Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993

Author: George Bush  | Date: August 27, 1992

Remarks to Public Safety Equipment Employees in St. Louis, Missouri
August 27, 1992

Thank you all. I know, anything to get out of work. [Laughter] Steve, thank you, thank you very much for that kind and genuine introduction. Let me thank some other members of the host committee: Mike Latta, one of the founders, Ed Ryan, Andrew Smith. And of course, I’m very, very pleased that my dear friend and your great Governor, John Ashcroft, could be with us this morning. He’s done a superb job for this State, and I’m proud to he at his side once again.

This is really great. Look at the equipment you have here, light-bars, beacons. You’ve given a new meaning to "a thousand points of light." [Laughter]

Over the past 3 1/2 years we’ve seen a world transformed, as Steve mentioned in his introduction. And yes, the cold war is over. And now the defining challenge of the nineties is to win the competition of this new global economy, to win the peace. Our goal is simple and profound: We must be a military superpower, an economic superpower, and an export superpower.

In this election, you’re going to hear two versions of how to do this. My opponent’s answer is to turn inward, to protect what we already have from the challenges of this new world. My approach is to look forward, to look out, to open new markets, prepare our people to compete, to restore our social fabric, and to save and invest so that we can win.

I’ve come to St. Louis today, you’ll be happy to know, not to have a political rally but really to deliver a serious message to the people in this factory, the people in Missouri, and the people in the country. I want to point out the sharp difference between Governor Clinton and me on the crucial issues of investment and open trade. My policies encourage both because my experience in business and foreign affairs has shown me that trade and investment create jobs.

In contrast, my opponent and, regrettably, the Democratic Congress want to taxboth trade and investment. But common sense tells us that if you tax something you get less of it. Taxes stifle growth and chase away business and destroy jobs.

I know that the other side has lots of slogans and policy buzzwords that sound appealing when you first hear them, but America cannot afford them. There’s a difference between sound-bites and sound policy. Talk is cheap until you get the bill.

The reason I’m so pleased to be here is because PSE is an example of where I believe this whole country should go and how we should get there. Not so long ago, companies like PSE "could be satisfied with a national market, sell your goods in the 50 States, leave it at that.

That’s no longer good enough. So a few years ago, you decided to take on the world. I’m told that now 35 percent or about a third of what you make is sold outside the borders of the United States and in 48 different countries. Today your light-bars and sirens help save lives not only on the streets of Detroit and Peoria but in Israel, Hong Kong, and Spain. I was told that when the Kuwaitis, their country freed, went back in, that your products helped lead the way and keep the peace.

You know, your story is a parable for our Nation’s economic future. You’ve taken the challenges of foreign competition and reshaped them as opportunities, made your name literally a standard of excellence. You should be very, very proud of that, every single person that works here.

I don’t want to bore you with life history, but let me tell you how I first learned about competing in the world. I learned my economics in the oil fields of west Texas, painting rigs, and then for a while 1 drove tens of thousands of miles through the fields in Texas and New Mexico and then California and back to Texas. All around me in those days I saw towns and businesses start from nothing, for a simple reason: The world wanted what Texas had to offer, cotton, cattle, crude.

Later on, when I started my own business, I shopped for investors on the west coast and the east coast, but I couldn’t stop there. I traveled the world. We had a tiny company, smaller than PSE by far. And that little company exported our services, and I think success, to Japan, to Brunei, to South America, and to the Middle East. We created American jobs in the process.

Now, I tried to build on that experience when I got involved in foreign relations. And I saw again how important America is to the world and how important the world is to America, not just for national security in the traditional sense but for economic security, for our own economic security, for creating jobs right here at home.

We’ve held steady to this vision for 3 years now, and we have made solid progress. As we knock down trade barriers, American companies are rushing to meet the demand all around the world. More and more people are buying American. Since I took office, exports have increased by one-third. America is the greatest exporter in the entire world, greatest one the world has ever seen, $422 billion of exports last year alone.

Let me bring that right into the shop here in St. Louis, bring it close to home. In Missouri, exports are up 37 percent over the last 3 years, $3.8 billion worth of goods shipped to 151 countries around the world. It looks like the Show Me State is showing the world.

Now these numbers are impressive, but when you dig behind them, get in behind the math, you find the real benefit of the new world economy, and in a word, it is jobs. Here in Missouri, 150,000 jobs are supported by foreign trade. Across the country, more than? million Americans owe their jobs to exports.

