1988 State of the Union Address

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President Ronald Reagan with Vice President George H.W. Bush and House Speaker Jim Wright during the 1988 State of the Union address.

The 1988 State of the Union address was given by President Ronald Reagan to a joint session of the 100th United States Congress on Monday, January 25, 1988. The speech was the last State of the Union address of President Reagan's second term. Donald Hodel, the Secretary of the Interior, served as the designated survivor.[1]


President Reagan addresses the Congress (excerpt)

President Reagan began by announcing that his speech would not be a litany of achievements over the past seven years of his administration, but that he would continue to propose policy initiatives. He outlined the following objectives:

  1. Keep the economy strong and growing
  2. Review the state of social programs
  3. Continue spreading democracy around the world
  4. Maintain a strong defense

Reagan discussed the federal deficit, the size of the federal budget, abortion, crime, drugs, the line-item veto, foreign relations and the Soviet–Afghan War. He famously summarized the effect of government intervention on the poor:[2]

Some years ago the federal government declared War on Poverty, and poverty won. Today the federal government has 59 major welfare programs and spends more than $100 billion a year on them. What has all this money done? Well, too often it has made poverty harder to escape. Federal welfare programs have created a massive social problem. With the best of intentions, government created a poverty trap that wreaks havoc on the very support system the poor need most to lift themselves out of poverty: the family.

In closing he returned to his vision of America as a city on a hill: "We can be proud ... that another generation of Americans has protected and passed on lovingly this place called America, this shining city on a hill, this government of, by, and for the people."

The speech lasted approximately 44 minutes and consisted of 4,955 words.[3] The address was broadcast live on radio and television.

Opposition response[edit]

The Democratic Party response was delivered by Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia and Speaker of the House Jim Wright of Texas.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ New York Times, "State of Union: Bewitched by Pageant." Page A18. Jan 27, 1988
  2. ^ Cq Researcher (2009). Issues for Debate in Social Policy: Selections From CQ Researcher. SAGE Publications. p. 165. ISBN 9781412979412. Retrieved 2015-01-01.
  3. ^ "Length of State of the Union Addresses in Minutes". presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2015-01-01.
  4. ^ "List of Opposition Responses to State of the Union Addresses". presidency.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2015-01-01.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
1987 State of the Union Address
State of the Union addresses
Succeeded by
1990 State of the Union Address