June 27, 1987 My fellow Americans:
With all the sideshows and hoopla in Washington these days, you may sometimes wonder if anyone's paying attention to what really matters. Keeping inflation, unemployment, and your taxes down and growth up, and getting control of our Federal deficit so the economy will stay healthy -- these are among Washington's most important jobs.
In the last few weeks there's been good news and bad news out of Washington about our nation's economic future. The good news is that our economy is strong and getting stronger. Just a week ago we learned that in the first 3 months of this year, our economy had its best quarter in almost 3 years. We're now in the 55th month of what will soon be the longest peacetime economic expansion in history. And the improvement in the trade deficit, which we've been talking about for several months, is now being certified on the front pages of many of our nation's newspapers. As things look today, the good times will keep rolling for as far as the eye can see.
Because of this growth, we continue to create jobs at a breakneck pace -- an average of about 245,000 a month, more jobs in the last 4 years than Europe and Japan combined. More people are at work today than ever before. Family income is growing, poverty is falling, and the middle class is strong. Not only that, but the inflation report we got this week is also good. As one analyst said, ``The numbers indicate that no spurt of inflation is likely.'' That's the good news.
The bad news is that there are some here in Washington who are on a course that could undo all the work that made that good news possible. When we came into office 6\1/2\ years ago, we had a four-part plan to lower taxes, reduce regulations, stabilize monetary growth, and balance the budget. We put three of those four parts into action and lowered the growth of government spending to boot. The result has been four of the best years in our history. Balancing the budget by reducing government spending is the one piece left to put into place if we're to keep our prosperity going strong in the years to come.
For years, we've piled deficit on top of deficit, mortgaging our future and that of future generations. To continue on this path is to court disaster. Yes, we can go ahead and keep borrowing. We can spend beyond our means. But one day the bills will come due. And even before they arrive, we'll be living with a government whose uncontrolled spending robs families and enterprising men and women of the savings and incentive to build for themselves, for our nation, and for the future. That's our choice: Close the deficit and lock economic expansion in place for the years ahead, or return to the days of inflation and stagnation. We must answer the call to action now if we are to preserve and protect our economic expansion. The answer is clear: Get on and stay on the road of declining deficits.
When we look to Capitol Hill, however, the picture on the screen is all too familiar. It's an old rerun called ``Business as Usual.'' Congress drifts through the process of drawing up a budget, missing its own deadlines, even failing to pass individual spending bills. In the last 11 years, Congress hasn't once enacted all 13 of the Government's spending bills by the beginning of the fiscal year, although the law requires it. It's been 10 years since they've passed every one of those bills by the end of the fiscal year. Last year, Congress proved beyond all questioning that, with the current process, it can't manage fiscal affairs. Even under the discipline of Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, it failed to pass a single one of the regular 13 appropriation bills. Instead, Congress sent me a catchall, desperation move called a continuing resolution that jammed all appropriations into one bad piece of last-minute legislation and dangerously underfunded defense and foreign affairs. It favored domestic spending, especially pork-barrel projects ranging from subsidies for luxury apartments to roads that literally go nowhere. I had an all-or-nothing choice: Take it or close the Government down.
Now, the first few of this year's regular 13 appropriation bills are heading my way. Two passed the House this week. And if all Congress' spending measures turn out like these, this year's 13 appropriations bills won't be a baker's dozen; they'll be a dirty dozen. What's in this one? More pork; more shortchanging of defense. They even managed to throw in dangerous protectionist measures. I need your help if we're to make Congress face the fact that its budget process is broken and needs fixing. At stake is reliability in government spending and the economic future of our nation.
Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.
Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from Camp David, MD.