Jimmy Carter

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I see an America on the move again, united, a diverse and vital and tolerant nation, entering our third century with pride and confidence, an America that lives up to the majesty of our Constitution and the simple decency of our people.
Human rights is the soul of our foreign policy, because human rights is the very soul of our sense of nationhood.

James Earl Carter, Jr. (born 1 October 1924) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as the 39th president of the United States from 1977 to 1981. In 1982 he established the Carter Center, as a base for promoting human rights, democracy, finding peaceful solutions to international conflicts, and advancing economic and social development, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He is a key figure in the Habitat for Humanity project, and has been noted for his criticism of Israel's role in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.


We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.
A strong nation, like a strong person, can afford to be gentle, firm, thoughtful, and restrained. It can afford to extend a helping hand to others.


  • At the end of a long campaign, I believe I know the people of our state as well as anyone. Based on this knowledge of Georgians North and South, Rural and Urban, liberal and conservative, I say to you quite frankly that the time for racial discrimination is over.
    • Gubernatorial Inaugural Address (12 January 1971)
  • We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.
    • Addressing a Bible class in Plains, Georgia (March 1976), as quoted in Boston Sunday Herald Advertiser (11 April 1976)
  • I have nothing against a community that is made up of people who are Polish, or who are Czechoslovakians, or who are French Canadians or who are blacks trying to maintain the ethnic purity of their neighborhoods. This is a natural inclination. … Government should not break up a neighborhood on a numerical basis. As soon as the Government does, the white folks flee.
  • I've looked on many women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do — and I have done it — and God forgives me for it."
    • Interview in Playboy magazine (1976), while a candidate for President.
  • Sometimes we try to justify this unsavory business on the cynical ground that by rationing out the means of violence we can somehow control the world’s violence. The fact is that we cannot have it both ways. Can we be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war?
    • "A Community of the Free" address at The Foreign Policy Association NY, NY (23 June 1976); this is often paraphrased: We cannot be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war.

First Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech (1976)

First Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech (15 July 1976)
  • My name is Jimmy Carter, and I’m running for President.
    It’s been a long time since I said those words the first time, and now I’ve come here after seeing our great country to accept your nomination.
  • There is a new mood in America. We have been shaken by a tragic war abroad and by scandals and broken promises at home. Our people are searching for new voices and new ideas and new leaders.
    Although government has its limits and cannot solve all our problems, we Americans reject the view that we must be reconciled to failures and mediocrity, or to an inferior quality of life. For I believe that we can come through this time of trouble stronger than ever. Like troops who have been in combat, we have been tempered in the fire; we have been disciplined, and we have been educated.
    Guided by lasting and simple moral values, we have emerged idealists without illusions, realists who still know the old dreams of justice and liberty, of country and of community.
  • Any system of economics is bankrupt if it sees either value or virtue in unemployment. We simply cannot check inflation by keeping people out of work..
  • Our nation should always derive its character directly from the people and let this be the strength and the image to be presented to the world — the character of the American people.
    To our friends and allies I say that what unites us through our common dedication to democracy is much more important than that which occasionally divides us on economics or politics. To the nations that seek to lift themselves from poverty I say that America shares your aspirations and extends its hand to you. To those nation-states that wish to compete with us I say that we neither fear competition nor see it as an obstacle to wider cooperation. To all people I say that after two hundred years America still remains confident and youthful in its commitment to freedom and equality, and we always will be.
  • I see an America on the move again, united, a diverse and vital and tolerant nation, entering our third century with pride and confidence, an America that lives up to the majesty of our Constitution and the simple decency of our people.
    This is the America we want. This is the America that we will have.

Presidency (1977–1981)

Being confident of our own future, we are now free of that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear. I’m glad that that’s being changed.
We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.
Our pursuit of human rights is part of a broad effort to use our great power and our tremendous influence in the service of creating a better world, a world in which human beings can live in peace, in freedom, and with their basic needs adequately met.


  • The destruction was mutual. We went to Vietnam without any desire to capture territory or impose American will on other people. I don't feel that we ought to apologize or castigate ourselves or to assume the status of culpability.
    • Statement quoted in the Los Angeles Times (25 March 1977)
  • Democracy’s great recent successes — in India, Portugal, Spain, Greece — show that our confidence in this system is not misplaced. Being confident of our own future, we are now free of that inordinate fear of communism which once led us to embrace any dictator who joined us in that fear. I’m glad that that’s being changed.
    For too many years, we’ve been willing to adopt the flawed and erroneous principles and tactics of our adversaries, sometimes abandoning our own values for theirs. We’ve fought fire with fire, never thinking that fire is better quenched with water. This approach failed, with Vietnam the best example of its intellectual and moral poverty. But through failure we have now found our way back to our own principles and values, and we have regained our lost confidence.
  • Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.
    • Message to Congress (2 August 1977)
  • We cast this message into the cosmos. It is likely to survive a billion years into our future, when our civilization is profoundly altered and the surface of the Earth may be vastly changed. Of the 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, some — perhaps many – may have inhabited planets and spacefaring civilizations. If one such civilization intercepts Voyager and can understand these recorded contents, here is our message:
This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours. We hope someday, having solved the problems we face, to join a community of galactic civilizations. This record represents our hope and our determination, and our good will in a vast and awesome universe.
Inaugural Address (1977)
For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.
In this outward and physical ceremony we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strength of our Nation.
Jimmy Carter's Inaugural Address (January 20, 1977)
We are a strong nation, and we will maintain strength so sufficient that it need not be proven in combat – a quiet strength based not merely on the size of an arsenal, but on the nobility of ideas.
  • For myself and for our Nation, I want to thank my predecessor for all he has done to heal our land.
    In this outward and physical ceremony we attest once again to the inner and spiritual strength of our Nation.
  • Ours was the first society openly to define itself in terms of both spirituality and of human liberty. It is that unique self-definition which has given us an exceptional appeal, but it also imposes on us a special obligation, to take on those moral duties which, when assumed, seem invariably to be in our own best interests.
  • Let us learn together and laugh together and work together and pray together, confident that in the end we will triumph together in the right.
  • We have already found a high degree of personal liberty, and we are now struggling to enhance equality of opportunity. Our commitment to human rights must be absolute, our laws fair, our natural beauty preserved; the powerful must not persecute the weak, and human dignity must be enhanced.
  • To be true to ourselves, we must be true to others. We will not behave in foreign places so as to violate our rules and standards here at home, for we know that the trust which our Nation earns is essential to our strength.
  • The world itself is now dominated by a new spirit. Peoples more numerous and more politically aware are craving and now demanding their place in the sun – not just for the benefit of their own physical condition, but for basic human rights.
    The passion for freedom is on the rise. Tapping this new spirit, there can be no nobler nor more ambitious task for America to undertake on this day of a new beginning than to help shape a just and peaceful world that is truly humane.
    We are a strong nation, and we will maintain strength so sufficient that it need not be proven in combat – a quiet strength based not merely on the size of an arsenal, but on the nobility of ideas.
    We will be ever vigilant and never vulnerable, and we will fight our wars against poverty, ignorance, and injustice – for those are the enemies against which our forces can be honorably marshaled.

    We are a purely idealistic Nation, but let no one confuse our idealism with weakness.
    Because we are free we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere. Our moral sense dictates a clearcut preference for these societies which share with us an abiding respect for individual human rights. We do not seek to intimidate, but it is clear that a world which others can dominate with impunity would be inhospitable to decency and a threat to the well-being of all people.
Children's Hospital National Medical Center Dedication Ceremony (March 1977)
President Carter's remarks at the dedication ceremony of the Children's Hospital National Medical Center. (March 6, 1977). Source: Children's Hospital National Medical Center - Remarks at the Dedication Ceremony, The American Presidency Project.
  • I think it's very significant to point out that several Presidents and several different Congresses, that many private contributors have been involved in the evolution of this tremendous new health care center. I'm proud of it. It has been a subject of some criticism because of its cost. But I think we have to remember that this is the center of our government, and that what does occur here in 1977 and in the year 2000 can very well set a standard of care and love for children that will permeate the consciousness of doctors and nurses and parents, teachers and social workers throughout our country and, perhaps, even throughout the world. I grew up in a home in a rural area of Georgia, but my mother was a registered nurse. And I and the other children in that country community had good health care, not just from her but because there was a heavy emphasis on the prevention of disease, on inoculations, and on a constant relationship with a large number of medical doctors who lived there then.
  • We've let those standards of prevention emphasis deteriorate over the last few decades. Recently, Joe Califano, who is the new head of the Health, Education, and Welfare Department, was talking about this. And we decided to increase the emphasis placed on the health care for children. In the past, the Federal Government has paid 50 percent of the cost of identifying young children who need health care, and we had very slight response. So, we decided in this next budget to increase that to 75 percent, hoping that in this way, within the school environment, within the outpatient clinics, within the county health centers, that we could identify children who perhaps have not had the good fortune that many of your children and my child has had, and might have potential problems observed and corrected before they reach their formative years of life. This tremendous new Children's Hospital is designed to do several things. One is to treat those children who have severe health problems, particularly cardiac patients at a young age, below 18 or so. Ninety percent of those kinds of patients in the whole metropolitan area are likely to be treated here. And one-third of all the children in the metropolitan area of Washington will be treated here.
  • A great deal of thought has gone into the design of this hospital to try to predict what the future might bold in energy conservation, health care, and in the use of brief periods of stay within a hospital environment for those who are quite ill. Another new or innovative change that has been made in the design is that there is a special place in every instance for the parent of a child to stay here with that child while the severe illness has not been corrected. So, adjacent to each child's bed there is a place for the parent to stay. This hospital, I believe, is associated with George Washington University and its medical center. And it's close enough so that Federal officials, as well, can both teach, try new ideas, and learn. We, I think, can receive rich benefits from this center. And I believe that we can set a standard for the whole country.
  • I know how much I love my own children. Just a few minutes ago, Amy and I were out in the front yard of the White House designing a tree house that's going to be built for Amy, and it is one of those many instances that I have to be close to her. And I know that when she does get ill in the future, I want her to have good health care. But I'm just as interested in a child who lives in the oldest and most dilapidated apartment house in the District of Columbia. And I'm also interested in the children that live in Atlanta, Georgia, Detroit, or who live in other parts of our country. So, I'm here to represent the Government, which quite often makes mistakes, but which I hope always retains a heart, attuned to loving care for those who are able to care for themselves, yes, but for primarily those whose care would be neglected if those who do occupy major political positions in the Congress and in the White House didn't care for everyone. This is a good day for us. And I hope that everyone who serves in this hospital or who comes here for treatment or whose family uses this facility will be blessed by it and will be inspired with a sense of compassion and understanding and brotherhood and love, to keep illness away from our children and to correct those who are afflicted with disease.
  • I want to congratulate those who have come before me who had the foresight to understand the need for this facility. And I think that every family who does live in that dilapidated apartment dwelling can breathe a little easier knowing that if their children are sick that poverty or despair will not prevent their child from getting just as good medical treatment as the little daughter of the President of the United States. That's what's good about a system of government such as ours. We've got a long way to go in the field of health care, but this is a major step forward. And I'm very proud of what has been done and look forward with a great deal of determination to earn, as President, working with all of you, the medal that has been struck and presented to me and Rosalynn. It will go in the White House museum or in the Archives. And I hope it will be a reminder in generations to come of the concern that many of you have had long before I was elected President at these tiny but precious emblems of concern in the greatest country on Earth--the children that we care so much about. Thank you again. I'm proud to be part of this great ceremony.
