Remarks to Reporters on Releasing an Audit of the United States Economy

February 12, 1981

The President. Today I'm releasing an audit of the American economy that's been prepared by my advisers and that I described to this Nation in the address last week.

And this audit confirms that the economy of the United States needs a profound and dramatic change in direction. There can no longer be a business-as-usual approach. Inflation and unemployment are threatening the American way of life as never before, and without a change of policy these intolerable conditions will get even worse.

This audit also suggests a sense of urgency that we must halt the growth of government and the corresponding burden of overspending, taxation, and regulation before they irreversibly alter the character of this Nation.

We're still the most productive people in the world, living in a nation with a potential that staggers the imagination. I'm confident with the facts before them, the American people will understand the need for the changes that we'll propose next week. And this audit shows us that our actions must put the nation on a fundamentally different course.

Now, I am due 5 minutes ago down at the Lincoln Memorial, so I am going to leave you now. But I am leaving you in the hands of Murray Weidenbaum, who can take all of your questions and explain this audit report to you, which I understand is going to be made available or already has been made available to you.

Thank you very much.

Mr. Weidenbaum. Thank you, Mr. President.

The purpose of this audit is to present the key facts and figures on the economic situation that President Reagan inherited. It shows that although the economy has in the past suffered either high inflation or high unemployment, what is unique today is the combination of sustained high inflation and sustained high unemployment.

We show that the basic source of most of our economic distress is the policies of government itself over the course of many previous administrations. Nevertheless, the fundamental strength of the private enterprise economy still shows through the dismal current statistics. To tap into this Nation's productive economic base requires a commitment to reduce tax and regulatory burdens and to increase incentives for working and saving.

The economy's various economic difficulties are closely interrelated. Any attempt to solve one, such as inflation, without taking the others, such as unemployment, into account is doomed to failure. In fact, it is the stop-and-go economic policies of the past that have been a major source of the problem.

A comprehensive solution aimed at the entire range of economic ills now facing the United States is required. That is the highlights, the essence of this economic presentation.

Note: The President spoke at 11:58 a.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House. Following his remarks, Murray L. Weidenbaum, Chairman-designate of the Council of Economic Advisers, held a question-and-answer session with reporters.