Everyone recognizes, everyone now, that the world is moving at a faster clip, but I see something more: It’s moving our way. Right now we’re building on the export success of the last 3 years. Two weeks ago we entered into an era, a new era, I’d say, of open trade. Along with Mexico and Canada, we concluded talks on the North American free trade agreement, called NAFTA, knocking down tariffs and creating one of the largest free-trade areas in the world, an integrated economy worth more than $6 trillion.

Here in Missouri, you already export $2 billion worth of goods to Mexico and Canada. That’s a lot of paychecks, but ournew agreement will create even more American jobs and make us even stronger in the race with our European and Asian competitors.

NAFTA is a solid agreement. But right now, before the ink is even dry, the Democratic leadership in the Congress is calling for us to slap a tariff on any new trade that comes from NAFTA. Now, you’ve got to-this is complicated, but just think about it for a minute. After long and tough negotiations with our closest trading partners, we’ve agreed to end tariffs. The protectionist Democrats say, "Okay, fine. But first you have to put on a new tariff."

In other words, they think the way to eliminate trade barriers is build a new trade barrier. And they call this new tariff a transaction tax. It’ll make it more expensive for businesses like yours to compete in the world economy. And it will discourage the creation of new jobs for your neighbors and, most important, for you. It turns the agreement on its head. They may think that’s good politics, but it is, frankly, lousy policy.

Now, you might ask, what about Governor Clinton on this, where does he stand? Just last week, he was asked about our new trade agreement, and he hemmed and hawed. At last he said, and I quote, "When I have a definitive opinion, I’ll say so." I hope nobody’s planning to hold their breath on this one. [Laughter] I know politics. And I guess as a candidate you can be on both sides of every question. But as a President, you cannot. You have to make the tough decisions. And you shouldn’t be on both sides of each issue.

Governor Clinton can fudge all he wants, but the difference couldn’t be clearer. The difference is based on two very different views of our future. My opponents see us knock down trade barriers, and they say, "Hold everything." They see us open new markets for American goods, and they say, "Wait a minute. Maybe we can’t compete. Maybe the American worker can’t cut it. So let’s pull down the blinds, lock the doors, and hope the world goes away."

Let me tell them something you already know in this plant. The American worker doesn’t have to hide from anybody. Americans can outwork, outthink, outcompete anybody, anywhere, anytime. And that’s what we’re trying to do, expand these markets. That’s something everyone in the world seems to understand, everybody but the protectionist Democrats.

Over the last decade, we have literally seen a boom in foreign investment in the United States, even when things are very, very tough at home. We’ve seen a boom in that, businesses from all over the world coming here, setting up shop from Portland, Oregon, to Portland, Maine. These investors follow a simple logic: If you want the best science and universities in the world, if you want the best workers in the world, you have to come to the United States of America. And the result has been jobs. One out of every ten manufacturing workers in the United States works for a company supported by foreign investment. That’s the bottom line: jobs for Americans, a growing economic pie for everyone.

Now, here’s one issue Governor Clinton does not fudge. He’s proposed to increase taxes on foreign investment in the United States, even though those companies employ a total of 4 1/2 million American workers. Governor Clinton says his tax increase will crack down on foreign companies. But that crackdown is more like an eviction notice. When those companies pack their bags, they’ll take those jobs with them. I’m not going to let that happen.

We’ve got to open markets. We’ve got to encourage investment here, encourage investment abroad, create new markets for the American worker.

All I ask is that you just travel around this State. Go to New Madrid, talk to the 1,200 employees at Noranda Aluminum, or to Joplin, talk to the 425 employees at Atlas Powder. Go to any of the 244 foreign-owned companies that employ 60,000 workers, 60,000 Missouri workers right here. And I don’t think you’re going to find any of those Missourians complaining about foreign investment. If Governor Clinton’s tax hike had been in effect these past few years, those companies simply would not be here, and those jobs wouldn’t have been created for the citizens of Missouri. And it’s not just Missouri. Whether it’s the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, or the Honda plant in Marysville, Ohio, Governor Clinton’s tax increase would be felt in every region of every State in this country.

And he could use a lesson in international relations. If he raises this tax, our foreign competitors are going to say, what’s good for the goose; is good for the gander. His tax hike is like a gilded invitation sent to foreign governments where U.S. companies do business. And the invitation reads: Please retaliate. You do not want these governments abroad to retaliate against Code 3, against your wonderful products, because of tariff policies or tax policies in the United States.