Address to the United Nations General Assembly (March 1977)
President Carter's remarks at the United Nations General Assembly. (March 17, 1977). Source: Address to the United Nations General Assembly, The American Presidency Project.
I have come here to express my own support and the continuing support of my country for the ideals of the United Nations. We are proud that for the 32 years since its creation, the United Nations has met on American soil. And we share with you the commitments of freedom, self-government, human dignity, mutual toleration, and the peaceful resolution of disputes--which the founding principles of the United Nations and also Secretary General Kurt Waldheim so well represent.
  • Thank you, Mr. Secretary General. Last night I was in Clinton, Massachusetts, at a Town Hall meeting where people of that small town decide their political and economic future. Tonight I speak to a similar meeting where people representing nations all over the world come here to decide their political and economic future. I am proud to be with you tonight in this house where the shared hopes of the world can find a voice. I have come here to express my own support and the continuing support of my country for the ideals of the United Nations. We are proud that for the 32 years since its creation, the United Nations has met on American soil. And we share with you the commitments of freedom, self-government, human dignity, mutual toleration, and the peaceful resolution of disputes--which the founding principles of the United Nations and also Secretary General Kurt Waldheim so well represent. No one nation by itself can build a world which reflects all these fine values. But the United States, my own country, has a reservoir of strength--economic strength, which we are willing to share; military strength, which we hope never to use again; and the strength of ideals, which are determined fully to maintain the backbone of our own foreign policy.
  • It is now 8 weeks since I became President. I have brought to office a firm commitment to a more open foreign policy. And I believe that the American people expect me to speak frankly about the policies that we intend to pursue, and it is in that spirit that I speak to you tonight about our own hopes for the future. I see a hopeful world, a world dominated by increasing demands for basic freedoms, for fundamental rights, for higher standards of human existence. We are eager to take part in the shaping of that world. But in seeking such a better world, we are not blind to the reality of disagreement, nor to the persisting dangers that confront us all. Every headline reminds us of bitter divisions, of national hostilities, of territorial conflicts, of ideological competition. In the Middle East, peace is a quarter of a century overdue. A gathering racial conflict threatens southern Africa; new tensions are rising in the Horn of Africa. Disputes in the eastern Mediterranean remain to be resolved. Perhaps even more ominous is the staggering arms race. The Soviet Union and the United States have accumulated thousands of nuclear weapons. Our two nations now have five times more missile warheads today than we had just 8 years ago. But we are not five times more secure. On the contrary, the arms race has only increased the risk of conflict.
  • We can only improve this world if we are realistic about its complexities. The disagreements that we face are deeply rooted, and they often raise difficult philosophical as well as territorial issues. They will not be solved easily. They will not be solved quickly. The arms race is now embedded in the very fabric of international affairs and can only be contained with the greatest difficulty. Poverty and inequality are of such monumental scope that it will take decades of deliberate and determined effort even to improve the situation substantially. I stress these dangers and these difficulties because I want all of us to dedicate ourselves to a prolonged and persistent effort designed first to maintain peace and to reduce the arms race; second, to build a better and a more cooperative international economic system; and third, to work with potential adversaries as well as our close friends to advance the cause of human rights. In seeking these goals, I realize that the United States cannot solve the problems of the world. We can sometimes help others resolve their differences, but we cannot do so by imposing our own particular solutions.
  • In the coming months, there is important work for all of us in advancing international cooperation and economic progress in the cause of peace. Later this spring, the leaders of several industrial nations of Europe, North America, and Japan will confer at a summit meeting in London on a broad range of issues. We must promote the health of the industrial economies. We must seek to restrain inflation and bring ways of managing our own domestic economies for the benefit of the global economy. We must move forward with multilateral trade negotiations in Geneva. The United States will support the efforts of our friends to strengthen the democratic institutions in Europe, and particularly in Portugal and Spain. We will work closely with our European friends on the forthcoming Review Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe. We want to make certain that the provisions of the Helsinki agreement are fully implemented and that progress is made to further East-West cooperation. In the Middle East we are doing our best to clarify areas of disagreement, to surface underlying consensus, and to help to develop mutually acceptable principles that can form a flexible framework for a just and a permanent settlement. In southern Africa, we will work to help attain majority rule through peaceful means. We believe that such fundamental transformation can be achieved, to the advantage of both the blacks and whites who live in that region of the world. Anything less than that may bring a protracted racial war, with devastating consequences to all. This week the Government of the United States took action to bring our country into full compliance with United Nations sanctions against the illegal regime in Rhodesia. And I will sign that bill Friday in Washington.
  • We will put our relations with Latin America on a more constructive footing, recognizing the global character of the region's problems. We are also working to resolve in amicable negotiations the future of the Panama Canal. We will continue our efforts to develop further our relationships with the People's Republic of China. We recognize our parallel strategic interests in maintaining stability in Asia, and we will act in the spirit of the Shanghai Communiqué. In Southeast Asia and in the Pacific, we will strengthen our association with our traditional friends, and we will seek to improve relations with our former adversaries. We have a mission now in Vietnam seeking peaceful resolution of the differences that have separated us for so long. Throughout the world, we are ready to normalize our relationships and to seek reconciliation with all states which are ready to work with us in promoting global progress and global peace.
  • Above all, the search for peace requires a much more deliberate effort to contain the global arms race. Let me speak in this context, first, of the U.S.-Soviet Union relationship, and then of the wider need to contain the proliferation of arms throughout the global community. I intend to pursue the strategic arms limitation talks between the United States and the Soviet Union with determination and with energy. Our Secretary of State will visit Moscow in just a few days. SALT is extraordinarily complicated. But the basic fact is that while negotiations remain deadlocked, the arms race goes on; the security of both countries and the entire world is threatened. My preference would be for strict controls or even a freeze on new types and new generations of weaponry and with a deep reduction in the strategic arms of both sides. Such a major step towards not only arms limitation but arms reduction would be welcomed by mankind as a giant step towards peace. Alternatively, and perhaps much more easily, we could conclude a limited agreement based on those elements of the Vladivostok accord on which we can find complete consensus, and set aside for prompt consideration and subsequent negotiations the more contentious issues and also the deeper reductions in nuclear weapons which I favor. We will also explore the possibility of a total cessation of nuclear testing. While our ultimate goal is for all nuclear powers to end testing, we do not regard this as a prerequisite for the suspension of tests by the two principal nuclear powers, the Soviet Union and the United States. We should, however, also pursue a broad, permanent multilateral agreement on this issue. We will also seek to establish Soviet willingness to reach agreement with us on mutual military restraint in the Indian Ocean, as well as on such matters as arms exports to the troubled areas of the world. In proposing such accommodations I remain fully aware that American-Soviet relations will continue to be highly competitive--but I believe that our competition must be balanced by cooperation in preserving peace, and thus our mutual survival. I will seek such cooperation with the Soviet Union--earnestly, constantly, and sincerely. However, the effort to contain the arms race is not a matter just for the United States and Soviet Union alone. There must be a wider effort to reduce the flow of weapons to all the troubled spots of this globe. Accordingly, we will try to reach broader agreements among producer and consumer nations to limit the export of conventional arms, and we, ourselves, will take the initiative on our own because the United States has become one of the major arms suppliers of the world. We are deeply committed to halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons. And we will undertake a new effort to reach multilateral agreements designed to provide legitimate supplies of nuclear fuels for the production of energy, while controlling the poisonous and dangerous atomic wastes. Working with other nations represented here, we hope to advance the cause of peace. We will make a strong and a positive contribution at the upcoming Special Session on Disarmament which I understand will commence next year.
But the search for peace also means the search for justice. One of the greatest challenges before us as a nation, and therefore one of our greatest opportunities, is to participate in molding a global economic system which will bring greater prosperity to all the people of all countries.
  • But the search for peace also means the search for justice. One of the greatest challenges before us as a nation, and therefore one of our greatest opportunities, is to participate in molding a global economic system which will bring greater prosperity to all the people of all countries. I come from a part of the United States which is largely agrarian and which for many years did not have the advantages of adequate transportation or capital or management skills or education which were available in the industrial States of our country. So, I can sympathize with the leaders of the developing nations, and I want them to know that we will do our part. To this end, the United States will be advancing proposals aimed at meeting the basic human needs of the developing world and helping them to increase their productive capacity. I have asked Congress to provide $7 1/2 billion of foreign assistance in the coming year, and I will work to ensure sustained American assistance as the process of global economic development continues. I am also urging the Congress of our country to increase our contributions to the United Nations Development Program and meet in full our pledges to multilateral lending institutions, especially the International Development Association of the World Bank. We remain committed to an open international trading system, one which does not ignore domestic concerns in the United States. We have extended duty-free treatment to many products from the developing countries. In the multilateral trade agreements in Geneva we have offered substantial trade concessions on the goods of primary interest to developing countries. And in accordance with the Tokyo Declaration, we are also examining ways to provide additional consideration for the special needs of developing countries. The United States is willing to consider, with a positive and open attitude, the negotiation on agreements to stabilize commodity prices, including the establishment of a common funding arrangement for financing buffer stocks where they are a part of individual negotiated agreements. I also believe that the developing countries must acquire fuller participation in the global economic decision making process. Some progress has already been made in this regard by expanding participation of developing countries in the International Monetary Fund.
  • We must use our collective natural resources wisely and constructively. We've not always done so. Today our oceans are being plundered and defiled. With a renewed spirit of cooperation and hope, we join in the Conference of the Law of the Sea in order to correct past mistakes of generations gone by and to ensure that all nations can share the bounties of the eternal oceans in the future. We must also recognize that the world is facing serious shortages of energy. This is truly a global problem. For our part, we are determined to reduce waste and to work with others toward a fair and proper sharing of the benefits and costs of energy resources. The search for peace and justice also means respect for human dignity. All the signatories of the U.N. Charter have pledged themselves to observe and to respect basic human rights. Thus, no member of the United Nations can claim that mistreatment of its citizens is solely its own business. Equally, no member can avoid its responsibilities to review and to speak when torture or unwarranted deprivation occurs in any part of the world. The basic thrust of human affairs points toward a more universal demand for fundamental human rights. The United States has a historical birthright to be associated with this process. We in the United States accept this responsibility in the fullest and the most constructive sense. Ours is a commitment, and not just a political posture. I know perhaps as well as anyone that our own ideals in the area of human rights have not always been attained in the United States, but the American people have an abiding commitment to the full realization of these ideals. And we are determined, therefore, to deal with our deficiencies quickly and openly. We have nothing to conceal. To demonstrate this commitment, I will seek congressional approval and sign the U.N. covenants on economic, social, and cultural rights, and the covenants on civil and political rights. And I will work closely with our own Congress in seeking to support the ratification not only of these two instruments but the United Nations Genocide Convention and the Treaty for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, as well. I have just removed all restrictions on American travel abroad, and we are moving now to liberalize almost completely travel opportunities to America.
The United Nations is a global forum dedicated to the peace and well-being of every individual--no matter how weak, no matter how poor. But we have allowed its human rights machinery to be ignored and sometimes politicized. There is much that can be done to strengthen it. The Human Rights Commission should be prepared to meet more often. And all nations should be prepared to offer its fullest cooperation to the Human Rights Commission, to welcome its investigations, to work with its officials, and to act on its reports.
