Radio Address to the Nation on the Bonn Economic Summit and the Federal Budget

April 27, 1985

My fellow Americans:

On Tuesday Nancy and I will be on our way to Bonn, West Germany, where I'll be meeting with the leaders of our most important trading partners. This is another in a series of meetings designed to enhance the economic cooperation between the free people of the world. By working together with our allies, we hope to ensure that the engines of growth and progress keep running with efficiency. We want to make certain that the fruits of open and free exchange are enjoyed by all and that free trade is a two-way proposition.

In meetings like this, one can't help but be struck by the vitality of the Western alliance -- clear evidence of the relationship between freedom and economic progress.

One of the purposes of this trip to Europe will be to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, the monumental catastrophe that inflicted death and destruction as mankind had never before witnessed. I think it's also fitting for us to commemorate this as an anniversary of peace and the beginning of a new relationship with former enemies, to take stock of all that's been accomplished in these 40 years of friendship.

In these last four decades, the rise in the living conditions of people in the Western democracies has been nothing short of a miracle. The abundance we enjoy should lay to rest the lie that freedom must be sacrificed for progress to be made. Freedom not only is right; freedom works. It builds societies that are humane and positive in spirit.

Citizens of democratic countries enjoy opportunity and well-being far beyond anything available to those forced to endure tyranny. A lack of faith in freedom often stems from the belief that people are not capable of making the tough decisions necessary for a country's security and economic health.

Americans have proven these cynics wrong time and again. It wasn't that long ago we faced monstrously high inflation and economic stagnation here in the United States. As a people we stood at a crossroads, and instead of fearing our challenge Americans pushed forward with confidence and enthusiasm. Together, we cut the rate of inflation and brought back healthy growth. Our economy has produced 8 million new jobs in the last 28 months. Some of our European friends are calling it the American miracle.

Well, it wasn't a miracle. By working together and making some needed changes, we turned a bad situation around. Now it's time for the next step -- tackling some fundamental problems and laying the foundation for a decade of economic growth.

Last Wednesday night I went on television to explain to you the budget decisions we must make. Our greatest challenge is bringing down deficit spending and doing it in a way which will keep our economy vigorous and expanding.

I worked out with Senator Dole and the Republican leadership of the Senate a proposal that will bring us within reach of a balanced budget by the end of the decade. It is a balanced effort of holding down the cost of defense and domestic programs while cutting from the Federal budget nonessential programs that are wasteful, inefficient, and, in more than a few cases, should never have been financed with your tax dollars in the first place. Many of these programs were brought on line at a time when Congress was acting like there was no limit to how much of your money they could spend. Today we know better, and it's time to trim the deadwood from the Federal budget.

Many of our opponents in Congress are advocating a freeze in Federal spending and an increase in taxes. The across-the-board freeze they advocate would limit worthwhile and absolutely needed programs while at the same time freeze in wasteful and inefficient ones. A freeze is really a decision not to make a decision. It is a retreat in front of special interest pressure.

Raising taxes is also no alternative. First, the American people don't want their taxes increased. You demonstrated that overwhelmingly in the last election. Second, raising taxes carries the risk that it'll kick us back into recession, which would end up increasing the deficit. Third, raising taxes will simply make it more likely that Congress will increase spending.

Slogans and easy answers, like a freeze or raising taxes, are not the way to go. The answer is responsible reduction of Federal spending. It will work if we have the courage to say no to the special interest groups.

I hope you'll let your elected representatives know how you feel, that you support our efforts to trim wasteful programs and to put our economic house in order. When I'm meeing with our friends and allies in Europe this coming week, I'll do so with confidence because ultimately I know you'll make the right decision. Our free society is based on faith in the people.

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House.