“Government is just like a big baby – an alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no responsibility at the other” – 1965.
“Welfare’s purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence” – Los Angeles Times, January, 1970.
“Government does not solve problems. It subsidises them” – December, 1972.
“Heaven help us if government ever gets into the business of protecting us from ourselves” – April, 1973.
“The United States has much to offer the Third World War” – 1973.
“I’ve noticed that everybody who is for abortion has already been born” – September, 1980.
“History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap” – Address to the nation, January, 1984.
“We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we may always be free” – Normandy, June 6, 1984.
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help”’ – August, 1986.
“When you see all that rhetorical smoke billowing up from the Democrats, well, ladies and gentleman, I’d follow the example of their nominee: don’t inhale” – Republican National Convention, 1992.
“I hope you’re all Republicans” – To surgeons as he entered the operating room, March, 1981.
“We don’t have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven’t taxed enough. We have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much” – To the National Association of Realtors, March, 1982.
“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it” – Remark to the White House Conference on Small Business, August, 1986.
“The other day someone told me the difference between a democracy and a people’s democracy. It’s the same difference between a jacket and a straitjacket” – December, 1986.
“How do you tell a Communist? Well, it’s someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It’s someone who understands Marx and Lenin” – September, 1987.
“A friend of mine was asked to a costume ball a short time ago. He slapped some egg on his face and went as a liberal economist” – February, 1988.
“Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere” – September, 1986.
“She’s the best man in England” – On Margaret Thatcher.
“We have long since discovered that nothing lasts longer than a temporary government program” – Undated.
Abortion is advocated only by persons who have themselves been born.
Facts are stupid things.
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Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidise it.
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I have left orders to be awakened at any time in case of national emergency, even if I'm in a cabinet meeting.
Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.
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Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.
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You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jellybeans.
Ronald Reagan, quoted in Observer, March 29 1981
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My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.
“This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan for ourselves.” — Oct. 27, 1964, televised speech for GOP presidential candidate Barry Goldwater.
“I am paying for this microphone, Mr. Breen.” — When someone tried to turn off his microphone at a Reagan-sponsored debate during 1980 New Hampshire primaries.
“We have to move ahead, but we are not going to leave anyone behind.” — Republican National Convention, July 1980
“There you go again.” — Responding to criticism during debate with President Carter, October 1980.
“Government is not the solution, it's the problem.” — Inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1981
“All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states, the states created the federal government. ... Steps will be taken aimed a restoring the balance between the various levels of government.” — Inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1981.
“Honey, I forgot to duck.” — To Nancy Reagan in the emergency room after he was shot by a would-be assassin, March 30, 1981.
“It's just plain common sense that there be a waiting period to allow local law enforcement officials to conduct background checks on those who wish to buy a handgun.” — Endorsing the Brady handgun control bill, at a March 1991 event commemorating 10th anniversary of assassination attempt.
“Some argue that we should encourage democratic change in right-wing dictatorships, but not in Communist regimes. Well, to accept this preposterous notion — as some well-meaning people have — is to invite the argument that once countries achieve a nuclear capability, they should be allowed an undisturbed reign of terror over their own citizens. We reject this course.” — June 1982 speech to British Parliament.
“I was pleased last year to proclaim 1983 the year of the Bible. But, you know, a group called the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) severely criticized me for doing that. Well, I wear their indictment like a badge of honor.” — January 1984.
“I've always stated that the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth is a government program.” — April 1986
“A (nuclear weapons) freeze now would be a very dangerous fraud, for that is merely the illusion of peace. The reality is that we must find peace through strength. ...
“I urge you to beware the temptation of pride, the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil. ...
“I believe that communism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written.” — Speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, March 1983. (He wrote six years later that “I could not in good conscience today call the Soviet Union an evil empire.”)
“If you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate ... open this gate ... tear down this wall.” — June 1987 speech at Brandenberg Gate in Berlin. Remarks addressed to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
“By 1980, we knew it was time to renew our faith; to strive with all our strength toward the ultimate of individual freedom, consistent with an orderly society.
“We believed then and now: There are no limits to growth and human progress, when men and women are free to follow their dreams. And we were right to believe that. Tax rates have been reduced, inflation cut dramatically and more people are employed than ever before in our history.
