WASHINGTON — President Reagan pledged today to use his veto power "from now until the day I leave office" to block any tax-hike legislation that reaches his desk.
In an address before the Kiwanis International convention, the President displayed a spirit of no compromise with Capitol Hill and pressed for support of his "Economic Bill of Rights," which he unveiled Friday.
"Make no mistake," Reagan said, "we face a clear and present danger in Congress. The momentum of big government, which we've managed to hold back these last few years, has only been gathering steam, getting ready to burst through all the restraints we've imposed upon it."
Reagan chided lawmakers for all wanting "a piece of the action," saying, "It's always the American people who are expected to foot the bill with higher taxes."
"Now, I promise this--from now until the day I leave office, I won't hesitate for one moment to use my veto power," he said. "And if a tax hike makes it to my desk, I'll veto it in less time than it takes Vanna White (of TV's "Wheel of Fortune" game show) to turn the letters V-E-T-O."
Reagan also announced that he was presenting the Kiwanis his private sector initiative citation award for the service organization's fight against drug abuse.
Keeping with his intention to travel out of Washington once a week to keep his budget reform before the public while the Iran- contra hearings continue on Capitol Hill, Reagan has scheduled a trip to New Britain, Conn., on Wednesday.
North Testimony Welcomed
Reagan has welcomed public testimony from his fired National Security Council aide, Lt. Col. Oliver L. North, who will be grilled beginning Tuesday on what the President was told about the diversion of money to the Nicaraguan contra rebels from secret U.S. arms sales to Iran.
But as that testimony unfolds before Congress, Reagan will keep busy with a full agenda of other domestic and foreign policy concerns entailing both political risk and the potential for significant achievement.
On the problematic side, Reagan's decision to expand the U.S. naval presence in the Persian Gulf has been regarded with skepticism and concern by Congress. His declaration Friday of an "Economic Bill of Rights" struck many as more of an attempt to shape the 1988 campaign than a bid for radical fiscal reform.
At the same time, however, the President has seized the chance to strengthen his legacy by reshaping the Supreme Court with his nomination of conservative federal Judge Robert H. Bork to replace retired Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr.