family appeals to the sense of moral decency that runs deep in the American heart, and asserts the values that have made this nation great.  You may have heard that I've had a few things to say about those values in recent weeks.

In my first foray as a TV sitcom critic, I ventured to suggest that it's time to talk again about family, hard work, integrity, and personal responsibility.  I had the audacity to suggest that the breakdown of the family was at the root of many of our social problems.  And I proposed that the entertainment industry should bear its share of responsibility for setting norms of behavior, rather than glamorizing unfortunate situations.

It seemed clear to me that, unless we change the basic rules of society -- in our inner cities and, for that matter, among many more fortunate Americans -- we cannot expect anything else to change for the better.  This requires the hardest kind of change: not just economic, not just political, but cultural change.  A change of values -- and thereby, a change in individual behavior.

There's only so much that government can do in that regard.  Renewing our commitment to Judeo-Christian values has to come in our churches and synagogues, our civic organizations, and our schools.  Most of all, it has to come in our homes.  For if values are not firmly grounded there, they will never take root elsewhere.  But, on the other hand, if we revive, in our families, the lights of conscience, commitment, and compassion, then our homes will be beacons in stormy times, showing a brighter and safer way, especially for young people, into the future.

Well, let me tell you, the reaction to those modest views has been quite interesting.  The public's response has been overwhelmingly favorable, summed up by the hundreds of calls to my office that said, over and over again, "Thank goodness someone is finally speaking out."  In the heart of America, in the homes and workplaces and churches, my message resonated with the common sense of the average citizen.

A less favorable reaction, to put it mildly, has come from other quarters -- from some of our newsrooms, sitcom studios, and faculty lounges.  The cultural elite don't want me to talk about values, but the American people do.  The cultural elite's reaction to my talk about values has been outrage, ridicule, and scorn.  Let me say again what I said a few days ago: "I wear their scorn as a badge of honor."  All of you know how that feels.

For two decades now, the overwhelming emphasis of the national media has been in favor of abortion.  That is why, 19 years after Roe v. Wade was decided, the American people are still being told that it just "legalized abortion in the first trimester," when, in fact, Roe had the effect of permitting unrestricted abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.  That struck at the fundamental value of American society: the value of human life.

When the full implications of Roe are explained to the American people, they reject that decision.  In poll after poll, the majority of Americans support limitations on abortion.  Let's look at the Pennsylvania statute for a minute.  That law provides time for reflection before an irrevocable decision.  It calls for a 24-hour waiting period, spousal notification, and parental consent for minor children.  That law was passed with bipartisan support and signed by a Democratic Governor.

My friends, this was a reasonable effort by the people of Pennsylvania to advance the cause of life.  Such efforts deserve our support.  As a nation, we need to reflect on the hard facts facing the women and children of America.  They've been taking a beating over the last two decades.  There are 1.5 million abortions each year.  Abortions outnumber live births in our nation's capital.  Not at all coincidentally, the incidence of child abuse has dramatically increased.  One-third of the families headed by women are in poverty. one-fourth of our children are born out of wedlock.  And, because we do not have fathers, a shocking number of them will be poor.

Behind those grim statistics are real lives and real pain.  As a man, I cannot be as eloquent about this as the women I've heard from, like the battered women who talked about their suffering during my visit with them a few days ago in South Bend.  Or like the young mothers I met last week at a pro-life pregnancy center in Ft. Lauderdale.  Listen to one of them:

Abortion clinics make women look like fools.  They take away our dignity.  They talk about women running the clinic, and women's rights.  But a man comes in and does the abortion.  They suck the life right out of you.  They don't care about you.

In the early days of the labor union movement, Samuel Gompers was asked, what does Labor want?  He answered, "More."  And that's our answer too, when we're asked how many children we want to save.  As many as we can today.  And tomorrow, more.  And someday, all.

My friends, I know it can be discouraging playing David to the Goliath of the dominant cultural elite.  But remember the final outcome of that Biblical encounter.  The Philistines fled.
In Hollywood and elsewhere, your opponents have a lot of money, a lot of glamour, a lot of influence.  But we have the power of ideas, the power of our convictions, the power of our beliefs.  And we shall carry the day, perhaps with a setback now and again, but with the long-range trend running surely to victory.

