Remarks to the American Lobby for the Balanced Budget Amendment

September 8, 1982

I know we here today, and a majority of the American people agree on one point: We're not saying we have a terrible problem and Government must find a solution. We're saying Government is the problem and the people have the solution -- a constitutional amendment making balanced budgets the law of this land.

We in the administration have been working hard to keep pressure on the Congress to get this initiative passed. Back on July 12, I held a bipartisan meeting with key congressional leaders and urged their support. Then, on July 19, we joined our fellow Americans for a big rally on the steps of the Capitol.

I'll never forget that afternoon because it had to be one of the hottest days of the summer. I think some of the Members of Congress felt the heat, too. Shortly after the rally, the Senate did its job and passed the amendment.

Unfortunately, as you know, the amendment has been bottled up inside the House Judiciary Committee. I have personally written every Member of the House, asking their support for the Conable discharge petition. We need 218 signatures, and we have now surpassed 200.

This afternoon I have just met with a bipartisan group of Congressmen who are co-sponsors of the amendment, but who have not yet signed the discharge petition. I'd like to think some of them now will.

I want you to know that I consider passage of this amendment, both in the Congress and in the States, to be a top priority for America. I intend to do everything in my power to bring that about.

It is absolutely essential that the House leadership allow a vote on this issue. We're counting on the American Lobby and other grassroots organizations to help us mobilize the country before the November elections, so we can make the Congress heed the will of the people and get the budget monster under control once and for all.

Now I know it's fashionable to say that the amendment isn't relevant now, because it won't take effect until the second fiscal year after its ratification. Well, that's nonsense. Ratification will produce an immediate impact. From that moment on, the watchword to Washington will be: Start shaping up, or you may be shipping out.

With your help, we can make this amendment the economic lifeline to millions of American families who still believe in the American dream. Thank you again for your invaluable support. We know this is not a partisan issue. It is the people's crusade. With your help, we will make Washington understand that we intend to do whatever it takes to make our Government, once again, the faithful servant of the American people.

Note: The President attended a reception of the American Lobby at the Madison Hotel and addressed the group at approximately 6 p.m.

As printed above, this item follows the text of the President's prepared remarks as released by the Office of the Press Secretary.