SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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H.R. 3591TO HONOR RONALD AND NANCY REAGAN WITH THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15, 2000
U.S. House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy,
Committee on Banking and Financial Services,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 2:10 p.m., in room 2128, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Spencer Bachus, [chairman of the subcommittee], presiding.
Present: Chairman Bachus; Representatives Weldon, Sherman, and Inslee.
Chairman BACHUS. I would like to make an announcement. We have votes on the floor of the House, so what we are going to do is go and vote and then come back and have the hearing. So I apologize for the delay, but as soon as Congresswoman Dunn and Congressman Gibbons get back, we will start the hearing.
Mr. SHERMAN. Mr. Chairman, I may not be able to come back after the vote. I wonder if I could make a one-minute opening statement.
Chairman BACHUS. That would be fine. Go ahead, and I will let everyone else who needs to go vote, go vote.
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Mr. SHERMAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you for allowing me to make an opening statement. I think that it would be far less controversial and far less partisan if we were here discussing a gold medal not only for Nancy and Ronald Reagan, but also for Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter. And I think that given how controversial Ronald Reagan's Administration was, and continues to be, I would hope that our subcommittee would move forward with a bipartisan bill that would pay honor to a couple, a former President and a former First Lady, that have served this country well, not only in the White House, but also in the years after they left the White House.
And so I know that today's witnesses will be addressing exclusively the Reagan Administration, and I would ask unanimous consent to enter into the record of these hearings information about what President Carter and Rosalyn Carter have done for this country.
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you. I would say this to the Congressman and also to the audience, that in order for our subcommittee to have a hearing on a gold medal, legislation must be introduced, and we normally wait until we have about 250 sponsors. In this case, we have 280-something sponsors.
It is my understanding there has not been gold medal legislation introduced for President and Mrs. Carter. If you will introduce it, I will join with you and co-sponsor it.
Mr. SHERMAN. My hope instead would be that Mr. Gibbons would allow his bill to be amended so that it would be a single bipartisan bill instead of two competing partisan bills.
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Chairman BACHUS. Well, let me say this. This bill doesn't compete with anything. We have always considered the bills separately. I don't know of a case where the Congress has ever had a joint bill.
Mr. SHERMAN. This would be an excellent first opportunity.
Chairman BACHUS. We have considered a bill for Charles Schultz, we have considered bills for Cardinal O'Connor. If there is not a bill up honoring President Carter and Rosalyn Carter, it is because it hasn't been introduced. And as opposed to complaining about this bill going forward without that bill, I would just say to the Congressmanintroduce the bill, get co-sponsors, and we will be back here.
Mr. SHERMAN. Given the partisan nature of our House, I do not think I could get 200 co-sponsors.
Chairman BACHUS. Have you tried?
Mr. SHERMAN. No, but I think that
Chairman BACHUS. Well, at least try, and I will tell you what, if you can only get 190 co-sponsors, come back to meor 180, and we willI mean, let's give it a shot.
Mr. SHERMAN. I would much rather have a single bipartisan bill if this bill
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Chairman BACHUS. Well, I think this is a bipartisan bill. This has several Democrats on it. I had no idea this was a contentious bill, and let's introduce one for President Carter. I will join with you when you introduce it. Let's introduce it. Draw it up. We will drop it in this week.
Thank you. I appreciate your opening statement.
Mr. SHERMAN. That may be one avenue to go. I would prefer one bill.
Chairman BACHUS. Democrats joined with Republicans on this bill. Ask Republicans to join with Democrats on a bill for President Carter. I, for one, tell you that I will join with you. I will help you solicit Members for the bill.
Mr. SHERMAN. I thank the Chairman. I will think on that issue, but I know that one avenue would work very well. I don't know whether the avenue you are suggesting would work well.
Chairman BACHUS. Well, I mean, I think you are basically accusing the Congress of not having a bill for President Carter, when you have never even introduced one.
Mr. SHERMAN. There is no accusation. I am not accusing the Congress of anything. I am simply saying that Ronald Reagan's service to the country was very meritorious, as Nancy Reagan's was, but that this bill would be far more bipartisan in its effect and in its tenure if it dealt with both the Carters and the Reagans. And so it is a suggestion, it is not an attack.
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Chairman BACHUS. I have absolutely no problemthat is what I am sayingwe don't have a problem with hearing a bill. Now, we had a bill for Cardinal O'Connor, we had a bill for Charles Schultz. We are going to consider President Reagan and honor him, and it is hard to honor him without honoring Nancy. It is hard to honor President Carter without honoring Mrs. Carter. And I, for one, am anxious to hold a hearing and have a bill for
Mr. SHERMAN. Again, at this stage I don't know whether it should be one bill or two separate bills, but I certainly admire your
Chairman BACHUS. And I will promise you this. Any technical assistance you need in helping draft the bill, we will do that. You know where you put it in the hopper.
Mr. SHERMAN. I know where the box is.
Chairman BACHUS. OK.
Mr. SHERMAN. And I think that is one avenue. I think at this stage what I am suggesting is one bill for both former Presidents and both former First Ladies.
Chairman BACHUS. I would say this. As opposed to that, I would think that we would want to honor President Carter in a separate hearing and have his own bill. Do you see what I am saying?
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Mr. SHERMAN. I think two hearings, one bill, might be a good way. Obviously, this hearing will go forward and will do, I think, an outstanding job of
Chairman BACHUS. If you will introduce that bill next week, we will have a hearing. As soon as we can find a hearing room, we will have a hearing and we will move that bill out.
Mr. SHERMAN. OK.
Chairman BACHUS. Now, you will want to get witnesses to come and testify.
Mr. SHERMAN. Yes. I know we have a vote. I think it is an interesting idea. It is not one I am ready to embrace immediately just because I can't think that quickly.
Chairman BACHUS. Well, I am just saying that what you are proposing is really what has not been the procedure in this Congress.
Mr. SHERMAN. I understand.
Chairman BACHUS. It is a brand new proposal.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SHERMAN. But it is a wonderful idea.
I know we have to vote.
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you.
We will recess this bipartisan hearing and go vote.
Chairman BACHUS. I will call to order the Monetary Policy Subcommittee.
At this time we are going to have opening statements, and I am going to restrict my opening remarks. What I am going to do is file my full remarks with the subcommittee, but I do want to read an abbreviated statement. It may not appear to be abbreviated when I read it.
Ronald Wilson Reagan became the 40th President of the United States on January 20, 1981. It was a time when America seemed to have lost hope as a result of the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal, the oil crisis, and a failing economy. We were divided, drifting, seemingly void of purpose. Then someone emerged who never doubted us or our destiny. That man, Ronald Reagan, personally embarked on a mission to restore hope in the American Dream.
He set forth two goals: first, revitalize the American economy; and, second, rebuild our military capability and restore our position to world leadership.
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President Reagan stood as an example of a selfless, optimistic, humorous, and visionary leader in the crucible of Washington politics. He gave generously of himself and encouraged all of us not to give up on the American Dream and to dare to believe in it again.
I, for one, have missed his leadership, his confidence in himself and the American people, his humor, and his genuine ''what you see is what you get'' styleno airs and no pretensions. I suspect that a great many of the American people miss these values as well. This is most notably demonstrated in this year's presidential campaign where we see almost every candidate attempting to take up President Ronald Reagan's mantle of conservative leadership in order to gain the favor and support of those who find themselves so drawn to Ronald Reagan and his wish that ''every dawn be a great new beginning for America and every evening bring us closer to that shining city upon a hill.''
