Remarks at the Annual
Meeting of the National
Bowen and ladies and gentlemen, before we begin, I have a brief announcement.
Today, at my direction, Ambassador Mike Glitman, our
INF negotiator, placed on the negotiating table in
Glitman also presented to the
short, our new proposal calls for eliminating all U.S. and Soviet INF missiles
and launchers within 3 years; a ban on modernizing, producing, or flight
testing any INF missile system; a comprehensive verification regime tailored to
a double global zero outcome. And with these new actions taken up by the
Well, now to the business at hand. I always try to keep my remarks short, and will today. Although, when I run over, I like to remember something President Eisenhower once said. ``One good thing about being President,'' he said is, ``nobody can tell you when to sit down.'' [Laughter] But it's a pleasure being here at this meeting of the National Alliance of Business. Since its founding 20 short years ago, the alliance has been an American leader in addressing a tragedy that concerns all of us: structural unemployment.
Never has your leadership been more effective than in the last 6 years. With Bill Kolberg as your president and now with John Clendenin as your chairman, you're spearheading our country's first public-private partnership to prepare for the future Americans who thought they had no future: the Job Training Partnership. It's easy to forget today that when we came into office Federal job programs had become a national scandal. For 40 years government-sponsored training had achieved little more than to give leaf-raking a bad name.
One study in the late sixties found that the programs of that period had ``not helped business find qualified employees, and the largest percent of businesses said this was because training was given in the wrong skills.'' ``It was impossible,'' a followup study found, ``to track individual trainees through the system; information on the potential labor market was inadequate; the management system was bloated with salaried staff.'' Well, if anything, matters got worse after that. The CETA program of the seventies didn't settle on mere incompetence; it added corruption. In many cities, CETA positions were parceled out as political patronage. And CETA spent millions on such worthy projects as building an artificial rock for rock climbers to practice on.
The worst-hit victims of these federally financed fiascos were the trainees themselves. Most genuinely needed the simple but basic skills of showing up punctually, performing a task that others valued, doing it well, and getting it done on time. Instead, they got laxly supervised make-work. The message came through loud and clear that honest effort will not be honestly rewarded.
Well, thanks to you, all this has changed. When we came into office, we took one look at this mess and said it had to stop. We said that it wasn't enough to get better managers and stricter accountants; we wanted a revolution in approach. The Good Book tells us that excessive pride is a deadly sin.
Well, the failing in these programs started with government's excessive pride. For five decades every Federal training effort had been run by government, because government believed it knew what was best for the unemployed and for the businesses that would hire them. I've always thought that the common sense and wisdom of government were summed up in a sign they used to have hanging on that gigantic Hoover Dam. It said, ``Government property. Do not remove.'' [Laughter]
Well, we said it was time to bring the grace of humility to this prideful city. So, we turned to you. With your help and guidance, the Job Training Partnership is business-run and locally run, not Washington-run. And unlike all the many programs before it, and despite so many voices saying when we started that business would not rise to the challenge of helping the unemployed, you met the challenge. The hard-to-employ are getting trained. They're getting placed. They're keeping good jobs with good pay in good companies. They have reclaimed the American dream.
they're not alone. Not everyone needs special job training, but everyone is
part of a growing economy. In November
Too often in the past, blacks lagged behind others as others advanced, but in the last 5 years, black employment has shot forward twice as fast as white employment. Since 1982 the real income of black families has increased almost 40 percent faster than white family income, and the share of black families in the highest income brackets is up by over 70 percent. This August the percentage of blacks employed was the highest on record, as was the percentage of all Americans employed. Economics columnist Warren Brookes looked at this record and concluded that ``on every front -- jobs, income, even household wealth -- this, 1981 through 1986, has been the best 5 economic years in black history.'' Yes, we still have some distance to go, but our economic policies are the headwaters from which economic justice for black Americans will, like a great river, flow.