  • The United Nations is a global forum dedicated to the peace and well-being of every individual--no matter how weak, no matter how poor. But we have allowed its human rights machinery to be ignored and sometimes politicized. There is much that can be done to strengthen it. The Human Rights Commission should be prepared to meet more often. And all nations should be prepared to offer its fullest cooperation to the Human Rights Commission, to welcome its investigations, to work with its officials, and to act on its reports. I would like to see the entire United Nations Human Rights Division moved back here to the central headquarters, where its activities will be in the forefront of our attention and where the attention of the press corps can stimulate us to deal honestly with this sensitive issue. The proposal made 12 years ago by the Government of Costa Rica, to establish a U.N. High Commission[er] for Human Rights, also deserves our renewed attention and our support. Strengthened international machinery will help us to close the gap between promise and performance in protecting human rights. When gross or widespread violation takes place--contrary to international commitments-it is of concern to all. The solemn commitments of the United Nations Charter, of the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights, of the Helsinki Accords, and of many other international instruments must be taken just as seriously as commercial or security agreements. This issue is important in itself. It should not block progress on other important matters affecting the security and well-being of our people and of world peace. It is obvious that the reduction of tension, the control of nuclear arms, the achievement of harmony in the troubled areas of the world, and the provision of food, good health, and education will independently contribute to advancing the human condition. In our relationships with other countries, these mutual concerns will be reflected in our political, our cultural, and our economic attitudes. These then are our basic priorities as we work with other members to strengthen and to improve the United Nations. First, we will strive for peace in the troubled areas of the world; second, we will aggressively seek to control the weaponry of war; third, we will promote a new system of international economic progress and cooperation; and fourth, we will be steadfast in our dedication to the dignity and well-being of people throughout the world. I believe that this is a foreign policy that is consistent with my own Nation's historic values and commitments. And I believe that it is a foreign policy that is consonant with the ideals of the United Nations. Thank you very much.
National Women's Political Caucus Remarks at a Reception for Members of the Organization
President Carter's remarks at a reception for the National Women's Political Caucus. (March 30, 1977). Source: National Women's Political Caucus Remarks at a Reception for Members of the Organization, The American Presidency Project.
  • First of all, I want to thank you for letting me interrupt your meeting. If it's one person I don't like to follow, it's Barbara Mikulski. She always makes me feel inept and tongue-tied and without humor. But I do thank you for having me come over. I'm glad to bring my wife, Rosalynn. I think you've just done two things. One is to stand in silence to honor a woman who was a pioneer in a demonstration of courage in the early days of the civil rights movement, Fanny Lou Hamer. And you've also just recognized a woman who will move into Government, I hope very shortly, to continue that very strong and able fight for civil rights, particularly for women and minority groups, Eleanor Holmes Norton. I've had the pleasure lately of working with Midge Costanza in choosing some of the women who will meet this year in a continuation of the 1975 Women's Year conventions. They include, as you know, Gloria Steinem, and they include Betty Ford, who's agreed to serve--I'm very grateful for that--and Bella Abzug, who will be the chairman, and others, about 40 other women, who will represent our Nation in a continuing international discussion of women's rights. I'm proud of this effort, and I'm proud to be part of it.
  • I'd like to say just a couple of other things, though, that relate, some directly, to you and to women who look to you for leadership which are kind of tied in with the other responsibilities that I have as President. I spent this afternoon receiving reports from Secretary of State Cy Vance on his discussions with the Soviet leaders concerning the control, the strict limitation, and the drastic reduction in nuclear weapons. This is a subject that hasn't been raised in a forceful way before. Previously, we have talked and the Soviets have talked about ultimate limits well above where we presently have stood. Now we are talking about an end to the development, the design, the deployment of new weapons systems; a drastic reduction in intercontinental ballistics missiles we have now; a comprehensive test ban, both military weapon testing and peaceful nuclear device testing; a demilitarization of the Indian Ocean; a strict limitation on the proliferation of nuclear weapon capability to other countries; a strict limitation and reduction in conventional weapon capability; a mutual effort on the part of us, the Soviet Union, France, Germany on sales of conventional weapons to other nations. We're trying to do all these things. We need your help. And they are crucial to every person and, particularly, to a group as well organized and as forceful as you are. We're also hopeful that in the future we can have success in our effort to identify abuses and to correct the abuses and to set a new standard in the preservation of human rights throughout the world. I don't intend to yield on this position, because I think it represents what our Nation is and what the world ought to be. Your forceful voices in constantly espousing the cause of human rights would help me a great deal and help the Members of Congress and help other leaders of our Nation to establish a corps of moral commitment that can restore the legitimate pride in our country, to the extent that is has been diminished, and reestablish the United States of America as the rallying point for human rights around the world. We've not enjoyed that position in recent years. But I'm determined that once again, we'll be a beacon light for those who believe in human rights all over the globe. And you can help me with it if you will.
  • On the domestic scene, there are just two or three other items. I'd like to mention to you. One, of course, is the passage of the equal rights amendment. I and my wife and my daughter-in-law and others have tried as best we could to join with you in the furtherance of this noble and very necessary change in the United States Constitution. You might be interested in knowing that the first time I met Ambassador Dobrynin from the Soviet Union he brought up the subject of human rights. And I said, "Well, my position is strong. It's not going to change." He said, "Well, let me point out that the United States is not without fault itself." I said, "I know that, but what do you mean?" He said, "Well, you still haven't ratified the equal rights amendment." And I said, "I tell you what. I'll try to help you with human rights in the Soviet Union; you help me get the equal rights amendment passed in the United States." But to be serious about it, our failure to pass the equal rights amendment hurts us as we try to set a standard of commitment to human rights throughout the world. I hope we can correct that defect by next year at the latest. Just a couple of other points. Watch very carefully and participate deeply in the evolution of a new energy policy. This could have broad and far-reaching impact on everyone who looks to you for leadership.
  • The same thing applies to basic welfare reform that's going to be presented to the Nation on the 1st of May; energy policy, the 20th of April. Another very major effort that we are undertaking this year on which I need your help is basic tax reform, income tax reform. This will be presented to the American people by the end of September. There are many other major goals that I tried to express as a commitment to the American people during the long campaign. They all touch your lives in one way or the other. I don't claim to know all the answers. I need you to help me with your support when you agree, with your advice when we're evolving policy, and with your criticism when you think I've made a mistake. I need all three. And I pledge to you a continuing, unswerving, never-diminishing commitment on my part, as your President, to the goals that you and I know are crucial to a better life for all Americans, including of course the majority of Americans who happen to be women. Thank you very much. I love all of you, and I appreciate it. Thank you.
Address to the Nation on Energy
President Carter's Oval Office address on energy. (April 18, 1977). Source: Address to the Nation on Energy, The American Presidency Project.
  • Good evening. Tonight I want to have an unpleasant talk with you about a problem that is unprecedented in our history. With the exception of preventing war, this is the greatest challenge that our country will face during our lifetime. The energy crisis has not yet overwhelmed us, but it will if we do not act quickly. It's a problem that we will not be able to solve in the next few years, and it's likely to get progressively worse through the rest of this century. We must not be selfish or timid if we hope to have a decent world for our children and our grandchildren. We simply must balance our demand for energy with our rapidly shrinking resources. By acting now we can control our future instead of letting the future control us.
  • Two days from now, I will present to the Congress my energy proposals.. Its Members will be my partners, and they have already given me a great deal of valuable advice. Many of these proposals will be unpopular. Some will cause you to put up with inconveniences and to make sacrifices. The most important thing about these proposals is that the alternative may be a national catastrophe. Further delay can affect our strength and our power as a nation. Our decision about energy will test the character of the American people and the ability of the President and the Congress to govern this Nation. This difficult effort will be the "moral equivalent of war," except that we will be uniting our efforts to build and not to destroy. Now, I know that some of you may doubt that we face real energy shortages. The 1973 gas lines are gone, and with this springtime weather, our homes are warm again. But our energy problem is worse tonight than it was in 1973 or a few weeks ago in the dead of winter. It's worse because more waste has occurred and more time has passed by without our planning for the future. And it will get worse every day until we act. The oil and natural gas that we rely on for 75 percent of our energy are simply running out. In spite of increased effort, domestic production has been dropping steadily at about 6 percent a year. Imports have doubled in the last 5 years. Our Nation's economic and political independence is becoming increasingly vulnerable. Unless profound changes are made to lower oil consumption, we now believe that early in the 1980's the world will be demanding more oil than it can produce. The world now uses about 60 million barrels of oil a day, and demand increases each year about 5 percent. This means that just to stay even we need the production of a new Texas every year, an Alaskan North Slope every 9 months, or a new Saudi Arabia every 3 years. Obviously, this cannot continue.
  • We must look back into history to understand our energy problem. Twice in the last several hundred years, there has been a transition in the way people use energy. The first was about 200 years ago, when we changed away from wood--which had provided about 90 percent of all fuel--to coal, which was much more efficient. This change became the basis of the Industrial Revolution. The second change took. place in this century, with the growing use of oil and natural gas. They were more convenient and cheaper than coal, and the supply seemed to be almost without limit. They made possible the age of automobile and airplane travel. Nearly everyone who is alive today grew up during this period, and we have never known anything different. Because we are now running out of gas and oil, we must prepare quickly for a third change--to strict conservation and to the renewed use of coal and to permanent renewable energy sources like solar power.
  • The world has not prepared for the future. During the 1950's, people used twice as much oil as during the 1940's. During the 1960's, we used twice as much as during the 1950's. And in each of those decades, more oil was consumed than in all of man's previous history combined. World consumption of oil is still going up. If it were possible to keep it rising during the 1970's and 1980's by 5 percent a year, as it has in the past, we could use up all the proven reserves of oil in the entire world by the end of the next decade. I know that many of you have suspected that some supplies of oil and gas are being withheld from the market. You may be right, but suspicions about the oil companies cannot change the fact that we are running out of petroleum.
  • All of us have heard about the large oil fields on Alaska's North Slope. In a few years, when the North Slope is producing fully, its total output will be just about equal to 2 years' increase in our own Nation's energy demand. Each new inventory of world oil reserves has been more disturbing than the last. World oil production can probably keep going up for another 6 or 8 years. But sometime in the 1980's, it can't go up any more. Demand will overtake production. We have no choice about that. But we do have a choice about how we will spend the next few years. Each American uses the energy equivalent of 60 barrels of oil per person each year. Ours is the most wasteful nation on Earth. We waste more energy than we import. With about the same standard of living, we use twice as much energy per person as do other countries like Germany, Japan, and Sweden. One choice, of course, is to continue doing what we've been doing before. We can drift along for a few more years. Our consumption of oil would keep going up every year. Our cars would continue to be too large and inefficient. Three-quarters of them would carry only one person--the driver--while our public transportation system continues to decline. We can delay insulating our homes, and they will continue to lose about 50 percent of their heat in waste. We can continue using scarce oil and natural gas to generate electricity and continue wasting two-thirds of their fuel value in the process.
  • If we do not act, then by 1985 we will be using 33 percent more energy than we use today. We can't substantially increase our domestic production, so we would need to import twice as much oil as we do now. Supplies will be uncertain. The cost will keep going up. Six years ago, we paid $3.7 billion for imported oil. Last year we spent $36 billion for imported oil--nearly 10 times as much. And this year we may spend $45 billion. Unless we act, we will spend more than $550 billion for imported oil by 1985--more than $2,500 for every man, woman, and child in America. Along with that money that we transport overseas, we will continue losing American jobs and become increasingly vulnerable to supply interruptions. Now we have a choice. But if we wait, we will constantly live in fear of embargoes. We could endanger our freedom as a sovereign nation to act in foreign affairs. Within 10 years, we would not be able to import enough oil from any country, at any acceptable price. If we wait and do not act, then our factories will not be able to keep our people on the job with reduced supplies of fuel. Too few of our utility companies will have switched to coal, which is our most abundant energy source. We will not be ready to keep our transportation system running with smaller and more efficient cars and a better network of buses, trains, and public transportation. We will feel mounting pressure to plunder the environment. We will have to have a crash program to build more nuclear plants, strip mine and bum more coal, and drill more offshore wells than if we begin to conserve right now. Inflation will soar; production will go down; people will lose their jobs. Intense competition for oil will build up among nations and also among the different regions within our own country. This has already started. If we fail to act soon, we will face an economic, social, and political crisis that will threaten our free institutions. But we still have another choice. We can begin to prepare right now. We can decide to act while there is still time. That is the concept of the energy policy that we will present on Wednesday.
