Remarks at a Reception for Supporters of the Proposed Constitutional Amendment for a Balanced Federal Budget

September 30, 1982

Thank you very much. Incidentally, a couple of visitors came in with me over here -- Don Kendall and Lou Uhler, who are the cochairmen of the drive out there to help with this very thing that brings us together here today. But I'm here to thank 218 Members of the House of Representatives, Republicans and responsible Democrats, who joined together to sign the discharge petition for the balanced budget tax limitation amendment.

This is an important step forward in a struggle our administration has waged for many months -- the battle to get runaway spending under control as part of our effort to restore America's economic health. Earlier this year in meeting with congressional leaders and at a rally on the Capitol steps, I urged prompt action on the constitutional amendment to require a balanced Federal budget. As you know, the amendment was passed by the Senate some time ago. Until now, however, it's been bottled up in the House.

Twenty-one red-ink budgets in 22 years are proof enough that we need and deserve a vote on this fundamental reform. It's not a partisan issue. I repeat, this is not a partisan issue. It's a matter of making government exercise the same kind of financial responsibility that every American family does. And as the polls show, an overwhelming majority of Americans back this amendment. For too long, the voice of the people has fallen on deaf ears in Washington. Now that a majority of the House of Representatives has called for a vote on the amendment -- House Joint Resolution 350 -- it's imperative that the House act on this long-overdue measure.

I know of the concern that the leadership of the House may try to sabotage the passage of this resolution by an 11th-hour sleight of hand. This is no time to subvert the will of the Congress and the vast majority of our people. All Americans deserve to know where their Representatives stand on this balanced budget amendment before the Congress recesses for the campaign.

We've already made important progress in healing a sick economy. The statistics may waiver from time to time, but slowly, surely we are working our way to a recovery that can spare our children the problems that we face today.

Making this government live within its means will do more to bring interest rates and inflation down further, protect the earnings of our people, and put unemployed Americans back to work than anything else the Congress could do at this time.

I urge the House leadership to face this crucial issue, to follow the example of the 218 of you, Republican and Democrat, who signed the discharge petition, and put the national interest before politics. The time to act is now -- for the sake of all of our people, for future generations of Americans whose chances for prosperity and opportunity are held hostage by big government's addiction to red-ink spending.

And, once again, God bless you all, and thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:24 p.m. in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill.