March 14, 1987
My fellow Americans:
This afternoon I thought I'd brief you on important changes that have taken place recently in our administration and on our agenda for the months to come. To begin with, every administration has its own national security team, the group of officials who assist the President in shaping our nation's foreign policy. With the recent addition of Senator Howard Baker as my Chief of Staff, Frank Carlucci as national security adviser, and the nomination of Judge William Webster as the new Director of Central Intelligence, my own national security team is once again complete.
Secretary of State Shultz and Secretary of Defense Weinberger have been members of that team for some time, and let me say now that no President has ever been better served by two such men on his National Security Council. They've given long years of committed service to this Nation in a variety of important positions in government; and the Nation can be grateful, as I, for their intellect, dedication, and integrity. They're also men of strong conviction, men who've never hesitated to give me their unvarnished views on national security issues under consideration. They're men willing to speak up, regardless of the strength of opposition or the natural bureaucratic tendency to compromise or go along. And that's why I consider them so valuable. In the case of the Iranian arms sale matter, both Secretary Shultz and Secretary Weinberger advised me strongly not to pursue the initiative. I weighed their advice but decided in the end that the initiative was worth the risk and went forward. As we now know, it turned out they were right and I was wrong. But they discharged their responsibilities as my advisers and as my subordinates, and I'm enormously grateful that I will continue to be receiving their views in the months ahead, as we move forward with our agenda.
And in these coming months, that word ``agenda'' will be an important one. You see, I've made these important changes here at the White House to see to it that we're back in control and moving ahead with all that you elected me to accomplish. On the domestic side, our agenda will include changes in the Federal budget process and wide-ranging welfare reforms designed to bring to an end the cycle of poverty that has trapped so many needy Americans. And in foreign policy -- well, let me put it this way: America faces great problems in the world but even greater opportunities. We see a chance for significant progress in arms reduction talks with the Soviet Union, provided we maintain a steady course and bargain hard. Yet, at the same time, Soviet adventurism must be dealt with. Central America, in particular, remains of absolutely vital importance to the United States. And here the Congress has crucial decisions to make about whether our nation will truly support democracy and help resist tyranny in a region so close to our own borders. My own commitment remains rock-solid; I will fight any effort to cut off support for the Nicaraguan freedom fighters and consign them to death or defeat. In domestic and foreign policy alike, what it all comes down to is this: We've got a job to do, and for the next 2 years -- with your help and support -- we intend to do it.
Permit me now to turn to two other matters of great importance. First, last year's tax reform meant that early this year millions of Americans found themselves filling out W - 4 forms that were downright confusing. I know; I had to fill one out myself. Well, we heard your complaints and worked with the IRS to come up with a new, much simpler W - 4 form that will be available in about a month. So, the American people took on the tax man and won.
Second, earlier this week, our administration announced reforms at the Food and Drug Administration that will make it easier for victims of AIDS and other life-threatening diseases to obtain new, experimental drugs. This step to roll big government back just a little bit further could very well mean less pain and suffering for thousands of seriously ill Americans. It's a measure, in other words, that's humane in every sense of the word.
And now, if you'll permit me, a final word about a subject that just happens to be close to my Irish heart: St. Patrick's Day. Since the potato famine in the middle of the last century, millions of sons and daughters of Erin have come to America seeking a better life. But of course, whether Irish or not, virtually all of us as Americans trace our ancestry back to immigrants from distant lands, men and women who came to America with a firm willingness to work, asking only freedom. And so, I just have to believe that this coming Tuesday -- well, as Americans, we'll all be entitled to celebrate.
Until next week, thanks for listening. God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, MD.