Recently the U.S. Chamber of Commerce examined the facts in the major industrial economies of the world. Their conclusion: More government, beyond a point, really does mean less growth. As the chamber's chief economist, Richard Rahn, concluded: ``For many countries economic growth rates significantly decline and unemployment rates begin to increase when total government spending exceeds the range of 15 to 30 percent of gross national product.'' Well, today the United States is around 35 percent, and that's why I'm determined that the way to close the budget deficit is not by raising the American people's taxes but by cutting the Federal Government's spending.
talked a great deal in these last few months about an Economic Bill of Rights
determination to lower tax rates and increase incentives is paying off.
Investment as a share of overall economic activity has risen since our recovery
began and is now one-sixth of gross national product, even while in
I can't help but interject here about the fellow that knocked on another man's door, and when he came to the door, said, ``Do you own a black pit bull?'' And the fellow said ``Yes.'' ``Well,'' he said, ``I have to tell you it's dead.'' He said, ``What do you mean it's dead? What happened?'' And he says, ``My Pekinese killed it.'' [Laughter] He says, ``Your Pekinese killed it? How?'' He said, ``It got stuck in his throat.'' [Laughter]
Our opponents talk about the trade deficit and saving American jobs, particularly in manufacturing, even though the foremost authority on job creation and loss has reported that ``in statistically significant terms we haven't eliminated a single manufacturing job'' in more than two decades. Some manufacturing industries are down, but others are up. And in fact, throughout the economy, in all sectors, we have created a record 13\1/2\ million jobs in the last 5 years. And industrial production is surging strongly forward.
the issue here is not over jobs or family income. We know how to create more
jobs and better incomes -- the way we've been doing it. We must have compassion
for those workers who have been displaced as their industries have become more
efficient. We must help them develop new skills and find new lines of work. We
have proposals to do this before Congress, and you've been leading the way in
this area, too. But that's not the issue here in
Well, let me be clear, I'm not questioning motives. Many fine and well-meaning people still believe that control is best and most wisely held in the hands of our central government. The way they talk about American people, I find myself remembering a story I once heard about a great baseball manager, Frankie Frisch. One day he sent a rookie out to play center field. The rookie dropped the first flyball that was hit to him, let a grounder go between his feet, and when he did get his hands on the ball he threw it to the wrong base. Frankie stormed out of the dugout, grabbed his glove and said, ``I'll show you how to play this position.'' And the next batter slammed a drive right over second base. Frankie came in on it, missed it completely, and fell down when he tried to chase it. He threw down his glove and yelled at the rookie, ``You've got center field so loused up nobody can play it.'' [Laughter]
Well, that's how many critics may think, but in choosing between big government and the American people, I'm old-fashioned. I stand with the men who wrote the glorious Constitution whose 200th birthday we celebrate this week. I put my trust in the people. In the months ahead and in the battles to reduce Federal spending, prevent destructive protectionism, keep taxes down, we'll decide whether the American economy will retain the vitality that gives our future so much promise. I hope I'll have your support in these battles.
me mention one area in particular that I know you care about and where the
central issue is, once again,
reforms have been, virtually without exception, those that were homegrown in
State capitals, cities, and neighborhoods. And that's why we propose to allow
expanded experimentation at the State and local levels. Experiments that work
will be tested more broadly. This is just plain common sense, and yet there are
those who believe that the Federal Government should once again parachute a
single set of reforms on the Nation. The history of just one more reform from
For example, a few years ago there was an idea here to replace welfare with what amounted to a guaranteed minimum income. We were told that this would cure the problems in the system. And among other things, it was argued that families would no longer have to break up to receive assistance, so they would stay together. And then somebody said, maybe we should test this in one or two cities before we do it in the Nation as a whole. So, they did. And they found that people worked less and families broke up faster under that plan than they had before.
in so many other areas, in welfare reform it's time to get the Federal
Government to learn some humility and admit what it doesn't know and put its
trust in the American people. At the very least, we should insist that the
Government will not do more harm than good when it acts. It's time for us to
look carefully at the full range of government activities and ask which ones
make it harder for the poor to escape poverty; which cut off rungs in the
ladder of American opportunity; which make it more difficult to realize the
now, before I close, let me add that
say ``I hope'' because too often character assassination has replaced debate in
principle here in
Note: The President spoke at in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel.