Exchange With Reporters on the Program for Economic Recovery

February 19, 1981

Q. How are you, Mr. President?

The President. Hi. How are you?

Q. They tell us you're in good spirits today because of the reaction to the speech. We'd like to hear it from you.

The President. Well, yes, I'm in good spirits, but then you're always in good spirits when you figure you got by without losing your place or -- [laughter] -- forgetting your lines.

Q. How did you like the response to your program, and when do you think you'll actually get this program through? You're pretty confident, aren't you?

The President. Well, I don't know. Of course, now you can see the forces beginning to mobilize. But, no, I'm optimistic, because I think there is a widespread feeling that reflects the feeling of the people out there that they want this.

Q. Where do you think the big fight will come with the opposition?

The President. Possibly more over taxes than over the other.

Q. Is that right?

The President. There's still that belief on the part of many people that a cut in tax rates automatically means a cut in revenues. And if they'll only look at history, it doesn't. A cut in tax rates can very often be reflected in an increase in government revenues because of the broadening of the base of the economy.

Q. Are you going to try to keep those two programs together in a single bill?

The President. Well, they'll have to be single bills, but we are trying to keep the idea of the whole package together, to be treated as a package. We don't want to start fragmenting it up and then -- --

Q. Would you accept the tax cuts without the budget cuts?

The President. I can't give you a firm answer on that until I see that, but I have to point out that if they tried it -- no, I think it would be the other way around, that they are less apt to oppose the budget cuts than they are the tax cuts. But if you tried it the other way with the tax cuts of none, then I'm not sure that you'd have the same stimulant that you're going to have out of the whole program, and you could aggravate your situation.

Q. Are you saying, Mr. President, you don't expect a big battle over the spending cuts?

The President. Oh, I think here and there, there will be, yes; there will be battles here and there on some of them. But I've noticed that most of the immediate responses from those you would expect to oppose this have dealt with the taxes more than with the other.

Q. Will you be happy if you get some of what you want, but not all?

The President. Oh, 97 percent, I could live with. [Laughter]

Q. Do you have a timetable for getting it through actually? I mean, in your own mind -- if it's years or 1 year?

The President. We want it through earlier than a year.

Q. A year? Do you have a deadline?

The President. No. I say, we've asked, and frankly, asked the leadership to act on it as expeditiously as possible. We're hoping for in a matter of months, a few months.

Q. What has been the thrust of the wires you've received, the telegrams?

The President. The big stack that I was handed last night less than an hour after the speech kind of put a lump in your throat with some of them. They were just totally in support.

Q. What did they mostly say? Did they agree with you?

The President. Oh, and yes, and ``We've waited a long time for this,'' and things of that kind. And the calls -- there have been over a thousand calls, and they run about 95 percent favorable.

Q. What are you going to be doing at the ranch? Are you going to be working anymore, or is this mainly a vacation for you?

The President. Well, I have a hunch that they will greet me with the same amount of reading material that they do in Washington; they have on the plane already. No, there'll be -- leave the job behind, but I also think that I'll be able to haul some wood and ride some horses and do that.

Q. Are you going to ride a white stallion?

The President. Oh -- --

Q. That's not rideable.

The President. Yes, he really is. He's trained for what's known as high dressage. But I have had to board him out for a little bit until we can get a facility for him if we're going to have him back up there, because the five geldings that I've got -- that stallion was going to wind up being the only horse on the place if we didn't move him. So, until we can have a better facility, why, we've boarded him nearby.

Q. I can't print that in my newspaper. [Laughter]

The President. No, please don't.

Q. Thank you.

Note: The exchange took place on board Air Force One during the President's flight to California.