Remarks to Reporters on the Proposed Constitutional Amendment for a Balanced Federal Budget

July 12, 1982

The President. The Vice President and these Senators -- these Members, these Representatives in the House are here with me today for an announcement. And let me warn you now, there won't be any questions. I just wanted to make this announcement.

Nearly 3 months ago, I told the American people that we'd made dramatic progress in reducing the growth of Federal spending, but that we need more time to get the job done. For too long the legislative process has simply been overwhelmed by the powerful and relentless pressures for more spending. So, I asked the Congress to pass, as soon as possible, a constitutional amendment requiring that it balance the Federal budget.

Today, I have met with these key leaders pushing this bipartisan initiative in the House and Senate. On behalf of the public and our administration, I express to them our gratitude, the urgency we feel, and my eagerness to do everything I can to ensure their success.

Senate debate on the proposed resolution will begin this afternoon. We're asking Majority Leader Baker, Senators Thurmond, Hatch, DeConcini, and Helms, as leaders of the 61 cosponsors, to help us secure its passage as rapidly as possible. I understand that Representatives Conable and Jenkins, who are here, are filing a discharge petition so the full House can consider their resolution. Then we send the amendment on to the States.

All over America, citizens are asking each other the same question: Why is this government incapable of doing what their families, municipalities, and State governments do as a matter of course -- spend within the limits of their revenues? Twenty-one unbalanced budgets in 22 years is proof that our Federal budgetary system needs fundamental reform. We must not and we will not, permit prospects for lasting economic recovery to be buried beneath an endless tide of red ink. Americans understand that the discipline of a balanced budget amendment is essential to stop squandering and overtaxing. And they're saying the time to pass the amendment is now.

And with that, just a ``thank you'' to these gentlemen here with me and to their colleagues for all that they're doing to make this come about. And we intend that it shall come about once and for all.

And that's the end of statement and the end of our appearance here. Thank you all.

Q. Mr. President, why is your midyear economic forecast more pessimistic than the one earlier this year?

The President. I can't take any questions. If I open that up, we'll have a press conference here. So -- --

Q. Why don't you balance it now?

The President. Well, because I think that the built-in spending increase is too much for that. The amendment will speak for itself.

Q. How long will it take the States to ratify it?

The President. You see, if I stay here, I can't shake hands with anybody.

Q. Any final words for us?

Q. Why did you fire Haig?

Q. What about lifting the sanctions on Argentina?

Q. Grain sale?

The President. No.

Note: The President spoke at 1:34 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Prior to his remarks, he held a luncheon meeting with the Members of Congress and administration officials who accompanied him into the Rose Garden for the announcement.