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Budget Revisions Remarks at the Message Signing Ceremony.

March 31, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. As I prepare to sign the 1981 budget revisions, I would like to say that it's a very gratifying experience for me.

Since we submitted the 1981 budget-which in itself was quite stringent, as everyone has found who has attempted to modify it downward—we were predicating our decisions then on the prospects for a very early recession and some continued moderation in the inflation rate. In the last few weeks, though, not only in our own Nation but throughout the world, there has been an extraordinary increase in the inflation rate, and the anticipated recession has not materialized.

We've had unprecedented consultations with the Members of the Congress, both parties, obviously in the House and Senate, and with several hundred of them who have come here for personal briefings by me. There is a definite commitment, a sense of not only determination but confidence that we will succeed in having a balanced budget, with an appreciable surplus, as a matter of fact, for 1981.

This balance in the budget has been brought about not by increasing revenues or taxes, but by reductions in expenditures. This will be the first balanced budget that our Nation has had in 12 years, and only the second balanced budget in the last 20 years. Symbolically, it's extremely important in our anti-inflation program, and tangibly it is also very important, because it exercises self-discipline on the part of the Federal Government and it sets an example for the rest of our country to emulate.

We've been very cautious in evolving these reductions in expenditures to make sure that they are broad in their scope, that they do encompass all elements of the budget, and are not concentrated on any particular portion of the recipient groups. They involve reductions in operating expenses, reductions in Federal overhead and personnel, administrative costs. The Defense Department is being required to reduce their expenditures by a billion dollars to absorb some of the increased burdens put on them by the activities in the China Sea and otherwise.

We have made sure that these cuts are fair. We've dealt very closely with mayors, with Governors, and with the leaders of constituency groups in the last few weeks, to make sure that there is an equitable reduction and, particularly, with care being demonstrated by everyone that those who are most in need in our economy are treated with a special consideration. Although the poor and the deprived and those living on fixed incomes suffer most from inflation, we wanted to be very care[ful] not to slash those programs that deal so materially with the more unfortunate in our society.

We have a real fight ahead. It is not going to be an automatic thing that we succeed, but I'm absolutely determined that we shall succeed. I will exercise my authority on rescissions and deferrals in the 1980 budget. I'll exercise my authority as President to veto bills that I consider to be a threat to a balanced budget. And I will exercise my influence to ensure that the Members of the Congress who've already pledged their support will carry out those pledges along with me.

There are no quick or easy answers to the inflation pressures on us. A balanced budget, in itself, is not adequate. The broad range of anti-inflation efforts are important, but I believe that our Nation can succeed in controlling inflation in the months ahead. It's important for the credibility of our entire anti-inflation effort for the budget to be balanced. And I'm extremely grateful to the members of the administration who are assembled here behind me, and to the leaders in the Congress who have worked so hard to cooperate with us on this series of reductions which would give us a balanced budget for 1981.

This document will be transmitted to the Majority Leader and to the Vice President and to the Speaker of the House today. And I'm glad now to sign it officially, as President, with the full expectation it'll help us with our anti-inflation effort.

[At this point, the President signed the copies of the message.]

Jim, would you like to add a word?

MR. MCINTYRE. Mr. President, I'd like to thank my staff and the cooperation we've received from the Cabinet in making this exercise possible. It's tough to cut any budget—particularly after you have gone through a budget season, to just move right into another one is very tough on all of us in the administration. But there was tremendous cooperation and a tremendous amount of spirit from the administration in putting this budget together.

THE PRESIDENT. Jim, I thank you. Bill, would you like to say a word?

SECRETARY MILLER. Mr. President, this has been a very important milestone in the fight against inflation. I think the points you've made need to be emphasized, particularly the point that there was such intense consultation with Congress. I think that gives assurance that this will not just be a proposal from the President but will achieve something that's eluded Presidents and Congresses for quite a while. I personally want to commend you for your leadership in making this possible.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, everybody has worked very hard on this revision. I think that by far the most outstanding work has been done by OMB, who had to deal with, in effect, three budgets simultaneously: the early stages of the 1982 budget, the present stages of the '80 budget with rescissions and deferrals, and obviously with the 1981 budget, which I've just signed, as revised.

Jim, I want to thank you for the good work you've done not only within the Office of Management and Budget but also with the Congress, on the Hill; and Bill, the Treasury; and my other economic advisers, I think you've done a good job.

MR. MCINTYRE. Thank you, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Good luck to you.


THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, again.

Note: The President spoke at 11:03 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Budget Revisions Remarks at the Message Signing Ceremony. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250387

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