State of the Union Address Part I

State of the Union Address Part I

No study questions

No related resources

No mentions of this document

To the Congress of the United States:

The State of the Union is sound. Our economy is recovering from a recession. A national energy plan is in place and our dependence on foreign oil is decreasing. We have been at peace for four uninterrupted years.

But, our Nation has serious problems. Inflation and unemployment are unacceptably high. The world oil market is increasingly tight. There are trouble spots throughout the world, and 52 American hostages are being held in Iran against international law and against every precept of human affairs.

However, I firmly believe that, as a result of the progress made in so many domestic and international areas over the past four years, our Nation is stronger, wealthier, more compassionate and freer than it was four years ago. I am proud of that fact. And I believe the Congress should be proud as well, for so much of what has been accomplished over the past four years has been due to the hard work, insights and cooperation of Congress. I applaud the Congress for its efforts and its achievements.

In this State of the Union Message I want to recount the achievements and progress of the last four years and to offer recommendations to the Congress for this year. While my term as President will end before the 97th Congress begins its work in earnest, I hope that my recommendations will serve as a guide for the direction this country should take so we build on the record of the past four years.


When I took office, our Nation faced a number of serious domestic and international problems:

—no national energy policy existed, and our dependence on foreign oil was rapidly increasing;

—public trust in the integrity and openness of the government was low;

—the Federal government was operating inefficiently in administering essential programs and policies;

—major social problems were being ignored or poorly addressed by the Federal government;

—our defense posture was declining as a result of a defense budget which was continuously shrinking in real terms;

—the strength of the NATO Alliance needed to be bolstered;

—tensions between Israel and Egypt threatened another Middle East war; and

—America’s resolve to oppose human rights violations was under serious question.

Over the past 48 months, clear progress has been made in solving the challenges we found in January of 1977:

—almost all of our comprehensive energy program have been enacted, and the Department of Energy has been established to administer the program; confidence in the government’s integrity has been restored, and respect for the government’s openness and fairness has been renewed;

—the government has been made more effective and efficient: the Civil Service system was completely reformed for the first time this century;

—14 reorganization initiatives have been proposed to the Congress, approved, and implemented;

—two new Cabinet departments have been created to consolidate and streamline the government’s handling of energy and education problems;

—inspectors general have been placed in each Cabinet department to combat fraud, waste and other abuses;

—the regulatory process has been reformed through creation of the Regulatory Council, implementation of Executive Order 12044 and its requirement for cost-impact analyses, elimination of unnecessary regulation, and passage of the Regulatory Flexibility Act;

—procedures have been established to assure citizen participation in government;

—and the airline, trucking, rail and communications industries are being deregulated;

—critical social problems, many long ignored by the Federal government, have been addressed directly;

—an urban policy was developed and implemented to reverse the decline in our urban areas;

—the Social Security System was refinanced to put it on a sound financial basis;

—the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act was enacted;

—Federal assistance for education was expanded by more than 75 percent;

—the minimum wage was increased to levels needed to ease the effects of inflation;

—affirmative action has been pursued aggressively; more blacks, Hispanics and women have been appointed to senior government positions and to judgeships than at any other time in our history;

—the ERA ratification deadline was extended to aid the ratification effort;

—and minority business procurement by the Federal government has more than doubled;

—the Nation’s first sectoral policies were put in place, for the auto and steel industries, with my Administration demonstrating the value of cooperation between the government, business and labor;

—reversing previous trends, real defense spending has increased every year since 1977;

—the real increase in FY 1980 defense spending is well above 3 percent and I expect FY 1981 defense spending to be even higher;

—looking ahead, the defense program I am proposing is premised on a real increase in defense spending over the next five years of 20 percent or more;

—the NATO Alliance has proven its unity in responding to the situations in Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia and in agreeing on the issues to be addressed in the review of the Helsinki Final Act currently underway in Madrid;

—the peace process in the Middle East established at Camp David and by the Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel is being buttressed on two fronts: steady progress in the normalization of Egyptian-Israeli relations in many fields, and the commitment of both Egypt and Israel, with United States’ assistance, to see through to successful conclusion the autonomy negotiations for the West Bank and Gaza;

—the Panama Canal Treaties have been put into effect, which has helped to improve relations with Latin America;

—we have continued this Nation’s strong commitment to the pursuit of human rights throughout the world, evenhandedly and objectively;

—our commitment to a worldwide human rights policy has remained firm;

—and many other countries have given high priority to it;

—our resolve to oppose aggression, such as the illegal invasion of the Soviet Union into Afghanistan, has been supported by tough action.


During the last decade our Nation has withstood a series of economic shocks unprecedented in peacetime. The most dramatic of these has been the explosive increases of OPEC oil prices. But we have also faced world commodity shortages, natural disasters, agricultural shortages and major challenges to world peace and security. Our ability to deal with these shocks has been impaired because of a decrease in the growth of productivity and the persistence of underlying inflationary forces built up over the past 15 years.

Nevertheless, the economy has proved to be remarkably resilient. Real output has grown at an average rate of 3 percent per year since I took office, and employment has grown by 10 percent. We have added about 8 million productive private sector jobs to the economy. However, unacceptably high inflation—the most difficult economic problem I have faced—persists.

This inflation—which threatens the growth, productivity, and stability of our economy—requires that we restrain the growth of the budget to the maximum extent consistent with national security and human compassion. I have done so in my earlier budgets, and in my FY ’82 budget. However, while restraint is essential to any appropriate economic policy, high inflation cannot be attributed solely to government spending. The growth in budget outlays has been more the result of economic factors than the cause of them.

We are now in the early stages of economic recovery following a short recession. Typically, a post-recessionary period has been marked by vigorous economic growth aided by anti-recessionary policy measures such as large tax cuts or big, stimulation spending programs. I have declined to recommend such actions to stimulate economic activity, because the persistent inflationary pressures that beset our economy today dictate a restrained fiscal policy.

Accordingly, I am asking the Congress to postpone until January 1, 1982, the personal tax reductions I had earlier proposed to take effect on January 1 of this year.