We shall carry the day, in defense of mothers and children, because the American people are far ahead of the country's self-appointed cultural elites.  When average Americans talk about values, especially the value of human life, they are sometimes accused of intolerance.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The pro-life movement -- uniting Americans of all races and faiths -- is committed to tolerance.  The pro-life movement -- defending the unborn, the handicapped, the terminally ill -- is a committed to compassion.  But compassion does not mean moral neutrality.  Tolerance does not mean abandoning our most cherished convictions.  And it surely does not mean remaining silent and passive in the face of cruelty and injustice.  No, the real intolerance in contemporary society is to be found on the other side.

It's the intolerance of those who have tried to silence religious leaders when they speak out in defense of children before birth.  It's the intolerance of those who not only insist upon their agenda, but demand that the public fund it as well.  No, whatever the shortcomings of the pro-life movement, intolerance is not one of them.

People like yourselves don't just talk about the value of human life.  You reflect it in your lives and enshrine it in your homes.  You counsel mothers facing problem pregnancies.  You foster adoption as the loving alternative.  You give of your time, your pocketbook, and your spirit to heal wounded lives.  You live the values of the pro-life movement in raising up faithful children, in church work like maintaining homes for unwed mothers, in the constant effort to educate others about prenatal development.  Most of all, by honoring God in all things, you keep the pro-life movement securely oriented to the Author of life.

Contrast that with the orientation of the cultural elite.  It avoids responsibility and flees from the consequences of its self-indulgence.  If, as a result of one's own actions, a child is conceived, they have a simple solution: Get rid of it.  Our solution, for those mothers who feel they cannot raise the child, is adoption.  Our opponents treat God's greatest gift -- new life -- as an inconvenience to be discarded.  But we believe life is a beautiful gift to be cherished and cared for -- however "inconvenient" its beginning may be.

They believe in the right to dispose of life.  We believe in the right to life.  It's time our opponents understood this: Whatever the disagreements in American society today, whatever our divisions, whatever our anger or disappointment with one another, we don't take it out on the kids.

Most everyone here is probably aware that there's an election coming up in the fall.  That election will be about trust -- and about values.  Of course, we can count on the cultural elite to deplore the injection of values into politics.  But a clear choice of values should be at the center of our political process.  That process is the means by which we define ourselves, as a people.

As participants in that process, we're going to speak up for life.  We're going to speak up for family values.  We're going to speak up for America.  And, ultimately, through your efforts and your prayers, the American people, once and for all, will choose life.  Thank you for your support.  Thank you for your conviction.  Thank you for standing up for life.

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  • With polls suggesting that votes for Ross Perot could send the election into the House of Representatives, the Vice President labeled the Texan as a "temperamental tycoon who has contempt for the Constitution..."
Office of the Press Secretary

Embargoed until delivery             -- Friday, June 12, 1992 --                      1:10  p.m.


Mayflower Hotel
Washington, D.C.

The American Constitution, wrote Gladstone, is "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man."  That is an assessment confirmed not just by past experience at home but by current events overseas.  When I went to Eastern Europe last summer, I was truly struck by how many of their leaders look to our Constitution as a guide.  Some of you have witnessed first-hand the work of democratic reform and constitution-building; you, also, have seen our Constitution held up as a model for the protection of rights, the enumeration of powers, and the organization of government.  This is something to be proud of; our system is worth emulating because it works.

I am here today to talk about how we can make it work even better.  As we know all too well, there are areas where we can strengthen the purposes of constitutionalism by enforcing limits on the scope of government.  The Balanced Budget Amendment would have been a good step in that direction, and I'm sorry the Congress didn't pass it.  I daresay that after the election, they'll wish they had.

But beyond any Constitutional issues, the biggest single problem in our system is a political one that we can and should change this year.  It is called divided government.  By that I mean, of course, that the party in control of the White House does not control the Congress.

Historically speaking, divided government is a relatively new phenomenon.  From the beginning of the republic until the 1950s, same-party control of Congress and the White House was the rule and divided government the exception.  But in the post-War period it's been the other way around.  In the twenty-four years since 1968, only four -- during the Carter Administration -- were years of united government.  Or look at it this way: In just the past quarter-century, five national elections resulted in a party split between the White House and the Congress.  Yet in the entire 19th century, the same kind of split happened only three times.

