Radio Address to the Nation on the Federal Budget and the Western Alliance

May 29, 1982

My fellow Americans:

This has been a pretty hectic week and, I'm sorry to say, a bad one for all those Americans who are suffering because of the recession and the high interest rates.

In contrast to the Senate, which has passed a responsible budget resolution calling for reductions in the projected deficits for the next 3 years of $358 billion, the majority leadership of the House of Representatives preferred to play politics. In a wild 5 or 6 days, they battled over which of half a dozen or so budgets we should have, plus 68 amendments, and then came up empty. They will now recess for a vacation and come back to start all over again.

The President is required to submit a budget. Indeed, the budget is referred to as ``the President's budget.'' The one we submitted in February was not one of those the House debated; yet, it was a result of 4 months work by the Office of Management and Budget, the entire Cabinet and their staffs, and the executive staff. The Congress simply ignored it. Nothing in our Federal Government is more in need of an overhaul than the ridiculous procedure we have misnamed ``the budget process.''

Believing that a budget resolution calling for substantial savings could have an effect on the now unnecessarily high interest rates, I had hoped for cooperation with the Democratic leadership of the House. I thought if we could appear together before the cameras and announce that we had arrived at agreement on a deficit-reducing budget, it would serve notice to the money markets that we were united in an effort to keep inflation and, thus, interest rates down.

A number of responsible Democrat Congressmen did share that hope. And with their help, we'll keep on fighting to get a responsible budget which protects your tax cuts and provides for a sound defense program.

Next week, I leave for Europe for the first time as President. Exactly 1 week from today, while I'm in France, we'll commemorate the 35th anniversary of the Marshall plan, one of the greatest humanitarian ventures ever undertaken. America helped to rebuild the shattered economies of Western Europe and create a sense of community among Western nations which remains vital today.

We must recognize that, whether in defense, political, or economic affairs, building successful foreign policy begins at home. It's for that reason we put in place an economic recovery program that, at long last, addresses the problems and abuses that have been undermining our economic health for decades.

We're starting to get some encouraging news from those economic statistics that pour out of Washington. Interest rates are heading down -- not enough, but it's a start. Inflation is substantially down, and real consumer incomes are rising. And on July 1st, thanks to the second installment of your tax cut, Uncle Sam's bite on your paycheck will be smaller, leaving you more to spend and save as you see fit.

Serious problems remain, such as the need for a sound budget and, above all, unemployment, here and in Europe where it's at record levels. But we're making economic headway, and our common security requires that we continue to work together as friends and allies. That will be my main theme at the seven-nation economic summit in France next week.

But prosperity has little meaning unless we also act to maintain our freedom and protect the peace. The remarkable strength and success of the Western Alliance in preserving the peace for over three decades lies in the fact that we're a voluntary grouping of free peoples, soon to be joined by still another new democracy -- Spain. The overriding success of NATO is that for almost 40 years, Europe has been at peace.

To lay the basis for another generation of peace and prosperity, I'll meet with my 15 NATO colleagues in Bonn, the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Our allies know that America has both the will and the resources to defend itself and to live up to its commitments. Last November 18th, we offered to eliminate all of our Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles if the Soviets eliminate their SS - 4, 5, and 20 missiles, now targeted on our allies. This offer has the strong support of our NATO allies and has been spelled out in detail at the U.S.-Soviet negotiating table in Geneva.

In my recent speech at Eureka College, I presented a proposal for substantial reductions in strategic arms. We and our allies hope the Soviets will respond positively, and we're prepared to begin START -- that's Strategic Arms Reduction Talks -- immediately. But arms control can't happen in a vacuum. Over the past decade, the Soviet Union has engaged in a pattern of direct and indirect aggression and suppression in places as varied as Afghanistan, Poland, and Latin America, and that's made it harder for progress in arms control.

We must always remember that, in dealing with the condition in the world today, Western solidarity and defense preparedness are essential to meaningful arms control negotiations. That's the message I'll take with me -- the message of a strong, free alliance, working together to protect its freedom and seek meaningful negotiations to build a more peaceful world.

I'm optimistic for the future of our partnerships and the future of freedom. The values for which we and our fellow democracies stand are of enduring and universal worth. Ours is a mission for peace and freedom through Western unity and strength, and with your prayers, it will succeed.

Next Saturday, I'll be talking to you from Europe. Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 9:06 a.m. from Rancho del Cielo, his ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif.