Remarks at a White House Ceremony Marking the Sale of the Consolidated Rail Corporation

April 3, 1987

Secretary Dole. Mr. President, thanks to your commitment, thanks to your leadership in privatization, Conrail, our government-owned freight railroad, is no longer a ward of the state. Last week, in the largest initial industrial stock offering that we've had in the history of the United States, Conrail was sold.

And we were very pleased that we were able to maximize the price and also minimize the cost to the Government, because in this instance we had the lowest gross spread of any comparable public offering, the lowest fees to the underwriters. We also had for the first time a special bracket for minorities and women-owned investment firms. And this gave them an opportunity to participate fully in all aspects of management of the public offering and gave them a lot of visibility and a lot of experience in the process.

So, we're delighted today to be able to present a check to you, which I hope is the first of many 10-digit checks -- [laughter] -- which will reduce the deficit. This check is for $1,575,087,500. Now, you add to that the $300 million that we received in dividends prior to the sale of Conrail, and the Government is receiving more than $1,875,000,000 from Conrail. So, I hope that this is just the first of many privatizations to follow in the wake of the Conrail sale, which was the flagship of privatization.

Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. And I also want due credit for having appointed a remarkable and wonderful Secretary of Transportation. Elizabeth and those of you who are here today are to be congratulated for the crowning achievement in our privatization efforts: the hugely successful sale of Conrail to the public. The American people will receive, as you've just heard, over a $1\1/2\ billion from that sale, reducing the Federal deficit by that same amount and this, in addition, as Elizabeth told us, the over $300 million paid to the Federal Government by Conrail in the last few months.

Conrail is the flagship of privatization and the first of what we hope will be many government functions returned to their rightful place in the private sector. I think this Conrail sale is further evidence that the administration is doing its bit to reduce the deficit.

And let me say something about yesterday's vote. It was a battle well worth waging, and there will be more. Our pledge to the American people to reverse the trend toward more Federal spending remains strong, and it's time for the Congress to stand by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings targets and not retreat. And I will continue to press forward for a sound, responsible Federal spending plan.

Well, thank you all, and God bless you. And, Elizabeth, God bless you. And what else have we got to sell? [Laughter] All right, thank you all very much.

Reporter. Mr. President, when they warned you about security in the Moscow Embassy, why wasn't something done?

The President. Well, we thought we were doing something, Bill [Bill Plante, CBS News]. We never took anything like that lightly, but finally, it's out in the open. And -- --

Q. Well, they say that communications security is so bad that Secretary Shultz is going to have to go to a Winnebago to have secure communications when he's in Moscow.

The President. Well, I hope he's got one with him. [Laughter]

Note: The President spoke at 11:53 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth H. Dole presented the President with a facsimile of the check from the sale. Mr. Plante's questions referred to the discovery of electronic listening devices in the new U.S. Embassy building in Moscow and Secretary of State Shultz' visit to Moscow to discuss U.S.-Soviet relations.