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THE STATE OF THE UNION : Text: 'We Must Not Deny . . . Successes of the Future'

January 28, 1987|United Press International

WASHINGTON — Following is the prepared text of President Reagan's State of the Union message Tuesday night.

May I congratulate all of you who are members of this historic 100th Congress of the United States of America.

In this 200th anniversary year of our Constitution, you and I stand on the shoulders of giants--men whose words and deeds put wind in the sails of freedom.

However, we must always remember that our Constitution is to be celebrated not for being old, but for being young--young with the same energy, spirit and promise that filled each eventful day in Philadelphia's State House. We will be guided tonight by their acts; we will be guided forever by their words.

Now, forgive me, but I can't resist sharing a story from those historic days.

Bursting With Pride

Philadelphia was bursting with civic pride in the spring of 1787, and its newspapers began embellishing the arrival of the Convention delegates with elaborate social classifications.

Governors of states were called "Excellency." Justices and chancellors had reserved for them "Honorable" with a capital "H." For congressmen, it was "honorable" with a small "h." All others were referred to as "the following respectable characters."

Well, for this 100th Congress, I invoke special Executive powers to declare that each of you must never be titled less than Honorable with a capital "H."

Now, there's a new face at this place of honor tonight. Please join me in warm congratulations to Speaker of the House, Jim Wright.

Mr. Speaker, you might recall a similar situation in your very first session of Congress, 32 years ago. Then, as now, the Speakership had changed hands, and another great son of Texas, Sam Rayburn--"Mr. Sam"--sat in your chair.

I cannot find better words than those used by President Eisenhower that evening: "We shall have much to do together; I am sure that we shall get it done--and, that we shall do it in harmony and good will."

Tonight, I renew that pledge. To you, Mr. Speaker, and to Senate Majority Leader Bob Byrd who brings 34 years of distinguished service to Congress, may I say: though there are changes in this Congress, America's interests remain the same.

I am confident that, along with Republican leaders Bob Michel and Bob Dole, this Congress can make history.

Six years ago, I was here to ask Congress to join me in America's New Beginning.

Lowest Inflation in 25 Years

The results are something of which we can all be proud. Our inflation rate is now the lowest in a quarter of a century. The prime interest rate has fallen from the 21 1/2% the month before we took office to 7 1/2% today, and those rates have triggered the most housing starts in eight years.

The unemployment rate--still too high--is the lowest in nearly seven years, and our people have created nearly 13 million new jobs. Over 61% of everyone over the age of 16, male and female, is employed--the highest percentage on record.

Let's roll up our sleeves, go to work and put America's economic engine at full throttle.

We can also be heartened by our progress across the world. Most important, America is at peace tonight and freedom is on the march. We have done much these past years to restore our defenses, our alliances and our leadership in the world. Our sons and daughters in the services once again wear their uniforms with pride.

But though we have made much progress, I have one major regret. I took a risk with regard to our action in Iran. It did not work, and for that I assume full responsibility.

The goals were worthy. I do not believe it was wrong to try to establish contacts with a country of strategic importance or to try to save lives. And certainly it was not wrong to try to secure freedom for our citizens held in barbaric captivity. But we did not achieve what we wished and serious mistakes were made in trying to do so. We will get to the bottom of this, and I will take whatever action is called for.

But in debating the past, we must not deny ourselves the successes of the future. Let it never be said of this generation of Americans that we became so obsessed with failure that we refused to take risks that could further the cause of peace and freedom in the world.

Nation, World Are Watching

Much is at stake here, and the nation and the world are watching--to see if we go forward together in the national interest or if we let partisanship weaken us.

And let there be no mistakes about American policy: we will not sit idly by if our interests or our friends in the Middle East are threatened, nor will we yield to terrorist blackmail.

Now, ladies and gentlemen of the Congress, why don't we get to work?

I am pleased to report that, because of our efforts to rebuild the strength of America, the world is a safer place. Earlier this month, I submitted a budget to defend America and maintain our momentum to make up for neglect in the last decade. I ask you to vote out a defense and foreign affairs budget that says "yes" to protecting our country.

While the world is safer, it is not safe.

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