We've all seen the results of this new pattern: With only the rarest of exceptions, friction and deadlock have become the order of the day.  For issue after issue you have two separate -- and, very often, irreconcilable -- agendas in conflict.  You've got liberal Democrats on the Hill who want to raise taxes, make more regulations, and extend the reach of the federal government -- versus a conservative Republican President who ran and serves on a platform that seeks just the opposite.  On the Hill, enormous amounts of energy are spent and wasted on passing legislation that everyone knows the President would never sign.  Even in the middle of a recession we couldn't get agreement on a growth package to give the economy a boost.  The most common exercise in Washington is the blame game.  No wonder people are frustrated and angry.

The Constitution was written to provide filters in the process of making laws -- passage by the House and Senate; presentment to the Executive; veto; and two-house override.  Yes, we have separated powers -- but we have shared responsibilities.  And the system has stood the test of time because we've been able to carry out those responsibilities.  But divided government prevents it.  The Framers never envisioned a permanently divided government.

I've heard some who consider themselves conservatives say, "well, divided government isn't really so bad.  Deadlock means fewer new laws and less action from the government.  And fewer new laws and less action means less mischief."  In my view, that is no longer a reasonable position.  Simply stated, there is work that has to be done.  Are we going to do more about violent crime and victims' rights?  Will we continue our leadership in space?  Can a judge get confirmed without being lynched by a special interest mob?  Will we have free trade?  Tax breaks for families?  Legal reform?  Strategic Defense?  Like it or not, real issues like these are up in the air right now, and they ought to be decided.  But as long as there's deadlock, they won't be.

I've also heard it suggested that the voters actually prefer the kind of ticket-splitting that puts fiscal conservatives in the White House and free spenders in the Congress.  According to this view, divided government is a problem of democracy that we can't change.

I look at it another way.  Divided government isn't so much a problem of democracy as it is a problem of not enough democracy.  And part of the solution, as Al Smith might have said, is to have more democracy.  That means having more competition in Congressional campaigns.

Everyone knows about the astronomical rates of re-election we see in the House of Representatives.  In 1990, 96.2 percent of incumbents were re-elected.  In the 100th Congress, more House members actually died (seven) than were defeated at the polls (six).  Of those six, five were tainted one way or another with an ethics issue.  So that leaves one member who lost through the competition of ideas.

Now, this year, of course, is unusual.  Five months before the election we already have more than five dozen House seats and eight Senate seats being vacated.  As of this Tuesday, eleven members of Congress have gone down in defeat.  This is largely due to the outrages on Capitol Hill with which we're all familiar.  But we shouldn't kid ourselves about the phenomenal advantages enjoyed by incumbents -- the advantages that ordinarily keep the re-election rates high.

What are those advantages?   First, the money.  Incumbent candidates are vastly better financed than their challengers.  It's been estimated that in the last election only six percent of races for the House were financially competitive.  In 1990, incumbent members of the House collected 88 million dollars from political action committees; challengers -- all challengers, combined -- got 6.8 million.

The second big advantage is public financing -- not the public financing you're thinking of, but the massive public financing of more than five hundred million pieces of mail sent under the franking privilege every single year.  And then there is the staff on the Hill: Twenty thousand -- well more than double the number just two decades ago.  Minority Leader Bob Michel is proposing a fifty percent reduction in committee staff in the House of Representatives.  But with the Democratic majority, reducing Congressional staff is about as likely as my taking a guest spot on "Murphy Brown."

Add up these advantages of incumbency and it's easy to see why, absent some kind of scandal, most challengers never have a chance.  That is why the House -- the people's chamber! -- seems permanently insulated from the tides of opinion in our national elections.  Remember this -- in the 70s and 80s we had four presidential landslides: 49 states, 44 states, 49 states again, and 40 states.  Not once did the House of Representatives break loose from the grip of opposition control.

We have to open up the system and bring in more democracy.  We have to disrupt the cycle of almost certain re-election, and think about Congress the way the Founders did: not as a career, but as a temporary tour of duty.  And since the Constitution has limited Ronald Reagan and George Bush to two terms, we ought to be fair to the other elected branch and limit the terms of people like Ted Kennedy and Howard Metzenbaum.

