Remarks on Action by the House of Representatives on Federal Budget Legislation
June 19, 1981
The President. Ladies and gentlemen, I have a statement that I think is being or will be distributed, but I will, for the sound media, read it, not in its entirety, but enough of it for you to get the idea.
Forty-five days ago, the House of Representatives joined in a bipartisan commitment to bring runaway Federal spending under control. And that was an essential step toward national economic recovery, toward reducing inflation, creating more jobs, and lowering interest rates. But that was only a step. It required faithful implementation by the committees of the Congress.
And now we're approaching the crucial test. Next week, the House plans to vote on the single largest economic and budget reform package in history. During recent weeks, many House committees have made a good faith effort to help bring this Federal spending under control. And I applaud them for their efforts. But in two major instances, the bill that is emerging in the House Budget Committee has serious shortcomings.
First, many of the measures that are needed to curb the automatic spending programs have not been adopted. These reforms would target programs more directly toward the truly needy while they help to eliminate waste and abuse.
Unfortunately, the House committee has adopted only one-third of the savings that these reforms would bring. And the result, if unchallenged, will be $23 billion in additional red ink and inflationary pressure in the next several years. Doing only one-third of the job is not good enough.
Secondly, certain House committees have not yet received the message of last November that the American people want less bureaucratic overhead in Washington and less redtape tying up State and local government. Consequently, these committees rejected my proposed consolidation of 86 duplicative, regulated-ridden Federal programs into block grants.
Now, I believe that we should permit many social programs to be administered by State and local governments, which best know the needs of their people and the priorities for meeting them. Instead, some of the House committees want to hang on to the strings and the Washington bureaucracy. And this means extra administrative costs at the expense of services for the people.
I have spoken to most of the Governors in the country and many of the mayors, to the National Association of State Legislators. All of them have told me they can absorb the cuts in the categorical grants that were made if they have the flexibility that block grants would bring. And now they're going to get the cuts but without that flexibility if some in the Congress or some committees have their way.
Now, our nation's needs are too important to tolerate this ``business as usual'' attitude on Capitol Hill. For these reasons, three leaders in the House, earlier this afternoon, announced plans to offer a bipartisan amendment that would fulfill the commitment of the original Gramm-Latta resolution.
The American people have waited patiently and for 8 months for the full-scale attack on runaway spending. Adoption by the House of the bipartisan Gramm-Latta amendment next week will be a major step toward ensuring that the will of the people is carried out. And there can be no doubt that we can and we will stop this fiscal joyride in Washington. And I am going to be in full support and help of that amendment.
Now, at 4:30 this afternoon, Dave Stockman will be giving a complete briefing on the entire package to all of you.
Reporter. How do you plan to help personally, Mr. President?
The President. Well, by dint of persuasion and reason, pointing out the messages that have been brought to me already from industry in the United States of billions of dollars of planned expansion and modernization that is going to take place, the kind of thing that will increase productivity and provide more jobs. And they have stated to me voluntarily that they are planning these billions of dollars of spending based on the expectations of the program that we presented.
Q. Do you have the votes, Mr. President?
The President. I don't know. That's why I'll be working.
Q. Did you talk to the Speaker today by telephone?
The President. This morning, to tell him how much -- that I could go along with the bulk of what came out of the committees, but that there was just this narrow area in the entire program and asked if he would permit a one-time vote on a single amendment so that we could have a vote by the Congress one way or the other on this amendment.
Q. And he will?
The President. The instructions? I have received no answers yet, so I don't know.
Q. Do you have a way of getting it to the floor for a vote if he says no?
The President. Well, I'll tell you; take that up with Dave Stockman today. He's been dealing more on the strategy field than I have.
Q. Any other message for the Speaker?
The President. Just my best wishes. [Laughter]
Q. Thank you.
Note: The President spoke at 3:18 p.m. to reporters assembled at the South Portico of the White House.