Many will remember President Reagan for turning around the American economic machine and leading us, like Moses, out of the barren desert sands of inflation, gas shortages and unemployment. Others will remember him for restoring America to the leadership of the free world and challenging former Soviet President Gorbachev to ''tear down this wall.''
And I might pause right here and say that Mikhail Gorbachev contacted this subcommittee when he heard about the coin bill and has asked to submit his own statement in support of this bill, which I think demonstrates again the contribution of President Reagan to bringing peace to the world, peace through prosperity and strength.
But in the end, President Reagan will be remembered and honored most for his moral courage and his never-yielding dedication to the ideals that have made this country great. If today's historians, looking back at the end of the 20th Century, get it right, they will surely say that Ronald Reagan, more than any other person, helped to restore the American Dream.
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And what was the American Dream for Ronald Reagan? In 1992, President Reagan expressed this in his wish that ''all Americans never forget your heroic origins, never fail to seek divine guidance, and never lose your natural, God-given optimism.''
I must also mention the great strength provided by former First Lady Nancy Reagan, with her constant presence and helping, advising and protecting the President. She became a leader in the anti-drug movement and worked tirelessly to educate the Nation's youth about the harm of drug use. She coined the phrase ''Just Say No,'' which became the guiding phrase of our Nation's drug prevention efforts.
Mrs. Reagan understood that the bully pulpit was a powerful tool in the war on drugs, and our Nation experienced a steady decline in teen drug use throughout the 1980's and early 1990's. Today, as she consoles and strengthens President Reagan in his struggle with Alzheimer's, she has become a symbol of hope for all those who care for a loved one battling disease and illness. Mrs. Reagan is certainly a model of courage for my mother, who must daily care for my father during his own battle with Alzheimer's.
I am now going to skip over my prepared remarks which talk about the economic revival of America under President Reagan and mentions that interest rates were 21 percent, inflation rates were 12.5 percent, and 8 million Americans were out of work. It might not be a good bill to combine with another one.
In conclusion, President Ronald Reagan brought to the presidency a sense of confidence in the American way, restored our pride, and reenergized America's leadership on the international front. Under his leadership, an entire Nation reawakened, confident, optimistic, bold and proud. One historian wrote, ''Reagan does not argue for American ideals, for American values, he embodies them.''
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Chairman BACHUS. At this time, I would like to welcome our first panel, the sponsor of our bill, Representative Jim Gibbons. And I will just say to the audience, since it was brought up, you might mention to them how you chose to honor President Reagan and the fact of how you did that. Jim, I appreciate your hard work on this, and I know it doesn't just happen and I appreciate you bringing your own bill and to attaching it to someone else's.
Representative Gibbons is the primary sponsor of H.R. 3591, the bill to bestow a Congressional Gold Medal to Ronald and Nancy Reagan. He was elected to Congress in 1996 and represents the 2nd District of Nevada. He serves on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and on the House Resources, Armed Services, and Veterans Affairs Committees. Those are actually three committees.
Mr. GIBBONS. Four.
Chairman BACHUS. House Resources, Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, and the Select Committee on Intelligence. So, that is four.
In additionand I think this is sort of key and fitting that you would bring this medal to the Congress, Jimyou have a distinguished military record before coming to Congress as a veteran of both the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. So we appreciate your testimony and your attendance here.
Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn, a friend of mine before I was in Congress, represents the 8th District in the State of Washington, and that is Washington State. She is a Member of the Ways and Means Committee and is one of five Members of Congress on the Congressional Advisory Board for the International Republican Institute that works to promote democracy across the world.
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In 1984, under President Ronald Reagan, Congresswoman Dunn was appointed by the President to serve as a delegate to the 30th United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, held in Vienna. She has also served on two presidential advisory councils.
One of our witnesses on the second panel, Ms. Noonan, tells us that one of your children is named Reagan. So, that is an interesting insight. He is named after President Reagan. We might want to hear about that, Jennifer.
So at this time I welcome you and invite your testimony. Who would like to start?
Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Chairman, I think the good graces of any gentleman would allow a lady to go before him, so I am going to invite Ms. Dunn to do it.
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. JENNIFER DUNN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF WASHINGTON
Ms. DUNN. It reminds me of Ronald Reagan. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Just last month, Ronald Reagan celebrated his 89th birthday. To commemorate this occasion, Jim and I have joined together in introducing legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Ronald and Nancy Reagan. And I must say it is a great pleasure for meand an honor for meto be involved in such a worthwhile effort.
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Together, the President and First Lady selflessly dedicated years of their lives to lifting the American spirit and bettering the quality of life for every single American. I continue to be inspired by President Reagan's ideals of lower taxes, stronger families, limited Government, and peace through strength.
One of my fondest memories of Ronald Reagan takes me back to a cold and dismal October night over 35 years ago. I remember listening to a speech he gave in support of Senator Barry Goldwater's campaign for President of the United States. Ronald Reagan's message was so compelling. He said, ''You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least our children, and our children's children, will say . . . we did all that can be done.''
Although these words were spoken at a time when most of us knew that Senator Goldwater was going down in defeat, his words lifted my spirits, as they did a whole Nation of people, who still remember that speech as the beginning of a great and important political career.
In 1989, I had the opportunity to personally thank him for his contributions to America. That was shortly after the Berlin Wall fell and the land he once declared an ''evil empire'' began finally to dissolve. The fall of the Soviet Union would not have been achieved had it not been for Ronald Reagan's insistence on a strong military. During his tenure in office, he boosted the morale of our military personnel by providing them with the equipment, training, and support they needed to be successful. By restoring our national defense, he protected democracy and he rebuilt national pride.
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President Reagan's policies helped lift us out of the malaise of the Carter years, when interest rates, as you said, Mr. Chairman, were in the 20 percent range, when unemployment was at record highs, and inflation reached the double digits. The economy recovered, and more Americans were working than ever before. President Reagan believed that cutting tax rates would increase, not shrink, Federal tax revenues, and he was right. In 1981, he worked with the Congress in a bipartisan manner to turn his belief into law.
The unprecedented economic prosperity America is now experiencing is due in no small part to the idealistic spirit and the anchored beliefs that Ronald Reagan brought to his agenda as our President. Today, that historic bipartisan effort continues to be recognized as a defining achievement that fostered economic growth and human ingenuity to raise the quality of life in America.
Though he has withdrawn from public life, we will never forget his great achievements. They are evident all around us, and now is the right time for America to say ''thank you.'' Some people have thanked him by naming airports, schools and buildings after him. I have a son who is proud to carry his name. And here in Congress, we can begin by awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to our former President and his loyal First Lady who shared his burdens and his joys, Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you, Congresswoman Dunn. That was very well done, thank you, and I can tell heart-felt. Anyone that names her baby boy Reagan has got to be a supporter of President Reagan.
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STATEMENT OF HON. JIM GIBBONS, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEVADA
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you again for allowing us to be here today to present this bill which is going to authorize the Congressional Gold Medal to Ronald and Nancy Reagan. I want to thank you and the Members of this subcommittee for holding this hearing today to discuss the historic legacy of former President and First Lady Ronald and Nancy Reagan. It is a true honor for me to be here to appear today before you with my colleague, Jennifer Dunn, from Washington, who has been an absolute first-rate colleague to help pursue and ensure the passage of this very important piece of legislation.
It is also an honor for me to be here in the distinguished company of the panel of witnesses that are also going to be testifying on this bill for Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan from the Reagan Administration as well.
