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President Assails Pending Measures to Restrict Trade

September 06, 1987|JAMES GERSTENZANG | Times Staff Writer

SANTA BARBARA — President Reagan, decrying "heavy-handed" trade legislation pending in Congress, told the nation Saturday that "quick fixes and easy answers like protectionism are not the way to a better life."

Wrapping up a California vacation than began Aug. 13--and brought to more than 365 the number of days he has spent in the state since taking office 6 1/2 years ago--Reagan is returning to Washington today.

On his way home, Reagan plans to stop briefly in Topeka, Kan., to visit Alfred M. Landon, three days short of Landon's 100th birthday. Landon, a Republican, was defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1936 presidential election.

In his weekly radio address, Reagan used the theme of Monday's Labor Day holiday to attack the trade measure, saying: "Restricting trade in the long run is bad for everybody, especially for the working people of America."

Seeking a Compromise

When Congress returns Wednesday to Washington after its own August break, lawmakers in the House and Senate will begin trying to reach a compromise on different trade measures each chamber has passed.

Reagan and his top aides have repeatedly threatened to veto either bill.

The measures toughen U.S. laws fighting foreign unfair trade practices, forcing open foreign markets to more U.S. products and protecting U.S. jobs and industries from unfair or illegal foreign competition.

In the Senate bill, Reagan objects to a provision requiring employers with at least 100 workers to give them a minimum of 60 days' notice of plant closings or mass layoffs.

In the House bill, Reagan objects to an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), requiring the United States to place duties or quotas on imports from countries with huge trade surpluses with this country and that have used unfair trade practices.

The President warned that "protecting one domestic industry risks retaliation against another."

"American agriculture would be dealt a devastating blow if our trading partners shut their markets to our farm products in retaliation to American protectionism," he said.

Stating that international trade stimulates domestic economies, Reagan said: "This isn't a time for us to be afraid, to be erecting barriers, or to be trying to shut out the world. Instead, we should be working to open markets, to increase our productivity and to meet the competition head-on."

In the Democrats' broadcast response, Rep. Augustus F. Hawkins (D-Los Angeles) said Labor Day and the opening of the school year offer a time to consider the link between good schools and good jobs. U.S. illiteracy and school dropout rates indicate the nation is "falling dramatically behind other nations in academic excellence," he said.

Hawkins criticized Administration calls for cutbacks in the education budget, and said: "We must not permit education to become a political football in this or the next Administration. . . . Education is too critical to our survival and well-being."

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