However, my 1982 budget proposes significant tax changes to increase the sources of financing for business investment. While emphasizing the need for continued fiscal restraint, this budget takes the first major step in a long-term tax reduction program designed to increase capital formation. The failure of our Nation’s capital stock to grow at a rate that keeps pace with its labor force has clearly been one cause of our productivity slowdown. Higher investment rates are also critically needed to meet our Nation’s energy needs, and to replace energy-inefficient plants and equipment with new energy-saving physical plants. The level of investment that is called for will not occur in the absence of policies to encourage it.

Therefore, my budget proposes a major liberalization of tax allowances for depreciation, as well as simplified depreciation accounting, increasing the allowable rates by about 40 percent. I am also proposing improvements in the investment tax credit, making it refundable, to meet the investment needs of firms with no current earnings.

These two proposals, along with carefully-phased tax reductions for individuals, will improve both economic efficiency and tax equity. I urge the Congress to enact legislation along the lines and timetable I have proposed.


The FY 1982 budget I have sent to the Congress continues our four-year policy of prudence and restraint. While the budget deficits during my term are higher than I would have liked, their size is determined for the most part by economic conditions. And in spite of these conditions, the relative size of the deficit continues to decline. In 1976, before I took office, the budget deficit equalled 4 percent of gross national product. It had been cut to 2.3 percent in the 1980 fiscal year just ended. My 1982 budget contains a deficit estimated to be less than 1 percent of our gross national product.

The rate of growth in Federal spending has been held to a minimum. Nevertheless, outlays are still rising more rapidly than many had anticipated, the result of many powerful forces in our society:

We face a threat to our security, as events in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe make clear. We have a steadily aging population and, as a result, the biggest single increase in the Federal budget is the rising cost of retirement programs, particularly social security. We face other important domestic needs: to continue responsibility for the disadvantaged; to provide the capital needed by our cities and our transportation systems; to protect our environment; to revitalize American industry; and to increase the export of American goods and services so essential to the creation of jobs and a trade surplus.

Yet the Federal Government itself may not always be the proper source of such assistance. For example, it must not usurp functions if they can be more appropriately decided upon, managed, and financed by the private sector or by State and local governments. My Administration has always sought to consider the proper focus of responsibility for the most efficient resolution of problems.

We have also recognized the need to simplify the system of grants to State and local governments. I have again proposed several grant consolidations in the 1982 budget, including a new proposal that would consolidate several highway programs.

The pressures for growth in Federal use of national resources are great. My Administration has initiated many new approaches to cope with these pressures. We started a multi-year budget system, and we began a system for controlling Federal credit programs. Yet in spite of increasing needs to limit spending growth, we have consistently adhered to these strong budget principles:

Our Nation’s armed forces must always stand sufficiently strong to deter aggression and to assure our security. An effective national energy plan is essential to increase domestic production of oil and gas, to encourage conservation of our scarce energy resources, to stimulate conversion to more abundant fuels, and to reduce our trade deficit. The essential human needs for our citizens must be given the highest priority. The Federal Government must lead the way in investment in the Nation’s technological future. The Federal Government has an obligation to nurture and protect our environment—the common resource, birthright, and sustenance of the American people.

My 1982 budget continues to support these principles. It also proposes responsible tax reductions to encourage a more productive economy, and adequate funding of our highest priority programs within an overall policy of constraint.

Fiscal restraint must be continued in the years ahead. Budgets must be tight enough to convince those who set wages and prices that the Federal Government is serious about fighting inflation but not so tight as to choke off all growth.

Careful budget policy should be supplemented by other measures designed to reduce inflation at lower cost in lost output and employment. These other steps include measures to increase investment—such as the tax proposals included in my 1982 budget—and measures to increase competition and productivity in our economy. Voluntary incomes policies can also directly influence wages and prices in the direction of moderation and thereby bring inflation down faster and at lower cost to the economy. Through a tax-based incomes policy (TIP) we could provide tax incentives for firms and workers to moderate their wage and price increases. In the coming years, control of Federal expenditures can make possible periodic tax reductions. The Congress should therefore begin now to evaluate the potentialities of a TIP program so that when the next round of tax reductions is appropriate a TIP program will be seriously considered.


During the last four years we have given top priority to meeting the needs of workers and providing additional job opportunities to those who seek work. Since the end of 1976:

Almost 9 million new jobs have been added to the nation’s economy total employment has reached 97 million. More jobs than ever before are held by women, minorities and young people. Employment over the past four years has increased by: 17% for adult women 11% for blacks, and 30% for Hispanics employment of black teenagers increased by more than 5%, reversing the decline that occurred in the previous eight years.

Major initiatives launched by this Administration helped bring about these accomplishments and have provided a solid foundation for employment and training policy in the 1980’s. In 1977, as part of the comprehensive economic stimulus program:

425,000 public service jobs were created A $1 billion youth employment initiative funded 200,000 jobs the doubling of the Job Corps to 44,000 slots began and 1 million summer youth jobs were approved—a 25 percent increase.

In 1978:

The Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act became law the $400 million Private Sector Initiatives Program was begun a targeted jobs tax credit for disadvantaged youth and others with special employment barriers was enacted the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act was reauthorized for four years.

In 1979:

A $6 billion welfare reform proposal was introduced with funding for 400,000 public service jobs welfare reform demonstration projects were launched in communities around the country the Vice President initiated a nationwide review of youth unemployment in this country.

In 1980:

The findings of the Vice President’s Task Force revealed the major education and employment deficits that exist for poor and minority youngsters. As a result a $2 billion youth education and jobs initiative was introduced to provide unemployed youth with the basic education and work experience they need to compete in the labor market of the 1980’s. As part of the economic revitalization program several steps were proposed to aid workers in high unemployment communities:

An additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits for the long term unemployed. $600 million to train the disadvantaged and unemployed for new private sector jobs. Positive adjustment demonstrations to aid workers in declining industries. The important Title VII Private Sector Initiatives Program was reauthorized for an additional two years.

In addition to making significant progress in helping the disadvantaged and unemployed, important gains were realized for all workers:

An historic national accord with organized labor made it possible for the views of working men and women to be heard as the nation’s economic and domestic policies were formulated; the Mine Safety and Health Act brought about improved working conditions for the nation’s 500,000 miners. substantial reforms of Occupational Safety and Health Administration were accomplished to help reduce unnecessary burdens on business and to focus on major health and safety problems; the minimum wage was increased over a four year period from $2.30 to $3.35 an hour; the Black Lung Benefit Reform Act was signed into law; attempts to weaken Davis-Bacon Act were defeated.