But, first, Mr. Chairman, let me ask that the unanimous consent of the subcommittee that I be permitted to enter into the record the written statement of former U.S. Senator Paul Laxalt, from Nevada, who unfortunately could not be here today. But he was indeed a leader in the U.S. Senate during the Reagan Administration and one of the close friends of Ronald Reagan.
And it was by virtue of his friendship with Ronald Reagan which developed while they were elected and serving as Governors of adjoining StatesLaxalt was the Governor of the State of Nevada and Ronald Reagan was the Governor of California in the 1960'sthat Senator Laxalt served as the President's eyes and ears on Capitol Hill and was often referred to as the ''First Friend'' of the Reagans.
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Unfortunately, the Senator could not be here today to testify, but he wanted his remarks included in the record.
Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Chairman, the Reagans have dedicated their lives to promoting national pride and bettering the quality of life in America. In recognition of their distinguished record of service to the United States, I, along with my colleague Jennifer Dunn, have introduced H.R. 3591, a bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
President Reagan began his public life as a successful Hollywood actor before running for elected office. He then served two terms as Governor of California, where he was dedicated to encouraging and promoting economic expansion and recognizing the value of hard work. These ideals, as well as his belief that everyone can rise as high and as far as their ability will take them, became the pillars of his presidency.
As President of the United States, Ronald Reagan successfully turned the tide of public cynicism and sparked national renewal. During his eight years in office, he succeeded in stimulating economic growth, increasing employment, curbing inflation, and strengthening our national defense. Additionally, President Reagan inspired hope and pride in the hearts of millions of Americans, particularly among young people, by restoring the belief in the American Dream.
As former Attorney General Edwin Meese once eloquently stated, and I quote: ''President Reagan had faith in the good conscience and the good motives of people themselves. He challenged people as individuals, and as citizens working in community groups, to take more responsibility for their own lives.''
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Under President Reagan's leadership, monumental international changes also took place. Ronald Reagan was instrumental in uniting a divided Berlin, as well as a divided world, by bringing about an end to the Cold War. These events established the U.S. as the sole world superpower, a title which we still proudly claim today.
Mr. Chairman, standing by the side of the President was his wife, Nancy. Not only did she serve as a gracious First Lady, but also as a distinguished leader in her own right. Mrs. Reagan first became known for her commitment to community service during her husband's tenure as Governor of California. She regularly made visits to hospitals and homes for the elderly, as well as to schools for physically and emotionally handicapped children.
As First Lady of the United States, Mrs. Reagan had the opportunity to expand her public service nationally. Perhaps her most notable and longest-lasting achievement was her campaign against substance abuse. She tirelessly traveled throughout the country promoting her ''Just Say No'' campaign, a project aimed at preventing alcohol and drug use among our Nation's youth.
And even today Mrs. Reagan continues to be an active public leader. She has become a champion for increasing funding for research on Alzheimer's disease, the debilitating illness that her husband, our former President, now deals with every day. Mrs. Reagan has become a role model to all caregivers of Alzheimer's patients.
Mr. Chairman, the Reagans have dedicated much of their lives to our Nation. Their leadership and service extended well beyond President Reagan's tenure in office. I strongly believe that the Congressional Gold Medal would be a fitting tribute to their dedication and commitment to public service.
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Finally, I would like to thank the subcommittee for the opportunity to share my thoughts on this issue, and I would like to thank the many Members of Congress, and especially my colleague Jennifer Dunn, for supporting H.R. 3591 which will award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Reagans.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you. I appreciate your attendance, and we will dismiss you all at this time and we will ask
Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman?
Chairman BACHUS. Yes?
Mr. INSLEE. Could I just welcome the witnesses briefly?
Chairman BACHUS. Oh, yes, I am sorry. The gentleman from Washington.
Mr. INSLEE. I don't have too much to add, but I just wanted to welcome the gentlelady from Washington, and I hope you will say hello to Reagan, who works with that great Washington State law firm, Inslee Best.
Ms. DUNN. My son is a lawyer and he works for a firm called Inslee Best, and it is Jay Inslee's uncle.
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He is very good, Jay. Tell your uncle.
Mr. INSLEE. Thank you.
Chairman BACHUS. Is that any connection with your family or is that just
Mr. INSLEE. That is immaterial, Mr. Chairman. He is my uncle and he is a great lawyer.
Chairman BACHUS. We welcome you. Thank you.
I would like to ask if our staff will assist the second panel in coming up. We have a very distinguished second panel, and let me say that we chose ten people that we felt like could best testify concerning President Reagan and Mrs. Reagan. All ten accepted our invitation, but we had to select a date, and this date was selected, and it was such short notice of about a week-and-a-half, and it was selected because we had the most number of people that could attend today. So we have got a very distinguished panel and we welcome you.
I want to introduce this panel from left to right. The first gentleman is the Honorable Caspar Weinberger, whom I call ''Cap'' Weinberger. Caspar Weinberger is a longtime public service official who has served under Presidents Reagan, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon. I guess I should say Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, would be more accurate.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC He served as President Reagan's Secretary of Defense from 1981 to 1987, and President Reagan also appointed him to serve on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the National Economic Commission. During his tenure, Secretary Weinberger played a leading role in shaping the direction of policy regarding Russia and in the development of NASA. Currently, he is chairman and a columnist at Forbes Magazine.
Secretary Weinberger, we very much welcome you to this hearing today.
Mr. Weinberger. Thank you very much, sir.
Chairman BACHUS. All of these panelists need no introduction, but we will introduce them anyway.
The second panelist is the Honorable Jeane Kirkpatrick. Ms. Kirkpatrick was a member of President Ronald Reagan's National Security Council and served as his Ambassador to the United Nations. She has an in-depth understanding of President Reagan's foreign policy and is familiar with his role in the defeat of communism.
She is now the Leavey Professor at Georgetown University, and Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Ms. Kirkpatrick received the Medal of Freedom, the French Prize Politique for political courage, and two Distinguished Public Service Medals.
Ms. Kirkpatrick, I have heard you speak on many occasions and am one of your many fans. When you visited Alabama back before I was even in politics, I heard you make speeches and you were very inspiring to me.
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Ms. Peggy Noonan was a Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan from 1984 to 1986. In 1988, she served as chief speechwriter for Vice President George Bush's presidential campaign. She is the author of numerous books, including the bestseller ''What I Saw at the Revolution,'' and is now living in New York working as an author and essayist.
We are especially pleased to have you, Ms. Noonan.
Our last panelist is Martin Anderson. Martin Anderson is a former member of Ronald Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board. He served from 1982 to 1989. He served on the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1982 to 1985, and the General Advisory Committee on Arms Control from 1987 to 1993. He was a trustee for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation from 1985 to 1992, and served as senior policy advisor for President Reagan's campaigns in 1976 and 1980. Martin Anderson has also written a biography on President Reagan entitled ''Revolution.''
At this time, I would like for the panelists to give an opening statement, if they would like.
STATEMENT OF HON. CASPAR WEINBERGER, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, 19811987
Mr. WEINBERGER. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much indeed for your very generous introduction and for the honor of appearing before you on this important and most welcome bill.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have a few notes here and I would be glad to try to respond to questions, if there are any. I thought I would talk about two aspects of President Reagan's Administration: fiscal, because this is the Banking Committee; and also with respect to some of the accomplishments in the national security field, with which I was also generally familiar.
I think that the important thing to me about President Reagan was that he was always willing and ready to challenge the conventional wisdom. He always took the basic position that it perhaps was not all that wise, just because it was conventional and accepted, and in doing that he uncovered a great many truths and launched his Administration, both in California as Governor and in Washington as President, in new directions which served the country extraordinarily well.
