Public Papers - 1989 - April
Remarks Announcing the Bipartisan Budget Agreement
The President. Well, I'm joined here by the Speaker, the majority leaders of the Senate and House; the Republican whips of the Senate and House; the chairmen and ranking Republican members of the Appropriations, Finance, and Budget Committees; and members of the bipartisan budget negotiating group. And we've come together in support of a bipartisan budget agreement for fiscal year 1990.
When I presented my budget to the Congress on February 9th, I said we could and should meet several tests. We should meet fundamental obligations for protection of national security and the support of the needy. We should provide sufficient funds to advance high priority initiatives. And we should, at the same time, restrain the overall growth of spending so that we can meet the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings targets on time without tax increases. And this plan allows us to meet those tests.
It would provide for the same revenue level as I requested in my February 9th budget. It would provide 9.2 billion in defense outlays, compared with the 0.6 billion that I requested -- very close -- and billion in outlays for international affairs, compared with my request of 17.3 -- again, very close. And it would save .3 billion through entitlement reforms. And it would firmly cap domestic discretionary program growth at an overall growth rate of 5.9 relative to the previous year. In total, it would reduce the estimated fiscal year 1990 deficit by about billion, as OMB would estimate the savings, and billion, as the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] would estimate, relative to the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings baseline. It would thus bring the deficit down to .4 billion and that, of course, would be a billion reduction relative to the current estimate of the fiscal year 1989 deficit.
The budget agreement does not complete the whole deficit reduction job that is to be done by fiscal year 1993, not by a long shot. But I am convinced that we will only be able to complete that job if we tackle it in manageable steps, on an orderly basis, in a constructive, bipartisan spirit. And this is a first manageable step, and this budget agreement is the first such agreement reached ahead of schedule and not framed in the context of crisis. This is not an insignificant point; it shows that we can make the system work, even with the branches of government controlled by different parties, and if we approach our jobs responsibly and are willing to stay with it, to stick with the task.
On February 9th, I said that we were prepared to negotiate day and night, in good faith, in a true bipartisan spirit, recalling that the American people wanted us to rise above partisan bickering and to produce. And Mr. Speaker and Mr. Majority Leader, you have joined us in good faith and in bipartisan spirit, for which we are grateful; and I believe the American people will be grateful. And I'm particularly grateful to the negotiators, the chairmen, the members, ranking members, who participated in these long, long negotiations. And I commend them for their spirit of bipartisanship and I'm grateful to each and every one.
And so, may I ask you, Mr. Speaker and Mr. Majority Leader, as well as the ranking Republicans here, the Republican whips, and the majority leader of the House, to say a few words; and then the negotiating group will be glad to take questions inside.
Speaker Wright. Mr. President, thank you. This is not an heroic agreement. It's quite austere. It is not really adequate to address some of the truly serious domestic problems of our country, such as affordable housing, a crumbling public infrastructure, and a need to revitalize American industry through encouragements to additional research and development and modernization of American plant and machinery. But if we begin with the assumption that there can be no significant major increase in revenue, this agreement is probably about as good as we could do.
It is bipartisan; both ideological extremes have yielded. It does provide funds for some of the specific priority initiatives that the President has recommended and Congress wholeheartedly embraces, things like day care, Head Start, funding for the drug war, and a few of those specific priority initiatives. It does reach the Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction targets. And it does permit us to stay on schedule and begin our process immediately for our appropriations bills and pass them again, as we're determined that we shall, on time. So, in those ways, it's a very good start in the direction of better cooperation and better performance.
Senator Mitchell. The most significant aspect of this agreement is its existence, and that is no small accomplishment. For the first time, early in the process, outside the atmosphere of last-minute crisis, a genuine, good-faith effort has been made, and an agreement has been reached on significant deficit reduction. It does not go as far and do as much as any of us would like. But in establishing an atmosphere of cooperation and bipartisanship, for which the President deserves great credit, it sets us on the right course.
No one should be deluded into thinking that this is the end of a process. It is the beginning of a process. Very hard choices lie ahead; much sterner measures will be required in the future. But if we approach those difficult tasks with the same positive spirit that has been exhibited in reaching this agreement, then we will solve them, for there is no problem that Americans cannot solve if they work together in good faith.
And, Mr. President, we commit ourselves to implementing this agreement in good faith and to working with you in the future, when you and we will face much more difficult decisions.
