Remarks at the Annual Family Oktoberfest in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

September 26, 1984

The President. Thank you.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. All right. If that's the way you feel, I'm willing.

Well, thank you, Bob Kasten, for that very kind introduction. Thank you, and thank you all for a most heartwarming reception. I can only say to you in return, On Wisconsin!

It's great to be back in your proud city of Milwaukee and great to be with all of you here at Old Heidelberg Park. You know, Old Heidelberg Park -- I can remember when they called it just plain Heidelberg Park. [Laughter] Of course, that was back when if somebody said, ``Hey, kid,'' I answered. [Laughter]

But warm greetings to your outstanding Senator Bob Kasten. Believe me, we couldn't have accomplished all that we have without a Republican majority in the Senate, and Bob Kasten is in the front rank of that majority.

And a special thanks to one of Wisconsin's super Congressmen, Jim Sensenbrenner. Jim has worked long and hard in the House to put America back on its feet.

Jim and Bob, I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to working with you in 1985 and in a few years to come.

Whenever I come to this beautiful State, your rolling hills and gentle valleys and lush pastures -- and I have been here quite a bit, because for a large part of my life, I was a neighbor of yours just to the south in Illinois -- I know I'm almost -- well, I'm also going to see, in addition to all that beauty, some of the hardest working people in our country. And I know I'm looking at many of them right now.

All of you and your mothers and fathers and their parents stretching all the way back to the early 1800's, tens of thousands proud to trace their roots from Germany, thousands more from Serbia, Poland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Greece, and a dozen other nations. They came with few possessions, and they asked only the chance to live and work in freedom and peace.

Now, many went into the countryside and began to produce the best cheese and butter and milk in the world. And many stayed right here in Milwaukee. And together, they built a town of muscle, beauty, and pride. They manufactured machinery, produced metal products of all kinds, opened breweries, and made Milwaukee one of America's biggest ports. They gave this city a distinctive flavor, adapting the customs of the old country and the old world to the new. And as they stamped their character on Milwaukee, they enriched the cultural life of all Americans.

Today you've shown us that Milwaukee is just as proud as ever. You still have your ethnic pride. Your schools are better than ever. And you, the people of Milwaukee -- hard-working, patriotic, and full of hope for our future -- are what America is all about.

And now, if you don't mind, could I take a moment to give you a report on what we've been trying to do since we took office?

On the economic front, yes, we've been through some tough times. But Americans came through them together. We knew we had to work hard to correct the damage decades of government overspending and overtaxing had caused. And what do you know. The American people went to work, and we are getting the job done. Americans are working again, and America is working again.

Today inflation, as you were told, is down from more than 12 percent to an annual rate of about 4 percent. Interest rates, although still not as low as we want, are down substantially. Last year alone, America saw some 600,000 new business incorporations, and that is an all-time high in the history of our country. And during the past 20 months, America has created 6 million new jobs, by far the best performance of any country in the world.

And right here in Milwaukee, the economic expansion is beginning to take hold. In the last year, the unemployment rate in the Milwaukee area has fallen more than 3 percentage points. And in that same year, nearly 19,000 Americans have found work here in Milwaukee.

Now, we've been working to help Wisconsin farmers make the transition from the high inflation, high interest rates, and economic disasters of the past to stable growth, low inflation, and lower interest rates that all of us are bringing about.

We've eliminated the unfair, wrong-headed grain embargo. We've negotiated new agreements for grain with the Soviet Union. And last week, to help ease debt burdens, we announced that the Farmers Home Administration will defer for 5 years up to 25 percent of the principal and interest payments that farmers owe. And to help those who do not participate in the Farmers Home Administration programs, we will be making available $630 million in loan guarantees.

As the economic expansion continues, we're not going to rest until all Americans -- and that means Wisconsin farmers and their families -- share in the benefits.

My friends, our great nation has turned the corner. The shadows are behind us. Bright sunshine of hope and opportunity lies ahead. But I wouldn't take that for granted. So, let me just ask you: Do you feel better off than you did 4 years ago?

Audience. Yes!

The President. Is America better off than it was 4 years ago?

Audience. Yes!

The President. Well, good. You don't know how it warms my heart that you think that, too -- [laughter] -- because I think that way.

Now, despite the strength of this expansion, there's one sure way to ruin it. Now, you'd have to be something of an expert to find it. But when it comes to bringing economic growth to a grinding halt, our opponents are experts. They want to raise your taxes. And if you let them, they'll do it again and again and again.

You know, the people of Milwaukee are as well known for your love of good beer as the liberal Democrats are for their taxing and spending. The difference is you know when to stop. [Laughter]

The tax hike they've called for would be the equivalent of an additional tax burden of $1,800 for every household in Wisconsin and in America. Now, we all remember how Green Bay's beloved football coach, the great Vince Lombardi, used to say, ``Winning isn't everything. It's the only thing.'' Well, it seems our opponents have adopted that philosophy, but with a new twist. They're saying, ``Tax increases aren't everything. They're the only thing.''

Audience. Boo-o-o!

The President. Well, come November, the American people will get to vote on their coaches -- or on our coaches, and come November, I believe the American people will tell Coach Tax Hike to find another team.

Well, now, just so there isn't any doubt, I wonder if you'd help me conduct a little poll. Now, you can just answer yes or no.

Do you believe that the American people are undertaxed?