He had many bold, new ideas. I remember one particularly in California where he sponsored a constitutional amendment that would have limited the amount of funding that the State could take, the amount of taxes that could be imposed. He also was very anxious to cut taxes whenever he could, because he recognized the relationship between high taxation and loss of personal freedom that always would go with it.
He was also, if required, not willing to be ideologically rigid about these things, and when the California constitution required that the budget be balanced, as it did, and he inherited an enormous State deficit, enormous for those days, he did not hesitate to impose taxes, but he also was very anxious that as soon as they started producing the balance that was required that those taxes then should be cut.
He told me many times that the Government is not in business to earn a surplus. If the Government is earning a surplus, the taxes are too high and we should give them back. That was a very novel idea at the time and it is one that I think has come to be much more generally accepted.
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He also was very early to recognize that if you cut taxes, you are much more likely to get more revenue, and that indeed has happened and that is one of the things that has laid the foundation, I think, for the years of prosperity since he was in office.
It is also generally forgotten that President Reagan submitted eight budgets initially that were either in or very close to balance. They were not enacted, for various partisan and other reasons, but his instincts were to keep the expenditures as low as possible so that taxes would not be unnecessarily high. And he never believed in raising the taxes just to balance the budget unless, as I said, he was required to do so by the constitution in California. He repeatedly said that taxes would, if cut, produce more revenue, and indeed they did, because of the enormous increase in prosperity that came with the tax reductions once they were fully implemented here.
On the national security side, he was perfectly willing to spend whatever was necessary to recover the deterrent capability, the deterrent military strength of the United States, which had been severely eroded during the years of his predecessor. We took office at a time when there was a very large numerical advantage in the Soviet Union with almost all forms of weaponry.
And with the differences in political situations which he recognized, it was extremely easy for four, five, six men in the Kremlin to decide whatever was going to be spent on the military, without any problems with public opinion or any kind of opposition. And that alone gave the Soviet Union an enormous military potential advantage. And he was willing to go against the conventional wisdom, against the grain of people in democracies who basically don't like to spend money on defense to request and push through with his remarkable advocacy the amounts that were necessary to regain for the United States the capability of deterring Soviet aggression.
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He strengthened and deepened our alliances, recognizing that we needed all the help that we could in the war against communism. And even more important than that, and I think pretty much completely responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall, was his insistence on the fact that the Cold War did not mean containment, it didn't mean coexistence, it didn't mean that there was going to be a gradual convergence of the two systems; that the Cold War had to be won.
And when that determination was made, which basically changed the whole direction of the post-World War II policies, then we proceeded to do just that and to win the Cold War. And I think again it was very largely President Reagan's determination, his willingness to take what had always been perceived as politically unpopular or even impossible measures to secure that kind of military strength which indeed contribute so strongly to the winning of the Cold War.
These are just a few of the reasons, Mr. Chairman, why I think this bill is not only very welcome, very timely, but an extremely important thing to be passed so that the American people can see that examples of statesmanship and citizenship of the kind that the President exemplified will indeed be recognized and honored by his country.
So I appreciate very much the opportunity to be with you. I appreciate the invitation, and particularly the fact that a bill such as this has been introduced. Thank you very much, sir.
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. Kirkpatrick.
STATEMENT OF HON. JEANE J. KIRKPATRICK,
U.S. PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE
UNITED NATIONS, 19811985
Ms. KIRKPATRICK. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for inviting me and offering me the opportunity to testify in these important and timely hearings on this bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Ronald and Nancy Reagan. The contributions of President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan to the United States have, in my judgment, been many and very important.
I am especially pleased, if I may so comment, that Congress is considering Mrs. Reagan, awarding this honor in which she participates fully. I believe her contributions have been large and deserving of recognition. For eight years, as First Lady of our land, Nancy Reagan stood side-by-side with President Reagan, encouraging, supporting and helping him in his great endeavors on behalf of our country. Her dedication and grace in this role were outstanding and, of course, uncompensated.
Never self-important or presumptuous, always supportive of the President in his duties, she contributed mightily to the well-being of the United States during those eight long White House years, and ever since, especially more recently as principal guardian of the Reagan legacy.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ronald Reagan was a ''conviction politician'' whose views about how the United States should respond to the problems with which we were confronted were bold and differed significantly from those of his predecessors in both parties. His views and policies differed perhaps most sharply from those of his immediate predecessor, President Carter, but also with policies of detente designed by earlier predecessors.
He deeply disapproved the defeatist attitudes and policies of the Carter Administration and predecessors, especially in its passive acceptance of American decline. He described his views of this period in his autobiography, and I quote: ''During the late 1070's, I felt our country had begun to abdicate [its] historical role as spiritual leader of the Free World and its foremost defender of democracy . . . Just as it had accepted the notion that America was past its prime economically and said our people would have to settle for a future with less, the previous Administration had accepted the notion that America had become powerless to shape world events. It seemed to accept as inevitable the advance of Soviet expansionism, especially in the poor and underdeveloped countries of the world . . . Whatever the reasons, I believed it was senseless, ill-founded, and dangerous for America to withdraw from its role as superpower and leader of the Free World.''
Long before his inauguration as President, Ronald Reagan had concluded that Soviet leaders intended to continue their aggressive policies, and he had expressed these views again and again. His views of America's destiny and how the world worked made it impossible for him to accept the idea of a preordained socialist victory.
Ronald Reagan had grown to manhood in a small Midwestern town, Dixon, Illinois. Out of a hard life, he forged a philosophy of confidence and optimism. Long before he reached the White House, he had concluded that free individuals were the source of creativity and progress in society and the economy, and that Government regulation inhibited creativity, while free markets and free societies stimulated imagination, invention and effort. He believed that the freedom, individualism, work, responsibility and reward characteristic of America stimulated effort, while taxes and the growth of Government discouraged imagination and work and growth.
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These beliefs were the foundation of his firm conviction that Soviet socialism would ultimately fail because it relied on bureaucracy, regulation and force rather than on freedom and private property and individualism. The United States should serve, and would serve, as a ''shining city on a hill'' because its institutions liberated individual potential.
But Ronald Reagan also believed that freedom had to be explained and defended, and that America must be strong enough to preserve freedom against all challengers. By the time he was inaugurated as President, Ronald Reagan understood the Soviet economy was in decline and threatened with collapse, and that the standard of living in the Soviet bloc was deteriorating. This understanding became the basis of his conviction that, and I quote: ''The Russians could never win the arms race; we could outspend them forever. We could also maintain technological superiority.''
Although he knew this, he had also watched with dismay the accelerating expansion of the Soviet Union. He watched as independent governments were subverted and civil wars were instigated, and he thought about what to do about it. And the more he thought, the more convinced he was that it was necessary for the United States to undertake a broad offensive to change the direction of history.
He knew the signs of resistance to advancing Soviet power were present in some of the countries which were being conquered by the Soviet Union, and he was determined to resist further Soviet expansion. He had already decided about how, what was necessary to do.
He wrote, ''As the foundation of my foreign policy, I decided that we had to send as powerful a message as we could to the Russians that we weren't going to stand by anymore while they armed and financed terrorists and subverted democratic governments. Our policy was to be based on strength and realism. I wanted peace through strength, not peace based on a piece of paper.''
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And, of course, he worked with his good friend and long-term associate, Caspar Weinberger, and others to modernize and build American military strength and to restore some parity in Europe between Soviet strength and Western strengths. And they made, working together, dramatic progress.