Representative Foley. Mr. President, I want to express our appreciation to you, sir, to the Speaker, to Senator Mitchell, to the Republican leadership of the Senate and the House for authorizing the efforts to come together with a budget negotiating group. Secretary Brady and Mr. Darman, the leadership of the Senate and House, budget committees on both sides of the aisle have taken several weeks to hammer out this agreement. It's been said before -- I'll repeat it: It's not as much as each of us individually might have wished; it does represent a very important movement on the part of the Congress and the executive branch, Republicans and Democrats, to establish an early consensus on the budget resolutions which will make possible the action on the appropriation bills in a timely manner.
Beyond that, it represents our continued determination to work together to deal with the tough budget issues that lie ahead that have been mentioned by others before me. But I particularly want to underscore the cordiality and cooperation of our efforts, which I think express a new mood of bipartisan determination to make this government -- a Republican administration, Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate, with their Republican colleagues -- prove that we can address serious problems of the country productively and well.
Thank you, sir.
Senator Simpson. Mr. President, I appreciate your not letting me slip completely into the tulip patch there. And sometimes in these kinds of things we forget the beauty of days like this. This is really an extraordinary day of beauty in the blossoms and the Sun, but that's not why I'm here. [Laughter] I'm just here on behalf of -- no, don't look at your watch, that's all right. It shouldn't take over 45 minutes. I'd like to talk about the fate of the domestic uranium industry in America. [Laughter] No, it's all right.
Let me say on behalf of Senator Dole, who could not be present today, that this is a very significant thing. We take it seriously; it is the beginning. Senator Byrd described it as that this morning. It is a first step, and that is indeed what it is. So, I'm very proud and pleased to be a part of it. The Republicans will be participating and doing everything they can to see it come to fruition.
It will take a great deal of pressure off of us who legislate. We are legislators, that's our job. And with this pressure off of us, we can go about our work, as we have done in recent days, with a bipartisan agreement on Central America, other things out there -- so many things need to be addressed. And every one of us here know exactly what we have to do with the budget, and this is a start toward the honesty of doing it -- entitlements and things like that that must be dealt with.
So, thank you, and on behalf of the Republican leader, thanks to all of those who have worked so hard. It is a daunting and terrible job and a tremendous physical and mental drain that it takes on the Democrat and Republican chairmen of these committees. I thank them.
Representative Gingrich. Thank you, Mr. President. On behalf of Mr. Michel, the Republican leader in the House, who could not be here, I want to say that we are very strongly supportive of this agreement. We agree with the sentiments that have been expressed; it is a very important bipartisan step towards a balanced budget. And I just want to say, for a moment, for the more conservative viewpoint, it is very solid on defense; those who care about defense should be supportive of this agreement.
It is a major step towards a balanced budget, recognizing that we're going to need bipartisan cooperation over the next several years to get there. It is a very prudent agreement, and I would hope that most Americans would be grateful for this kind of bipartisan teamwork which has, in fact, taken us one more step in the right direction towards a balanced budget. And we'll do all we can in the House to help pass it.
Thank you, Mr. President.
The President. There's been one oversight, and that is that I did not properly thank Dick Darman and Secretary Brady for their representing the administration so effectively in these negotiations.
Again, Mr. Speaker and Mr. Leader, my thanks to you as leaders of the Congress for their cooperation. And they will be available for questions in a bit. Many thanks.
Note: The President spoke at 10:24 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Senators George J. Mitchell, majority leader; Alan K. Simpson, Republican whip; James R. Sasser, chairman of the Budget Committee; Pete V. Domenici, ranking Republican of the Budget Committee; Robert C. Byrd, chairman of the Appropriations Committee; Mark O. Hatfield, ranking Republican of the Appropriations Committee; Lloyd Bentsen, chairman of the Finance Committee; and Bob Packwood, ranking Republican of the Finance Committee; Representatives Jim Wright, Speaker of the House of Representatives; Thomas S. Foley, majority leader; Newt Gingrich, Republican whip; Jamie L. Whitten, chairman of the Appropriations Committee; Silvio O. Conte, ranking Republican of the Appropriations Committee; Leon E. Panetta, chairman of the Budget Committee; and Bill Frenzel, ranking Republican of the Budget Committee; Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas F. Brady; and Richard G. Darman, Director of the Office of Management and Budget.