Reagan promotes economic themes in brief NYC visit
Enthusiastic Wall Street brokers cheered President Reagan yesterday as he opened the stock exchange here and declared that his economic plan would ``drive the bears back to permanent hibernation.'' Then the President helicoptered out to Queens, where he continued to talk about economic issues to students and faculty at St. John's University.
``The house we hope to build is for your generation,'' Reagan told the enthusiastic audience. He also made special mention of the St. John's basketball team, which is in Louisville, Ky., preparing for the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball championship playoffs.
The quick foray into New York was aimed at building support for Reagan's budget proposals. He touted the importance of budget restraint and the need for tax reform while speaking in America's financial center, an area where support for the President is high. At 10 a.m. he rang the bell that signals the start of the trading day. The stock market responded in the early part of the day with rising prices.
Outside the stock exchange, handsomely dressed businessmen and women spoke approvingly of Reagan. They most often mentioned lowered interest rates and the curbing of runaway inflation.
``He's a good president,'' said Mike Pollock, a banker from upstate New York. ``He's done something. Most recent presidents have done nothing. He's here to instill confidence in Wall Street.''
``He's doing a pretty good job,'' said Raymond Hall, who works at the Bank of New York. Noting that there is a perception among blacks and other minorities that Reagan is helping the rich at the expense of the poor, Mr. Hall said that that perception is largely inaccurate.
``He's leading them in a way to help themselves,'' said Hall, a black who voted for Reagan last November.
``He's projecting the right image,'' said a real estate broker, and that image includes an attitude of working harder and having more pride in the country.
Brooklynite Ronald Justice, a Reagan supporter who describes himself as working class, he said he has seen an ``upward change'' since Reagan took office.
``The bottom line is results,'' Mr. Justice said. ``He's accomplished the deflation of inflation.''
There were some caveats about defense spending, which one man termed ``a tremendous waste.'' And there were a handful of protesters at Wall Street. One woman acknowledged she was one of the few there who was not a Reagan fan. ``If I were him, I'd do the same thing: be among my people,'' she said of his Wall Street stop. She called his policies ``outrageous'' in light of the ``human condition'' in the country. She also added that she is ``crazy about Gov. [Mario M.] Cuomo.''
St. John's University, where Reagan received an honorary degree, is also the alma mater of Governor Cuomo. Some Democrats speculate that Reagan and the GOP are anxious to take their case to New York to bolster the party for the 1986 elections. Sen. Alphonse M. D'Amato (R) is up for reelection then, as is Democrat Cuomo. These observers say that Republicans are worried about a big Cuomo win in the gubernatorial race, which could put him in a strong position for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination.
But the White House demurred. ``It's not so much New York,'' said Reagan aide Michael Deaver in a New York Daily News article. ``It's the stock exchange. . . . Then he goes to a campus, which has always been a great format for him. . . . It's a double hit.''