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Remarks on the Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment and an Exchange With Reporters

July 13, 1990

The President. Let me just say before I leave here that on Tuesday the House is going to vote on a balanced budget amendment. And if enacted, that would halt the steady buildup of the national debt. I think it will bring much-needed discipline to the process, discipline on the executive branch, discipline on the legislative branch, on the Congress of the United States.

We've had one surplus in 30 years. And 30 State legislatures -- more than that -- have already called for this action. I think this would be a very important tool. This passage is important too, I think, to the current budget negotiators. It would send them a good signal. We are very, very serious not only in the budget negotiations now in process but the commitment to the balanced-budget process. I think this vote on Tuesday is important, so I wanted to urge strong support for it.

Q. What about the civil rights compromise?

Q. How practical is it, Mr. President?

The President. Phase it in and it will be very practical, and it will work. And it ought to be tried. We've tried a lot of other things, and it hasn't worked. And we hear a lot about controlling spending, and then we see bills up there -- we're going $4 billion over the President's request in 1 day. Turn around and that's what happens. So, I'd like to give this a shot, and I think the country would like to give it a shot.

Q. When you can't meet Gramm-Rudman in 1 year, sir, how can you reach zero?

The President. We're not going to reach it in 1 year.

Q. Has the budget bogged down?

Civil Rights Legislation

Q. Are you feeling optimistic about the civil rights compromise now, after Sununu's letter?

The President. Well, we're trying very hard on that.

Do I get credit for a full press conference here? Otherwise, I'm leaving.

Q. Half credit on it.

Q. We'll give you credit.

Federal Budget Negotiations

Q. How about tax increase revenues? Have you decided -- --

The President. The budget process? I think they're working in seriousness as of today, and I've vowed to stay out of it. I notice others are positioning themselves on what they will or won't accept. I made a deal with the leadership that I wouldn't do that, and I'm going to keep my pledge as long as I can -- I may be the only one in town doing that, but -- --

Q. Have you gotten closer to a package on taxes?

The President. I think -- well, I don't know, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International]. That's a good -- and I can't tell you. Sometimes I think our negotiators -- Brady, Darman, and Sununu -- are optimistic, and sometimes they come back with a little less optimism. But I hope that this statement today will be supportive of the process, and I hope that what I've suggested will happen because I think in the long run that's what's required to keep our fiscal house in order.

Civil Rights Legislation

Q. Where do things stand on civil rights?

The President. Negotiations going on. John Sununu was back today and had a fairly, I would say, reasonably optimistic proposal. My position on that one remains clear: I want to sign a civil rights bill; I will not sign a quota bill. And that's about where we are, but I think it's looking encouraging. I saw [Senator] Ted Kennedy down here yesterday and had a chance to share my views with him once again. And he's been working, I would say, quite cooperatively with us -- Republican side, under Senator Hatch -- most cooperative. So, as I leave here for the weekend, I hope I'm right in saying that it looks like we can work something out on that. I want to do it.

Federal Budget Negotiations

Q. Can you say, sir, if in fact the administration has signed on for the need for about $25 billion in tax revenues as part of this overall package?

The President. No. I've said I wasn't going to discuss the specifics of the negotiations. And I really think I -- I know it's not too specific, but I really feel I ought to keep my share of the bargain on that. I see a lot of speculation and a lot of people saying what we will or won't do or what they will or won't do -- Republicans and Democrats -- and, look, I understand that. But I gave my commitment to the leadership -- Republican and Democrat -- in the House, and I'm going to stay with that. And at some point, I may have to go out and say, look, this is all we can do, or here's where we go. But I'm not going to do that now.

Q. Is your commitment -- --

The President. I'm going to try.

Q. Is your commitment to a capital gains tax cut waning or weakening in any way?

The President. I'm not going to -- you know, if I start going into even one facet of the negotiations, I will, in my view, be violating a commitment I made to the Congress. So, I really want to ask to be forgiven for not answering that nice-try question.

Q. When do you think you'll have some answers?

The President. Well, we're moving along, Helen. We all know what the dates are out there. You'll see some figures next week on the magnitude of this problem. The figures are out there pretty much in the public domain, and certainly, the Congress has them. But the American people want something done. And so, I'm going to keep pushing, and our negotiators are working in total good faith. And I think the problem is so important nationally that something positive will happen. It has to.

Russian Republic President Yeltsin

Q. What do you think about Boris Yeltsin bolting the Communist Party?

The President. Boris bolting his party -- very interesting development, very interesting.

Hey, I'm tired, come on, and so are the rest of you guys. I can tell from the quality of the questions.

Note: The exchange began at 1:33 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House, prior to the President's departure for Camp David, MD. In his remarks, the President referred to John H. Sununu, Chief of Staff to the President; Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas F. Brady; and Richard G. Darman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

George Bush, Remarks on the Proposed Balanced Budget Amendment and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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