  • Our national energy plan is based on 10 fundamental principles. The first principle is that we can have an effective and comprehensive energy policy only if the Government takes responsibility for it and if the people understand the seriousness of the challenge and are willing to make sacrifices. The second principle is that healthy economic growth must continue. Only by saving energy can we maintain our standard of living and keep our people at work. An effective conservation program will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs. The third principle is that we must protect the environment. Our energy problems have the same cause as our environmental problems-wasteful use of resources. Conservation helps us solve both problems at once. The fourth principle is that we must reduce our vulnerability to potentially devastating embargoes. We can protect ourselves from uncertain supplies by reducing our demand for oil, by making the most of our abundant resources such as coal, and by developing a strategic petroleum reserve. The fifth principle is that we must be fair. Our solutions must ask equal sacrifices from every region, every class of people, and every interest group. Industry will have to do its part to conserve just as consumers will. The energy. producers deserve fair treatment, but we will not let the oil companies profiteer. The sixth principle, and the cornerstone of our policy, is to reduce demand through conservation. Our emphasis on conservation is a clear difference between this plan and others which merely encouraged crash production efforts. Conservation is the quickest, cheapest, most practical source of energy. Conservation is the only way that we can buy a barrel of oil for about $2. It costs about $13 to waste it. The seventh principle is that prices should generally reflect the true replacement cost of energy. We are only cheating ourselves if we make energy artificially cheap and use more than we can really afford. The eighth principle is that Government policies must be predictable and certain. Both consumers and producers need policies they can count on so they can plan ahead. This is one reason that I'm working with the Congress to create a new Department of Energy to replace more than 50 different agencies that now have some control over energy. The ninth principle is that we must conserve the fuels that are scarcest and make the most of those that are plentiful. We can't continue to use oil and gas for 75 percent of our consumption, as we do now, when they only make up 7 percent of our domestic reserves. We need to shift to plentiful coal, while taking care to protect the environment, and to apply stricter safety standards to nuclear energy. The tenth and last principle is that we must start now to develop the new, unconventional sources of energy that we will rely on in the next century. Now, these 10 principles have guided the development of the policy that I will describe to you and the Congress on Wednesday night.
  • Our energy plan will also include a number of specific goals to measure our progress toward a stable energy system. These are the goals that we set for 1985: to reduce the annual growth rate in our energy demand to less than 2 percent; to reduce gasoline consumption by 10 percent below its. current level; to cut in half the portion of U.S. oil which is imported--from a potential level of 16 million barrels to 6 million barrels a day; to establish a strategic petroleum reserve of one billion barrels, more than a 6-months supply; to increase our coal production by about two-thirds to more than one billion tons a year; to insulate 90 percent of American homes and all new buildings; to use solar energy in more than 2 1/2 million houses. We will monitor our progress toward these goals year by year. Our plan will call for strict conservation measures if we fall behind. I can't tell you that these measures will be easy, nor will they be popular. But I think most of you realize that a policy which does not ask for changes or sacrifices would not be an effective policy at this late date. This plan is essential to protect our jobs, our environment, our standard of living, and our future. Whether this plan truly makes a difference will not be decided now here in Washington but in every town and every factory, in every home and on every highway and every farm. I believe that this can be a positive challenge. There is something especially American in the kinds of changes that we have to make. We've always been proud, through our history, of being efficient people. We've always been proud of our ingenuity, our skill at answering questions. Now we need efficiency and ingenuity more than ever. We've always been proud of our leadership in the world. And now we have a chance again to give the world a positive example. We've always been proud of our vision of the future. We've always wanted to give our children and our grandchildren a world richer in possibilities than we have had ourselves. They are the ones that we must provide for now. They are the ones who will suffer most if we don't act.
  • I've given you some of the principles of the plan. I'm sure that each of you will find something you don't like about the specifics of our proposal. It will demand that we make sacrifices and changes in every life. To some degree, the sacrifices will be painful--but so is any meaningful sacrifice. It will lead to some higher costs and to some greater inconvenience for everyone. But the sacrifices can be gradual, realistic, and they are necessary. Above all, they will be fair. No one will gain an unfair advantage through this plan. No one will be asked to bear an unfair burden. We will monitor the accuracy of data from the oil and natural gas companies for the first time, so that we will always know their true production, supplies, reserves, and profits. Those citizens who insist on driving large, unnecessarily powerful cars must expect to pay more for that luxury. We can be sure that all the special interest groups in the country will attack the part of this plan that affects them directly. They will say that sacrifice is fine as long as other people do it, but that their sacrifice is unreasonable or unfair or harmful to the country. If they succeed with this approach, then the burden on the ordinary citizen, who is not organized into an interest group, would be crushing. There should be only one test for this program--whether it will help our country. Other generations of Americans have faced and mastered great challenges. I have faith that meeting this challenge will make our own lives even richer. If you will join me so that we can work together with patriotism and courage, we will again prove that our great Nation can lead the world into an age of peace, independence, and freedom. Thank you very much, and good night.
Welfare Reform
President Carter's remarks at a news briefing on welfare reform. (May 2, 1977). Source: Welfare Reform Remarks at a News Briefing on Goals and Guidelines, The American Presidency Project.
  • This afternoon I have an explanation to make concerning a basic undertaking that we assumed shortly after I became President. I announced that a comprehensive reform of the Nation's welfare system would be one of our first priorities. Under the general leadership of Secretary of HEW Califano, we've worked with other private and Government agencies during the last 3 months to assess the present welfare system and to propose improvements to it. It's much worse than we hand anticipated. And although we've conducted hundreds of meetings around the country, and prepared documents and studies that are quite voluminous--and Joe has a briefcase full of them that he will exhibit in a few minutes--we've found that the complexity of the system demands a detailed analysis through computer models and working with Governors and with congressional leaders as well.
  • I'd like to go over in a few minutes some of the problems with the present system, but I would like to point out that the most important unanimous conclusion is that the present welfare program should be scrapped entirely and a totally new system should be implemented. This conclusion in no way is meant to disparage the great value of the separate and the individual programs enacted by the Congress over the last 15 years. These include, as you know, a food stamp program for low-income persons, those who work and those who cannot work; the supplemental security income floor for our aged and disabled; work incentives for welfare families with children; increased housing assistance; tax credits; unemployment insurance extensions; enlarged jobs programs; and the indexing of social security payments to counter the biggest threat or enemy of the poor, and that is inflation. This conclusion that we've drawn today is to say that these many separate programs, taken together, still do not constitute a rational and coherent system that is adequate and fair for all the poor. They are still overly wasteful, capricious, and subject to almost inevitable fraud. They violate many desirable and necessary principles.
  • We have established the following goals: I've been over these with the congressional leaders, with representatives of the Department of HEW, with Labor, my own economic advisers, OMB, Treasury, to make sure that they are feasible and also advisable. And they will be guidelines for us in the next 3 months as we put together the final legislative proposals. First of all, the new system will be at no higher initial cost than the present systems combined. Second, under this system every family with children and a member of the family able to work will have access to a job. Third, incentives will always encourage full-time and part-time private sector employment. Fourth, public training and employment programs should be provided when private employment is unavailable. Fifth, a family should have more income if it works than if it does not work. Sixth, incentives should be designed to keep families together. Now many of the incentives, deliberately or not, encourage families to be separated. Seventh, earned income tax credits should be continued to help the working poor. Eighth, a decent income should be provided also for those who cannot work or earn adequate incomes, with Federal benefits consolidated into a simple cash payment, varying in amount only to accommodate differences in the cost of living from one community to another. Ninth, the program should be simpler and easier to administer. Tenth, there should be incentives encouraging honesty and designed to eliminate fraud. What this means is that the accurate reporting of income and financial status will be naturally encouraged among those who receive benefits. Eleventh, the unpredictable and growing financial burden on local and State governments should be reduced as rapidly as Federal services or resources permit. And twelfth, local administration of public jobs programs should be emphasized. Now, we have varying estimates on the number of jobs required to carry out all these programs depending upon the analyses and the basic premises. For instance, to provide this kind of service, we estimate that about 2 million total training and public jobs would be required. We now have plans for about 925,000 public service jobs.
  • There's no doubt in my mind that with a restoration of the work ethic in our country and with a close relationship with those who need additional employees, in prisons, as teachers' aides or helpers for extensive service workers, those who work in Federal parks, in private industry, among the aged, in recreation centers, that jobs cry out to be filled that are noncompetitive with present employees, and we are determined that these should be administered as much as possible in the community where the jobs take place. We believe that these principles and goals can be met. There will be a heavy emphasis on jobs, on simplicity of administration, on financial incentives to work, on adequate assistance for those who cannot work, on equitable benefits for all needy families, and close cooperation between private groups and officials at all levels of government. It's obvious that the more jobs that are made available by private industry and public regular employment and in public service jobs and training jobs, then the less cash supplement will be required. We will work closely with the Congress and with State, local, and community leaders, and we'll have legislative proposals completed by the first week in August prior to the summer homework session of the legislature, of Congress. Every State bas a separate and distinct and unique set of welfare laws, and although we've already started having public hearings, we will go back now when the basic principles have been established, based on the work that Joe Califano and his groups have already done, and work out the final legislative proposals to accommodate the special and unique needs and commitments of each individual State. If the new legislation can be adopted by the Congress, early in 1978, it will take an estimated 3 additional years to implement the program. The extremely complicated changes will be made carefully and responsibly. Congressional hearings are already scheduled. Jim Coleman will begin his hearings Wednesday; Secretary Califano will be there to testify on behalf of the administration; and in the Senate the hearings will 'be conducted by Senator Moynihan. We'll use these hearings which are already scheduled to permit accurate description of the nature of the task ahead and to permit the proposals to be both explained and debated.
  • In the meantime, a very important and necessary step has been taken and that is in the administration's proposed reform for the Food Stamp Program to limit the level of assistance based on income and to cash out the Food Stamp Program, or rather to eliminate the mandatory payment for food stamps. We hope the Congress will go ahead with this without delay. Some of the problems that have been apparent for many years are described on these charts on my left. The widely varying Federal contributions to welfare recipients around the Nation are illustrated very vividly here. There's a factor of 500 percent or more between the lowest payments in some of the States colored in green compared to the highest payments in the yellow colored States with dots on them. I don't know if you can read it from there, but the States with the yellow and black dots 'have an average Federal contribution of $1,125 to $1,688. The orange colored States have an average Federal contribution of $860 to $1,125. The blue cross-hatched States, $575 to $860; and the green States from $283 to $575.
  • One of the basic principles that I described is to have a uniform payment by the Federal Government for welfare recipients around the country, varying in amount only enough to accommodate changes in the cost of living from one community to another. Another problem with the present system is that the multiplicity of programs not only is confusing to administrators and to those who receive the benefits but also result in almost unconstrained fraud and honest mistakes. This chart shows that 67 percent of the recipients get benefits from two or more programs, 18 percent of the recipients get benefits from five or more different programs; 2 percent of the recipients get benefits from eight or more separate and distinct welfare programs.