While substantial gains have been made in the last four years, continued efforts are required to ensure that this progress is continued:

Government must continue to make labor a full partner in the policy decisions that affect the interests of working men and women; a broad, bipartisan effort to combat youth unemployment must be sustained compassionate reform of the nation’s welfare system should be continued with employment opportunities provided for those able to work; workers in declining industries should be provided new skills and help in finding employment.


Over the past year, the U.S. trade picture improved as a result of solid export gains in both manufactured and agricultural products. Agricultural exports reached a new record of over $40 billion, while manufactured exports have grown by 24 percent to a record $144 billion. In these areas the United States recorded significant surpluses of $24 billion and $19 billion respectively. While our oil imports remained a major drain on our foreign exchange earnings, that drain was somewhat moderated by a 19 percent decline in the volume of oil imports.

U.S. trade negotiators made significant progress over the past year in assuring effective implementation of the agreements negotiated during the Tokyo Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations. Agreements reached with the Japanese government, for example, will assure that the United States will be able to expand its exports to the Japanese market in such key areas as telecommunications equipment, tobacco, and lumber. Efforts by U.S. trade negotiators also helped to persuade a number of key developing countries to accept many of the non-tariff codes negotiated during the Multilateral Trade Negotiations. This will assure that these countries will increasingly assume obligations under the international trading system.

A difficult world economic environment posed a challenge for the management of trade relations. U.S. trade negotiators were called upon to manage serious sectoral problems in such areas as steel, and helped to assure that U.S. chemical exports will have continued access to the European market.

Close consultations with the private sector in the United States have enabled U.S. trade negotiators to pinpoint obstacles to U.S. trade in services, and to build a basis for future negotiations. Services have been an increasingly important source of export earnings for the United States, and the United States must assure continued and increased access to foreign markets.

The trade position of the United States has improved. But vigorous efforts are needed in a number of areas to assure continued market access for U.S. exports, particularly agricultural and high technology products, in which the United States continues to have a strong competitive edge. Continued efforts are also needed to remove many domestic disincentives, which now hamper U.S. export growth. And we must ensure that countries do not manipulate investment, or impose investment performance requirements which distort trade and cost us jobs in this country.

In short, we must continue to seek free—but fair—trade. That is the policy my Administration has pursued from the beginning, even in areas where foreign competition has clearly affected our domestic industry. In the steel industry, for instance, we have put Trigger Price Mechanism into place to help prevent the dumping of steel. That action has strengthened the domestic steel industry. In the automobile industry, we have worked— without resort to import quotas—to strengthen the industry’s ability to modernize and compete effectively.


I have often said that there is nothing small about small business in America. These firms account for nearly one-half our gross national product; over half of new technology; and much more than half of the jobs created by industry.

Because this sector of the economy is the very lifeblood of our National economy, we have done much together to improve the competitive climate for smaller firms. These concerted efforts have been an integral part of my program to revitalize the economy.

They include my campaign to shrink substantially the cash and time consuming red tape burden imposed on business. They include my personally-directed policy of ambitiously increasing the Federal contracting dollars going to small firms, especially those owned by women and minorities. And they include my proposals to reinvigorate existing small businesses and assist the creation of new ones through tax reform; financing assistance; market expansion; and support of product innovation.

Many of my initiatives to facilitate the creation and growth of small businesses were made in response to the White House Conference on Small Business, which I convened. My Administration began the implementation of most of the ideas produced last year by that citizen’s advisory body; others need to be addressed. I have proposed the reconvening of the Conference next year to review progress; reassess priorities; and set new goals. In the interim I hope that the incoming Administration and the new Congress will work with the committee I have established to keep these business development ideas alive and help implement Conference recommendations.


One of the most successful developments of my Administration has been the growth and strengthening of minority business. This is the first Administration to put the issue on the policy agenda as a matter of major importance. To implement the results of our early efforts in this field I submitted legislation to Congress designed to further the development of minority business.

We have reorganized the Office of Minority Business into the Minority Business Development Administration in the Department of Commerce. MBDA has already proven to be a major factor in assisting minority businesses to achieve equitable competitive positions in the marketplace.

The Federal government’s procurement from minority-owned firms has nearly tripled since I took office. Federal deposits in minority-owned banks have more than doubled and minority ownership of radio and television stations has nearly doubled. The SBA administered 8(a) Pilot Program for procurement with the Army proved to be successful and I recently expanded the number of agencies involved to include NASA and the Departments of Energy and Transportation.

I firmly believe the critical path to full freedom and equality for America’s minorities rests with the ability of minority communities to participate competitively in the free enterprise system. I believe the government has a fundamental responsibility to assist in the development of minority business and I hope the progress made in the last four years will continue.


Since I took office, my highest legislative priorities have involved the reorientation and redirection of U.S. energy activities and for the first time, to establish a coordinated national energy policy. The struggle to achieve that policy has been long and difficult, but the accomplishments of the past four years make clear that our country is finally serious about the problems caused by our overdependence on foreign oil. Our progress should not be lost. We must rely on and encourage multiple forms of energy production—coal, crude oil, natural gas, solar, nuclear, synthetics—and energy conservation. The framework put in place over the last four years will enable us to do this.


As a result of actions my Administration and the Congress have taken over the past four years, our country finally has a national energy policy:

Under my program of phased decontrol, domestic crude oil price controls will end September 30, 1981. As a result exploratory drilling activities have reached an all-time high; Prices for new natural gas are being decontrolled under the Natural Gas Policy Act—and natural gas production is now at an all time high; the supply shortages of several years ago have been eliminated; The windfall profits tax on crude oil has been enacted providing $227 billion over ten years for assistance to low-income households, increased mass transit funding, and a massive investment in the production and development of alternative energy sources; The Synthetic Fuels Corporation has been established to help private companies build the facilities to produce energy from synthetic fuels; Solar energy funding has been quadrupled, solar energy tax credits enacted, and a Solar Energy and Energy Conservation Bank has been established; A route has been chosen to bring natural gas from the North Slope of Alaska to the lower 48 states; Coal production and consumption incentives have been increased, and coal production is now at its highest level in history; A gasoline rationing plan has been approved by Congress for possible use in the event of a severe energy supply shortage or interruption; Gasohol production has been dramatically increased, with a program being put in place to produce 500 million gallons of alcohol fuel by the end of this year—an amount that could enable gasohol to meet the demand for 10 percent of all unleaded gasoline; New energy conservation incentives have been provided for individuals, businesses and communities and conservation has increased dramatically. The U.S. has reduced oil imports by 25 percent—or 2 million barrels per day—over the past four years.


