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Reagan press conference roundup

By staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor / December 18, 1981



Some of the major topics covered by President Reagan's Dec. 17 press conference included: * The economy. Mr. Reagan said the federal budget will not be balanced by 1984. The deterioration of the economy between January and September - in part attributable to continued high interest rates - was so great, he said, that the administration had to revise its budget estimates. But he cited data that in his view proves the economy is responding to his tax and budget cuts. Since taking office, he said, interest rates have fallen 6 to 6.5 points; the inflation rate has dropped to single digits; and the administration has cut the rate of increase in federal spending nearly in half.

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He said he opposes new taxes to offset deficits for fiscal 1982 and 1983, which some economists expect to exceed $100 billion each of those years.

* Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights. The President said that the United States had registered its disagreement with Israel and added that ''we do deplore'' Israel's ''unilateral'' decision to annex the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

The President admitted that Israel's decision to annex the area caught the US by surprise. While Israel's move makes it more difficult to bring the parties together, the President said, he remains optimistic about the peace efforts in the Middle East.

* Libya. Reagan said he did not ''make public'' information on alleged Libyan hit squads seeking to assassinate US officials. Initially he tried to keep the information secret because he felt there ''would have a better opportunity of apprehending them if the news was not made public.'' Reports that the danger from such terrorists has passed are not based on intelligence information, he said, adding that it would be ''foolish'' to relax security measures.

* White House staff. The President would not comment on the future of national security adviser Richard V. Allen as long as Mr. Allen is under investigation for allegedly accepting gifts from a Japanese journalist and filing inaccurate financial disclosure statements with the White House. Reagan said that calling a special prosecutor to investigate a case does not connote guilt. And he said there was ''no reason'' for Labor Secretary Raymond Donovan to step down from his duties. The FBI is investigating allegation concerning Mr. Donovan's former business dealings as a New Jersey construction company head.