Radio Address to the Nation on the Federal Budget

 

October 1, 1988

 

My fellow Americans:

 

In the past few weeks, you and I and all Americans have won some major victories here in Washington. These victories didn't come easily, but each will help shape our nation in the years ahead.

 

One of the most important has to do with the Federal budget. Only once since 1948 has all of the budgeting of the United States Government been approved by Congress and signed by the President on or before the beginning of the fiscal year. And too often, when the budget process has reached an impasse, appropriations have been dumped into massive continuing resolutions. The worst of these came along last year. Congress poured all of the Government's appropriations into a single bill. The bill was 1,057 pages long, weighed 14 pounds, and arrived over 2 months after the fiscal year began. Not even Congress knew what was in it. I said in January that the next time Congress pulled such a stunt -- well, never again.

 

Well, I'm happy to report that today, October 1st, marks the beginning of the fiscal year. And at this hour, for the first time in years, all the Government's budgetary work is done. The last of the Government's 13 appropriations bills have been delivered to me, and I have signed them. It was touch and go for a while whether we would actually meet the deadline. The appropriations bill for the District of Columbia provided financing of abortions, long after most other Federal abortion financing has stopped. We said public money should not be used for abortions; many liberals said it should be. We won.

 

The Defense appropriations bill was also a close call. As you know, many liberals are opposed to our Strategic Defense Initiative. Why they would want to deny America a defense against nuclear missiles, a defense that the Soviets have been candid enough to say they're building for themselves -- why the liberals would want to do that, I don't know. They had, through various devices, restricted how we spent money on SDI research and development. These restrictions could have crippled critical parts of the program. But early this week, we got the restrictions removed from all bills, and research will go forward to find a way to end the nightmare of nuclear terror.

 

I hope the last 24 hours prove historic and mark the end of the ``Perils of Pauline'' budget games Congress played for so long. Another recent historic accomplishment is passage of a bill implementing the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement. When similar legislation is enacted in Canada, North America will be on its way to becoming the world's largest open market. Thanks in part to our successful policy, begun the day George Bush and I took office, of opening markets around the world to American goods, America is today in the longest peacetime economic expansion on record. Canada is also growing strongly. Opening our mutual border to uninhibited commerce will help that unprecedented expansion continue into the next decade and the next century.

 

This week we won one other major victory in Congress, and took a giant step toward reforming a welfare system that is a trap for too many of our fellow citizens. I've often said that genuine welfare reform must be geared to making people independent of welfare; and that means, among other things, that those who receive welfare must be required to work. Too many liberals have fought this idea every step of the way. But yesterday we prevailed, and the welfare reform legislation that will arrive on my desk shortly includes a work requirement.

 

Even as we can take pride in these great victories, a couple of other legislative battles continue to rage over the textile bill -- which I vetoed this week -- and the drug bill. On the textile bill, the problem is that the bill is protectionist and would draw foreign retaliation against American products. With America exporting more than ever, protectionism means destroying American jobs, and I won't allow it. The House-passed drug bill provides for a Federal death penalty for drug-related killings. Liberals in Congress oppose the death penalty and other necessary improvements in the law and plan to kill the bill in the Senate. They've also recently cut funding for the Federal agencies that enforce our drug laws.

 

It's time the liberals realized that the fight against drugs is not ``Pee Wee's Big Adventure'' but a serious and dangerous business. And our law enforcement officers should have all the tools they need to do their job. I urge the Senate to follow the House's lead and give America a strong drug bill. I urge Congress to act swiftly this week to restore full funding to drug law enforcement. With your help, in the end, what is best for the Nation will win out. It has in many ways in the past few days. Let's hope Congress will do what's right on the textile and the drug bills.

 

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.