Although it is essential that the Nation reduce its dependence on imported fossil fuels and complete the transition to reliance on domestic renewable sources of energy, it is also important that this transition be accomplished in an orderly, economic, and environmentally sound manner. To this end, the Administration has launched several initiatives.

Leasing of oil and natural gas on federal lands, particularly the outer continental shelf, has been accelerated at the same time as the Administration has reformed leasing procedures through the 1978 amendments to the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. In 1979 the Interior Department held six OCS lease sales, the greatest number ever, which resulted in federal receipts of $6.5 billion, another record. The five-year OCS Leasing schedule was completed, requiring 36 sales over the next five years.

Since 1971 no general federal coal lease sales were suspended. Over the past four years the Administration has completely revised the federal coal leasing program to bring it into compliance with the requirements of 1976 Federal Land Planning and Management Act and other statutory provisions. The program is designed to balance the competing interests that affect resource development on public lands and to ensure that adequate supplies of coal will be available to meet national needs. As a result, the first general competitive federal coal lease sale in ten years will be held this month.

In July 1980, I signed into law the Energy Security Act of 1980 which established the Synthetic Fuels Corporation. The Corporation is designed to spur the development of commercial technologies for production of synthetic fuels, such as liquid and gaseous fuels from coal and the production of oil from oil shale. The Act provides the Corporation with an initial $22 billion to accomplish these objectives. The principal purpose of the legislation is to ensure that the nation will have available in the late 1980’s the option to undertake commercial development of synthetic fuels if that becomes necessary. The Energy Security Act also provides significant incentives for the development of gasohol and biomass fuels, thereby enhancing the nation’s supply of alternative energy sources.


The Administration’s 1977 National Energy Plan marked an historic departure from the policies of previous Administrations. The plan stressed the importance of both energy production and conservation to achieving our ultimate national goal of relying primarily on secure sources of energy. The National Energy Plan made energy conservation a cornerstone of our national energy policy.

In 1978, I initiated the Administration’s Solar Domestic Policy Review. This represented the first step towards widespread introduction of renewable energy sources into the Nation’s economy. As a result of the Review, I issued the 1979 Solar Message to Congress, the first such message in the Nation’s history. The Message outlined the Administration’s solar program and established an ambitious national goal for the year 2000 of obtaining 20 percent of this Nation’s energy from solar and renewable sources. The thrust of the federal solar program is to help industry develop solar energy sources by emphasizing basic research and development of solar technologies which are not currently economic, such as photovoltaics, which generate energy directly from the sun. At the same time, through tax incentives, education, and the Solar Energy and Energy Conservation Bank, the solar program seeks to encourage state and local governments, industry, and our citizens to expand their use of solar and renewable resource technologies currently available.

As a result of these policies and programs, the energy efficiency of the American economy has improved markedly and investments in renewable energy sources have grown significantly. It now takes 3 1/2 percent less energy to produce a constant dollar of GNP than it did in January 1977. This increase in efficiency represents a savings of over 1.3 million barrels per day of oil equivalent, about the level of total oil production now occurring in Alaska. Over the same period, Federal support for conservation and solar energy has increased by more than 3000 percent, to $3.3 billion in FY 1981, including the tax credits for solar energy and energy conservation investments—these credits are expected to amount to $1.2 billion in FY 1981 and $1.5 billion in FY 1982.


Since January 1977, significant progress has been achieved in resolving three critical problems resulting from the use of nuclear energy: radioactive waste management, nuclear safety and weapons proliferation.

In 1977, the Administration announced its nuclear nonproliferation policy and initiated the International Fuel Cycle Evaluation. In 1978, Congress passed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Act, an historic piece of legislation.

In February 1980, the Administration transmitted its nuclear waste management policy to the Congress. This policy was a major advance over all previous efforts. The principal aspects of that policy are: acknowledging the seriousness of the problem and the numerous technical and institutional issues; adopting a technically and environmentally conservative approach to the first permanent repository; and providing the states with significant involvement in nuclear waste disposal decisions by creating the State Planning Council. While much of the plan can be and is being implemented administratively, some new authorities are needed. The Congress should give early priority to enacting provisions for away-from-reactor storage and the State Planning Council.

The accident at Three Mile Island made the nation acutely aware of the safety risks posed by nuclear power plants. In response, the President established the Kemeny Commission to review the accident and make recommendations. Virtually all of the Commission’s substantive recommendations were adopted by the Administration and are now being implemented by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Congress adopted the President’s proposed plan for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee was established to ensure that the Administration’s decisions were implemented.

Nuclear safety will remain a vital concern in the years ahead. We must continue to press ahead for the safe, secure disposal of radioactive wastes, and prevention of nuclear proliferation.

While significant growth in foreign demand for U.S. steam coal is foreseen, congestion must be removed at major U.S. coal exporting ports such as Hampton Roads, Virginia, and Baltimore, Maryland. My Administration has worked through the Interagency Coal Task Force Study to promote cooperation and coordination of resources between shippers, railroads, vessel broker/ operators and port operators, and to determine the most appropriate Federal role in expanding and modernizing coal export facilities, including dredging deeper channels at selected ports. As a result of the Task Force’s efforts, administrative steps have been taken by the Corps of Engineers to reduce significantly the amount of time required for planning and economic review of port dredging proposals. The Administration has also recommended that the Congress enact legislation to give the President generic authority to recommend appropriations for channel dredging activities. Private industry will, of course, play the major role in developing the United States’ coal export facilities, but the government must continue to work to facilitate transportation to foreign markets.


For too long prior to my Administration, many of our Nation’s basic human and social needs were being ignored or handled insensitively by the Federal government. Over the last four years, we have significantly increased funding for many of the vital programs in these areas; developed new programs where needs were unaddressed; targeted Federal support to those individuals and areas most in need of our assistance; and removed barriers that have unnecessarily kept many disadvantaged citizens from obtaining aid for their most basic needs.

