Excerpts from President Reagan's news conference:
. . . As a result of the economic program we already have in place, the recovery is beginning to flex its muscles.
But far too many Americans are still unemployed. The question still before us is how to ease the burden on the jobless without threatening the long-term recovery.
. . . I recently instructed the Office of Management and Budget to see what we could do to increase employment by providing more relief in the short term. But I told them not to bring me just another quick fix.
. . . We've been working toward a bipartisan compromise on jobs and humanitarian aid. And I hope that in the next several days, we can reach an agreement with the Congress so that a bill can be on my desk in March.
The bipartisan compromise has three basic elements:
First, it would provide $4 billion in accelerated expenditures for needed federal construction and repair projects. These projects directly and indirectly could provide as many as 470,000 jobs.
Second, we would provide $2.9 billion to fund a supplementary . . . unemployment insurance . . .programs through the end of the year. And, third, we're seeking $300 million in additional humanitarian relief for those in serious distress.
Contrary to previous plans, this is consistent with our basic long-term recovery program and my own personal principles. It funds no make-work jobs.
Instead we're speeding up projects that are already planned and needed. This approach also will have minimum net impact on the budget deficit over the next three years . . . .
In the weeks ahead, I will also send to the Congress my proposals for . . . tax incentives for businesses that hire the unemployed, incentives for summer youth employment and funds to retrain displaced workers . . . .
Q. In the controversy over the Environmental Protection Agency, there have been suggestions of protection of private interests, of mismanagement, of manipulation, all of this creating the impression of an agency in cahoots with business.
What's the proper relationship between the EPA, business and the rest of the nation? Is the agency living up to your standards, and do you have complete confidence in its director?
A. I certainly do, and I think the EPA's splendid record . . . in these last two years is being overlooked . . . .
About a month before I arrived here, the Superfund was created . . . to provide money if there is no one else that can be held responsible for some of these dumps, for the government to fund clearing them up. But the law also provides for EPA to bring suit, to make out-of-court settlements to try and get those responsible, where they can be located, to fund or help fund in these cleanups.
So far, they have named 418 such dumps . . . as high priority because of the risk associated with them . . . . There have been 23 settlements . . . , one criminal conviction, and . . . I believe that the relationship is what it should be, working together with the concerns that are involved to try and get these cleaned up and, where there is responsibility, to get the private sector paying for it.
So far, they've used up about $220 million of the Superfund, but they've also gotten about . . . another $150 million from private concerns in these cleanups.
. . . We made available to the Congress some 800,000 documents, and less than 100 were held out as actually being involved in cases and litigation . . . . Traditionally this . . . makes them eligible for executive privilege, because it would be disastrous to law enforcement, to our own efforts, and to the cleanup of these places if some of the information in these investigative reports was made public.
However, we offered to the congressional committees that they could come and go over these reports themselves . . . and they refused . . . . We will never invoke executive privilege to cover up wrongdoing.
And so I have ordered complete investigation by the Justice Department into every charge . . . . I hope we're not getting back to a place where accusation is once again going to be taken as proof of guilt.
. . . All afternoon we've been up on the Hill . . . to work out some compromise . . . because I can no longer insist on executive privilege if there's a suspicion . . . that maybe it is being used to cover some wrongdoing. And that we will never stand for.
Q. So as far as the suggestions, though, of mismanagement of the Superfund and manipulation, you seem to be saying you don't buy that.
A. This is what I've told the Department of Justice to look into . . . .
I have been confident of the management by Anne Gorsuch . . . and we are talking about getting someone to be of help and to counsel with regard to the congressional relationships in the future so that she can devote her time to managing the agency.
Q. Congressman Thomas S. Foley D-Wash. praised you today for changing your mind on the emergency jobs bill, and he said that means you finally recognize the harsh realities . . . . How soon do you think you'll get a compromise, and are you willing to go for an extra billion . . . or less . . . to meet Democratic concerns in terms of summer jobs, nutrition for women and children, and energy assistance?
A. . . . I've been well aware of the harsh realities . . . . I lived through them in a period of my life . . . .
What we have done . . . in our budget submitted for '84 and then looking toward '85 were a number of funding requests . . . for repair, for maintenance, for construction of various agencies and departments. And what we were working on was accelerating these . . . into '83 . . . .
There is some new money in our proposal also, and for some of the very things that you just mentioned . . . .
. . . The congressional leadership has been most receptive to this program . . . and I am hopeful that we are going to be able to have a bipartisan agreement . . . .
The difference between this and the type of thing that I threatened to veto was, that was about . . . $5 1/2 billion of new funds and creating what were make-work jobs . . . .
Q. How about the add-ons?
A. . . . Wait till you see the second package that we're coming up with, because many of those things are covered . . . .
Q. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today held off your nomination of Kenneth Adelman as arms control director, and several senators asked that you withdraw his nomination. Will you?
A. No, I believe the young man is eminently qualified for this. All of his experience indicates it. He is well educated. He is a very intelligent man . . . . And I don't believe that they, in delaying this, have done anything to help us in our efforts to get an arms reduction agreement.
. . . Arms reduction should not be a political problem on the Hill. It is too serious, and we are too concerned with it . . . . Since I was the one who took the lead in bringing about the first real arms reduction talks . . . with the Soviet Union, . . . I believe that I have a right to ask for my choice of who I thought could be of help to me in that.