  • The complexity of the system is almost incomprehensible, and the consolidation of the cash. payment into one basic aid to the poor--those who cannot work, those who cannot earn enough income to support their families--will be a major step forward. Another problem arrives from the lack of incentive to work. For instance, a father who heads up a family with four people in it, either a mother and two children or three children, in Michigan, working full time at the minimum wage, has a total income of $5,678. A same-sized family without the father in the home with still four people there, not working at all, has an income of $7,161. A family with the head of the household--a mother and three children--if she goes to work at the minimum wage, has a total income of $9,530 [$8,970.] This shows that the best thing that a working father can do to increase the income of the people that he loves is simply to leave home.
  • Another thing that occurs is for a family that stays intact when the father shifts from a State where his family gets welfare assistance to one where he doesn't get many of the programs to aid him and his family, for instance, a father--and this happens to be Wisconsin--who is working full time at the minimum wage, after he pays his taxes and draws tax credits for earned income and receives food stamps, has an income of $5,691, working full time. If that father quit his full-time job and took a half-time job at the same wage scale, minimum wage, his income would jump almost $3,000, a little more than $3,000--$1,300 to $6,940. This is another defect in the hodgepodge welfare system that runs counter to the basic commitment of American people that work on a full-time basis--for those who are able to work--is beneficial, ought to be beneficial to a family. Another thing that happens in the welfare system is that those who are working and receiving benefits, if their income should increase, either to more hours per week, or to a higher wage scale, is quite often counterproductive, and it doesn't take a working person, adult, long to figure out that an increased effort pays no dividends.' For instance, for a family head who again is earning the minimum wage, if they got an increase in income of $100, they would lose--this is kind of an average for the whole Nation--they would lose $66.67 in AFDC payments! The earned income tax credit--they would lose $10; food stamps--they would lose $9.90; housing assistance, where that is paid, lose $8.25. So, they would lose, out of the $100 increase in check, salary, $94.82, which means that they would have a net reward of only $5 out of an increase in earnings of $100. So, you can see there's very little incentive to work your way off welfare. I might point out that the legislative leaders, particularly Congressman Ullman and Senator Long, have been through these proposals with us the last time this morning. And this is going to require a very close working relationship with the committees involved. It's one of those long-standing needs in the Federal Government that has not yet been addressed, and comprehensive welfare reform is long overdue. I think we have an excellent chance to meet all the principles and goals that we've described here. We will meet the time schedule to present to the Congress the complete legislative package by the first part of August.
  • The first priority of the Congress, as far as I am concerned, should be the rapid passage of the energy reform legislation. Later on this year, we will also present to the Congress comprehensive tax reform legislation. We will also have to present to the Congress very shortly our analysis of the needs for the social security package, and there are many other major proposals that are being evolved very carefully and presented to the Congress in a timely way. I'll have to depend upon, of course, the congressional leaders to decide in which order they will address these major efforts. As most of you, I am sure, are aware, these proposals that I have outlined fall on exactly the same committees. The Ways and Means Committee in the House, under Congressman Ullman, will handle most of the parts of energy that relates to taxation--tax reform, social security, as well as welfare reform. And all of the subcommittees will begin work immediately.
  • The difficulty in addressing this many major proposals from me and my administration is very difficult for them to assimilate. It's almost as bad in the Senate, in the Finance Committee, where they handle most of the same questions. But we're determined to proceed expeditiously, and Joe Califano, Ray Marshall, Mike Blumenthal, Charlie Schultze, Bert Lance, and others are doing an extraordinarily good job so far in putting together an analysis of what we have and recommending what we ought to have in the future. We've also had good response from the Governors and local administrators in trying to give us advice on how administration of the program could be improved. I would like to ask Joe Califano now to describe to you in more detail what we will do specifically between now and the first week in August and to answer your questions about the principles that I have outlined this afternoon. Secretary Califano. I'd like for Joe also to show you what books and all they've presented to me. I can't claim that I've read them all.
United Auto Workers
President Carter's remarks on auto workers at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (May 17, 1977). Source: United Auto Workers Remarks at the Union's Convention in Los Angeles, The American Presidency Project.
  • Thank you very much, President Woodcock, distinguished members of the UAW who have come here Irvin all over the Nation to reconfirm what you stand for, to my good friend Doug Fraser and to many people in the audience and behind me, who throughout the last 2 years stood in factory shift lines in the cold and in the rain so that I could become better informed about what a President ought to be, about what our Nation is, and what our future might hold: It's a very rare occasion that I have a chance to come to a convention. I haven't been to one since I've been President. I may not go to another one this year. But I particularly wanted to come and be with you. Ordinarily Vice President Mondale is the one who chooses to go and make a speech at the conventions. I had to send him to Yugoslavia to have this chance today. He'll be coming back to our country in about a week, having been to Portugal--a brand-new democracy; to Spain--a brand-new democracy; having visited the President of South Africa to try to work out some solution to the difficult problems in that continent; having met with Marshal Tito in Yugoslavia to reconfirm their independence of the Big Bear to the north of them; and then having come back through England to discuss the common basis on which we approach the future. So, I'm glad to have a chance to be with you today.
  • I've been talking a lot about conservation, lately, and efficiency in automobiles. When I got off the plane, I was greeted and rode in one of your finest products--a very large, very black Cadillac limousine. [Laughter] So, I've enjoyed so far my visit, and I'm looking forward to the rest of it and to speak to you. Later, I'll be on a 90-minute call-in television show, and then I'm going to visit some of the farmlands around Fresno. It's no accident that I've chosen the UAW convention to make this speech and to make this appearance. Your union was born in struggle, and you've won many victories. But you've never retreated into complacency or narrow selfishness. The UAW is still fighting, because this union has always understood that it cannot stand alone. And above every other trade union I know in the world, you've always seen that your membership and your leadership were part of a larger society and a larger world. Very few institutions anywhere have been so fortunate as to have the kind of superb leadership that has always been a mark of the UAW. For 31 years, this union has been led by men whose vision and sense of responsibility extended far beyond the walls of Solidarity House--men who have demanded decency and a better life not just for the UAW membership but for all the people. The next president of the UAW has big shoes to fill. I won't predict who's going to win your election tomorrow, although I noticed that Doug Fraser doesn't look too worried.
  • Seven years ago, when Walter Reuther's life was so tragically cut short, there were predictions that this union would turn inward and would abandon its role as defender of social justice. Leonard Woodcock showed how wrong these predictions were. He's left his mark of support for the poor and the oppressed as clearly as for his own members at the bargaining table. Recently, as you know, I asked him to undertake an extremely sensitive assignment in Vietnam. Leonard Woodcock did a superb job. And although he is retiring as president of this international union, he will continue to serve his country in a new, international role. I will soon submit his name to the Senate to be Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in China, with the rank of Ambassador. I don't believe anyone in the world who's familiar with international relations would doubt the importance of this assignment. Now some people may wonder why I'm sending a labor leader instead of a professional diplomat to handle such important negotiations. But I think there are some executives at Ford and General Motors and Chrysler and American Motors who might be able to answer that question very well. We want a tough negotiator. We want someone who understands human sensitivities. We want someone who has the personal integrity to build up trust where doubt now exists. And I know that Leonard Woodcock will fill this role as competently and with as much grace as he has the important job of being president of the UAW. I have complete confidence in him. And if he'll just help me with a few sensitive things in the Congress, I'm going to even send a translator to China with him to help him out with the language.
  • Today, I want to talk to you briefly about some domestic problems which prey on my mind and rest on my shoulders as your President. The domestic problems which we do face as Americans are difficult, indeed, but we have the courage and the ingenuity and the greatness of spirit to meet these challenges. I believe that we can build an America in which our day-to-day practices live up to our democratic ideals, in which the family life, mine and yours, is strong and stable, in which the neighborhoods of our cities are vital and safe, in which work is available and is justly rewarded, in which opportunity is not limited by color or sex or religion or economic or educational background, in which there is schooling and employment for the young and dignity and security for the old. We must work together to control inflation and to get our economy moving again. We must come to terms with the growing shortage of energy which, if ignored, will gravely damage the very fabric of our society. We must safeguard the integrity of our social security system. We must totally reform our tax and our welfare systems. We must ensure the health of the American people. And we must develop a government which is open enough to earn the trust and support of the people in addressing these and other crucial issues, and efficient enough and competent enough to ensure that our efforts will bear fruit.
  • The achievement of all our goals depends on the first one that I mentioned-a strong and a growing economy. At the beginning of this administration, less than 4 months ago, our economy was still floundering from the worst recession in 40 years. The well-being of our people was squeezed between the twin pressures of high unemployment and inflation. That picture has already improved because we have restored the confidence of consumers and business. Last month, the number of Americans with jobs in the private sector of our economy went over 90 million for the first time in our country's history. Eight hundred thousand people have gone off the unemployment rolls since December. Half a million found jobs in April alone. Private surveys have shown that business investment plans for 1977 are up significantly, more than 15 percent, compared to 1976. Unemployment now stands at the lowest level in 29 months--down a full 1 percent since last November. But of course, you know and I know that a 7-percent unemployment rate is still completely unacceptable. We still have a long way to go.
  • The equally dangerous threat of inflation is building. Consumer prices reflecting the drought and last winter's cold weather have been going up at an annual rate of about 10 percent in the last 3 months, and the basic inflation rate, under everything else, has been running 6 or 6 1/2 percent. These inflation figures are too high for comfort. And as you know, also, inflation falls most heavily on people with modest means and people who've worked all their lives for a little security and who then find that security threatened. Inflation robs us of our confidence in the future. However, it's interesting to point out, at the recent London summit conference, the single issue of most concern to the seven heads of state assembled there was unemployment among young people. In the ideological struggle with the Eastern Socialist and Communist countries, this is our one major vulnerability. We have got to provide in our country an economic system that's healthy enough and an education system that's competent enough so that when our young people reach the age of 18 or 19 years old, they can find a way to use the talent and ability and opportunities that God gave them and not enter adult life discouraged and excluded from society. This ought to be number one in all our efforts in the future. Experience has shown us and all economists that we must attack inflation and unemployment together. To get our economy moving again, in the short 4 months that I've been in office, we proposed both direct creation of jobs and permanent tax reduction for the low-income and middle-income taxpayers. Last week I signed a bill, public works, which will provide both necessary community improvements where you live, plus about 600,000 jobs concentrated in areas of high unemployment. We have proposed more than doubling the existing jobs program for the long-term unemployed and the young. And Congress has already appropriated the money that we requested to increase public service jobs from 310,000 to 725,000. I've also proposed--and I believe the Congress will rapidly approve--a major initiative to train our young people and to put them to work in productive jobs in our cities, rural areas, national parks and forests. And in addition to this, above and beyond what I've just described, we will provide work this summer for about 1.1 million young people, more than ever before.
  • To help our hard-pressed cities, which quite often in the past have not gotten a fair share of governmental opportunity, we've supported--and Congress just passed yesterday--a major expansion of countercyclical revenue sharing, which means that the money goes to the areas that are most in need. We've also proposed a renewed community block grant program with changes that will stimulate private investment, in particular housing and other developments, and put more of the money into the cities again which need it most. We support extending the earned-income tax credit for working people and a general, personal tax credit, which together add up to $6.8 billion annually in individual tax relief, mostly for low- and middle-income families, including those families too poor to owe any income tax. And also, I will sign into law within the next few days--Congress has already passed--a permanent $4 billion tax cut through increases in the standard deductions. Eighty-eight percent of this tax relief will go to families with incomes of less than $15,000 a year, and 3.3 million low-income taxpayers who no;,' pay taxes will not have to pay any Federal income taxes at all.
