Excerpts from President Reagan's address to Congress last night.
. . . Mr. Speaker and Senator Baker, I want to thank you for your cooperation in helping to arrange this joint session of the Congress. . . .
Thanks to some very fine people, my health is much improved. I'd like to be able to say that with regard to the health of the economy.
It has been half a year since the election that changed all of us in this government with the task or restoring our economy. Where have we come in these six months?
Inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, has continued at a double-digit rate.
Mortgage interest rates have averaged almost 15 percent for these 6 months, preventing families across America from buying homes. There are still almost 8 million unemployed.
The average worker's hourly earnings, after adjusting for inflation, are lower today than they were six months ago and there have been over 6,000 business failures.
Six months is long enough. The American people now want us to act, and not on half measures. They demand -- and they have earned -- a full and comprehensive effort to clean up our economic mess.
Because of the extent of our economy's sickness, we know that the cure will not come quickly, and that even with our package, progress will come in inches and feet, not miles. But to fail to act will delay even longer, and more painfully, the cure which must come.
That cure begins with the federal budget, and the budgetary actions taken by the Congress over the next few days will determine how we respond to the message of last Nov. 4.
That message was very simple. Our government is too big, and it spends too much. . . .
The House will soon be choosing between two different measures to deal with the economy. One is the measure offered by the House Budget Committee. The other is a bipartisan measure, a substitute introduced by Congressmem Phil Gramm of Texas and Del Latta of Ohio.
On behalf of the administration, let me say we embrace and fully support that bipartisan substitute. . . .
At the same time, however, I must state our opposition to the measure offered by the House Budget Committee.
. . . . The committee measure quite simply falls far too short of the essential actions that we must take. For example, in the next three years:
The committee measure projects spending $141 billion more than does the bipartisan substitute.
It regrettably cuts over $14 billion in essential defense funding -- funding required to restore America's national security.
It adheres to the failed policy of trying to balance the budget on the taxpayer's back. It would increase tax payments by over a third, adding up to a staggering quarter-trillion dollars. Federal taxes would increase 12 percent each year. Taxpayers would be paying a larger share of their income to government in 1984 than at present. b
Let us cut through the fog for a moment. The answer to a government that's too big is to stop feeding its growth. Government spending has been growing faster than the economy itself. The massive national debt which we accumulated is the result of the government's high spending diet. Well, it's time to change the diet and to change it in the right way.
I know the tax portion of our package is of concern to some of you. Let me make a few points I feel have been overlooked. First of all, it should be looked at as an integral part of the entire package, not something separate and apart from the budget reductions, the regulatory relief and the monetary restraints.
Probably the most common misconception is that we are proposing to reduce government revenues. This is not true. Actually, the discussion has to do with how much of a tax increase should be imposed on the taxpayer in 1982. . . .
A gigantic tax increase has been built into the system. We are proposing nothing more than a reduction of that increase.
The people have a right to know that even with our plan they will be paying more in taxes, but not as much more. . . .
The economic recovery package that I have outlined to you over the past few weeks is, I deeply believe, the only answer we have left. Reducing the growth of spending, cutting marginal tax rates, providing relief from overregultion and following a noninflationary and predictable monetary policy are interwoven measures. . . .
These policies will make our economy stronger, and the stronger economy will balance the budget -- which we are committed to do by 1984.
When I took the oath of office, I pledged loyalty to only one special-interest group -- "We the people."
Those people -- neighbors and friends, shopkeepers and laborers, farmers and craftsmen -- do not have infinite patience. Some 80 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt wrote these instructive words in his first message to the Congress:
"The American people," he said, "are slow to wrath but, when their wrath is once kindled, it burns like a consuming flame."
Perhaps that kind of wrath will be deserved if our answer to these serious problems is to repeat the mistakes of the past. The old and comfortable way is to shave a little here and add a little there. Well, that's not acceptable any more. I think this great and historic Congress knows that that way is no longer acceptable. . . .
Isn't it time that we tried something new?