“We are creating a nation once again vibrant, robust, and alive. There are many mountains yet to climb. We will not rest until every American enjoys the fullness of freedom, dignity, and opportunity as our birthright. It is our birthright as citizens of this great republic.” — Second inaugural address, Jan. 21, 1985
“The men of Normandy had faith that what they were doing was right, faith that they fought for all humanity, faith that a just God would grant them mercy on this beachhead or on the next. It was the deep knowledge — and pray God we have not lost it — that there is a profound moral difference between the use of force for liberation and the use of force for conquest.” — On 40th anniversary of Normandy invasion, June 6, 1984.
“Sending the Marines to Beirut was the source of my greatest regret and greatest sorrow.” — About the Lebanon bombing that killed 241 servicemen in 1983, from his 1990 book, “An American Life”
“The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth' to ‘touch the face of God.”' — After shuttle disaster, Jan. 28, 1986.
“A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that is true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.” — March 4, 1987, speech acknowledging dealings with Iran had deteriorated into an arms for hostages deal
“You know, by the time you reach my age, you've made plenty of mistakes if you've lived your life properly. So you learn. You put things in perspective. You pull your energies together. You change. You go forward. My fellow Americans, I have a great deal that I want to accomplish with you and for you over the next two years. And, the Lord willing, that's exactly what I intend to do.” — March 4, 1987, speech acknowledging dealings with Iran had deteriorated into an arms for hostages deal
“I did not see it as trading arms for hostages because we were dealing with Iranian intermediaries, not the kidnappers themselves. I know it may be a fine line to most people, but it's what I believed then and what I still believe.” — About the Iran-Contra affair, from his 1989 book, “Speaking My Mind”
“My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” — Joke while testing microphone, Aug. 11, 1984
“So, you can see why, to me, the story of these last eight years and this presidency goes far beyond any personal concerns. It is a continuation, really, of a far larger story, a story of a people and a cause. A cause that, from our earliest beginnings, has defined us as a nation and given purpose to our national existence. The hope of human freedom, the quest for it, the achievement of it, is the American saga.” — Last weekly radio address as president, Jan. 14, 1989.
“If I ache, it's because we are apart and yet that can't be because you are inside and a part of me, so we really aren't apart at all. Yet I ache but wouldn't be without the ache, because that would mean being without you and that I can't be because I love you.” — 1963 letter to his wife, Nancy, quoted in 2000 book “I Love You, Ronnie.”
“In closing let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead.” — Nov. 5, 1994, announcing he had Alzheimer's disease.
"The government's view of the economy can be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence.
Ronald Reagan - Los Angeles Times, January 7, 1970
It is not my intention to do away with government. It is rather to make it work -- work with us, not over us; stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.
Ronald Reagan -First Inaugural Address, January 20, 1981
We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down. Only when the human spirit is allowed to invent and create, only when individuals are given a personal stake in deciding economic policies and benefiting from their success -- only then can societies remain economically alive, dynamic, progressive, and free. Trust the people. This is the one irrefutable lesson of the entire postwar period contradicting the notion that rigid government controls are essential to economic development.
Ronald Reagan -September 29, 1981
We don't have a trillion-dollar debt because we haven't taxed enough; we have a trillion-dollar debt because we spend too much.
Ronald Reagan -Address to National Association of Realtors, March 28, 1982
How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin.
Ronald Reagan -Remarks in Arlington, Virginia, September 25, 1987
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!
Ronald Reagan -Speech near the Berlin Wall, 1987
Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor's fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can't socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he'll eat you last.
Ronald Reagan -October 27, 1964
"However, our task is far from over. Our friends in the other party will never forgive us for our success, and are doing everything in their power to rewrite history. Listening to the liberals, you'd think that the 1980's were the worst period since the Great Depression, filled with suffering and despair. I don't know about you, but I'm getting awfully tired of the whining voices from the White House these days. They're claiming there was a decade of greed and neglect, but you and I know better than that. We were there."
Ronald Reagan -RNC Annual Gala, Feb. 3, 1994
It's time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, "We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government." This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power, is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man's relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.
Ronald Reagan -October 27, 1964
Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, "What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power." But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.
October 27, 1964
The Founding Fathers knew a government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.
Ronald Reagan -October 27, 1964
Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we're denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we're always "against," never "for" anything.
Ronald Reagan -October 27, 1964
You and I are told we must choose between a left or right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man's age-old dream -- the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order -- or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, "The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits."
Ronald Reagan -October 27, 1964