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Adapted from a 1981 speech to Congress, Ronald Reagan states his reasons for a new program for economic recovery.1
Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, distinguished Members of Congress, honored guests, and fellow citizens: Only a month ago I was your guest in this05 historic building, and I pledged to you my cooperation in doing what is right for this Nation that we all love so much. I'm here tonight to reaffirm that pledge and to ask that we share in restoring the promise that is10 offered to every citizen by this, the last, best hope of man on Earth. All of us are aware of the punishing inflation which has for the first time in 60 years held to double-digit figures for 2 years in a15 row. Interest rates have reached absurd levels more than 20 percent and over 15 percent for those who would borrow to buy a home. All across this land one can see newly built homes standing vacant, unsold because of20 mortgage interest rates. Almost 8 million Americans are out of work. These are people who want to be productive. But as the months go by, despair dominates their lives. The threats of layoff25 and unemployment hang over other millions, and all who work are frustrated by their inability to keep up with inflation. One worker in a Midwest city put it to me this way: He said, "I'm bringing home more30 dollars than I ever believed I could possibly earn, but I seem to be getting worse off." And he is. Not only have hourly earnings the American worker, after adjusting for inflation, declined 5 percent over the past 535 years, but in these 5 years, federal personal taxes for the average family have increased 67 percent. We can no longer procrastinate and hope that things will get better. They will not. Unless we act forcefully—and now—the40 economy will get worse. Can we, who man the ship of state, deny it is somewhat out of control? Our national debt is approaching $1 trillion. A few weeks ago I called such a figure, a trillion dollars,45 incomprehensible, and I've been trying ever since to think of a way to illustrate how big a trillion really is. And the best I could come up with is that if you had a stack of thousand dollar bills in your hand only 4 inches high,50 you'd be a millionaire. A trillion dollars would be a stack of thousand-dollar bills 67 miles high. The interest on the public debt this year we know will be over $90 billion, and unless we change the proposed spending for the55 fiscal year beginning October 1st, we'll add another almost $80 billion to the debt. Adding to our troubles is a mass of regulations imposed on the shopkeeper, the farmer, the craftsman, professionals, and60 major industry that is estimated to add $100 billion to the price of the things we buy, and it reduces our ability to produce. The rate of increase in American productivity, once one of the highest in the world, is among the lowest65 of all major industrial nations. Indeed, it has actually declined in the last 3 years. Now, I've painted a pretty grim picture, but I think I've painted it accurately. It is within our power to change this picture, and we can70 act with hope. There's nothing wrong with our internal strengths. There has been no breakdown of the human, technological, and natural resources upon which the economy is built.75 […] This, then, is our proposal—America's new beginning: a program for economic recovery. I don't want it to be simply the plan of my administration. I'm here tonight to ask you80 to join me in making it our plan. Together we can embark on this road.
1Citation: Ronald Reagan: "Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the Program for Economic Recovery," February 18, 1981. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=43425.
1. The overall point of this passage is to
2. The speaker's tone is best described as
3. As used in line 12, the word "punishing" most closely means
4. The speaker most directly suggests that unemployed Americans
5. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
6. The quotation in lines 29-31 ("I'm . . . off") serves to
7. The speaker most strongly suggests that the underlying structure of the U.S. economy is
8. Which option gives the best evidence for the answer to the previous question?
9. The speaker primarily uses the paragraph in lines 41-56 to
10. Lines 58-60 ("shopkeeper . . . industry") are intended to illustrate the
11. As used in line 66, the word "declined" most closely means
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