  • Now, this new law will obviously save people money, and it will also create jobs because consumers will have more of their paycheck to keep and to spend for goods that we produce. It's also going to save a lot of headaches next April, because 75 percent of all taxpayers will be able to take a standard deduction and compute their taxes on one side of one sheet of paper in one step. So, the multiple goals of economic strategy reinforce one another, they work together. The strategy is designed to cut unemployment to below 5 percent by 1981; to work with business and labor, together, to knock 2 percentage points off the inflation rate by the end of 1979; and by the higher revenues that growing employment will bring, to achieve a balanced budget in fiscal year 1981. Again, I want to stress two points about our economic policies because it's important for you and all Americans to understand. One point is that we aim to balance the budget in 1981 in a strong and healthy economy, with the revenues that come into the Government when people are employed and our industrial capacity is being used. It's not legitimate spending on human needs that causes Federal deficits. It's principally the inadequate revenues that come in from a sluggish economy that create those deficits. Understanding that is a very good move in the right direction. Cutting back programs that really help people is not the way to balance the budget. But even with adequate revenues, we'll still have to make some hard choices about how we spend the taxpayers' money. We can't afford to do everything. The other important point I want to make about the economy is that I'm inalterably opposed to fighting inflation by keeping unemployment high and factories idle. This has been done too much in the past. That approach has been proved in the last 8 years to be economically ineffective and morally bankrupt. If the economy should falter during the years ahead, I will not hesitate to propose the economic and budgetary measures needed to get the economy going again. And you can depend on that.
  • Now, the second major challenge I want to discuss with you this morning is energy. The energy crisis is the greatest domestic challenge that our country will face in our lifetime. I still find it almost incredible that our country has no coherent plan for dealing with it until this year. We have now proposed such a plan to the Congress and also proposed a new department to deal with the energy question. This plan is based on three inescapable realities. There's no way to get around them. The first is that we are simply running out of oil. The second is that oil will, nevertheless, have to remain our primary source of energy for many years and must not be wasted. And the third principle is that unless we begin soon to prepare for the transition to other sources of energy, the consequences on our society and our way of life will be very severe. We could face massive unemployment, crippling inflation, social and political instability, and threats to our freedom of action in international affairs. We cannot just rely on increased production. While finding more oil is important, we would have to discover a new- Alaskan oil field every year just to keep pace with the annual growth in world consumption. No matter how strong the financial incentives, that is simply not going to happen. We must save oil and gas for uses where there is no good substitute. One obvious example is moving vehicles. We must shift to other sources when possible, and we must develop new sources, such as solar energy. There are no workers in America whose future jobs depend more than yours on a good energy program based on strict conservation. Now, you know and I know that meeting our energy goals is not going to be easy. It will require sacrifice from everyone in the country. We cannot use the fuel crisis as an excuse for not cleaning up our air. I have proposed tough but fair air pollution standards. We've got to improve the efficiency of our cars, and that's why I proposed a gas-guzzler tax. Now you and I have honest differences of opinion over some aspects of my proposals. But I don't hesitate to call on you for help, because I know what you've done in the past. You've never lost sight of the broader interests of our Nation. Walter Reuther helped to make possible the Clean Air Act as it was originally passed. And your members are already building cars highly efficient, getting more than 30 miles per gallon. It's absolutely inevitable, no matter who's the President of the United States, that we will have to shift to more efficient automobiles with a clean exhaust. This past quarter, unfortunately, a larger percentage of Americans bought foreign-made cars than ever before. Now, I know that you agree that the solution is not to erect trade barriers to keep out foreign competition because it only leads to trade wars, to retaliation, and added inflation. The solution lies in using our great American ingenuity to design and produce the right cars for the future. I can think of no more disastrous assumption for the American automobile industry to make than that we cannot successfully compete with foreign companies that produce and sell such cars. We can compete, and we will compete successfully.
  • Now I want to discuss something that's important to you and me both--our social security system. This is a problem for all Western democracies. Social security, which is probably the greatest legacy left over for us from the New Deal, has served us now for 40 years. But since 1975, social security has been paying out more than it's been taking in. Unless we take action now, the Disability Insurance Fund's reserves will be gone in 2 years, and the retirement reserves will be gone 4 years from then. Some have proposed a simple solution for this: to tax the American worker to the hilt. Well, we are not going to do that. Too many people are already paying more payroll taxes than they do income taxes, and we are not going to go this route to save the social security system. And we are not going to let social security go broke. We're going to keep faith with the 33 million Americans who already enjoy social security benefits and with the 104 million of us, who are paying into the social security system with the expectation that we will receive benefits when we retire, or when we become disabled, or those that are necessary to take care of our families if something happens to us. Now, there's no easy answer, but the changes that I have already submitted to the Congress will make social security financially sound for the rest of the century and will correct most of the problems for the next 75 years--and without a higher tax rate than already scheduled by law for the average wage earner. I'm going to need your help in Congress to get this bill passed, and I hope you'll help me with it.
  • Our fourth major goal, I want to mention briefly, is our welfare system and our tax system. In both of these cases, tinkering is not going to be enough. They must be thoroughly redesigned. Our present welfare system robs the taxpayers who support it, discourages the people who administer it, and sometimes degrades the people who really do need help. It's an extraordinarily complex and difficult problem, even more so than I had expected. Two weeks ago I outlined the principles that must underlie the reform of the system, and we will have legislative proposals ready by the end of this summer. We've already begun to move in this direction by simplifying the food stamp program--eliminating the purchase requirement and reforming the eligibility rules. As for our tax system, it, too, must be reformed through and through. Our tax system was once relatively simple, fair, and progressive. It isn't any more, because it's been changed so much over the years--often for the benefit of those who are rich enough to hire their own lobbyists in Washington. The process of redesign is well underway, and we intend to submit legislation to the Congress for a fair and simple income tax system this year.
  • Our fifth major concern is the health of our people. On the airplane coming here from Washington early this morning, I had a chance to talk at length with Congressman Jim Corman about the future of our national health program. Good health for every American is one of my primary concerns, and I know it's one of yours. Again, it's a complicated question. If it weren't complicated, the problem would have been solved many years ago. We must deal with the cause of illness. This means promoting a cleaner environment and safer and healthier work places. And we will be submitting these proposals in about a week. It means helping our children avoid preventable diseases--as was the case when I was a child and, perhaps, when many of you were young-some 5 1/2 million children will be immunized over the next 30 months. Also, under our proposed Child Health Assessment Program now before the Congress, 10 million young children will be screened annually by 1982. This is five times more than are presently examined at this time to see what childhood diseases might be prevented as they approach adulthood as students. In order to make medical care available in inner cities and rural areas, we proposed legislation already that will make nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants available to help fill the gap. And finally, I'm committed to the phasing-in of a workable national health insurance system. It's certainly not difficult to guess which union has made national health insurance a national issue. Beginning many months ago, Leonard Woodcock has given me an education about the need and the possible ways for meeting it. He's a member of the advisory committee that will help design the whole system and will hold its first meeting later on this week. And we are aiming to submit legislative proposals early next year. We must move immediately to start bringing health care costs under control. If we don't--and I want you to listen carefully to this--if we don't bring the health care costs, particularly hospitals, under control, no matter what kind of health system we have in our country, the cost will double every 5 years. Now, we can't afford that. We can't afford that. Hospital costs now take 40 cents of every health dollar, and they've gone up an incredible 1,000 percent since 1950. I proposed hospital cost containment legislation that would put the brakes on these increases. Sixty other nations nave managed to come up with national health programs that meet the needs of our people-of their people. It's not beyond our own ingenuity to do the same, and I want this program to be established during my time in office. There's a lot that we can do as consumers. In many instances, medical doctors, hospitals, and others, have been very careless about how much health care actually costs. Late last month, my wife was found to have a tumor on her breast. She went to Bethesda Hospital about 2 o'clock in the afternoon. She had a long incision made, 4 or 5 inches long, and the tumor was removed. She was back home at 5 o'clock. Quite often, if doctors and hospitals want to hold down the time we spend in intensive care and the extraordinary cost of medical care, they can do it. But we, as consumers, need to help.
  • The sixth major need is for an open and efficient Government. Now I've done the best I could to open up the Presidency. I've talked publicly about foreign policy matters that were formerly considered too secret and too complicated for the ears of the American people. I've had frequent press conferences, and I've had direct encounters with people who don't normally get to work--get to talk to a President. When I leave here this morning, I'll go to one of the Los Angeles television stations and for an hour and a half, I will receive calls from people throughout this part of California asking me questions, unscreened, on any subject they choose. I feel that it's important for the American people to know what's going on. But I also feel it's important for a President to learn from the people of this country. And I want you to know what the options are and what the problems are and w hat the possibilities are in complicated matters like the control of the nuclear weapons, the resolution of problems in southern Africa, the Middle East, and also in domestic questions which I've discussed with you today. I want you to be a partner with me in making our Government be effective and efficient. There are many other ways that we can build more openness and responsiveness into our system of government. We can make the activities of government officials devote themselves exclusively to the public interest. I've asked the Congress to impose strict financial disclosure requirements for more than 13,000 top Federal Government executives. This will make it very difficult for high Government officials to have interests which conflict with those of the public. And we should insist on the same high standards for private institutions. That's why I proposed to Congress making foreign bribery by American companies and officials a crime.
  • I want to mention now a subject that's important to me and to you. I've worked with many of your members trying to overcome the very great difficulties of simply getting free American people registered to vote. We need to open up our electoral system to greater participation. Many working people don't vote because they don't have the time to go through lengthy and needless registration procedures. Vice President Mondale and I have worked out legislation that would let people register at the polls on the day of a Federal election. There are some powerful, special interests, including the Republican Party, who are trying to kill the electoral reform bill because they don't want working people to register and to vote. I need you to help me get this bill passed through Congress. And we need to create an agency for consumer protection. Now in Government, many of the regulatory agencies that were designed originally to protect consumers have been seduced, and now they protect the industry that's supposed to be regulated. This needs to be changed. This bill would consolidate consumer advocacy programs that are now scattered ineffectively throughout the maze of Federal agencies. It would just give consumers a voice in Government offices where, too often, the only voices heard have been those of lobbyists for the wealthy and powerful. Now, there are enormous pressures to kill this legislation creating this new consumer agency. I want to make sure that they don't get away with it. The UAW has long supported the consumer agency and easy registration procedures to vote. Together, I believe we can get both these measures passed this year. We must also make government more efficient, because we don't have the money to waste on inefficiency, on duplication, or to give handouts to those who can take care of themselves. Waste robs us all. It prevents the realization of our hopes and dreams. An efficient government means spending money only where it will actually benefit our people. We've proposed a $350-million increase in the Title I education funds for poor and deprived little children. We've proposed raising the basic opportunity grants from $1,400 to $1,800 a year, to help families put their children through college. But when spending is wasteful--when spending is wasteful--we've moved vigorously to cut it out. We found $4 billion in water projects that simply couldn't be justified or were more expensive or elaborate than they needed to be. We are moving to get rid of some of the more than 1,100 advisory commissions in the Federal Government. We are instituting zero-based budgeting, and we are supporting sunset legislation to help us get rid of programs that have outlived their usefulness. The more money that we can save that's now being wasted, the more money we'll have without increasing taxes to meet the needs of our people. We've also begun a complete reorganization of the executive branch, and we are starting at home in the Executive Office of the President. Now, I believe that we can be fiscally responsible and still satisfy the needs of our people. And I believe that we cannot satisfy our needs unless we are competent and efficient. We can cut both unemployment and inflation. And I believe that our policies will help us reach both goals.