Now, of course, Ronald Reagan did not win the Cold War alone, but he contributed mightily. I believe he created the final context, forced the basic questions, adopted the policies, and kept the pressure on a process that might have neither begun nor continued without him. Convinced that peace could be built only on strength, he launched a massive military buildupthat was his own descriptionand ended Western Europe's vulnerability with the employment of Pershing and Cruise missiles to defend NATO's undefended capital cities.
He challenged the loyalties and affiliations of the people in the Soviet empirethat was bold and daringby refusing to treat the Brezhnev Doctrine as international law or to accept Soviet interpretations of human rights as legitimate; by insisting that the Soviet Union's behavior be judged by ordinary standards instead of by some imaginary laws of history; by cutting off the flow of credit and advanced technology to the Soviet Union and associated states; by making clear, especially with the SDI proposal, that the United States would use its technological advantage in the arms race. He used all the legal tools, short of war, to compete with a still advancing, expanding Soviet monolith.
I believe that President Reagan's policies and his success began from his own deep moral and political disapproval of the Soviet use of power, and his determined effort to stop the Soviet advance wherever it was advancing on five continents.
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President Reagan and his Administration did not have a plan to defeat the Soviet Union; he had many plans and much determination. And at every stage in his effort to turn back Soviet advances and end the Cold War, help came and solidarity came from known and unknown friends and dissidents inside the Soviet Union. And sometimes opposition came from Western liberals, many of whom had made very different predictions about the Soviet future and Western future.
Mr. Chairman, I was much struck by a comment about President Reagan and his legacy made by his good friend, who was then Prime Minister of Great Britain, when she said, and I quote: ''You have done the greatest possible service, not only to your own people, but to free people everywhere. You have restored faith in the American Dream, a dream of boundless opportunity built on enterprise, individual effort, and personal generosity. When we compare the mood of confidence and opportunity in the West today with the mood when you took office in 1980, we know that a greater change has taken place than ever we could have imagined.'' I believe that that is literally true, that he oversaw a greater change in the direction of our times and in building our future than we ever could have imagined.
I congratulate the subcommittee and the sponsors of this bill for proposing the bill and undertaking these hearings. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you, and you mentioned First Lady Nancy Reagan. I personally have not seen the President since his speech here in 1994, in my first term of office, and still remember that. But, you know, she has kept us in communication and we feel like we have kept up with the President through Mrs. Reagan. And in doing that, she has performed, I think, a valuable service to those of us who grew up and still idolize President Ronald Reagan and members of his Administration. So I thank you.
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Ms. KIRKPATRICK. I think her contribution is very great, as I hope I made clear.
Chairman BACHUS. Yes, thank you.
Ms. Noonan, I like the title of your book. That is a neat title.
STATEMENT OF PEGGY NOONAN, SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT, 19841986
Ms. NOONAN. ''Character Above All.''
Mr. Chairman, thank you so much. I am very grateful for your invitation to address the question of whether former President Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Reagan should be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. My answer is an emphatic ''yes.'' The reason: this medal is the highest civilian honor it is within the power of the Congress to bestow, and President and Mrs. Reagan are certainly deserving of the very highest and most august you have.
Ronald Reagan was and is, in my view, a great man, and this is still in one way, I think, somewhat puzzling for some people. We often think of Lord Acton, of England, who said long ago ''No great men are good men'', and Ronald Reagan was famously good. He was kind-hearted, generous. He was wholly lacking in malice as an individual. He was lacking in hardness. He was tough, but he wasn't hard. He was very funny. People tend to think of his wit as part of his sweetness, but I always thought his wit had a mordant edge, and that it suggests a deep, but not at all sad, knowingness about human nature.
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It was, in fact, I think, Ronald Reagan's goodness, his deep river of character that seems to me the biggest and most important thing about him, both in his private life and in his public life. It was, when it comes to Reagan and his presidency, character above all; it was everything in his leadership.
His character seems to me to beI think one can generalize it down to two very great and important virtues. The first, I believe, was his courage. Ronald Reagan, as both of those who have testified before meas Cap and Jeane have saidRonald Reagan swam hard against the tide, and every stroke he took cost him something. He was swimming the wrong way, if you will. In the 1950's and 1960's, the world was going left and he was going right. America was becoming liberal. Ronald Reagan was becoming more and more conservative.
This cost him; it hurt him in Hollywood, it hurt him when he entered politics. It hurt him running for the presidency in 1976, when members of his own party called him extreme and out of the mainstream. It hurt him in this great city and in these great walls. He was called, for instance, I vividly remember, in 1980 ''the nuclear cowboy,'' and that wasn't just the Soviets who were calling him ''the nuclear cowboy.''
Ronald Reagan's foes did not understand that Reagan, appalled by the capacity of nuclear weapons, appalled by the fact that modern war now targeted civilians, appalled by the fact that no one had any protection against nuclear weapons, no country didit was Ronald Reagan who would force the Soviets within an inch of accepting a doing away with all nuclear weapons, ironically enough. He would have said, ''I agree it wasn't ironic at all.'' He thought you couldn't do it through kisses, though. As Jeane Kirkpatrick said, you had to do it through strength. So he had courage and he kept swimming, and at the end he brought us all to a safe and common shore.
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The second great virtue of his character, of his personal and political character, was that it was marked to a truly unusual degree, I believe, by a love of and a respect for something that he thought was real as a rock, and that is the truth. He thought the truth was a real thing. He thought truth in itself was constructive. He thought that speaking the simple truth, and sometimes the complex truth, made the world, just for having spoken the truth, a better place. Speaking truth allowed good things to happen. It was helpful.
I used to think of it now and then when I was working for Mr. Reagan. It was said of Richard Nixon that he did not always think that honesty was the best policy, but he did think it was a policy. For Ronald Reagan, honesty and candor were really the only way to go. Honesty was the policy, period.
He thought the truth was helpful, that it held promise. And because of this, he would not be deterred from speaking truth to power. That is an old 1970's radical phrase, but Ronald Reagan thought he was speaking truth to power as a conservative. And he would not allow himself to be deterred by pollsters, by pols, by his critics within and without this great House, by reporters and columnists and newspaper poets and political partisans.
And so he spoke the truth. He called inflation a thief, he called high taxes confiscatory, and he called the locus of evil in the modern world the locus of evil in the modern world. So that was what I think his leadership was made of, great courage and truthfulness.
And, of course, look at what he yielded, for his work to this day is all around us. He launched the greatest prosperity ever known to man, and he contributed so greatly and profoundly to a spread of freedom in this century.
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I happen to keep in my home, in my small office at my home, two things from Ronald Reagan's great era and they say to me what you need to know about Ronald Reagan's great work. One is a New York Times headline. It is a banner headline from one end of this broad sheet to the other. It is beige with age now and it is in a black metal frame that is about 5 inches tall and 15 inches long. It is the New York Times headline of August 25, 1991. It says, quote: ''Gorbachev Quits as Party Head, Ends Communism's 74-Year Reign.''
I got that off the wall just the other day and put it on my lap so that I could type this out, and just looking at it again and writing those words actually gave me a chill, ''Ends Communism's 74-Year Reign.'' And what went into the making of those five words? Ronald Reagan wrote those words as much as any man in human history.
