Ronald Reagan picture

Remarks on Administration Goals to Senior Presidential Appointees

September 08, 1987

Thank you very much, but I think George and I should be applauding you. I thought it'd be good to get together now that we've all rested from our summer vacations, although it's true summer vacations aren't always restful. You know that that leads to a story. [Laughter]

There was a fellow that was on his way to a mountain resort, and a policeman stopped him and said, "Did you know you're driving without taillights?" And the driver hopped out of the car. He was so badly shaken that the officer took pity on him and said, "Well, now, wait a minute. Calm down. It's not that serious an infraction." The fellow said, "It may not mean much to you, but to me it means I've lost my trailer, a wife, and four kids!" [Laughter]

But it's good to come together as we face these final 16 months—only 16 months. From this moment on, we must approach each new task with the same sense of urgency that we first brought to Washington back in 1981. The challenge is no less, and the goals are still attainable. If I could interject something here: Political life has always reminded me a little of my former career. And the whole philosophy was when you come to town open big. And now, well, it's time for an even bigger finish and a good curtain call.

On the domestic side, we face one more important task—or no more important task, I should say, then securing the confirmation to the Supreme Court of Judge Robert Bork. [Applause] Well, we all know that since his nomination Judge Bork has come under attack for being some kind of a right-wing ideologue. We also know those charges are wrong. Judge Bork believes in judicial restraint, and this means reading laws in the way intended by elected officials and pass them and not reshaping them according to judicial whim. Now, where the law deals with moral issues, Judge Bork has said—and I quote—"The moral content of the law must be given by the morality of the framer, or the legislator, never the morality of the judge." So, consider that irony. Some legislators are organizing opposition to a judge who believes in deferring to them and in faithfully abiding by the intent of the laws they pass. The country wants and deserves a Supreme Court that doesn't make the laws but interprets the laws.

Judge Bork is superbly qualified—one of the outstanding legal minds in the country and a judge's judge. He's also a people's judge: a judge who believes profoundly in the Constitution that protects the people's rights and in government by the people themselves. I'm convinced that in the end he will be confirmed, but there's no denying that it's going to be a tough fight. I'll need the help of every person in this room, especially those of you who deal regularly with the Congress. I have a feeling—well, I was going to ask a question here, but when I mentioned his name, I don't need to ask the question. I was going to ask it, you know, to limber us all up—that when it comes to restoring judicial restraint as the guiding principle of American courts, when it comes to winning the confirmation of Judge Bork to the Supreme Court he so richly deserves, I was going to say, can I count on you? You've already answered that question.

But next, the budget process. Excuse me; it's probably more accurate to say the so-called budget process—delay after delay, missed deadline after missed deadline, a process that's not reliable or credible. And consider what it turns out. There's the Federal program that will spend millions to build luxury hotels, restaurants, and condominiums-that's right, condominiums. As I remarked when I spoke about this in Indiana recently, I barely had time to figure out what yuppies were before Congress started to subsidize them. [Laughter] And there are the boondoggle public work projects; the farm programs that provide little or nothing for many family farms but that have paid one already-wealthy farmer more than $13 million dollars; the $8 million Congress voted this year to establish—get ready—a center for the study of weeds.

It's time to bring an end to the yearly budget fiasco, time to enact the measures that we have put forward as part of our Economic Bill of Rights. And let me say in some areas we're not waiting for Congress to act. A new initiative I announced as part of my Economic Bill of Rights is privatization. Last week I appointed a private—or a bipartisan commission, I should say, to report back to me on ways that we can permanently reduce the size of the Federal Government by returning appropriate activities to the private sector.

But central to the entire effort to bring discipline to the Federal budget will be passage of the line-item veto and a balanced budget amendment. On the balanced budget amendment, a special

Note: The President spoke at 11:31 a.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his opening and closing remarks, the President referred to the Vice President.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks on Administration Goals to Senior Presidential Appointees Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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