Testimony of The Honorable Jennifer Dunn
Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy
Banking and Financial Services Committee
March 15, 2000
Just last month, Ronald Reagan celebrated his 89th birthday. To commemorate this occasion, I have joined my colleague, Jim Gibbons, in introducing legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
Together, the President and First Lady selflessly dedicated their lives to lifting the American spirit and bettering the quality of life for every American. I continue to be inspired by Reagan=s ideals of lower taxes, stronger families, limited government, and peace through strength. My first call to action in support of these ideals took place in 1976 when I was a Reagan delegate to our national convention. And until recently, Ronald Reagan remained the sole presidential candidate that earned my steadfast support from my heart as well as my head.
One of my fondest memories of Ronald Reagan takes me back to a cold and rainy October night nearly thirty-five years ago. I clearly recall 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 . . . and I took his words to heart when he said, AYou 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 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 declaredAan evil empire@ began to finally dissolve. The fall of the Soviet Union would not have been achieved if it had 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 rebuilt national pride.
President Reagan=s policies helped lift us out of the malaise of the Carter years, when interest rates were 21%, unemployment was at record highs, and inflation reached 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 Congress in a bi-partisan manner to turn that 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 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 evident all around us. Now is the right time for America to sayAthank 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 First Lady who shared his burdens and joys, Ronald and Nancy Reagan.