The other thing I keep on the wall of my office is a story from a newspaper. It was the 1980's, I think about 1986 or 1987. I didn't keep the date on it. The paper is the Times, but I am not sure which Times. The headline says, quote: ''Reagan Talks Hailed in Gulag.'' The storyit is a newspapersays: ''The Soviet dissident Anatoly Sharansky told President Reagan during a White House meeting today that the President's hard-line anti-communism speeches were so popular with the inmates of Soviet forced labor camps that pieces of news about them were secretly communicated from cell to cell. Sharansky said that the prisoners of the gulag would learn of Reagan's declarations through accounts in the Soviet press that were intended to, quote: 'inflame' the citizens of Russia. But Sharansky said the news had the opposite effect among the prisoners of the gulag, and as Sharansky said, quote: 'the news of what Reagan said was passed from prisoner to prisoner, despite rules against such activity.' '' He said, quote: 'there are ways of communicating in the cells, even the punishment cells.' ''
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I think part of what Sharansky was saying is that when you are a prisoner, when you have lost your freedom and when bad people have taken it from you, you really get hungry and thirst for truth. You get a sharp appreciation for how constructive the truth can be and how the truth can give us heart.
Ronald Reagan was a good man. He was big, he was a strong man, and he was a very decent one. And in this time, twenty years from the time when he first walked into the White House, in a time that some have called less exalted, a time of some political rancor, of course, I think it is a good thing for all of us to remember Ronald Reagan and what he did. I think it is good for us as citizens to look back at his time and how he shaped it, because I think it leaves us a little bit less full of cynicism and I think a little more full of hopefulness and even inspiration.
After all, cynicism really does sour our political life. It leaches our political system of love and energy, and it can even dull our love for democracy. And so I happen to think that a sense of cynicism and sourness can actually leave us weaker as a people and less vibrant in ways we don't fully understand.
But it is good for us as citizens, as members of the body politic, to, in honoring Ronald Reagan, remember how inspiring it was when a great gentleman whose love for America was never in doubt, a great gentleman whose dignity was such that he heightened us by the manner in which he carried out his office, when that great gentleman was our great President.
I will end with one thought that you might hear referred to today. Much is always made of this. I am going to refer to the day Ronald Reagan was shot, a day all of us remember. Now, we know, as we did not then, that it was also the day that Ronald Reagan almost died. He walked into the hospital. He tried to walk in on his own, then his legs buckled. He was caught, he was carried in and put on a gurney. Pretty soon, he was taken into an operating room, and Reagan famously started telling his jokes, one of which was he actually did look up at his doctors from the operating table and say, quote: ''I just hope you are Republicans.''
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It is always interesting to me, not so much that Reagan said that as what Reagan's surgeon said in response. He looked down at the President and he said, ''Today, Mr. President, we are all Republicans.'' It was a lovely moment when grace met grace. Such is the power of good men to unite us. I can tell you, because I remember, that the day John Kennedy died, we were all Democrats, just as the day Ronald Reagan was shot, we were all Republicans.
As for Mrs. Reagan, I am going to limit my remarks to what I think she would say. I think she would say modestly to a friend, ''Well, I was there and I helped him.'' Indeed, she did. I think it can be said that there was no ''him'' without ''her.'' She was the person who kept him going, who protected him, who made sure he wasn't ragged around too much or overburdened, who made him happy. He lit up, as we all know, every time she entered the room. The Reagans, it seems to me, were like the Thatchers. Mr. Thatcher helped Mrs. Thatcher be there and ready and able and capable. There was no ''her'' without ''him.'' I think of the Reagans; you can say there was no ''him'' without ''her.''
Now, Mrs. Reagan is caring for President Reagan still, and protecting him still, as they share advancing age and his illness, in that house out in California on St. Cloud Way. And I would ask you to give them this good thing that you have proposed, and that in the giving of it we will say more about what we honor, and so who we still are, than it does about him. Ronald Reagan doesn't really need the honors. He knows who he was and what he did, but maybe we need to give these honors.
I thank you very kindly for allowing me to speak to you today in support of this, and also I thank you for the honor of appearing before all of you and appearing with these good people here at this table, my former colleagues.
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Chairman BACHUS. Thank you, and the honor is ours to have you all.
STATEMENT OF MARTIN ANDERSON, ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT, 19811982
Mr. ANDERSON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You have just heard five very powerful statements, and I will try to abbreviate my remarks somewhat and not try to repeat too many of the things that were said.
Chairman BACHUS. We are enjoying it so much, I wish you would repeat some of them.
Mr. ANDERSON. OK. I think I know Ronald and Nancy Reagan pretty well. I traveled with them in both the campaign of 1976 and 1980. I traveled with both of them, served with them in the White House, and then served for five years while we were building the library out in California.
What I would like to do this afternoon is let's go forward in time one-hundred years, to the year 2100. By that time, the political dust of the 20th Century will be well settled. And let's make believe we are historians, professors at Harvard and Yale and Princeton and Stanford, and see what they would think when they look back at this point in history.
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I think their basic conclusion will be that Ronald Reagan was one of the greatest of all American presidents. And I think by that time they will only be writing of three different things. First, and perhaps the least important of the three things they will write about, will be the economic marvel of the last twenty years of the 20th Century, the greatest economic expansion ever seen up to that time.
They will write of how his comprehensive economic program of spending controls, deep tax cuts, regulatory reform, and a stable, predictable monetary policy ignited what economists today are beginning to call, quote: ''the long boom.'' They will also note that his economic policies did not accomplish this alone. The dramatic computer evolution and the fading away of nuclear war contributed mightily.
But it was his economic policies which he fought for and won against tremendous opposition that were a necessary and vital part of the economic expansion which created tens of millions of new jobs and drove the Dow market averages from 1,000 to over 10,000.
I think the historians will write of a second accomplishment even more important than prosperity. They will write that Reagan won the Cold War with the former Soviet Union, and ended the threat of an all-out nuclear war that could have annihilated mankind. They will write that while he was President, we began the slow and painful task of dismantling missiles tipped with nuclear bombs.
And then third, the historians will write of his most important accomplishment of all. They will write that he led the final battle that defeated Marxism and killed the very idea of communism. They will marvel at that victory. They will write how evil communism dictatorships around the world toppled like dead, hollow trees in the high winds of freedom. They will write of how hundreds of millions of men and women were freed, how the statist-socialist tide was turned, and how liberty went on a roll.
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They will call this the Reagan Revolution, not because Reagan somehow did it by himself, but, because he was the political leader of the free world when it happened. In fact, Ronald Reagan would be the first to insist that, hey, it was not his alone, it was not his revolution, and that is one more reason why we honor him.
He would insist that those historic victories came from the efforts of tens of thousands of men and women, both Democrats and Republicans, who fought the tyranny of communism and who won, and some of them are in this room today.
No, Ronald Reagan did not create the intellectual-political revolution that swept the world in the 1980's and still rolls on as we enter the 21st Century. But Reagan was the political leader; he was its prime mover, he was the driving force. And even he was surprised at how much had been accomplished in so short a time. As he said in his farewell address to the Nation on January 11, 1989, before he headed back to his beloved ranch in the mountains of California, quote: ''Once you begin a great movement, there's no telling where it'll end. We meant to change a Nation and instead we changed a world.''
And Ronald Reagan was not alone when he accomplished what he did. He had a special person with him every step of the way, a close partner who not only helped make it all possible, but was essential to making it all happen. That was Nancy Reagan. She was his trusted counselor, someone with superb judgment on policy and people, a rock of support, a loving wife.
She was by his side on the plane and in the hotel rooms on the campaign trail, every single day in the White House, and every single day now as the President slowly succumbs to the ravages of Alzheimer's disease. They both earned the Congressional Gold Medal, they both deserve it.
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But then I think there is something that those historians one-hundred years from now probably won't write about, and maybe they won't even mention it or understand it. They will write of his policies and his accomplishments, and the times he succeeded and the times he stumbled and fell, but I don't think they will understand his soul.