Q. . . . What do you expect to do in the next week to turn around that majority . . . and, if Mr. Adelman cannot win the confidence of the Republican majority in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, how do you expect him to be an effective spokesman . . . ?
A. . . . I will try to be as persuasive as I can and . . . if that falls short, maybe I will try to make them feel the heat.
Q. . . . Since November of '81, your administration has stuck to the so-called "zero option" . . . . There has been . . . debate inside the administration about offering a . . . position . . . that might lead to more bargaining. You have apparently chosen not to do that. Can you tell us why?
A. The situation is just exactly what George Bush was telling our friends in Europe that it was . . . When I first . . . introduced this proposal . . . I said we would negotiate in good faith any legitimate proposal that might be offered. Well, we still say the same thing.
So far no legitimate counterproposal has been offered that would warrant negotiation or study . . . .
Q. . . . If it is leading nowhere, don't you run the risk of the worst of both worlds--no agreement with the Soviets and a backing down by the European allies about deployment of the new cruise missiles and Pershings?
A. . . . I don't believe we have reached that point yet. And I don't think that is a valid threat . . . .
Q. Social Security has not gotten that much attention in the last couple of weeks, but there is a mounting campaign against the kind of compromise that you and the Democratic leadership came up with. What will you do if you cannot get a compromise . . . ?
A. . . . I am confident that we are going to have an acceptable compromise. I think it ill behooves government employes to make an issue . . . when this is a compulsory program for all the rest of the people in the country . . . .
Q. . . . Kenneth Adelman . . . was quoted today . . . as having said that "arms talks are a sham that we just have to play out to keep the American people and European allies happy" . . . Are you not handing the Soviet Union a propaganda advantage . . . by presenting this man as our lead man on arms control?
A. No, I don't believe so . . . . And I think that it would be far more destructive to our allies . . . to see me repudiated by a Senate committee on someone that I want . . . .
Q. There's a report tonight that we have sent AWACS airborne warning and control system to Egypt and that we've sent a carrier nearby . . . . Do you fear that there's going to be a Libyan attack on Egypt, or could you explain why we've taken these actions . . . ?
A. I don't believe that there's been any naval movement of any kind. And we're well aware of Libya's attempts to destabilize its neighbors and other countries there in that part of the world. But the AWACS, this is not an unusual happening.
We have conducted joint exercises and training exercises with the Egyptian Air Force . . . and these planes have been there for quite some time in Egypt . . . .
Q. You don't see, then, any unusual or particular threat from Libya toward Egypt or its neighbors at this moment beyond the general attitude the Libyans have had?
A. . . . We're well aware of their propensity for doing things like that, so we wouldn't be surprised . . . .
Q. We understand that the threat may be from Qaddafi to the Sudan . . . . How serious is the threat to the Sudan? And, if necessary, would you use American forces to stop Qaddafi?
A. I don't think there's any occasion for that. It's never been contemplated . . . . We don't have any forces in that area that would be involved. . . .
Q. In a recent interview you indicated that, if the stabilization of Lebanon would require more peace-keeping forces, we ought to be willing to do that. Is the U.S. proposing or backing a plan that would include more peace-keeping forces in Lebanon, and would those forces be somewhere other than the Beirut area?
A. . . . We have said that if in consultation with our allies . . . an increase and redeployment of those forces could . . . speed up getting the other forces out of there, I would be willing to go along . . . .
Of course, we would have to have the equal agreement of our allies . . . or maybe other countries could join, too. And I think it would be well worth doing . . . .
Q. . . . Have you proposed it? Is it part of the plan that Mr. Philip Habib has taken?
A. No . . . .
Q. . . . There's an election approaching in West Germany, and the latest polls appear to give the opposition a prospect at least of winning . . . . What do you think the consequences would be for the western alliance if a new German government took office and declined to deploy the Pershing missiles?
A. I think it would be a terrible setback to the cause of peace and disarmament . . . . I believe that the vice president's trip there found great support all over Europe of what we're doing . . . .
Q. Do you think the deployment question will not turn on the West German elections, then?
A. No, I don't . . . .
Q. A number of conservative leaders here at home have grumbled recently that you are being swayed by aides who don't share your ideology. What is your reaction to the suggestion that aides are taking you in a direction you don't want to go, and secondly, to the slogan used by at least one of your members of the Cabinet, 'Let Reagan Be Reagan' ?
A. . . . I get pretty frustrated. Because maybe I'm going to have to have an exhibition up here in which we get some of those unnamed aides up and see if they can push me off the platform.
I'm not being pushed around. I'm being given what I have asked for . . . . Then I make the decisions . . . .
Q. . . . The message that Vice President Bush seemed to bring back from Europe . . . was that they support your zero-option proposal but, since it has gotten nowhere, that they would . . . very much like the consideration of a so-called "interim move" toward less progress.
Coming out of your spokesman in the last two or three days seems to be a very hard line against that . . . . Do you think that is making it politically more difficult for the NATO leaders to negotiate?
A. What he came back with was support expressed for our zero option and . . . they wanted to know whether we are going to be willing to talk other issues . . . . If somebody wants to present another offer, we will negotiate in good faith with this.
Q. . . . Since your zero option, Mr. Andropov made a counterproposal . . . rejected here. Doesn't that leave a lot of NATO leaders feeling like the ball should be in your court if there is going to be some sort of . . . .
A. No, I said a reasonable proposal . . . . His does not sound to me like a reasonable proposal. Now I think the ball is still in their court.