There's something else that is absolutely critical in this election year: And that is to focus the campaign on leadership in the White House and in the Congress.  It's a golden opportunity for both parties to speak out against divided government, draw sharp distinctions and run as teams: The President and the Republicans versus the Democratic candidate and the Democratic Congress.

I read the other day that the Democrats are preparing to outline a strategy for the first hundred days of a Clinton Administration.  That ought to end once and for all the talk that says there's no major difference between the two parties.  The contrast today is as dramatic as it's been in my career.

The Republican agenda is one of decentralization and reform -- and reducing the role of government in the everyday lives of our people.

λ    We want to strengthen the family; they want to redefine it.

λ    When it comes to health care reforms and child care programs, we want the parents to    
    make the important decisions --all the decisions.  They want more wise direction from    
    bureaucrats in Washington.

λ    On education, they believe "reform" means spending more money.  We believe reform    
    means giving parents the right to choose where their children go to school.

λ    We want lower taxes; they want to raise taxes on "the rich" -- a term that usually ends    
    up meaning "anyone who has a job."

λ    In the battle against overregulation, they stand foursquare on the side of the regulators.  We stand on the side of freedom and common sense.  And it's a battle we're winning, thanks to an exceptional group known as the President's Council on Competitiveness.

λ    And even though they stand, by and large, with the plaintiffs' trial lawyers, we stand    
    with the vast majority of the American people who want serious reform in our 300 billion-   
    dollar legal system.

λ    We are also committed to a Congress of "Reform Republicans" -- a group that comes    
    in and makes the Congress live by the same laws they make for the rest of America --    
    and see how Congress likes it.

And if you really want to talk about the differences between the parties, consider the appointments we've made -- and the appointments they want to make.  The roll of honor for the past four years includes people like Dick Cheney, Ken Starr, Bill Bennett, Jack Kemp, Bill Barr and Clarence Thomas.  Stack that up against Secretary of State Jimmy Carter, Defense Secretary Pat Schroeder, Attorney General Ralph Nader, or Justice Laurence Tribe.

Now, to talk about the choice facing the American people is to invite the question: What about Ross Perot?  There's no doubt that he has tapped into a deep well of frustration in this country.  He draws his appeal largely from the claim that he is a man who can "get things done," even if he's reluctant to say exactly what "things" he has in mind -- other than nullifying representative democracy with a bizarre scheme of government by polls.  Still, the anger out there is not to be minimized; I travel around the country all the time, and I talk with people from every walk of life.  Their frustration is real, and so is the attraction of a protest candidate.

But electing Ross Perot wouldn't fix the deadlock between the elected branches; it would make things worse.  A president cannot "get something done" just because he criticizes stalemate.  Ross Perot is a false solution to our problem.  He would add to the gridlock, then compound the people's frustration by elevating the blame game to an art form.  I'd like to say "talk is cheap" - but somehow that doesn't capture the spirit of the Perot campaign.

In case you missed it, Mr. Perot has also got an interesting approach to that most wonderful work, the U.S. Constitution.  Here is what he said last fall: "Germany and Japan are winning.  Why are they winning?  They got new constitutions in 1945."

Mr. Perot, we do not need a new Constitution.  Our Constitution has served us well.

My friends, it would be a very bad idea to replace a genuine statesman with some temperamental tycoon who has contempt for the Constitution of the United States.

Eighty years ago -- long before divided government became a pattern -- Woodrow Wilson described it in prophetic terms.  In Wilson's words, a divided government is

"an arrested government.  You have a government that is not responding to the wishes of the people.  You have a government that is not functioning, a government whose very energies are stayed and postponed.  If you want to release the force of the American people, you have got to get possession of the Senate and the Presidency as well as of the House."

Yes, our Constitutional system is the best in the world. But it doesn't operate on automatic pilot; it can be  strengthened or weakened by the steps we take.  And through most  of our history the system has been strengthened by party government and clear-cut accountability.

So let us return to the tried and true.  Let us elect a president -- Republican or Democrat -- and give him a Congress that responds to presidential leadership.  Give one party the authority and the responsibility to govern.  That is how we can reinforce the Constitutional system.  And that is how we can restore the most important thing of all: The faith and trust of the American people.

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