They won't write of his love of liberty, his sense of justice, his belief in God. They won't write of his feelings of his benevolence, of his respect and liking for his fellow men. They won't write of his zest for fun and adventure, of his keen and deep intelligence. They won't write of his writings, or how he could craft a beautiful paragraph or even a poem, or sometimes even draw a picture.
And most of all, the historians won't write of what made possible all that he didhis courage, his toughness, and his will to stay with his beliefs, to never waiver, to never, never give up, no matter what the odds or what the defeat. Those are things that are the essence of Ronald Reagan. In fact, I think they are the essence of all the great political leaders of this country, from the very first recipient of this medal, George Washington, right on down to today.
As you know, without the courage to plunge in where ordinary men and women fear to go, to throw aside private careers, to forego fortune, to risk the slings of slander of self and family, to nakedly face the hot glare of public scrutinywithout all that, all the good ideas and the good intentions go for naught. Without the toughness to fight the draining daily battles of political warfare, nothing is accomplished.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of Ronald Reagan's favorite lines of poetry was by John Dryden, who wrote of a warrior who, wounded, only asked, quote: '' . . . lay me down for to bleed awhile, then I'll rise and fight with you again.'' That is the spirit that transcends Ronald Reagan. It is the spirit that is possessed by all the political warriors who fought the battles that led to the victory of capitalism over communism. Today, the man and the woman who embody that spirit more than anyone else in the world are Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you.
Let me say on a personal note that I can't imagine having a better panel than we have had today, and your testimony. You have really been an inspiration today as I have heard you speak, reliving those exciting days.
I have read something I didn't know until preparing for this hearing, that Ronald Reagan was our oldest President when he was elected. And, you know, that is, for his energy and everything, just an amazing fact. It argues that we ought to start electing older, wiser, more energetic presidents.
At this time, I am going to yield to a Republican doctor from Florida, Dr. Weldon, for questions.
Dr. WELDON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and let me thank you for calling this hearing. I certainly want to commend the gentlelady from Washington and the gentleman from Nevada for introducing this piece of legislation. I think it is extremely timely.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Certainly, as well, I want to share that I have been delighted, and really it is a true honor for me to be here with this panel. I was a medical student at the time that Ronald Reagan was running for President. I was trying to live on $470 a month. I had a health profession scholarship from the U.S. Army. Mr. Weinberger, you may be vaguely familiar with that program, though it began, I think, during the Nixon Administration.
But it was a slim amount of money. My wife was still finishing her undergraduate degree, and I remember what it was like to have the price of milk go up 10 cents a quart over a month's period of time. I remember what it was like. There was no job creation going on, and Ronald Reagan really did provide hope. I was delighted to vote for him. He seemed to have a new attitude and new vision, which obviously now through the lens of the retrospectoscope has proven to be invaluable to not only the course of our Nation, but as well to the future of the world.
One of the things that I have been concerned about over time is the treatment that Ronald Reagan will receive from the historians of our Nation. Having taken many history courses in college, I became acutely aware that the vast majority of historians were liberals and thus predisposed to reinterpret reality to fit their particular political agenda.
But I frankly have been pleasantly surprised at the recent news coverage regarding what happened last month where we had 107 consecutive months of an economic expansion and the number of newspapers that actually accurately attribute this to the reforms put in place by Ronald Reagan back in the early 1980's, particularly his tax policies.
And I was hoping to get some perspective, particularly from Jeane Kirkpatrick on this particular issue, but I would be delighted to hear what the rest of you have to say, on the treatment he has received up to this point and is going to receive from historians.
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I was very pleased, Peggy Noonan, that you spoke about the power of words and speaking the truth. I, too, had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Sharansky about his experiences in the gulag, and I think it was William F. Buckley who said that when Ronald Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as the ''evil empire,'' it did more than one entire year of defense spending.
I think that is a little bit of hyperbole. I think calling it the evil empire and having all of that defense spending linked to it was critical, because I personally believe people like dictators only understand power. But when you couple power with wordsI realize I have brought up a whole bunch of subjects, but I would be very delighted to hear your comments on what I was talking about.
So maybe, Mr. Weinberger, you would like to comment first.
Mr. WEINBERGER. Well, I certainly appreciate the opportunity, doctor. The economic recovery that I think started within less than a year after the President forced the tax cuts through was an economic recovery that he had always predicted. It was an economic recovery that was based upon the realization that now, with a tax reduction policy in effect, with more and more of the fruits of individuals' earnings going to be allowed to be kept by them and invested, it was a good time now to start the necessary type of investment that produces jobs and produces prosperity.
And so I attribute a very great deal of the long-running prosperity to the ability of the President and the willingness of the President to force through tax cuts. It is very hard to recall now what a revolutionary thing that was at that time, because up to that time, it was a matter of what sort of rate of increase was going to be voted, as opposed to actually returning it.
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The President started this in California when we did have the increase that was required by the California constitution. And when that produced the necessary revenue, then as finance director at that time, I reported to him that we did have this surplus coming in now and that we should decide what to do with it, because the legislature very shortly would have a lot of other ideas as to what they would do, which would expand the spending base, and so on, in the future.
And the President, without the slightest hesitation said, ''We will give it back.'' And he said, ''has that ever been done before?'' I said, ''I don't really think so, Governor.'' He said, ''Well, you have never had an actor for a Governor before either.'' And from there on in, the policy was that we would return that, and return it we did.
And I should join my colleagues, too, in saying that Nancy Reagan was at his side all of this time. She was an enormous help to him, and at a very, very difficult time in his personal life she was one of the strongest reeds, I think, on which he depended, one of the persons who brought him the most comfort, and that continued all the rest of both of their lives.
I don't know if that responded to you or not.
Dr. WELDON. It certainly did.
I am curious, Ms. Kirkpatrick, about your perspective on the treatment Ronald Reagan is receiving from current-day historians.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ms. KIRKPATRICK. Thank you, Congressman. Well, if I may, I will say just a word about a comment of his which reflected both on his view about his treatment by the press and also in regard to his economic policies and ideas, and unconventional ideas, and his sense of humor.
I remember, as, Cap, you perhaps do, too, or anyone here at the table may remember, the point at which his very unconventional economic ideasthe notion that you could enhance the economy and revenue by lowering taxesbegan to produce precisely the predicted results, namely greater prosperity and boom and increased income.
I remember when he walked into a Cabinet meeting on one occasion and said, ''they don't call it Reaganomics anymore.'' He could laugh about the press not calling it Reaganomics anymore. It isn't that he would not have enjoyed it more if they had called it Reaganomics when it began to really work, but in any case, he had confidence in what he was doing and he undertook it very seriously.
I believe that, generally speaking, the way history treats a president depends on which historians are doing the writing. I am an academic, a professor, if you will, and I know the academic world, and I know very well that most academics, most professors, are liberals and Democrats, and most had not much regard for Ronald Reagan. As a matter of fact, a good many probably still don't, but that is changing.
There is a very interesting article which I would commend to anyone who hasn't seen it that was in the January-February issue of Policy Review Magazine which is published by the Heritage Foundation. The article is called ''Reagan and the Professors,'' and it is a carefuland I regret to say I do not remember the author's name, but it is a very careful and very well-done article that traces the treatment of President Reagan and his achievements among the professors, precisely, and traces the growing respect for Reagan in the treatment of his role in our history by a range of very well-established and serious historians.
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Now, I understand very well that the balance is still the other way, but it does demonstrate a very significant movement and it demonstrates the fact that evidence and truth can finally overtake and overcome, let's just call it political prejudice. And that is very gratifying to see that laid out before us, and I believe that it is the beginning of a trend which we can reasonably expect will continue into the indefinite future.