Our record has produced clear progress in the effort to solve some of the country’s fundamental human and social problems. My Administration and the Congress, working together, have demonstrated that government must and can meet our citizens’ basic human and social needs in a responsible and compassionate way.

But there is an unfinished agenda still before the Congress. If we are to meet our obligations to help all Americans realize the dreams of sound health care, decent housing, effective social services, a good education, and a meaningful job, important legislation still must be enacted. National Health Insurance, Welfare Reform, Child Health Assessment Program, are before the Congress and I urge their passage.


During my Administration, I proposed to Congress a National Health Plan which will enable the country to reach the goal of comprehensive, universal health care coverage. The legislation I submitted lays the foundation for this comprehensive plan and addresses the most serious problems of health financing and delivery. It is realistic and enactable. It does not overpromise or overspend, and, as a result, can be the solution to the thirty years of Congressional battles on national health insurance. My Plan includes the following key features:

Nearly 15 million additional poor would receive fully-subsidized comprehensive coverage; pre-natal and delivery services are provided for all pregnant women and coverage is provided for all acute care for infants in their first year of life; the elderly and disabled would have a limit of $1,250 placed on annual out-of-pocket medical expenses and would no longer face limits on hospital coverage; all full-time employees and their families would receive insurance against at least major medical expenses under mandated employer coverage; Medicare and Medicaid would be combined and expanded into an umbrella Federal program, Healthcare, for increased program efficiency, accountability and uniformity; and strong cost controls and health system reforms would be implemented, including greater incentives for Health Maintenance Organizations.

I urge the new Congress to compare my Plan with the alternatives—programs which either do too little to improve the health care needs of Americans most in need or programs which would impose substantial financial burdens on the American taxpayers. I hope the Congress will see the need for and the benefits of my Plan and work toward prompt enactment. We cannot afford further delay in this vital area.


Inflation in health care costs remains unacceptably high. Throughout my Administration, legislation to reduce health care cost inflation was one of my highest priorities, but was not passed by the Congress. Therefore, my FY 1982 budget proposes sharing the responsibility for health care cost control with the private sector, through voluntary hospital cost guidelines and intensified monitoring. In the longer term, the health care reimbursement system must be reformed. We must move away from inflationary cost-based reimbursement and fee-for-service, and toward a system of prospective reimbursement, under which health care providers would operate within predetermined budgets. This reimbursement reform is essential to ultimately control inflation in health care costs, and will be a significant challenge to the new Congress.


During my Administration, the Surgeon General released “Healthy People,” a landmark report on health promotion and disease prevention. The report signals the growing consensus that the Nation’s health strategy must be refocused in the 1980’s to emphasize the prevention of disease. Specifically, the report lays out measurable and achieveable goals in the reduction of mortality which can be reached by 1990.

I urge the new Congress to endorse the principles of “Healthy People,” and to adopt the recommendations to achieve its goals. This will necessitate adoption of a broader concept of health care, to include such areas as environmental health, workplace health and safety, commercial product safety, traffic safety, and health education, promotion and information.


Ensuring a healthy start in life for children remains not only a high priority of my Administration, but also one of the most cost effective forms of health care.

When I took office, immunization levels for preventable childhood diseases had fallen to 70%. As a result of a concerted nationwide effort during my Administration, I am pleased to report that now at least 90% of children under 15, and virtually all school-age children are immunized. In addition, reported cases of measles and mumps are at their lowest levels ever.

Under the National Health Plan I have proposed, there would be no cost-sharing for prenatal and delivery services for all pregnant women and for acute care provided to infants in their first year of life. These preventive services have extremely high returns in terms of improved newborn and long-term child health.

Under the Child Health Assurance Program (CHAP) legislation which I submitted to the Congress, and which passed the House, an additional two million low-income children under 18 would become eligible for Medicaid benefits, which would include special health assessments. CHAP would also improve the continuity of care for the nearly 14 million children now eligible for Medicaid. An additional 100,000 low-income pregnant women would become eligible for prenatal care under the proposal. I strongly urge the new Congress to enact CHAP and thereby provide millions of needy children with essential health services. The legislation has had strong bipartisan support, which should continue as the details of the bill are completed.

I also urge the new Congress to provide strong support for two highly successful ongoing programs: the special supplemental food program for women, infants and children (WIC) and Family Planning. The food supplements under WIC have been shown to effectively prevent ill health and thereby reduce later medical costs. The Family Planning program has been effective at reducing unwanted pregnancies among low-income women and adolescents.


During my Administration, health services to the poor and underserved have been dramatically increased. The number of National Health Service Corps (NHSC) assignees providing services in medically underserved communities has grown from 500 in 1977 to nearly 3,000 in 1981. The population served by the NHSC has more than tripled since 1977. The number of Community Health Centers providing services in high priority underserved areas has doubled during my Administration, and will serve an estimated six million people in 1981. I strongly urge the new Congress to support these highly successful programs.


One of the most significant health achievements during my Administration was the recent passage of the Mental Health Systems Act, which grew out of recommendations of my Commission on Mental Health. I join many others in my gratitude to the First Lady for her tireless and effective contribution to the passage of this important legislation.

The Act is designed to inaugurate a new era of Federal and State partnership in the planning and provision of mental health services. In addition, the Act specifically provides for prevention and support services to the chronically mentally ill to prevent unnecessary institutionalization and for the development of community-based mental health services. I urge the new Congress to provide adequate support for the full and timely implementation of this Act.


With my active support, the Congress recently passed “Medigap” legislation, which provides for voluntary certification of health insurance policies supplemental to Medicare, to curb widespread abuses in this area.

In the area of toxic agent control, legislation which I submitted to the Congress recently passed. This will provide for a “super-fund” to cover hazardous waste cleanup costs.

In the area of accidental injury control, we have established automobile safety standards and increased enforcement activities with respect to the 55 MPH speed limit. By the end of the decade these actions are expected to save over 13,000 lives and 100,000 serious injuries each year.

I urge the new Congress to continue strong support for all these activities.


