Second, let's check our progress in attacking social problems where important gains have been made but which still need critical attention.
I mean schools that work; economic independence for the poor; restoring respect for family life and family values.
Our third objective tonight is global: continuing the exciting economic and democratic revolutions we've seen around the world.
Fourth and finally: our nation has remained at peace for nearly a decade-and-a-half, as we move toward our goals of world prosperity and world freedom--we must protect that peace and deter war by making sure the next President inherits what you and I have a moral obligation to give that President: a national security that is unassailable and a national defense that takes full advantage of new technology, and is fully funded.
This is a full agenda.
It's meant to be.
You see, my thinking on the next year is quite simple: Let's make this the best of eight.
And that means: It's all out, right to the finish line.
I don't buy the idea that this is the last year of anything; because we're not talking here tonight about registering temporary gains, but ways of making permanent our successes.
That's why our focus is the values, principles, and ideas that made America great.
Let's be clear on this point: We're for limited government because we understand, as the founding fathers did, that it is the best way of ensuring personal liberty and empowering the individual so that every American of every race and region shares fully in the flowering of American prosperity and freedom.
One other thing.
We Americans like the future; like the sound of it, the idea of it, the hope of it.
Where others fear trade and economic growth, we see opportunities for creating new wealth and undreamed-of opportunities for millions in our own land and beyond.
Where others seek to throw up barriers, we seek to bring them down; where others take counsel of their fears, we follow our hopes.
Yes, we Americans like the future and like making the most of it.
Let's do that now.
And let's begin by discussing how to maintain economic growth by controlling and eventually eliminating the problem of federal deficits.
We have had a balanced budget only eight times in the last 57 years.
For the first time in 14 years, the federal government spent less, in real terms, last year than the year before.
We took $73 billion off last year's deficit compared to the year before.
The deficit itself has moved from 6.3% of the GNP to only 3.4%.
And perhaps the most important sign of progress has been the change in our view of deficits.
You know, a few of us can remember when, not too many years ago, those who created the deficits said they would make us prosperous and not to worry about the debt--"we owe it to ourselves."
Well, at last there is agreement that we can't spend ourselves rich.
Our recent budget agreement, designed to reduce federal deficits by $76 billion over the next two years, builds on this consensus.
But this agreement must be adhered to without slipping into the errors of the past--more broken promises and more unchecked spending.
As I indicated in my first State of the Union, what ails us can be simply put: the federal government is too big and it spends too much money.
I can assure you, the bipartisan leadership of Congress, of my help in fighting off any attempt to bust our budget agreement.
And this includes the swift and certain use of the veto power.
Now, it is also time for some plain talk about the most immediate obstacle to controlling federal deficits.
The simple but frustrating problem of making expenses match revenues--something American families do and the federal government can't--has caused crisis after crisis in this city.
Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, I will say to you tonight what I have said before--and will continue to say: the budget process has broken down, it needs a drastic overhaul.
With each ensuing year, the spectacle before the American people is the same as it was this Christmas: budget deadlines delayed or missed completely, monstrous continuing resolutions that pack hundreds of billions of dollars worth of spending into one bill--and a federal government on the brink of default.
I know I'm echoing what you here in the Congress have said because you suffered so directly--but let's recall that in seven years, of 91 appropriations bills scheduled to arrive on my desk by a certain date, only 10 made it on time.
Last year, of the 13 appropriations bills due by Oct. 1, none of them made it.
Instead, we had four continuing resolutions lasting 41 days, then 36 days, two days, and three days, respectively.
And then, along came those two behemoths--a reconciliation bill, six months late, that was 1,186 pages long, weighing 15 pounds, and the long-term continuing resolution, two months late, that was 1,057 pages long, weighing 14 pounds.
Not to mention the 1,053-page conference report weighing 14 pounds.
That was a total of 43 pounds of paper and ink.