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The 100th Anniversary of the Birth of President Ronald Wilson Reagan

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. DREIER. Mr. Speaker, I have taken this time out this evening so that my colleagues and I might have the opportunity to talk about what took place the day before yesterday and the century that led up to it. I am referring, as did my friend from Fullerton, Mr. Royce, to the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ronald Wilson Reagan.

We know that Ronald Reagan is an individual who has provided inspiration to Democrats and Republicans alike, and there is a reason for that. The reason is that, while not everyone agreed with Ronald Reagan's policies, he was an individual who was able to provide encouragement; he was an individual who was able to provide inspiration; and I think most importantly, Mr. Speaker, he was an individual who was able to provide hope to so many people all over this country as well as across the globe.

Mrs. Reagan did an interview this past week leading up to February 6 in which she was asked the question: What do you most want your husband to be remembered for?

What she said was that she wanted him to be remembered for the fact that he instilled a sense of optimism for the American people. That great sense of optimism, which was not Pollyanna-like, because he was clearly very realistic, direct, had a great strength of character, an unwavering commitment to his principles, but at the same time, he was always able to encourage people to have hope for the future.

In fact, one of the great things that the Ronald Reagan Foundation has done, as we all know, Mr. Speaker--and we see it on a regular basis right down this hallway into the great rotunda of the Capitol--is there, due in large part, to the now distinguished chair of the Committee on Administration, Mr. Lungren, who worked on this statue, and I was honored that he consulted me on a few occasions as he was working on it. To me, the thing that is the most important part of the statue is inscribed at the base. Unfortunately, it's on the back, so you have to go through a little effort to see it, Mr. Speaker. But at the base of that statue, it has three of the great statements that Ronald Reagan was known for.

What were they?

They were, of course: ``America's best days are yet to come.'' ``Our proudest moments are yet to be.'' ``Our most glorious achievements are just ahead.''

Now, if that doesn't instill optimism and encouragement, I don't know what does. Those three statements, I believe, define Ronald Reagan.

He obviously was someone who enjoyed having a good time. In fact, Nancy said on Sunday, at the party, that her husband always enjoyed celebrating his birthday and that he would have loved the party that took place. And for those who may not have been there or seen it, you should know that the celebration continues.

It actually began at the end of last year. I was privileged to give an address up at the library, during which I was talking about the challenges that exist today and the way that Ronald Reagan dealt with many of the similar problems that we face today. Then on New Year's Day, the Rose Parade featured a float marking the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth. Then again this past weekend, on February 5 and 6, there were great activities that took place at the library.

I should say, the weekend before, there was a wonderful opportunity for us to have the Members of

Congress who were elected in 1980, with Ronald Reagan, three decades ago, to convene for a class reunion that the Ronald Reagan Foundation helped us put together. At the same time, the Heritage Foundation hosted its meeting, which included many of the newly elected Members of Congress. It was basically a 2 1/2 -day gathering.

Several Members have told me about the opportunity to have Members of that 97th class, the class of 1980 which came in with Ronald Reagan, share their experiences with the newly elected Members--87 strong, the largest turnover in three-quarters of a century. We were able to share those experiences, and Members have said that it was probably the highlight of that 2 1/2 -day gathering that we had at the Ronald Reagan Library.

I also have to say, Mr. Speaker, that just yesterday we saw the opening of the new Ronald Reagan Museum, and that museum is an amazing facility. Now, remember, Air Force One, which is the aircraft that Ronald Reagan flew, including Marine One, are both there at the library. This museum, which has been renovated over the past year or so, was reopened. I said at one of the gatherings that anyone who had the opportunity to know Ronald Reagan, to work with Ronald Reagan would have had, clearly, at least one occasion as they went through the library to have a wonderful memory come back to the forefront--and even new experiences. In fact, I had a very moving experience when I went through the museum and saw something that I had not seen before.

The father of one of my closest family friends passed away just before he was born--in fact, 4 months before he was born. He was an only son, and obviously never knew his father. As I walked through the Reagan Museum, I was struck because I saw on the wall the discharge papers that were signed by Captain Ronald Reagan.

When I saw them, I took out my telephone, and called my friend, and said, Did you know that Ronald Reagan had signed your father's discharge papers? He said, no, he didn't know it, and was, needless to say, very emotional having just learned that at that moment as I went in.