  • In closing let me say this: We can do these things if we remember that nothing good comes quickly or easily. Every one of these programs that I've outlined to you this morning has been too long ignored. When I became President, I could see very clearly, as can you, that 4, 8, 12, 20 years ago, these difficult problems should have been addressed. We must make hard choices about how to use our resources, and we must realize that only a lean and efficient government can translate good intentions into actions that will improve the lives of our people. That's the kind of government I'm determined to have. And I'm going to stick to that determination in spite of whatever criticism may come. And I need you to be partners with me in the next 4 years. Just remain standing. And I want to say one other thing. I've just got one final comment to make. In his final report to this convention, President Leonard Woodcock wrote: "In the United States, we are moving from a period of depression, despair and despondency into a time of renewed hope." If we work together in our free Nation, that hope will never fade.
White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals
President Carter's remarks at the opening of the White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals. (May 23, 1977). Source: White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals Remarks at the Opening Session of the Conference, The American Presidency Project.
  • Do you think we are making some progress now? Do you think we have a long way to go? Do you think we are going to get there? Right on. I'm very proud to be here tonight in what I think is an historic occasion that will perhaps go down in the history of our country as a turning point in the minds and hearts of the American people in their long overdue concern about a large group of Americans, about 36 million, who in the past have too often been ignored. This is the first White House Conference on the Handicapped. I know that this is a tremendous assembly of leaders who have fought a long and sometimes discouraging battle to arrive here in Washington tonight. But this is not the first meeting. There have been dozens and dozens of meetings, attended by thousands of people in the 50 States of our country, and you have already brought to the consciousness of local and State officials an awareness of potential change 'for the better and many improvements that have already been made. Labor, industry can work together with government to make sure that, jointly, our efforts are successful. There is hardly a national leader on Earth in all the 150 nations that span the globe, who are not now thinking about two words: human rights. And now we in our own country are applying those two words to the handicapped people of our country. It's long overdue.
  • For too long, handicapped people have been deprived of a right to an education. For too long, handicapped people have been excluded from the possibility of jobs and employment where they could support themselves. For too long, handicapped people have been kept out of buildings, have been kept off of streets and sidewalks, have been excluded from private and public transportation, and have been deprived of a simple right in many instances just to communicate with one another. When I was inaugurated Governor of Georgia in January of 1971, I made a speech. And I said, in that southern State the time for racial discrimination is over. And I say to you tonight the time for discrimination against the handicapped in the United States is over. [Applause] Thank you very much. It would be a mistake for the rest of America to think that the benefits are only going to the handicapped, because when you get freedom, we share that freedom, and when the handicapped get benefits of education and a job and a purposeful life, we all share in the benefits of that education, that job, and a purposeful life.
  • The bill of rights for handicapped was spelled out in Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and we are going to enforce the regulations that are specified in that bill. We're going to enforce the regulations that tear down the barriers of architecture, and we are going to enforce the regulations that tear down the barriers of transportation. I know you have heard the announcements made by Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams about the Trans-Bus. We've spent millions of dollars--the Federal Government has spent millions of dollars investing in the kind of public transportation that would serve your needs. And I am going to really enjoy in the future--as soon as those buses can come off the assembly line, and all of the new ones are going to be these kinds of buses--when they come up to you on the sidewalk and kneel down to let you get in. As you know, section 504, of which I am sure you have all heard and of which I am sure now that Joe Califano has also heard, has provided a framework for the regulations that have now been adopted. And Joe Califano assures me and he assures you that these regulations are going to be enforced. They require that when programs are made available to the public that those programs are made available to the handicapped public; the employers will give a handicapped person a fair chance to correct the handicap and to become qualified for an available job. They require the tearing down of the barriers that I have already described to you. When Federal funds come to the Health, Education, and Welfare Department, and later on without delay they will apply to all programs of a similar nature, they will provide that a handicapped child for the first time in the 200-year existence of our country has the right to go to free public schools, and that that child has a right to go to free public schools in a regular classroom with other students. It's almost inconceivable, and it's a reflection on all of us in leadership positions that these basic rights have been delayed so long. These are times for thanksgiving, but for a sustained demand and a time to assess other opportunities in the future.
  • The civil rights of handicapped persons is not the only element of the laws that have been put into effect. We have got more than a hundred different programs in the Federal Government already for the handicapped. They are administered by many different agencies. There are a lot of different kinds of definitions for the handicap of the same person, and that means that many of you who have sought for a long time to take advantage of these programs, which the Congress and my predecessors in the White House have passed, have often had to go to four or five or six different agencies to get the simple treatment or opportunities which you deserved under the law. It's time for us to change that, and one of the very good benefits of the reorganization authority that Congress has now given me is to bring all those programs for the handicapped together into one agency so you can understand them and take advantage of them.
  • As I look across this tremendous auditorium, with many different kinds of handicaps represented here, I know that many of them could have been prevented in your early life. And we are not just concerned about the correction of an existing handicap or an opportunity for those who are handicapped; we want to prevent the handicaps that might occur in the future. We've already proposed to the Congress a program for the screening, the health screening, of poor children, and within just a few years we will multiply five times the number of poor, young children who have a chance to see a doctor early in their life so their potential handicap or affliction might be prevented or corrected. We now have 35 percent of the young children in this country who are not even immunized or inoculated against preventable diseases. When I was 'a child many years ago, almost 100 percent of all American children were immunized. We have started a new program now under Joe Califano's leadership and have .asked the Congress for authority to increase greatly this immunization program so that within just a short time we intend to approach the 100 percent level again. There is a hope that there will never be any lack of memory for the struggle that has been effective in making this night and this conference possible. We want to be sure that we don't forget the handicapped among us who cannot hold a job, who cannot respond to a full education, but we want to make sure that even when they are dependent for constant help, that they have every chance to grow and to learn and to take advantage of whatever great or small talent or ability God might have given them. We can't forget them.
  • In closing, I want to ask you to do one more thing, and that is that since you've bound yourselves together in a common purpose, understanding one another and overcoming the differences that exist among you, that now you try to understand the special needs of the nonhandicapped, to understand the needs of other handicapped people. It's not a time for hatred or lashing out or recrimination or condemnation of the nonhandicapped for the long delays in meeting your needs, because many people who are not handicapped can't understand those special needs. So, it's a time of education both ways, and for a realization that only when we work together--the handicapped who are leaders, the handicapped who will always be dependent, the potentially handicapped child who wants to have that prevented and the nonhandicapped adult leader--when we work together, we can continue to make even greater progress.
  • I know that in my own life I have been inspired by the courage that exists among many of you. One of my most proud moments was when we administered the oath of office to Max Cleland, a young man who now heads up a tremendous Federal agency, the Veterans Administration. When he was a tiny child he used to always ask God some day to let him work for his country and serve other people. He went to Vietnam as a volunteer after he was qualified, having finished college for his own professional career. He stepped out of a helicopter one day and saw a hand grenade on the ground, and trying to protect his fellow servicemen, he lost two legs and one arm. He stays in a wheelchair. But I have never been around Max Cleland when I realized or thought that he had any handicap that constrained the full realization of his early prayers, because he serves in Government and he serves his fellow human beings. He's an inspiration to me, and his is an exhibition of constant courage which many of you also exhibit so well.
  • When I made my inauguration speech just a few weeks ago, I quoted a schoolteacher of mine, Miss Julia Coleman. She was a principal in a tiny school where I attended when I was a country boy. She taught me above and beyond the classroom how to write themes and how to debate and how to appreciate works of art and how to understand good music and how to read books that I would otherwise never have known to exist. She was crippled, and she couldn't see the children in her classroom. I think she would have been a good teacher had she not been handicapped, but I think that knowing about her own shortcomings in a physical way gave an extra dimension and depth to her caring about other people. Your conference is important. You're intelligent, courageous leaders. But because you have experienced suffering and because you have overcome it, I think the recommendations that will be coming from you that will affect the lives of many millions of people now and in the future will have that same extra dimension. Our country needs you, and I know that you will never disappoint those who look to you for leadership. Thank you very much.
Democratic National Committee Dinner
President Carter's remarks at a fundraising dinner in New York City. (June 23, 1977). Source: Democratic National Committee Dinner Remarks at the Fundraising Dinner in New York City, The American Presidency Project.
  • I've enjoyed seeing all of you tonight individually. If I missed anyone, if you would stand by the door after my brief speech, I'd like to shake your hand. This is the largest crowd I've seen since we had our last White House staff meeting. Of course, as you know, they are all temporary, and you are permanent Democrats, so there is quite a difference. Originally we had thought about having this supper in Queens, but Andy Young figured it would be best downtown tonight. Andy has helped me a lot. He made it clear that I was not the only one that gave a Playboy interview. And it's sometimes kind of hard to know exactly how he means things, as you may or may not have noticed. He pointed out to the Playboy people that I still was filled with lust, but I didn't discriminate.
  • I've really learned a lot in this brief 5 months as President. I've learned a lot from some of you, as a matter of fact. I know how the young man felt who climbed up the tall building, and after great exertion, he got to the top and found out his reward was a $250,000 lawsuit. I ran for 2 years, and the only thing I've got out of it so far is an income tax audit. I've learned, too, about compromise. The mayor fined him $250,000 and had to settle for $1.10. It reminds me of my compromises with the Congress so far. I'm learning. They told me I'd always have a second chance. But I haven't found it to be the case yet. As a matter of fact, my tax audit is coming out OK. The only thing they've questioned so far is a $600 bill for toothpaste. But it paid off. I'm President.
  • Tonight I do want to thank Arthur Krim and Steve Ross and Mary Lasker for being our hosts and hostess. But I would like to recognize one special person in the audience who hasn't yet been recognized. When I started campaigning for President a long time ago, and I would come to New York for a fundraiser, there would be four or five people present in this early friend's apartment-and she worked awfully hard to get five people to come. And I want to ask Alice Mason if she would stand. Arthur Krim wins both ways. He is recognized throughout the Nation as a man who has given his heart to sacrificial public service. And when I knew that he and Steve and Mary would be in. charge of this banquet, I had no doubt about the outcome. But he also benefits from the Democrats as well. Late this past year there was a movie that was going to be made about the former Republican Governor of New York. And he found that he couldn't have this biographical film made, so Arthur went down to Philadelphia and got a Democrat ethnic with the same first name as Rocky and made a film, and he made a lot of money on it. [Laughter] So, the Democrats help Arthur Krim as well as helps us.
  • There are some fine people here. I seriously want to recognize Governor Carey, who has a balanced budget, which I hope to have in Washington, and who for the first time in 57 years has been successful in getting a tax reduction for New York citizens. I think that's a very fine achievement. And Abe Beame, who helped me when I needed help, who stood staunchly with me, is appreciated tonight. But I think the most I have ever appreciated my good friend Abe Beame was on election night when the returns came in from New York City and the former President, whose name escapes me---[laughter]--got 33 percent and Jimmy Carter got 67 percent in New York City. And I thank him for that. And I am very grateful that my associate Walter Mondale is here. I've done the best I could to find something for him to do. And I have really been successful. I think all of the news reporters would agree that above and beyond any previous Vice President, he's done a superb job. And he's had his hands full, and he's been well received wherever he's been. I would like to ask you to keep him from getting lonesome in the White House. And he's given me a list of his projects and wanted me to call them out to you. If you have a question about the Concorde, Northern Ireland, abortion, gay rights, downtown parking--and he was also in charge of the $50 rebate. I've just put him in charge of a much more important project. I know that you feel that the rest of the country supports you in a time of crisis when New York's spirits have been low. And I believe that if anyone can bring Tom Seaver back, Fritz can. So, call on him. And last I would like to recognize the greatest Democrat who lives in our country--Hubert Humphrey. I think when anyone tries to assimilate in one's mind what the Democratic Party is, what it stands for, its cleanness, its decency, its compassion and humanity, its fairness and its honesty and its dedication, its love for people, the personification of all those things is Senator Humphrey. He has been a great help to me and an inspiration.
