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Press conference highlights: AWACS, welfare, the economy

Following are excerpt from President Reagan's press conference on Oct. 1, the first day of fiscal year 1982.m National debt

Last night I signed the bill that raised the debt ceiling to more than $1 trillion. It was necessary to do that to continue government operations. But it heightens the significance of this first day of the 1982 fiscal year because on this day our economic recovery program begins. The $1 trillion debt figure can stand as a monument for the policies of the past that brought it about. Policies which of today are reversed. Tax cuts and spending cuts that take effect today will put America back on the road to economic recovery. . . . Our programs won't be instantaneous. The mistakes of four decades can't be turned around in eight months.

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There's recently been some improvement in the area of short term interest rates. The prime rate has begun to turn down; rates on treasury bills almost 16 percent when I took office are down to 14 1/2. Fluctuations in the various economic indicators such as inflation and unemployment rates will probably continue for several months. But we will not be swayed from our plan by every changing current, every passing trend, or every short-term fluctuation. In time past administrations have failed to come even close to their spending targets and the Congress has ignored its own announced spending ceilings. Those times are over. I will sign no legislation that would "bust the budget" and violate our commitment to hold down federal spending. AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia

This morning Congress was notified of our intention to sell AWACS aircraft and F-15 inhancement items to Saudi Arabia. I have proposed this sale because it significantly enhances our vital national security interests in the Middle East. By building confidence in the United States as a reliable security partner, the sale will greatly improve the chances of our working constructively with Saudi Arabia and other states of the Middle East toward our common goal a just and lasting peace. It poses no threat to Israel now or in the future. Indeed by contributing to the security and stability of the region it serves Israel's longrange interest.Further, this sale will significantly improve the capability of Saudi Arabia and the US to defend the oil fields on which the security of the Free World depends.. . .

It is not the business of other nations to make american foreign policy.. . .

The most serious thing is . . . that other countries must not get a perception that we are being unduly influenced one way of the other in regard to foreign policy. Program cutbacks in fiscal '82

What we've called the safety-net is still in place and the benefits are still maintained. The programs are spending an average of over $15,000 per elderly couple. Over 102 million meals are going to be served and are being served every day under this program and that's 15 percent of all the meals served in the country. Twenty-two million people were eligible for food stamps before the reform. Some 21 million will still be eligible today.Now some of those may have a reduction in the amount of the number of food stamps, but those will be based on their means and their outside income. About 40 million individuals are still provided with over $50 billion and cash and . . . benefits in eight major public assistance programs other than social security. Abortion, busing, school prayer

I shall be happy to see them come to my desk for signature.

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