Reagan reaches out to blacks in 'jobs, jobs, jobs' speech
In his first major speech since capturing the GOP nomination, Ronald Reagan brings to New York his theme for the 1980 election: an attack on President Carter's economic policies and the charge that the Democrats are to make unemployment the answer for inflation.Skip to next paragraph
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Before a predominantly black audience at the convention of the National Urban League Aug. 5, Mr. Reagan also seeks to bring back into the Republican Party the black voters who followed Franklin D. Roosevelt into the New Deal in another economic crisis.
In a theme likely to be repeated in the months ahead, Mr. Reagan lays high inflation, heavy unemployment, and low productivity at the door of the Democrats. The former California governor says, in effect, that the Democrats have failed. It now is time to put in another team -- one whose motto is "jobs, jobs, jobs."
A source close to Mr. Reagan cited other themes likely to be stressed to the nation after their initial New York tryout:
* Recapitulation of achievements in the eight-year Reagan incumbency as California governor, with emphasis on welfare reform and aid to minority groups.
* A proposed major urban program of federal aid to cities, with establishment of socalled "enterprise zones" in depressed areas, where taxes and regulations would be relaxed. The object would be to encourage new business and industries. Mayor Richard Hatcher of Gary, Ind., a black, advocates this type of program.
* Simultaneously, an "urban homesteading program" in city ghettos, in which abandoned government-owned housing (whose former owners are in default) would be sold to a family for $1 on the condition that they rehabilitated and lived in it.
* Relaxation of minimum wage laws to give a "youth differential" of lower pay to encourage employers to hire teen-age unemployed.
* The familiar Reagan economic program described as a national economic policy of sharp cuts in federal income taxes, federal budget restraint, elimination of "unnecessary" regulations, and a balanced budget.
In addition to his major proposals, Mr. Reagan has a number of sharp political thrusts. Referring to youth anxiety over draft registration he charges that this is just the sequel to administration failure to provide adequate defense. In the same vein he attacks proposals made by some for higher taxes on gasoline to limit use, declaring that these would principally penalize low and middle income Americans.
Governor Reagan's New York speech comes just before Democrats hold what promises to be a turbulent convention there next week. And it is timed follow President Carter's defensive speech on his dealings with his brother Billy over Libya. His appearance before a black group in a major city has political significance since a scheduling mix-up kept him away from the earlier convention of the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People which President Carter attended.
Democrats are bound to pounce on Governor Reagan's arguments later on when the campaign heats up. They are certain to ask how the GOP nominee will balance the budget, for example, when he cuts taxes and increases defense spending? Democrats will likely argue that draft registration is a follow-up to Russia's invasion of Afghanistan, and that the high cost of gasoline is due principally to foreign suppliers, not administration taxes.
Mr. Reagan's series of appearances in New York, following a quick trip to the heart of the South, offers guidelines to what is to come. The opening salvo deals, as expected, with the point considered to be the greatest Democratic vulnerability -- the recession. How can blacks regard the White House as their friend inquires the Republican leader, in the face of the following statistics: black unemployment: 14.2 percent; teen-age black city unemployment: over 50 percent; income of black families, which reached more than 60 percent of white families by 1976 now falling behind. All this, Gov. Reagan adds, with inflation and the additional threat to young blacks -- a peacetime draft.