For The Record
President Reagan, during a nationally broadcast radio address, Dec. 3, 1983:
Families stand at the center of society, so building our future must begin by preserving family values. Tragically, too many in Washington have been asking us to swallow a whopper, namely that bigger government is the greatest force for fairness and progress. But this so-called solution has given most of us a bad case of financial indigestion. How can families survive when big government's powers to tax, inflate, and regulate absorb their wealth, usurp their rights, and crush their spirit? Was there compassion for a working family in 21.5 percent inflation and taxes soaring out of sight? Consider the cost of child rearing: It now takes $85,000 to raise a child to age 18 and family incomes haven't kept up. During the 1970's, real wages actually declined over 2 percent. Consider taxes: In 1948, the tax on the average two-child family was just $9; today, it is $2,900. As economic and social pressures have increased, the bonds that bind families together have come under strain. For example, three times as many families are headed by single parents today as in 1960. Many single parents make heroic sacrifices and deserve all our support. But there is no question that many well-intentioned Great Society-type programs contributed to family breakups, welfare dependency, and a large increase in births out of wedlock. In the 1970's, the number of single mothers rose from 8 to 13 percent among whites and from 31 to a tragic 47 percent among blacks.
Too often their children grow up poor, malnourished, and lacking in motivation. It's a path to social and health problems, low school performance, unemployment, and delinquency.
If we strengthen families, we'll help reduce poverty and the whole range of other social problems. We can begin by reducing the economic burdens of inflation and taxes and we're doing this. Since 1980, inflation has been chopped by three-fourths.
Taxes have been cut for every family that earns a living, and we've increased the tax credit for child care. Yesterday, we learned that our growing economy reduced unemployment to 8.2 percent last month. The payroll employment figure went up by 370,000 jobs.
At the same time, new policies are helping our neediest families move from dependence to independence. Our new job training law will train over a million needy and unemployed Americans each year for productive jobs. I should add that our enterprise-zones proposal would stimulate new businesses, bringing jobs and hope to some of the most destitute areas of the country. ...
We've made prevention of drug abuse among youth a top priority. We'll soon announce a national missing-children's center to help find and rescue chilren who've been abducted and exploited. We're work-ing with states and local communities to increase the adoption of special-needs children. More children with permanent homes means fewer children with permanent problems.
We're also stiffening the enforcement of child support from absent parents. And we're trying hard to improve education through more discipline, a return to the basics, and through reforms like tuition tax credits to help hard-working parents.
In coming months, we'll propose new ways to help families stay together, remain independent, and cope with the pressures of modern life. A cornerstone of our efforts must be assisting families to support themselves. As Franklin Roosevelt said almost 50 years ago, "Self-help and self-control are the essence of the American tradition."
In Washington, everyone looks out for special interest groups. Well, I think families are pretty special. And with your help, we'll continue looking out for their interests.
President Reagan, upon signing a proclamation designating 1983-1992 as the Decade of Disabled Persons, Nov. 28, 1983:
... Today I'm establishing a clear national goal. Let us increase the economic independence of every disabled American and let us begin today.
The disabled want what all of us want. The opportunity to contribute to our communities, to use our creativity, and to go as far as our God-given talents will take us. We see remarkable achievements in medicine, technology, education, rehabilitation, and in preventive medicine. Voluntary efforts by the private sector help in a thousand ways. America is a caring society. But too often, federal programs discourage full participation by society. Outmoded attitudes and practices that foster dependence are still with us. They are unjust, unwanted, and nonproductive. Paternalism is the wrong answer.
The maze of federal programs complicates matters even more. Thirty-two federal agencies fund handicapped research. There are at least 42 separate federal programs specifically targeted toward the handicapped population with an annual budget in excess of $36 billion. More than a hundred other programs provide handicapped services and support. Now, many good things are being done and federal programs help in countless ways. But the patchwork quilt of existing policies and programs can be as much of a hindrance as a help.
Programs overlap, they work at cross purposes, and worst of all, they don't always point toward independence and jobs. So we have a lot of work to do and this work will be done.
Since last April, a White House working group on handicapped policy has been looking at ways to better translate our goals of economic independence into an agenda for action. And that agenda is now underway. The Administration's review of the regulations implementing Public Law 94-142, The Education of All Handicapped Children's Act, has been completed. The regulations are fine the way they are. No changes will be made and the program will be protected in its present form.
Now, today, I'm also announcing three new initiatives. We believe that each will result in far better coordination and consistency among federal programs.
The Department of Health and Human Services will direct a program to strengthen private job opportunities. This initiative will feature a new job-cataloguing service and a national campaign to coordinate and stimulate employment possibilities for the severely disabled.
Help is also needed to assist in the transition from special education to community integration and job placement. The Departments of Education and Health and Human Services have established a program to assist special-education students during this transition.
Finally, we are putting together a national information and referral system. The handicapped, their families, and physicians need to be able to cut through the maze of public and private services and gain timely access to information and programs. This new network, managed by the private sector, will provide this badly needed service.
Now, I know these programs are only a beginning, but we believe equal opportunity, equal access, and greater economic independence must be more than slogans. Whenever government puts welfare and charity before the opportunity for jobs, it misses the mark. By returning to our traditional values of self-reliance, human dignity, and independence, we can find the solution together. We can help replace chaos with order in federal programs, and we can promote opportunity and offer the promise of sharing the joys and responsibilities of community life. ...