[Editor's note: Mr. Carter was defeated for reelection
Nevertheless, he opted to transmit a written State of the Union Address to Congress.
Because of its extraoridnary length, I have divided it into different pages on this site.]
RECORD OF PROGRESS
When I took office, our Nation faced a number of serious domestic and international problems:
Over the past 48 months, clear progress has been made in solving the challenges we found in January of 1977:
ENSURING ECONOMIC STRENGTH
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.
THE 1982 BUDGET
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:
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:
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:
In addition to making significant progress in helping the disadvantaged and unemployed, important gains were realized for all workers:
While substantial gains have been made in the last four years, continued efforts are required to ensure that this progress is continued:
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 a 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. II.
CREATING ENERGY SECURITY
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.
NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY
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:
INCREASED DEVELOPMENT OF DOMESTIC ENERGY SOURCES
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.
COMMITMENT TO A SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FUTURE
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.
COMMITMENT TO NUCLEAR SAFETY AND SECURITY
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. III.
ENHANCING BASIC HUMAN AND SOCIAL NEEDS
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.
NATIONAL HEALTH PLAN
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:
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.
HEALTH CARE COST CONTROL
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.
HEALTH PROMOTION AND DISEASE PREVENTION
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.
MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH
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.
EXPANSION OF SERVICES TO THE POOR AND UNDERSERVED
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.
FOOD AND NUTRITION
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.
DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION
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.
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.