President Reagan said yesterday that he is undeterred by defeat of his tuition tax credits proposal in Congress last year and intends to fight for approval again this year.
"Now I know there's been some talk that, well, maybe I'm strong on rhetoric for it tuition tax credits but I'm not really doing any physical pushing for it," he said. "Well, let me tell you our proposal is on Capitol Hill again, and like Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan, I'm going to charge up that hill until we get a victory."
Speaking to about 3,500 members of the National Catholic Educational Association, the president also reiterated his support of federal vouchers for use by parents of disadvantaged children and of educational savings accounts to help private schools compete with public schools.
The administration's proposals are given little chance of passage in Congress because of opposition from associations of teachers and parents and because of concern that the measures would increase the federal budget deficit. But Reagan has persisted in his support.
The president and two aides--deputy chief of staff Michael K. Deaver and Faith Ryan Whittlesey, assistant to the president for public liaison--met privately for 15 minutes with Monsignor John Meyers, president of the association.
"Now I believe these proposals will expand the opportunities for our children," the president said afterward. "It will also increase healthy competition among schools . . . . In the long run what we're proposing means a better and more diverse educational system for all of our children."
Also yesterday, Reagan used the power of the presidency to help unemployed steelworker Ron Bricker find a job.
Bricker, 39, had thrust his resume into Reagan's hand in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, when the president visited a class for retraining workers for jobs in the computer industry. The steelworker had told Reagan he had been out of work for a year.
Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said yesterday that Reagan was impressed by the resume and had arranged a job interview for Bricker with a high-technology company.
Reagan telephoned Bricker last night to tell him the interview had been set up.
During their conversation, Bricker thanked Reagan and reminded him of the predicament of the unemployed.
"The reason I did what I did is that I wanted to let you know the unemployed are desperate. All we want, Mr. President, are jobs," he said.
Bricker said Reagan expressed sympathy for the jobless.
After the call, Bricker told United Press International that "Someone is going to call me tomorrow" with details about the job interview.