Remarks on Federal Loan Assets Sales

 

September 30, 1987

 

The President. Well, thank you, Secretary Lyng. Jim, you have it now, so that ought to reduce this fiscal year's deficit by over $3 billion. And I welcome Professor Linowes and the members of the Privatization Commission. These loan assets sales were very successful, as you can see, and they sold easily and on very favorable terms because of a great deal of hard work on the part of officials at the Departments of Education and Agriculture and by people like Joe Wright at OMB.

 

The loan sales proceeds of approximately $3.41 billion constitute a significant step toward reducing the Federal Government's deficit, as I've said, and even more can be done to privatize Federal loans. Presently, the Federal Government is the Nation's largest lender, with $252 billion in direct loans, $450 billion in loan guarantees, and $453 billion in government-sponsored loans. We will be taking a close look at these assets to determine which loans can be better handled by the private sector.

 

But while all agree that the deficit must be cut, there is a new roadblock to the promising approach of asset sales. As part of the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings ``fix'' in the debt ceiling extension, Congress prohibited counting the proceeds of asset sales toward reducing the deficit. This reflects the choice of some in Congress to achieve deficit reductions through higher taxes or lower national defense. Others agree with our position to reduce the deficits through cuts in wasteful domestic spending and through privatization measures such as the one that we announce here today. Any congressional restriction on deficit reduction which would increase the tax burden on every taxpayer is wrong.

 

The difference in perspective here is useful. There are those who believe in less government and low taxation, and there are those who believe in big government and high taxation, and that's a choice I've always felt we could confidently leave to the American people. They've made their feelings known in the past, and I think they will do so again. So, we're going to carry on, and you, I think, are contributing nobly to this task that we have of getting the Government back into the business of government and getting it out of the hair of private business in this country.

 

So, God bless you all, and thank you for what you are doing.

 

Supreme Court Nomination

 

Reporter. Mr. President, it sounds like your Judge Bork nomination is in trouble.

 

The President. Well, I'm very optimistic. I think that common sense will prevail, and they will realize he's the best choice on the market today for that post.

 

Q. Senator Cranston says that he's licked already. He's counted the votes.

 

The President. Well, Senator Cranston's been wrong before. [Laughter]

 

CIA Covert Operations

 

Q. What do you think of Casey's off-the-books operations, which has stunned this town and the country?

 

The President. What?

 

Q. Off the books, Casey's operations?

 

The President. I think that there's an awful lot of fiction about a man who was unable to communicate at all and is now being quoted as if he were doing nothing but talk his head off.

 

Q. Well, did you sign the directive that led to a massacre in Beirut?

 

The President. No. And I have a copy of the measure that I signed.

 

Q. Can we see it?

 

The President. It was nothing but that we were all approving a plan requested of us by the Government of Beirut -- of Lebanon, I should say -- to help them counter terrorism. Never would I sign anything that would authorize an assassination. I never have, and I never will, and I didn't.

 

Q. Did he carry on any actions without your knowledge, Mr. President?

 

The President. You're keeping all these people from getting back -- [laughter] --  --

 

Q. Did he carry out any covert actions without your knowledge -- Mr. Casey?

 

The President. Not that I know of.

 

Q. Well, don't you think you should have known? It seems to me that he did a lot of things you didn't know about.

 

The President. No, I think I did know, and there are a lot of things he's being charged with right now. I was going to say credited with, but you couldn't describe them as charged with. And I don't think any of them have a basis in fact.

 

Note: The President spoke at 10:22 a.m. to the President's Commission on Privatization in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In his opening remarks, the President referred to a check for the profits from the sale of Federal loan assets. He also referred to Secretary of Agriculture Richard Lyng; James C. Miller III, Director of the Office of Management and Budget; David F. Linowes, Chairman of the President's Commission on Privatization; and Joseph R. Wright, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.