Building on the comprehensive reform of the Food Stamp Program that I proposed and Congress passed in 1977, my Administration and the Congress worked together in 1979 and 1980 to enact several other important changes in the Program. These changes will further simplify administration and reduce fraud and error, will make the program more responsive to the needs of the elderly and disabled, and will increase the cap on allowable program expenditures. The Food Stamp Act will expire at the end of fiscal 1981. It is essential that the new Administration and the Congress continue this program to ensure complete eradication of the debilitating malnutrition witnessed and documented among thousands of children in the 1960’s.


At the beginning of my Administration there were over a half million heroin addicts in the United States. Our continued emphasis on reducing the supply of heroin, as well as providing treatment and rehabilitation to its victims, has reduced the heroin addict population, reduced the number of heroin overdose deaths by 80%, and reduced the number of heroin related injuries by 50%. We have also seen and encouraged a national movement of parents and citizens committed to reversing the very serious and disturbing trends of adolescent drug abuse.

Drug abuse in many forms will continue to detract, however, from the quality of life of many Americans. To prevent that, I see four great challenges in the years ahead. First, we must deal aggressively with the supplies of illegal drugs at their source, through joint crop destruction programs with foreign nations and increased law enforcement and border interdiction. Second, we must look to citizens and parents across the country to help educate the increasing numbers of American youth who are experimenting with drugs to the dangers of drug abuse. Education is a key factor in reducing drug abuse. Third, we must focus our efforts on drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace for not only does this abuse contribute to low productivity but it also destroys the satisfaction and sense of purpose all Americans can gain from the work experience. Fourth, we need a change in attitude, from an attitude which condones the casual use of drugs to one that recognizes the appropriate use of drugs for medical purposes and condemns the inappropriate and harmful abuse of drugs. I hope the Congress and the new Administration will take action to meet each of these challenges.


The American people have always recognized that education is one of the soundest investments they can make. The dividends are reflected in every dimension of our national life—from the strength of our economy and national security to the vitality of our music, art, and literature. Among the accomplishments that have given me the most satisfaction over the last four years are the contributions that my Administration has been able to make to the well-being of students and educators throughout the country.

This Administration has collaborated successfully with the Congress on landmark education legislation. Working with the Congressional leadership, my Administration spotlighted the importance of education by creating a new Department of Education. The Department has given education a stronger voice at the Federal level, while at the same time reserving the actual control and operation of education to states, localities, and private institutions. The Department has successfully combined nearly 150 Federal education programs into a cohesive, streamlined organization that is more responsive to the needs of educators and students. The Department has made strides to cut red tape and paperwork and thereby to make the flow of Federal dollars to school districts and institutions of higher education more efficient. It is crucial that the Department be kept intact and strengthened.

Our collaboration with the Congress has resulted in numerous other important legislative accomplishments for education. A little over two years ago, I signed into law on the same day two major bills—one benefiting elementary and secondary education and the other, postsecondary education. The Education Amendments of 1978 embodied nearly all of my Administration’s proposals for improvements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, including important new programs to improve students’ achievement in the basic skills and to aid school districts with exceptionally high concentrations of children from low-income families. The Middle Income Student Assistance Act, legislation jointly sponsored by this Administration and the Congressional leadership, expanded eligibility for need-based Basic Educational Opportunity Grants to approximately one-third of the students enrolled in post-secondary education and made many more students eligible for the first time for other types of grants, work-study, and loans.

Just three and a half months ago, my Administration and the Congress successfully concluded over two years of work on a major reauthorization bill that further expands benefits to postsecondary education. Reflected in the Education Amendments of 1980 are major Administration recommendations for improvements in the Higher Education Act—including proposals for better loan access for students; a new parent loan program; simplified application procedures for student financial aid; a strengthened Federal commitment to developing colleges, particularly the historically Black institutions; a new authorization for equipment and facilities modernization funding for the nation’s major research universities; and revitalized international education programs.

Supplementing these legislative accomplishments have been important administrative actions aimed at reducing paperwork and simplifying regulations associated with Federal education programs. We also launched major initiatives to reduce the backlog of defaulted student loans and otherwise to curb fraud, abuse, and waste in education programs.

To insure that the education enterprise is ready to meet the scientific and technological changes of the future, we undertook a major study of the status of science and engineering education throughout the nation. I hope that the findings from this report will serve as a springboard for needed reforms at all levels of education.

I am proud that this Administration has been able to provide the financial means to realize many of our legislative and administrative goals. Compared to the previous administration’s last budget, I have requested the largest overall increase in Federal funding for education in our nation’s history. My budget requests have been particularly sensitive to the needs of special populations like minorities, women, the educationally and economically disadvantaged, the handicapped, and students with limited English-speaking ability. At the same time, I have requested significant increases for many programs designed to enhance the quality of American education, including programs relating to important areas as diverse as international education, research libraries, museums, and teacher centers.

Last year, I proposed to the Congress a major legislative initiative that would direct $2 billion into education and job training programs designed to alleviate youth unemployment through improved linkages between the schools and the work place. This legislation generated bipartisan support; but unfortunately, action on it was not completed in the final, rushed days of the 96th Congress. I urge the new Congress—as it undertakes broad efforts to strengthen the economy as well as more specific tasks like reauthorizing the Vocational Education Act—to make the needs of our nation’s unemployed youth a top priority for action. Only by combining a basic skills education program together with work training and employment incentives can we make substantial progress in eliminating one of the most severe social problems in our nation—youth unemployment, particularly among minorities. I am proud of the progress already made through passage of the Youth Employment and Demonstration Project Act of 1977 and the substantial increase in our investment in youth employment programs. The new legislation would cap these efforts.


One of the highest priorities of my Administration has been to continue the tradition of effectiveness and efficiency widely associated with the social security program, and to assure present and future beneficiaries that they will receive their benefits as expected. The earned benefits that are paid monthly to retired and disabled American workers and their families provide a significant measure of economic protection to millions of people who might otherwise face retirement or possible disability with fear. I have enacted changes to improve the benefits of many social security beneficiaries during my years as President.

The last four years have presented a special set of concerns over the financial stability of the social security system. Shortly after taking office I proposed and Congress enacted legislation to protect the stability of the old age and survivors trust fund and prevent the imminent exhaustion of the disability insurance trust fund, and to correct a flaw in the benefit formula that was threatening the long run health of the entire social security system. The actions taken by the Congress at my request helped stabilize the system. That legislation was later complemented by the Disability Insurance Amendments of 1980 which further bolstered the disability insurance program, and reduced certain inequities among beneficiaries.