Mr. ANDERSON. Let me just make one further comment on what Jeane said, because I have looked at some of these studies of historians. In fact, I have even seen the one long study and I have seen the private records where they had all the detailed forms that you guys fill out. Eighty or ninety percent of them are registered Democrats, and you can't expect them to praise Ronald Reagan and they are not going to do it. That is the bad news.
But the good news is that this doesn't last. That is why I took the example of going ahead in time one-hundred years and looking back. The political dust will settle, and Jeane is right. Truth and evidence does count, and already there have been, I think, 200, 250 books written on Ronald Reagan. Most of them you have never heard of, because most of them aren't very good, and these get driven out. And eventually the good books will survive and we will know the truth, especially if you read the books written by the people at this table.
Ms. NOONAN. May I very quickly close perhaps off this question with the information that about 1992 or 1993, before President Reagan got sick, I wrote him a letter and asked him if he was upset at how he was being treated. He had been out of the White House long enough for him to know that journalistsif not historiansjournalists weren't being so wonderful about his record.
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I asked him how he felt about it, and in a wonderfully sunny little passage he wrote me a response saying that he trusted history to be fair. There was the suggestion that he thought it would take time to be fair, but he trusted history to be fair, and he said he wasn't losing any sleep over it. It was a very Reaganesque reply.
Ms. KIRKPATRICK. May I, Mr. Chairman, add another word in this line? On the occasion of a meeting of the political cartoonists of America in Washington, President Reagan and Mrs. Reagan invited the political cartoonists, on a lovely summer day, to a reception at the White House, on the grounds, and they had blown up a lot of the cartoons, many of which were really merciless and terribly unfair in their characterization of the President. They were blown up very big and scattered about the White House lawn.
And I happened to be going across the lawn that day, and I looked at one, and the President hailed me and I said to him, ''You know, Mr. President, it really can't be too easy for you to be hospitable and warm to the people who produced these grossly unfair characterizations of you and your work.'' And he said, ''Oh, Jeane, I often wonder how anybody who wasn't an actor can hold this job for very long.''
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you, Ms. Kirkpatrick.
I now turn to the sponsor of the bill, the gentleman from Nevada, Mr. Gibbons.
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
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Chairman BACHUS. And I second everything everyone said about you and Congresswoman Dunn and others who brought this bill. We very much appreciate it.
Mr. GIBBONS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your leadership and your willingness to have this hearing, and I am just so thrilled to be a part of this whole process. As Congresswoman Dunn started this off and leading this discussion about President Reagan and why this bill was so necessary, I think this panel here before us took the opportunity today to take a canvas and paint a wonderful picture of a gentleman and a First Lady who led this country into some of the most wonderful times that we have experienced, and who brought confidence and hope back to the American people.
Ronald Reagan was a great communicator, and Nancy Reagan was his very best friend who stood by his side to help him through all sorts of trying times, whether it was the governorship of California or the presidency of the United States. Your words have eloquently expressed the feelings of all of us today and why this bill is so necessary.
I just want to ask one brief question, because I know we do have a vote on that will require us to leave shortly. In looking at the efforts of Nancy Reaganand I know, Ambassador Kirkpatrick, you talked greatly about herone of her great programs was ''Just Say No'' to substance abuse, whether it was alcohol or drugs, for our youth in America.
Maybe I could open this up to the panel, but why was that such a successful program? What led this country to believe in that program, to follow it to the degree that it had actual results and showed a reduction in utilization of alcohol and drugs by our children during that time? Do any of you have a comment on why that program was so successful?
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Mr. WEINBERGER. Congressman, I would say that first of alland many others of the panel will have different viewsbecause it was so simple and so easy to understand and it could be expressed in far less than a page and far less even than a paragraph. And it went to the essence of the matter and it did offer the kind of advice and the kind of policy that really would reduce abuse if it were followed.
Many of the other programs are long, they are complex, they are well-intended. They concentrate heavily on treatment and whether or not there should be punishment. But just saying no to this thing in the beginning is so simple, so easy to understand, that I think it caught on immediately.
Mr. ANDERSON. Let me just say I think what she did was focus on the individual, because I think all kinds of studies in terms of all different kinds of addiction shows that the individual has to make a decision. It is not what others do for you, and her simple statement focused on that, not what others will do, but what you have to do yourself, which is ''no.''
Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Chairman, I don't want to take too much time from the subcommittee. I appreciate again this great panel being here today, and I want to thank them for their contribution to moving this bill, hopefully, forward. It has certainly been a great honor for me to just have participated in some fashion with helping this long overdue bill be passed and the Reagans receiving the recognition that I and a lot of people in this country believe they have earned and have deserved and have waited to receive for a long time. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to thank you for that.
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Chairman BACHUS. Thank you.
Let me simply close. I am not going to have time to ask a question, but I do want to just restate something that Mr. Anderson said, because I think maybe one question we ask is what will history say.
This is your statement: ''One hundred years from now, when reasonable, objective historians look back, they will rank Reagan as a great President, right up there with Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt. Why? Because, like those three, he presided over epochal changes. On Reagan's watch, the philosophical idea of communism went belly-up. The Soviet empire collapsed and the threat of global nuclear war vanished.'' Now, how could you not be a great President?
Mr. ANDERSON. Let me just say, Mr. Chairman, that one of Reagan's favorite statements was, if not us, who? If not now, when? And someone might ask about if you look at the last twenty years and who was responsible, at least relatively speaking, if not Reagan, who?
Chairman BACHUS. Someone commented to me that Alan Greenspan had a lot to do with the good economy, and, of course, Ronald Reagan appointed Alan Greenspan.
Mr. ANDERSON. That is right.
Chairman BACHUS. Let me close by saying this, and this probably, I think, maybe is something the historians and the journalists ought to consider when they consider Ronald Reagan and his legacy.
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This is a letter dated today, March 15, 2000, from Mikhail Gorbachev. And if anything proves what you have said today, it is this letter, and what an astounding thing that the man who wrote this letter is Mikhail Gorbachev.
''The award of the Gold Medal of the U.S. Congress to Ronald Reagan is fitting tribute to the fortieth president of the United States, who will go down in history as a man profoundly dedicated to his people and committed to the values of democracy and freedom.''
Again, I say this is from Mikhail Gorbachev.
Dr. WELDON. Mr. Chairman, now that Mikhail Gorbachev is supporting this Gold Medal, we should be able to get the rest of the Democrats to do so as well, right?
Chairman BACHUS. Most of them are supportive of it now.
''Together with Ronald Reagan''I am going to continue''we took the first, the most important steps to end the Cold War and start real nuclear disarmament. It was not easy to break the ice of mistrust that had been building up for decades. But at our very first meeting in Geneva I felt the President's readiness for dialogue. This honest and respectful dialogue eventually bore fruit. The human rapport between us and our families continued after we completed our duties in Government.
''On this important occasion, I salute Ronald Reagan. My warmest greetings to Nancy Reagan and members of the Reagan family, whose care and support have been so important to Ronald during the past few years.'' And this from Mikhail Gorbachev today: ''I am confident that succeeding generations will duly appreciate the accomplishments of President Reagan.'' Signed Mikhail Gorbachev, March 15, 2000.
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I would like to introduce that, without objection, and I don't hear any.
Chairman BACHUS. So with this, we are honored to have your testimony and your support. Thank you very much.
Mr. WEINBERGER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ms. KIRKPATRICK. Thank you very much.
[Whereupon, at 4:00 p.m., the hearing was adjourned.]