His tax would not only destroy jobs and reduce investment here, it would do the same throughout the global economy, causing a worldwide contraction. I don’t have to ask you to go back to the history books, but there was an occasion when that happened, right before the Great Depression. And we’re fighting our way out of a tough recession now, and we don’t need to throw more Americans out of work. So look carefully at this taxing.

Those are the facts about Governor Clinton’s tax: It will literally destroy jobs, discourage investment, and it threatens to start an economic war just as markets the world over are opening up to American products.

We should ask why, given all this, Governor Clinton would ever propose such a tax in the first place. Well, I have a hunch. Today change is accelerating, and change breeds a certain uneasiness, skepticism, even fear. And by attacking the bogeymen of foreign investors, Governor Clinton hopes to exploit the darker impulses of this uncertain age: fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of foreigners.

Now, I know his reputation for opportunism, as the kind of guy who will say anything, do anything for political gain. But he should understand what’s at stake here. And if he doesn’t understand it, let me tell him. Those are American jobs he’s playing politics with. Those are American workers he’s putting at risk. The American people simply won’t buy it. The proudest people on Earth have never stooped to fear-mongers before, and we must not stoop now to fear-mongers.

In talking about our future in the global economy, I mentioned, touched on my own experience because I want you to understand why I believe what I do about America’s ability to compete. I’ve, with a lot of help, built a business, and I’ve dealt with foreign nations. I know how to bring it together. I know what it takes to make America secure and strong at home and abroad.

So, you see, your vote will make a difference this year, not only in the Presidential election. When you look at your candidates for Congress, I’d like you to ask them something. Ask them where they stand on keeping America an export superpower, on our new trade agreement, and on Governor Clinton’s new taxes on investment and jobs. Please listen to the answers very carefully. Don’t let them talk any longer—talk one way in Missouri and another way back in Washington, DC.

And this is important. Please _follow up. Some of them will do more flip-flops than Ozzie Smith out there. [Laughter] I’ll give you an example. Earlier this summer we lost a close battle in Congress for a constitutional amendment to balance the Federal budget, to discipline the Congress and discipline the executive branch. One of St. Louis’ Representatives, Joan Kelly Horn, signed up—this is going to be hard for you to believe—signed up as a cosponsor, one of the leaders of, a cosponsor of the amendment to cause us to have to balance the budget. She signed up in April. And then when it came to the vote, she flipped. She voted against the very same amendment that she had cosponsored.

Enough is enough. This fall ask her about that balanced budget amendment, and vote for Jim Talent, her opponent. And I know Mack Holekamp supports the balanced budget amendment, too. Vote for him. We need to make people do in Washington what they tell you in Missouri they’re going to do.

Well, anyway, those are the kind of choices we face this year, a choice between the patrons of the past and the architects of the future. I believe we can shape our future not by taxing trade but by opening markets, not by scaring off investment but by using it to create jobs for ourselves and our kids.

I have great faith in America’s future because I have faith in the American people and in the American worker. It is the same faith that brought me out to Texas more than 40 years ago, the same faith that brought me into public life, the same faith that has led me to fight for these open markets, because I know that no challenge is too great for the hearts and the minds of America.

And lastly, do not listen to the pessimists who tell you that the United States of America is in decline. We are at the sunrise, not the sunset. And if we pursue these opening of markets, we will demonstrate to the entire world once again why everybody looks to America: peace, security, strength, freedom, democracy, and an ability to outwork anybody, anywhere, anytime.

Thank you all very, very much. And God bless you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:10 a.m. on the shop floor at Public Safety Equipment, Inc. In his remarks, he referred to PSE officials Stephen Rose, engineer; Michael D. Latta, president; Edward F. Brian, vice president, marketing; and Andrew G. Smith, vice president, engineering; and Ozzie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals baseball player.


Related Resources

George H. W. Bush

Download Options

Title: Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: George Bush, "Remarks to Public Safety Equipment Employees in St. Louis, Missouri," Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George Bush, 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2275 1436–1438. Original Sources, accessed December 4, 2023,

MLA: Bush, George. "Remarks to Public Safety Equipment Employees in St. Louis, Missouri." Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George Bush, 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2275, pp. 1436–1438. Original Sources. 4 Dec. 2023.

Harvard: Bush, G, 'Remarks to Public Safety Equipment Employees in St. Louis, Missouri' in Public Papers of George Bush, 1992-1993. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George Bush, 1989 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2275, pp.1436–1438. Original Sources, retrieved 4 December 2023, from