President Reagan criticized members of Congress for "misguided compassion" in their welfare-revision proposals, charging that the plans would only bring more people on to the public dole.
"The question I ask about any welfare-reform proposal is: Will it help people become self-sufficient and lead a full life or will it help keep them in a state of dependency?" Reagan said in his weekly radio address.
The five-minute talk was taped Friday, before the president's trip to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he had skin cancer removed from his nose. He has no public events scheduled this weekend and is to remain in the White House.
"I'm afraid that several members of Congress have suggested some proposals that, while claiming to require work-related activities, would make staying on welfare more attractive," Reagan said. "Their misguided compassion would only bring more people into the welfare system, encourage them to stay on the welfare rolls longer, and discourage work."
Rep. Marvin Leath (D-Tex.), responding on behalf of Democrats, criticized Reagan's leadership on budget issues and compared him unfavorably to Franklin D. Roosevelt, who he said took bold steps to put the country back on its feet.
"Ronald Reagan probably has the ability to communicate with the American people better than any other president since Franklin Roosevelt. There, however, the similarity ends abruptly," Leath said.
"Roosevelt. . . took a bankrupt America and made it whole again. Whether you agreed with his policies or not, he made national policy and people responded," Leath said.
"Today, it is clearly obvious that the president is full of rhetoric but short on substance," he said. ". . . Our industrial base is in a shambles, our energy industry is on its knees, and our farm economy is in a world-class depression."