November 22, 1981
Q. Mr. President, are you going to come and talk to us?
Q. Are you going to tell us about the veto?
Q. Can you come just a little closer?
Q. Are you going to veto?
The President. Well, I'm hoping that I won't have to. I have suggested that perhaps we have an extension of the present continuing resolution, so that they can all go home for their planned holidays and we'll take this up when they come back. But I just did not feel that I could pass what has finally been decided, which was several billion dollars more than we had suggested for the budget.
Q. What do you particularly -- what has made you particularly unhappy? Is there any area where you think they should have kept the cuts?
The President. Well, it's just that it is several billion dollars. I haven't had too much of an opportunity in the late-night rush there to know what has been done within the overall framework of moving funds here and there, which I would also be bound by in this continuing resolution.
Q. Aren't you concerned about the country running out of money? Congress has sent you the bill that they think they compromised on, and you indicated they won't sign it. Won't that have a very harmful effect?
The President. I think it'd have a more harmful effect on the country if the country got the idea that we're going to continue going down the road of lavish deficit spending. Now, I know we can't solve that all in one year; that's been made very plain. But I think the people have made it very clear that they want control of the budget; they want us to get back on to the road of fiscal sanity. And I think that's far more important than -- --
Q. Mr. President?
The President. May I just say that there are many necessary services which are not bound by that. Social security checks go out; health, national security -- those things go on.
Q. Did they indicate that they would extend the present budget during the holidays?
The President Well, that's what's now under consideration up there.
Q. How long have you asked in terms of the extension, sir?
The President. Oh, I would think just until we get past the holidays.
Q. Are you going to be on the phone this afternoon now working the Hill, trying to get that through?
The President. What's that?
Q. What are you going to do this afternoon to try and urge them to pass it? Are you going to be making phone calls to Congressmen about this?
The President. No, I don't believe there'd be any purpose in that. I've spoken to the leadership on both sides, and I think -- --
Q. Mr. President, may I ask a question on the visit of the King of Sweden? How do you think we Swedes treated the submarine case?
The President. Well, obviously, with your King I did not discuss that.
Q. No, but in general, what do you think of us?
The President. I thought you did very well.
Q. Mr. President, will you be going to California this evening?
The President. That depends. Obviously, if there is no choice but to veto and then the country is left in the situation of coming to a halt at the end of this, no, I would not go. And they wouldn't go home, either.
Deputy Press Secretary Speakes. Thank you very much.
Q. What do you think of this whole budget process? Does it frustrate you the way this government runs?
The President. Yes. The fact that this country has gone on now for a year without a budget and is 2 months into the second year without a budget -- that is no way to run a railroad. And it's even less of a way to run a country.
The beginning of the fiscal year you should have a budget in place in which you know what the cost for each department is going to be. This continuing resolution is a process whereby the Congress can add to the spending, and the only choice left to a President is to literally close down the government by veto, unlike vetoing a budget figure. And it's time for us to get legitimate appropriations bills passed and to have a budget. We haven't had one. There wasn't one when I came here, and they're continuing down the same path.
Q. How long did you say you asked for an extension? Would it be till January sometime?
The President. Well, I left it a little bit -- no, I -- some outside have suggested going beyond January, but I suggested 15 to 20 days.
Q. Speaker of the House John McCormack will have passed away a year today, and today is the day that Jack Kennedy was assassinated. Do you have any comment at all about these great people -- just like they are great, they were great?
The President. Yes, I think that this country will be marked for a long time by the tragedy of John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Q. Mr. President.
The President. Oh, I've got to go now.
Reporter. Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: The exchange began at 2:20 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House following the departure of King Carl Gustav XVI and Queen Silvia of Sweden, who had earlier visited the President and Mrs. Reagan in the Residence.