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THE STATE OF THE UNION : Text: 'Put on Your Work Shoes, We're Still on Job'

January 26, 1988|Associated Press

You had three hours, yes, three hours to consider each, and it took 300 people at my Office of Management and Budget just to read the bill so the government wouldn't shut down.

Congress shouldn't send another one of these.

And if you do, I will not sign it.

Let's change all this; instead of a presidential budget that gets discarded and a congressional budget resolution that is not enforced, why not a simple partnership, a joint agreement that sets out the spending priorities within the available revenues?

And let's remember our deadline is Oct. 1, not Christmas; let's get the people's work done in time to avoid a footrace with Santa Claus.

Yes, this year--to coin a phrase--a new beginning.

Thirteen individual bills, on time and fully reviewed by Congress.

I am also certain you join me in saying: Let's help ensure our future of prosperity by giving the President a tool that--though I will not get to use it--is one I know future Presidents of either party must have.

Give the President the same authority that 43 governors use in their states, the right to reach into massive appropriations bills, pare away the waste, and enforce budget discipline.

Let's approve the line-item veto.

And let's take a partial step in this direction.

Most of you in this chamber didn't know what was in this catchall bill and report.

Over the past few weeks, we have all learned what was tucked away behind a little comma here and there.

For example, there's millions for items such as cranberry research, blueberry research, the study of crawfish, and the commercialization of wild flowers.

And that's not to mention the $.5 million so that people from developing nations could come here to watch Congress at work.

I won't even touch that.

So tonight, I offer you this challenge.

In 30 days, I will send back to you those items, as rescissions, which if I had the authority to line them out, I would do so.

Review this multibillion-dollar package; that will not undercut our bipartisan budget agreement.

As a matter of fact, if adopted, it will improve our deficit reduction goals.

And what an example we can set: that we are serious about getting our financial accounts in order.

By acting and approving this plan, you have the opportunity to override a congressional process that is out of control.

There is another vital reform.

Yes, Gramm-Rudman-Hollings has been profoundly helpful, but let us take its goal of a balanced budget and make it permanent.

Let us do now what so many states do to hold down spending and what 32 state legislatures have asked us to do; let us heed the wishes of an overwhelming plurality of Americans and pass a constitutional amendment that mandates a balanced budget and forces the federal government to live within its means.

Reform of the budget process--including the line-item veto and balanced budget amendment--will, together with real restraint on government spending, prevent the federal budget from ever again ravaging the family budget.

Let's ensure that the federal government never again legislates against the family and the home.

Last September, I signed an executive order on the family requiring that every department and agency review its activities in light of seven standards designed to promote and not harm the family.

But let us make certain that the family is always at the center of the public policy process, not just in this Administration but in all future Administrations.

It is time for Congress to consider--at the beginning--a statement of the impact that legislation will have on the basic unit of American society, the family.

And speaking of the family, let's turn to a matter on the mind of every American parent tonight--education.

We all know the sorry story of the '60s and '70s--soaring spending, plummeting test scores--and that hopeful trend of the '80s, when we replaced an obsession with dollars with a commitment to quality, and test scores started back up.

There is a lesson here that we all should write on the blackboard a hundred times--in a child's education, money can never take the place of basics like discipline, hard work, and, yes, homework.

As a nation we do, of course, spend heavily on education--more than we spend on defense--yet across our country, governors like New Jersey's Tom Kean are giving classroom demonstrations that how we spend is as important as how much we spend.

Opening up the teaching profession to all qualified candidates; merit pay, so that good teachers get A's as well as apples; and stronger curriculum, as Secretary Bennett has proposed for high schools--these imaginative reforms are making common sense that most popular new kid in America's schools.

How can we help?

Well, we can talk about and push for these reforms.

But the most important thing we can do is to reaffirm that control of our schools belongs to the states, local communities and, most of all, to the parents and teachers.

My friends, some years ago, the federal government declared war on poverty, and poverty won.

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