Statement on Signing the Initial Order for Emergency Deficit Control Measures for Fiscal Year 1989


August 25, 1988


I have today signed the initial emergency deficit control order for fiscal year 1989 required by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act. As of August 15, 1988, the statutory cutoff date for this order, automatic across-the-board cuts in the Federal budget are not required.


The Congress should take no comfort from the fact that the fiscal year 1989 Federal budget has survived this preliminary examination. If the baseline estimate of the Federal deficit had reached $146 billion, automatic cuts would have been required. Taking into account three bills that I signed subsequent to the August 15 snapshot date, the baseline estimate was $145.3 billion, leaving a safety margin of only $.7 billion; and the Congress still has enacted only 2 of the 13 appropriations bills for fiscal year 1989.


Unless the Congress follows to the letter the bipartisan budget agreement to which the congressional leadership and I agreed last November, this small margin of safety will evaporate. In that case, congressional overspending will trigger across-the-board cuts that slash high priority programs every bit as much as lower priority programs.


I urge the Congress to act swiftly and responsibly to pass the remaining 11 appropriations bills in compliance with the bipartisan budget agreement. If the Congress sticks to its word, it will not trigger automatic cuts that are damaging to essential programs upon which the American people depend.