Well, this man is on March 20 going to mark his 50th birthday, and his name is John Clark Gable. His father was the legendary actor Clark Gable, who had had his discharge papers signed by Captain Ronald Reagan.

As you look, there is the good and the bad, which are outlined in this museum, including the very tragic day in March of 1981 when an assassination attempt was launched against President Reagan, to lots of exciting and fun times that took place during that period of time. Of course we all know of Ronald Reagan's legendary, legendary sense of humor.

One of my stories--and I'm happy my friend from Huntington Beach, whom I met when he was working for Ronald Reagan shortly after we came to Washington together in the early 1980s, my friend Mr. Rohrabacher, likes to take credit for many of President Reagan's funny lines. You know, there is a raging debate that he and I have on that on a regular basis. One story I know Ronald Reagan enjoyed but did not, in fact, get from Dana Rohrabacher, I should say for the record, Mr. Speaker, was when we were dealing with one of the most challenging economic times that the United States of America has gone through. It was in the early 1980s.

I was invited on a Saturday afternoon to a small party in Los Angeles. There were about 20 people gathered, and the people gathered were commiserating over the fact that we had at that point an unemployment rate that was well into double digits. We had an inflation rate that was sky high, and interest rates were in excess of 15 percent, and so naturally everyone was focused on this.

President Reagan stood up after lunch and said, The other day, somebody asked me how I was doing, and he said, I've never been better. Well, needless to say, everyone at that lunch looked around like how in the world could he say that. He said the reason I say that is I'm reminded of this huge caravan of farm animals being driven through a countryside, and there is a terrible accident, these animals strewn all over the highway. And the sheriff came roaring up, and he looked to the side of the road and saw a horse with two broken legs, frothing at the mouth. So the sheriff pulled out his gun, put it to the horse's head, and put him out of the misery. And then he looked over and saw a dog, just about the same thing. This dog was shaking like there was no tomorrow, and so he put his gun to the dog's head and put him out of his misery. And then he looked over and saw the driver of one of the vehicles. This driver had at least one leg broken, badly bloodied and banged up, and the sheriff looked at the driver and said, And how are you feeling? And the driver responded by saying, I've never been better. And that, in fact, Mr. Speaker, demonstrated that great sense of optimism and hope that was always there for Ronald Reagan.

Now, his policies are something that are desperately needed today, and I'm so happy to see that as we have now won what would be a Reagan-like majority here in the House, that working together in a bipartisan way, which was a message that former Secretary of the Treasury, former Chief of Staff, former Secretary of State James Baker provided Sunday morning at the Reagan Library, working together in a bipartisan way to deal with our Nation's problems and the problems that we're dealing with around the globe is a very important thing.

And that's why as we look at the economic challenges, it seems to me that following what I like to describe as the Kennedy-Reagan economic model would be a great prescription for us to create jobs and get our economy back on track.

It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that as we look at where it is that we're going, making sure that we have tax rates that encourage job creation and economic growth are important. Thanks to the fact that Japan has just reduced its top rate on job creators, the United States of America today has the highest tax rate on job creators of any country in the world. We have the highest tax rate of any country in the world when it comes to those businesses that are trying to create jobs. We continue to hear and decry the flight of jobs outside of the United States to other parts of the world, and people get into so many other issues. We need to look at our policies that encourage the flight of those jobs outside of the country.

I will tell you that if Ronald Reagan were President of the United States, I have no doubt that he would be championing the notion of reducing that top corporate tax rate, and I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I was very gratified right behind me just 10 days ago President Obama stood here and advocated a reduction of that top rate on those job creators. We know that he has recently, President Obama, read Lou Cannon's book on Ronald Reagan and understands how successful Ronald Reagan was.

Now, I have lots of things that I want to say, but I'm privileged to be joined by four great Californians who are here right now, and so I think that the most appropriate thing for me to do would be to go by both age and seniority. And so I think that my friend Dan Lungren, who has been an inspiration to me as Ronald Reagan was, has joined us, and I mentioned him earlier. He's the distinguished chair of the Committee on House Administration, something that we were never able to do during the Reagan years, that being have the majority, and I know that Ronald Reagan would be very proud to see his friend Dan Lungren in the position that he is today.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to yield to my friend.

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