Audience. No!

The President. Will the working people of Milwaukee, the family farmers across this State, and America's economy all be stronger with a big tax increase?

Audience. No!

The President. Well, is his tax increase your idea of fairness and compassion?

Audience. No!

The President. Or do you share my belief that government in Washington might already be big enough?

Audience. Yes!

Audience member. Like the deficit is!

The President. So, rather than give more to Washington, DC, how about giving the American people more opportunities to work, to save, and to invest? [Applause]

Thank you very much. You've just confirmed my hunch.

Our pledge is for tax simplification, to make the system more fair, to make it easier to understand. Do you know that Einstein has admitted he cannot understand the Form 1040? [Laughter] And, so, you can bring everybody's income tax rates further down, and not up. That's what we believe is fair tax simplification and reform.

Now, tax simplification will provide powerful new incentives for economic growth. And it will help our economic expansion keep growing and spreading, from Maine to Milwaukee to the California coast.

With your support, we'll fight for enterprise zones to help Americans in disadvantaged areas get off unemployment and welfare and start climbing the economic ladder. And we'll keep government under control by enacting a line-item veto and a constitutional amendment mandating that government stop spending more than government takes in.

Now, I know that there are many proud Democrats in Wisconsin, people who cherish the memories of F.D.R. and Harry Truman and John Kennedy. These men were leaders who believed in strength abroad and self-reliance at home. And to all those Democrats who might be here today -- and I hope there are many -- who feel that the present leadership of the Democratic Party is out of step with the rank-and-file Democratic membership of that party, the patriotic Democrats who so many times in the past were supporting the same things that we believe in; they who know that the leadership today of that party no longer stands behind America's role in the world, that it no longer represents working men and women, that it is abandoning the decent, patriotic Democrats of the J.F.K. and F.D.R. and Harry Truman tradition. And we say to you if you are here: Come on, walk with us down the path of hope and opportunity. It can be bipartisan.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. All right.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. Okay.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. All right.

Audience. 4 more years! 4 more years! 4 more years!

The President. But add your strength to ours, and all of us can build something new for America, something far better than before.

You know, as our economy grows, we'll need to go forward with the bedrock values that sustained those first immigrants to Milwaukee and that nourish our families today -- the values of faith; family; neighborhood; good, hard work. Together, we've already made an impressive start.

During the past 4 years, we've helped lead a grassroots revolution for excellence in our schools that will reach every child in our land. Just last week we learned that after nearly 2 years [decades]\1\ (FOOTNOTE) of decline, scholastic aptitude test scores have gone up for the second year in a row. They increased a full 4 points. Now, that may not seem like very much, but it is the biggest increase in 21 years.

(FOOTNOTE) \1\White House correction.

We must continue to crack down on crime. We say with no hesitation, yes, there are such things as right and wrong, and, yes, for hardened criminals preying on our society, punishment must be swift and certain. In 1980 our crime rate was rising. But last year, reported crime fell 7 percent, and that's the steepest drop since 1960.

In foreign affairs, today America is at peace. And since 1980 the tide of Soviet expansion has been turned.

Now, I know that many of you have relatives in Eastern Europe, in countries like East Germany, Hungary, and Poland. These brave people are never very far from my mind, and I know they aren't from yours. When we traveled to Europe in 1982, I visited the Berlin Wall, that grim line that divides the continent. And I saw those polizei looking at me very sternly with their guns, and I sneaked a foot across the line. [Laughter] Just wanted them to know I'd been there. [Laughter] But like all who visit that wall, I looked to the East. I saw the barbed wire and the guards, and understood, in a more powerful way, the value of human liberty. I pledge to you that in Europe we will do all in our power to defend the cause of freedom.

In Central America, we'll go on supporting the forces of democracy and economic growth. And I will tell Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko, when I meet with him at the White House on Friday, the United States seeks no territorial expansion. We make no attempts to impose our will on anyone, but we remain unshakable in our commitment to freedom. And we will never again allow America to let down its guard.

Well now, it's time for me to go -- --

Audience. No!

The President. Yes -- oh -- have to. But I see so many families here this afternoon, so many fine young people. May I just leave you with one last thought from my heart.

The American dream is a living thing, always growing, always presenting new vistas and challenges. In Old Heidelberg Park this afternoon -- indeed, throughout Milwaukee and throughout Wisconsin -- there are young couples saving to buy homes of their own; mothers and fathers who want to give their children a better education; men and women with dreams of making the good earth of this State still more fruitful, the good city of Milwaukee healthier and more prosperous, and America herself stronger and better still. My vision of America -- and I know it's one you share -- is of a land where all have the opportunity to work hard to make these dreams come true. My friends, together we can make America that shining land of opportunity and hope. And with you by our side, I know we will.

That wonderful song I mentioned earlier in my remarks has inspired tens of thousands. No other fight song has been adopted by so many high schools throughout the land -- my own included -- as ``On Wisconsin.'' As a matter of fact, I was halfway through my high school football career before I knew that that was the real name of the song, that it wasn't ``Onward Dixon.'' [Laughter]

Well, I think there's only one way we could top that song, and that's to put all our hopes and dreams for our country into one simple phrase: ``On America.''

Thank you all very much. God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 5:23 p.m. at the Old Heidelberg Park Fest Hall.

Following his remarks, the President returned to Washington, DC.