My commitment to the essential retirement and disability protection provided to 35 million people each month has been demonstrated by the fact that without interruption those beneficiaries have continued to receive their social security benefits, including annual cost of living increases. Changing and unpredictable economic circumstances require that we continue to monitor the financial stability of the social security system. To correct anticipated short-term strains on the system, I proposed last year that the three funds be allowed to borrow from one another, and I urge the Congress again this year to adopt such interfund borrowing. To further strengthen the social security system and provide a greater degree of assurance to beneficiaries, given projected future economic uncertainties, additional action should be taken. Among the additional financing options available are borrowing from the general fund, financing half of the hospital insurance fund with general revenues, and increasing the payroll tax rate. The latter option is particularly unpalatable given the significant increase in the tax rate already mandated in law.

This Administration continues to oppose cuts in basic social security benefits and taxing social security benefits. The Administration continues to support annual indexing of social security benefits.


In 1979 I proposed a welfare reform package which offers solutions to some of the most urgent problems in our welfare system. This proposal is embodied in two bills, The Work and Training Opportunities Act and The Social Welfare Reform Amendments Act. The House passed the second of these two proposals. Within the framework of our present welfare system, my reform proposals offer achievable means to increase self-sufficiency through work rather than welfare, more adequate assistance to people unable to work, the removal of inequities in coverage under current programs, and fiscal relief needed by States and localities.

Our current welfare system is long overdue for serious reform; the system is wasteful and not fully effective. The legislation I have proposed will help eliminate inequities by establishing a national minimum benefit, and by directly relating benefit levels to the poverty threshold. It will reduce program complexity, which leads to inefficiency and waste, by simplifying and coordinating administration among different programs.

I urge the Congress to take action in this area along the lines I have recommended.


My Administration has worked closely with the Congress on legislation which is designed to improve greatly the child welfare services and foster care programs and to create a Federal system of adoption assistance. These improvements will be achieved with the recent enactment of H.R. 3434, the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980. The well-being of children in need of homes and their permanent placement have been a primary concern of my Administration. This legislation will ensure that children are not lost in the foster care system, but instead will be returned to their families where possible or placed in permanent adoptive homes.


In 1979 I proposed a program to provide an annual total of $1.6 billion to low-income households which are hardest hit by rising energy bills. With the cooperation of Congress, we were able to move quickly to provide assistance to eligible households in time to meet their winter heating bills.

In response to the extreme heat conditions affecting many parts of the country during 1980, I directed the Community Services Administration to make available over $27 million to assist low-income individuals, especially the elderly, facing life threatening circumstances due to extreme heat.

Congress amended and reauthorized the low-income energy assistance program for fiscal year 1981, and provided $1.85 billion to meet anticipated increasing need. The need for a program to help low-income households with rising energy expenses will not abate in the near future. The low-income energy assistance program should be reauthorized to meet those needs.


For the past 14 months, high interest rates have had a severe impact on the nation’s housing market. Yet the current pressures and uncertainties should not obscure the achievements of the past four years.

Working with the Congress, the regulatory agencies, and the financial community, my Administration has brought about an expanded and steadier flow of funds into home mortgages. Deregulation of the interest rates payable by depository institutions, the evolution of variable and renegotiated rate mortgages, development of high yielding savings certificates, and expansion of the secondary mortgage market have all increased housing’s ability to attract capital and have assured that mortgage money would not be cut off when interest rates rose. These actions will diminish the cyclicality of the housing industry. Further, we have secured legislation updating the Federal Government’s emergency authority to provide support for the housing industry through the Brooke-Cranston program, and creating a new Section 235 housing stimulus program. These tools will enable the Federal Government to deal quickly and effectively with serious distress in this critical industry.

We have also worked to expand homeownership opportunities for Americans. By using innovative financing mechanisms, such as the graduated payment mortgage, we have increased the access of middle income families to housing credit. By revitalizing the Section 235 program, we have enabled nearly 100,000 moderate income households to purchase new homes. By reducing paperwork and regulation in Federal programs, and by working with State and local governments to ease the regulatory burden, we have helped to hold down housing costs and produce affordable housing.

As a result of these governmentwide efforts, 5 1/2 million more American families bought homes in the past four years than in any equivalent period in history. And more than 7 million homes have begun construction during my Administration, 1 million more than in the previous four years.

We have devoted particular effort to meeting the housing needs of low and moderate income families. In the past four years, more than 1 million subsidized units have been made available for occupancy by lower income Americans and more than 600,000 assisted units have gone into construction. In addition, we have undertaken a series of measures to revitalize and preserve the nation’s 2 million units of public and assisted housing.

For Fiscal Year 1982, I am proposing to continue our commitment to lower income housing. I am requesting funds to support 260,000 units of Section 8 and public housing, maintaining these programs at the level provided by Congress in Fiscal 1981.

While we have made progress in the past four years, in the future there are reasons for concern. Home price inflation and high interest rates threaten to put homeownership out of reach for first-time homebuyers. Lower income households, the elderly and those dependent upon rental housing face rising rents, low levels of rental housing construction by historic standards, and the threat of displacement due to conversion to condominiums and other factors. Housing will face strong competition for investment capital from the industrial sector generally and the energy industries, in particular.

To address these issues, I appointed a Presidential Task Force and Advisory Group last October. While this effort will not proceed due to the election result, I hope the incoming Administration will proceed with a similar venture.

The most important action government can take to meet America’s housing needs is to restore stability to the economy and bring down the rate of inflation. Inflation has driven up home prices, operating costs and interest rates. Market uncertainty about inflation has contributed to the instability in interest rates, which has been an added burden to homebuilders and homebuyers alike. By making a long-term commitment to provide a framework for greater investment, sustained economic growth, and price stability, my Administration has begun the work of creating a healthy environment for housing.


With the passage of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, and the Harley O. Staggers Rail Act of 1980, my Administration, working with the Congress, has initiated a new era of reduced regulation of transportation industries. Deregulation will lead to increased productivity and operating efficiencies in the industries involved, and stimulate price and service competition, to the benefit of consumers generally. I urge the new Administration to continue our efforts on behalf of deregulation legislation for the intercity passenger bus industry as well.

