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'Lame-Duck Talk for the Birds,' Reagan Argues in Connecticut : Hits the Road to Defend 'Economic Bill of Rights'

July 08, 1987|Associated Press

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — President Reagan, taking his tax-and-spend battle with Congress on the road, asserted today that his Administration has not run out of steam and that "all that lame-duck talk is for the birds."

Reagan spoke at the City Hall of this central Connecticut city as Lt. Col. Oliver L. North took the witness stand in Washington to continue testifying about the Iran- contra affair, which has wounded Reagan's presidency.

As Reagan spoke, making no mention of North, the shouts of protesters could be heard from across the square.

"No more lies! No more lies!" some protesters chanted. One was seen with a bag filled with pieces of paper and a sign saying, "No more shredding."

North as Hero

Guests of the local Chamber of Commerce were given VIP tickets to place them at the front of the City Hall crowd. A young man carrying a sign calling North "our hero" drew scattered applause as he paraded through the crowd before Reagan arrived.

But a balloon on which the words "Impeachment Is in Your Future" were written bobbed up and down until it was hauled down by someone in the crowd and popped.

Reagan took some notice of the protesters, asking at one point, "Is there an echo here?" At the end of his speech, Reagan again glanced in the direction of the protesters and said, "Thank you and God bless you all--or almost all."

His speech emphasized the "economic bill of rights" he has been promoting to make it tougher for Congress to raise taxes and spend money.

Someone's Lying

"Anyone who tells you that we can't reduce the deficit without raising taxes and cutting defense is not telling you the truth," Reagan said.

"You've heard leaders on Capitol Hill shout, point fingers and say that I'm responsible for the big deficits. They're the same ones who, year after year, have shouted 'Dead on Arrival' whenever I've sent up budgets that cut the excessive spending they love."

Under Reagan, the deficit has more than tripled, peaking at a record $220.7 billion last year.

Reagan said a President needs authority to veto individual projects in overall spending bills. He also renewed his call for a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.

'Supermajority' Needed

As envisioned by Reagan, the amendment also would stipulate that a tax increase could not be approved by Congress without a "supermajority" vote, such as two-thirds or three-fifths.

"You may have heard some people talk about a certain lame duck and about the end of an era," Reagan said. "Well, all that lame-duck talk is for the birds.

"The era we've begun won't end anytime soon, because it's not my era. It's your era, the era of the American people.

"In America, when you, the people, put your foot down, you're the boss. You will make the economic bill of rights part of America's heritage."

Reagan has backed many of the proposals for years, but they garnered little attention even when the Republicans held sway on Capitol Hill.

New Britain, a city of about 75,000 mostly working class people who have traditionally voted Democrat, has struggled with economic difficulties for more than a decade.

The city is rebounding slowly from problems caused by the closing of factories in its aging tool-and-die and ball-bearing industries.

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