Exchange With Reporters Following the Radio Address to the Nation on the Program for Economic Recovery

April 3, 1982

Q. There are -- [inaudible] -- reports, Mr. President, that -- there are reports from Congress that administration officials have said that the deficit's going to be $124 billion, not $95 billion.

The President. I couldn't answer that until we have to, by law, go up shortly in the next couple of weeks -- I can't remember the exact date -- and present an updated project. As I've said so many times, we do this; we comply with the law. I don't have the greatest faith in those projects, because I think there are too many imponderables both ways that -- to make them really something that we should -- be -- depend on.

Q. But does it worry you that it might be some $22 billion more than what had -- --

The President. Well, the increase -- as the recession goes on and unemployment increases, of course, the deficit increases, because it's -- that's more people who stop paying taxes, and it's more people who then have to receive benefits and unemployment insurance and so forth.

So, we've known that this recession has brought this about, and the answer is, we've got to bring the recession to an end. And I think our program will do that.

Q. But, Mr. President, in your speech you seem to be saying that unemployment is going up because unemployment is pushing up the deficit and thus keeping interest rates high. That sounds like a cycle that we just can't get out of.

The President. Yes, we can get out of it. And the way out of it is not the way that's been tried on most of the recessions that have taken place in these last few decades: hyping the money supply, artificially stimulating the money supply, stimulating government spending, as if that somehow will be an aid to the economy -- and up, of course, goes inflation when you do that.

Now, inflation does have a temporary, stimulative effect just by its very nature. It's kind of like a warm bath. It feels good for a minute, but then the water gets too hot.

What we're trying -- and the difference between our plan and what's always been tried before is the long-range plan to get the economy back on track, to get America back to where we're the industrial powerhouse that we always were. And to do that, that requires the tax cuts both for business and for individuals to stimulate the economy, reduce the percentage of the gross national product that the government is taking in taxes and that the government is spending. And all of these things I think our plan will do. And it is the only way.

It isn't an instant fix, but it also is a way out that simply solves the problem by broadening the base of our economy, providing the jobs that our people must have, being able to compete once again with the other industrial nations, which we haven't been able to do very well for quite some time now.

Q. Mr. President -- --

Deputy Press Secretary Speakes. Thank you. Lights -- sorry.

The President. Well, let him finish.

Q. [Inaudible] -- the purpose of having these speeches on radio, starting with the economy. What benefit does it give you?

The President. Well, I think that it -- it isn't for me. I think it's time, with all the confusion and all the conflicting things that seem to come out of Washington, between leaks and statements by individuals and pressure groups pressing for their particular program, that it's an opportunity to try each week to -- based on what has taken place in that week -- to bring the facts to the people as succinctly as I can and as many as I can cram in 5 minutes. And I just thought I'd start with this one, because this one, I think, happens to be the one that's the most on people's minds, this thing of how are we going to get the interest rates down, how are we going to resolve the present problems. So, that was the reason for it and -- --

Q. You looked pretty comfortable with it.

The President. What?

Q. You looked pretty comfortable with it. Does it feel good to be getting back on the radio?

The President. Yeah, it was almost like old times there. I was waiting for somebody to try and steal second. [Laughter]

Reporters. Thank you.

The President. Okay. Thank all of you.

What are you doing down here on a Saturday? Don't you work a 5-day week?

Q. That's a very good question. [Laughter]

The President. That's right. I've got to go this way. Okay, good. Nice to see you.

Note: The exchange began at approximately 12:15 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. It followed the President's reading of several portions of his radio address for the benefit of reporters, photographers, and television cameramen, who were not present during the actual broadcast.