In the coming decade, the most significant challenge facing the nation in transportation services will be to improve a deteriorating physical infrastructure of roadways, railroads, waterways and mass transit systems, in order to conserve costly energy supplies while promoting effective transportation services.


Our vast network of highways, which account for 90 percent of travel and 80 percent by value of freight traffic goods movement, is deteriorating. If current trends continue, a major proportion of the Interstate pavement will have deteriorated by the end of the 1980’s.

Arresting the deterioration of the nation’s system of highways is a high priority objective for the 1980’s. We must reorient the Federal mission from major new construction projects to the stewardship of the existing Interstate Highway System. Interstate gaps should be judged on the connections they make and on their compatibility with community needs.

During this decade, highway investments will be needed to increase productivity, particularly in the elimination of bottlenecks, provide more efficient connections to ports and seek low-cost solutions to traffic demand.

My Administration has therefore recommended redefining completion of the Interstate system, consolidating over 27 categorical assistance programs into nine, and initiating a major repair and rehabilitation program for segments of the Interstate system. This effort should help maintain the condition and performance of the Nation’s highways, particularly the Interstate and primary system; provide a realistic means to complete the Interstate system by 1990; ensure better program delivery through consolidation, and assist urban revitalization. In addition, the Congress must address the urgent funding problems of the highway trust fund, and the need to generate greater revenues.


In the past decade the nation’s public transit systems’ ridership increased at an annual average of 1.1% each year in the 1970’s (6.9% in 1979). Continued increases in the cost of fuel are expected to make transit a growing part of the nation’s transportation system.

As a result, my Administration projected a ten year, $43 billion program to increase mass transit capacity by 50 percent, and promote more energy efficient vehicle uses in the next decade. The first part of this proposal was the five year, $24.7 billion Urban Mass Transportation Administration reauthorization legislation I sent to the Congress in March, 1980. I urge the 97th Congress to quickly enact this or similar legislation in 1981.

My Administration was also the first to have proposed and signed into law a non-urban formula grant program to assist rural areas and small communities with public transportation programs to end their dependence on the automobile, promote energy conservation and efficiency, and provide transportation services to impoverished rural communities.

A principal need of the 1980’s will be maintaining mobility for all segments of the population in the face of severely increasing transportation costs and uncertainty of fuel supplies. We must improve the flexibility of our transportation system and offer greater choice and diversity in transportation services. While the private automobile will continue to be the principal means of transportation for many Americans, public transportation can become an increasingly attractive alternative. We, therefore, want to explore a variety of paratransit modes, various types of buses, modern rapid transit, regional rail systems and light rail systems.

Highway planning and transit planning must be integrated and related to State, regional, district and neighborhood planning efforts now in place or emerging. Low density development and land use threaten the fiscal capacity of many communities to support needed services and infrastructure.


Transportation policies in the 1980’s must pay increasing attention to the needs of the elderly and handicapped. By 1990, the number of people over 65 will have grown from today’s 19 million to 27 million. During the same period, the number of handicapped—people who have difficulty using transit as well as autos, including the elderly—is expected to increase from 9 to 11 million, making up 4.5 percent of the population.

We must not retreat from a policy that affords a significant and growing portion of our population accessible public transportation while recognizing that the handicapped are a diverse group and will need flexible, door-to-door service where regular public transportation will not do the job.


In addition, the Federal government must reassess the appropriate Federal role of support for passenger and freight rail services such as Amtrak and Conrail. Our goal through federal assistance should be to maintain and enhance adequate rail service, where it is not otherwise available to needy communities. But Federal subsidies must be closely scrutinized to be sure they are a stimulus to, and not a replacement for, private investment and initiative. Federal assistance cannot mean permanent subsidies for unprofitable operations.


There is a growing need in rural and small communities for improved transportation services. Rail freight service to many communities has declined as railroads abandon unproductive branch lines. At the same time, rural roads are often inadequate to handle large, heavily-loaded trucks. The increased demand for “harvest to harbor” service has also placed an increased burden on rural transportation systems, while bottlenecks along the Mississippi River delay grain shipments to the Gulf of Mexico.

We have made some progress:

—To further develop the nation’s waterways, my Administration began construction of a new 1,200 foot lock at the site of Lock and Dam 26 on the Mississippi River. When opened in 1987, the new lock will have a capacity of 86 million tons per year, an 18 percent increase over the present system. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has also undertaken studies to assess the feasibility of expanding the Bonneville Locks. Rehabilitation of John Day Lock was begun in 1980 and should be completed in 1982. My Administration also supports the completion of the Upper Mississippi River Master Plan to determine the feasibility of constructing a second lock at Alton, Illinois. These efforts will help alleviate delays in transporting corn, soybeans and other goods along the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.

—The Department of Transportation’s new Small Community and Rural Transportation Policy will target federal assistance for passenger transportation, roads and highways, truck service, and railroad freight service to rural areas. This policy implements and expands upon the earlier White House Initiative, “Improving Transportation in Rural America,” announced in June, 1979, and the President’s “Small Community and Rural Development Policy” announced in December, 1979. The Congress should seek ways to balance rail branch line abandonment with the service needs of rural and farm communities, provide financial assistance to rail branch line rehabilitation where appropriate, assist shippers to adjust to rail branch line abandonment where it takes place, and help make it possible for trucking firms to serve light density markets with dependable and efficient trucking services.


During my Administration I have sought to ensure that the U.S. maritime industry will not have to function at an unfair competitive disadvantage in the international market. As I indicated in my maritime policy statement to the Congress in July, 1979, the American merchant marine is vital to our Nation’s welfare, and Federal actions should promote rather than harm it. In pursuit of this objective, I signed into law the Controlled Carrier Act of 1978, authorizing the Federal Maritime Commission to regulate certain rate cutting practices of some state-controlled carriers, and recently signed a bilateral maritime agreement with the People’s Republic of China that will expand the access of American ships to 20 specified Chinese ports, and set aside for American-flag ships a substantial share (at least one-third) of the cargo between our countries. This agreement should officially foster expanded U.S. and Chinese shipping services linking the two countries, and will provide further momentum to the growth of Sino-American trade.

Continue to Part II

No prior document in this Era
No next document in this Era