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Tribute to Margaret Thatcher


Location: Unknown

Mr. President,

I would like to take a moment to pay tribute to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who passed away Monday.

In the 1970s, Britain was mired in debt and even had to go to the IMF for a bailout.

Britain was known then as "The Sick Man of Europe" -- how we think of Greece today.

Governments of both political parties had tried to stimulate the economy through Keynesian spending policies, and government intervention into the economy was widespread.

Britain faced massive strikes in the winter of 1978-79, known as the Winter of Discontent.

There was talk that Britain had become ungovernable.

Then Margaret Thatcher came on the scene.

Her policies of fiscal responsibility and promotion of "free enterprise" completely reversed Britain's economic decline.

Her foreign policy achievements were no less impressive.

This was the era of détente.

Most people accepted that the Soviet Union was strong and successful and was here to stay so we had to learn to live with it.

It was fashionable for political leaders to talk as though the Soviet system was just different, but no better or worse than our own.

Margaret Thatcher had no hesitation in pointing out the truth that the Soviet Union and its satellites held their citizens in bondage and she encouraged dissidents who sought freedom.

In fact, it was a speech in 1976 when she was still just Leader of the Opposition in which she warned about the Soviet military buildup that caused a Soviet army newspaper to coin her nickname the "Iron Lady".

Together with President Reagan, she sought every opportunity to undermine the Soviet system until it collapsed.

If this doesn't sound like a bold position today, it is only because Reagan and Thatcher were proven so profoundly right that everyone now claims to have always agreed.

I should also note that there is a temptation for many people remembering Mrs. Thatcher's legacy to note that she was the first female prime minister of the United Kingdom.

While this is a significant historical fact, to mention it as though it was one of her most important accomplishments comes off as patronizing.

Margaret Thatcher rejected the identity politics that is so popular today.

She said, "I've always believed that what matters in politics, as in the rest of life, isn't who you are or where you come from, but what you believe and what you want to do with your life. What matters are your convictions."

Because of her convictions and because she acted on those convictions, she restored Britain's economy, national spirit, and international reputation.

Millions of people around the world now live in peace and freedom thanks in large part to her efforts.

As a result, Margaret Thatcher is unquestionably one of the most significant leaders of the 20th century.

Mrs. Thatcher's legacy shouldn't simply be relegated to history though.

We have a lot to learn from her today.

As the President submits his overdue budget this week, I would ask my colleagues to ponder this quote by Margaret Thatcher:

"If spending money like water was the answer to our country's problems, we would have no problems now.

If ever a nation has spent, spent, spent and spent again, ours has. Today that dream is over. All of that money has got us nowhere but it still has to come from somewhere.

Those who urge us to relax the squeeze, to spend yet more money indiscriminately in the belief that it will help the unemployed and the small businessman, are not being kind ---- or compassionate ------ or caring.

They are not the friends of the unemployed or the small business.

They are asking us to do again the very thing that caused the problems in the first place."

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