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Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Budget and Soviet-United States Relations

April 09, 1987

Federal Budget

The President. I have a statement here about the budget. As you know, it's been on the floor of the Congress for the House. There's an old saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Well, in the case of the congressional budget and appropriations process, it hasn't ever been fixed enough to be broken. Today we've witnessed the efforts by the House Democrats to meet the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings targets, but it's just business as usual: cuts in defense that potentially threaten our national security and passing the buck to the American taxpayers to pay for their excesses. It's time for Congress to admit that the process hasn't worked, and it's time for something that's enforceable, credible, and reliable. And I call on the Congress to recognize their process for what it is—out of control and ready to be fixed—and that we should work together to meet that goal. But at least one thing: they voted today, we were defeated. They voted on that so-called budget that came out of the committee in the House. But I'm pleased to say that 173 Republican House Members, the total number, plus 19 Democrats, voted against that budget. They lost 230 to 192, but I was pleased with the turnout that we had there.

Q. Mr. President, you have said in the past on the subject of a budget summit that you would wait until you saw what the other side had to offer. You have some indication of that. Just how do you want to work together with the Democrats now?

The President. Well, I heard them in the debate yesterday on the floor, as it was covered by the news, saying that they had submitted a budget but we hadn't. Well, I understand under the procedures that are proper the President presents the budget, which I had done. But they were complaining because the Democratic Members—or the Republican Members of Congress had not submitted a budget of its own. Well, I would think that this indicates that maybe the Republican Members of the Congress thought that we'd presented a proper budget, and I think we have.

Q. Well, are you willing to meet with the Democrats now and hold a budget summit now and get down to business?

The President. I think now it goes on its way over to the Senate to see what's—yes, I was—always been ready to meet with them. They just would not accept ours as a budget.

Q. Can it be done without a tax increase, sir? Q. Are you washing your hands of it, sir? The President. Certainly, it can, yes. And we, I think, have been more right with our prediction of figures and so forth than they have. And we believe the budget we submitted was within the targets, would have met the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings goals, and would have done so without new taxes.

Q. Have you met with the leaders then, Mr. President?

Q. And aren't your defense numbers now going to have to be reduced? Isn't defense spending now going to have to be reduced in this process?

The President. Well, there's a lot of steps that still have to be taken before what they did today becomes the budget.

Secretary of State Shultz' Visit to Moscow

Q. Is Shultz carrying any new—

Q. Is Secretary Shultz going to Moscow without any new proposals on INF?

The President. Well, no, he's going there with pretty much what we ourselves have been talking with them, and I don't see that there's very much distance between us on that.

Q. No proposals beyond what has been discussed in Geneva already, is that right?

The President. Well, there are some details also around the edge that have never been negotiated at all which have to do, for example: If you're going to eliminate the intermediate-range, what are you going to do about the short missiles which, again, in which they have a great superiority in Europe.

Q. Will Shultz carry any new message on SDI?

The President. Well, just our intent and our plans to deploy when and if we get the program perfected.

U.S. Embassy Security in Moscow

Q. How have you told him to raise the issue of spying, too, in Moscow?

The President. Well, let me just say, because you all have called out so many questions on that subject, let me just give you something I jotted down here. I'm not going to comment on the reports in today's newspapers. For reasons you'll all understand, I cannot and will not comment on United States intelligence activities. Nonetheless, I can say that what the Soviets did to our Embassy in Moscow is outrageous, and we have protested strongly. And we're conducting a full investigation and will take whatever corrective action is necessary, because our diplomatic establishments can and must be secure from Soviet spying.

Q. You're leaving the impression we did bug their Embassy. Is that the way you want the American people to see this?

The President. Well, I just said that we thought what they did was outrageous.

Q. What about what we did, Mr. President?

The President. I say I'm not going to discuss our intelligence or counterintelligence. It wouldn't be useful anymore.

Note: The President spoke at 4:40 p.m. at Purdue University Airport. Following his remarks, he traveled to Los Angeles, CA.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters on the Budget and Soviet-United States Relations Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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