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State of Union Speech to Stress Conservatism

January 24, 1988|JACK NELSON | Times Washington Bureau Chief

The President also will defend the Strategic Defense Initiative, his controversial "Star Wars" program to provide a space-based defense against missiles. The Soviets realize the value of the program, he will argue, and that is why they continue research in the same area "while they try to use arms negotiations to stifle our program."

Although the federal deficit has more than doubled during Reagan's presidency, the original draft of his speech gives him credit for making "progress" in controlling the deficit. It has him saying: "We have made progress . . . for the first time in 14 years, the federal government spent less, in real terms, last year than the year before. We took $75 billion off of last year's deficit compared to the year before."

In a section on education, the President argues that while funding is important, the way officials in Washington lead is more important than how much they spend, and he emphasizes the value of school discipline, curriculums that teach the basics, and programs that reward excellence in teaching.

Between 1960 and 1980, per-pupil outlays on education by all levels of government more than doubled in constant dollars, according to the speech draft, "yet during precisely the same period, College Board scores fell by 85 points."

Reagan is prepared to argue that "the lesson is clear. Money alone can never take the place of educational basics like discipline, hard work, and, yes, homework."

Monday night's speech is expected to be Reagan's last State of the Union address because, although he could give another next January, presidents traditionally have passed up that opportunity just before leaving office. Only three have deviated from that pattern--Jimmy Carter, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman.

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