March 27, 1987

The President. If the American people need any further proof as to who's responsible for the deficit, all they have to do is look at this $87\1/2\ billion budget-busting highway and transit bill passed by Congress last week. The bill's a textbook example of special interest, pork-barrel politics at work, and I have no choice but to veto it.

In doing so, let me stress that I'm not only willing but anxious to sign a responsible bill to continue highway and transit programs. And, in fact, the Secretary of Transportation, Elizabeth Dole, at my direction, has drafted legislation that addresses our most serious objections. The Congress need only pass this cleaned-up version, send it down next week, and I'll sign the bill within the hour.

I also want to reaffirm my strong support for allowing the States the authority to return to the 65-mile-an-hour speed limit. It's long past due. But I'm not going to sacrifice this country's economic well-being, and that's the issue -- jobs and economic growth. And it's time for me to start writing. And that is the veto on top of the bill.

Reporter. Are you going to give the bad news to the Japanese today -- retaliation?

The President. I don't know just what time we're making that, but I think we're going to be speaking on that subject pretty soon.

Q. Are you going to do it?

Q. Are you worried that the question yesterday asked by Heather Watson took attention away from your education message?

The President. I'm worried that I seem to be the only one that interpreted the question correctly. I am convinced in my own mind that she asked specifically about the trouble and was the cause worth it. And I answered in that way. I was shocked and surprised to find that the other guy, he thought that there -- she was just asking generally about is the whole job worth it. And if I'm wrong, I was wrong. But I believe that I answered her question; as a matter of fact, I heard the word Iran.

Note: The President spoke at 11:01 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. The reporter's final question referred to a question asked by Heather Watson, a student at Fairview Elementary School in Columbia, MO, on March 26. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks. H.R. 2, passed over the President's veto on April 2, was assigned Public Law No. 100 - 17.