  • I think it's good to point out tonight, too, that we have evolved a good working relationship with the Congress. For 8 years we had government by partisanship. Now we have government by partnership. And we've had good success. I'm new in Washington, as you know. I've never served there before in my life until last January 20. But in this brief period of time, there has been a remarkable demonstration of compatibility and mutual purpose between the White House and Capitol Hill. When I was preparing to be inaugurated, I had meetings with different Members of Congress, and there were five basic questions that I wanted to present to them as goals I hoped to achieve sometime in the future. One was for both Houses to pass strict ethics legislation to make sure that conflicts of interest that had embarrassed our Nation in the past were over. And they have both already done that. I wanted to see a strong economic stimulus package passed, and without delay the Congress has acted again. I wanted to be given authority to reorganize the executive branch of Government and to be given immediate direction to proceed without delay. And the Congress, of course, has acted on that as well.
  • I recognize that when Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, he pushed hard and worked hard and 2 years later finally got some semblance of the Department of Transportation that he wanted--2 years. We asked the Congress 3 months ago to establish for our country a new Department of Energy. And they have already acted, and I believe that the conference committee will complete their work and I will sign this legislation into law very close to the Fourth of July. So, four of the five major issues that I asked for have already been completed-an absolutely unprecedented achievement on the part Of the Congress. And the other one of the five was equally difficult. And that was to evolve a new energy policy for our country that would be adequate and fair with vision for the future and a realization that we need to conserve our precious possessions that provide us with jobs, heat, light, and a possibility for progress. And the Congress is making good progress, in spite of tremendous complexity and tremendous pressure from special interest groups, many of them quite benevolent. But it's going to take a lot of courage, and I have no doubt that the Congress can exemplify the requisite courage themselves. So, to sum up my own feeling toward the Congress, it's one of appreciation for their achievements and also appreciation for the partnership that we've formed. I want to work in the future with you and the Congress to continue to strip away the secrecy from government, to let the American people know what we do, to observe our achievements, yes, but also to observe our failures and our needs, our shortcomings and our mistakes. I believe that we'll make sounder judgments in domestic and foreign affairs if the American people's tremendous vitality, intelligence, sound judgment, and experience can be tapped in government. And I think all of us in Washington will perform better knowing that you know how we do perform.
  • I want to be sure that our cities are strong, that the housing programs, transportation programs, control of crime, job opportunities are centered for a change in the areas that have been deteriorating in the past but which will come to life in the future. And those members of my Cabinet who are directly responsible for these major programs are here tonight to reaffirm our joint commitment to the great cities of our country, the greatest of which we are in tonight. I think you know that when a problem arrives on the President's desk in the Oval Office or on Capitol Hill, that it's one that can't be solved by individuals or within a family or by mayors or county officials or by Governors or State legislatures. They are the most difficult of all, the ones that have far-reaching national and international significance and the one where controversy abounds. But I don't have any fear that our democratic process can work. And as I expressed to the graduating class at Notre Dame a few Sundays ago--and, I hope, to the world--I believe that we've demonstrated already that our Nation is vital, that we've made serious mistakes in the past, that we've taken bold action to correct those mistakes and prevent their recurrence, and that we have faith in our system of government.
  • We can correct the problems that relate to social security. We can have an effective and fair welfare system. We can have a fair tax structure. We're working to bring down the unemployment rate. And it's already fallen precipitously, which is a good accomplishment and, I think, an equally good omen for the future. At the same time, we're trying to stop nuclear proliferation around the world. I think 8 months ago there was a general feeling among the leaders of nations on this Earth that it was too late, that the genie that could kill all mankind had escaped, that there was no way to put it back in the bottle. But we've worked very closely with our friends and allies in Canada, Australia, Britain, and other countries to make sure that the peaceful use of atomic power can continue to generate electricity and give us power ,but that the waste products that can be changed into explosives would be carefully controlled. And I believe we now have a good prospect for success. We are trying to cut down on the indiscriminate sale of conventional weapons around the world, particularly to those countries that can't afford them. And we are trying to get other nations to join in a voluntary reduction in their demands for weapons. We are trying to alleviate tensions that have divided other countries one from another, without intruding into the internal affairs of those countries. We've established, working with many other people, a basic commitment to human rights, and now I think our Nation stands as a beacon light so that we can be proud of ourselves, that we can restore the commitments that made our Nation great beginning 200 years ago, and we can also set an example for the world. It's not an easy thing. There's a lot of controversy around it. And I think that when you say the words "human rights," that is in itself an action. And if you see those who are suffering today in political prisons, those who have been kept from free travel, those who have suffered because their families are divided, the action that they took was a few words. But I think now there's a general feeling around the world that we each must make our own nations free of legitimate criticism from other countries and among our own citizens. This change is slow, but I think it exemplifies what the American people feel, and I believe it's an achievement of which we can be proud. We are discussing without cessation a reduction in strategic atomic weapons with the Soviet Union. We are negotiating today in Moscow to eliminate the testing of atomic explosives. We are trying to move toward demilitarization of the Indian Ocean and to lessen tensions which might lead to war. These kinds of efforts, I think, will be successful if I can accurately represent what you are and what you want our Nation to do and to be. Because if I speak after a policy is evolved in secrecy, I speak with a single voice. But if you participate in the debate and the discussion and then I evolve a policy based on what you want, I speak with the voice of 215 million Americans.
  • And the last thing I want to say is this. Senator Humphrey, Vice President Mondale, many of the members of the Cabinet, the Members of the Congress are working closely with me in the hopes that not too far in the future we might arrive at a settlement in the Middle East that will guarantee a permanent status of a free, strong, secure, and peaceful Israel. These are some of the purposes of our party, in the White House and in the Capitol, and they are purposes of yours. None of them are easy. Many of the problems that we are now addressing have been postponed for year after year, decade after decade, some even for generations. But I believe that the best way that we can prevent a further deterioration in the circumstances that do concern us is to address them forcefully and with courage and with mutual support. We need your help, not just to raise funds for our party but also to make sure that the purposes of our Nation are realized and that we who serve in public office as Democrats and as Americans can deserve your trust and that together we might continue to be proud of our country, the greatest nation on Earth. Thank you very much.
National Urban League National Convention
President Carter's remarks at the national convention for the National Urban League. (July 25, 1977). Source: National Urban League Remarks at the League's National Convention, The American Presidency Project.
  • The last annual convention I attended, I went as a guest. And I heard, as the main speaker of the final banquet evening, Eleanor Holmes Norton give a moving speech about the ties that bind families together and how the deprivations of poverty and the lack of an ability of primarily black males to be proud of themselves justifiably was a disruptive influence on the family structure. It was a moving speech. And now, Eleanor Holmes Norton is in Washington, here with me, trying to bring together the thrust of the Federal Government to ensure equal opportunity in employment. And she'll be part of your program this year.
  • In Atlanta, as a joint friend of mine and Vernon Jordan's at the time when Vernon was thinking about running for Congress, the man who finally ran for that seat, Andy Young, has become throughout the world the exemplification of what this Nation stands for, what our Government stands for in the field of basic human rights. And Andy Young will be on your program this year as a member of our Cabinet, a man who has a voice of his own, but who works closely with me. And I might say other members of the United Nations have joined with him in letting the deprived people of the world know that the United States, with all its power and influence, is interested in them and is their friend.
  • We've been concerned about the deteriorating quality of urban centers, and we now have a Secretary of the Housing and Urban Development Department--a woman who understands because of her background and inclination, her experience and her heritage, the problem with struggling people who feel excluded from societal structures--Patricia Harris. And she'll be on your program later on as part of my own administration. Griffin Bell will be here to explain the new thrust of the Department of Justice. Joe Califano will spell out to you some of the programs that we have already instituted and are instituting to restore dignity to those who are and have been dependent upon government to give them a decent living. Ray Marshall is in charge of our program for bringing into being job opportunities, because we know that there is no end in itself to have a strong enough economy to balance budgets and control inflation, unless that is predicated upon employment--the provision of jobs for people to stimulate our economy and to make it viable and to benefit us all.
  • Friday night when I got home, my wife met me at the door. She said, "I just watched Vernon Jordan on television being interviewed and he said your administration is not doing anything for people who need help." And I read the New York Times yesterday and this morning, and my wife called me again this morning about 7:30. She says, "Vernon doesn't think you are doing as well as I think you are doing, Jimmy." And I hope in the months ahead that I'll be able to work closer with Vernon Jordan at the White House-where I spend a great deal of time working and planning with Members of the Congress. Parren Mitchell, the head of the Black Caucus, was in my office Thursday going over not only the accomplishments but the remaining needs that have been addressed and are being addressed by the Democratic Congress and the Democratic President. We haven't done everything we would like to do, nor have we done everything that we're going to do. I've been in office now 6 months--have no apologies to make--and I was trying to think of a story to illustrate that sometimes an immediate transformation can't be accomplished when problems have been there for years or terms of Presidents or even generations. Griffin Bell, who will speak to you later, has a favorite story about a man who was arrested for getting drunk and setting a bed on fire. When he got before the judge, he said, "Judge, I plead guilty to being drunk, but the bed was on fire when I got in it." Well, to some degree, the bed was on fire when I got in it. The point I want to make is that we're trying as best we can to make progress. I think you'll judge before this convention is over that I don't speak with a lonely voice, that the members of my Cabinet are united with me, and that there is no division between the Urban League and my administration. But we do need to have a closer working relationship because it's obvious that we have a long way to go. And we can get to our destination of having a decent life for all Americans if we work close together in a constructive and cooperative fashion.
  • Among my first proposals as President was one to stimulate the overall economy and especially to provide jobs for teenagers in the inner cities. We've now established a program to provide 1.1 million jobs, summer jobs, for youth more than ever in history. We proposed, in addition, a youth employment program with 1.5 million jobs for unemployed youth. We've doubled the size of the Peace Corps, the Job Corps, and we've more than doubled the public service jobs for the unemployed--from 310,000 to 725,000, nearly half of these for the long-term unemployed. Soon, before August 5, we'll be sending to the Congress our proposal for basic welfare reform. Jobs will be the thrust behind this reform program for those who are able to work and self-respect and adequate living conditions for those who are not able to work. Our goal is for all those who want to work to be able to find work so that they can be independent and so they can be proud and they can be self-sufficient. And I'd like to point out that an emphasis on jobs and work for those who are able is not discriminatory, it's not moving backwards, and it's not a deprivation of basic rights. What we want is for people who are able not to be permanently dependent on government, but able to stand on their own feet, support their own family, and have a constructive attitude toward our society. In this welfare proposal, there will be an additional 1 million job opportunities. Our goal is to make sure that every single family has a member of it with a guaranteed job, by government if necessary, and this is a goal that we intend to reach.
  • We're concerned about young people's health. We propose an $18.9 million program to immunize 5 1/2 million poor children from preventable diseases over the next 30 months, and we'll raise the number of poor children screened for medical purposes from less than 2 million last year to 9.8 million before I go out of office. I said during the campaign that the tax system was a disgrace, that it was most unfair to people with low and average incomes. We've been working now for 6 months on a tax proposal that will be simpler and fairer and will reduce the burden on the average American. But in the meantime, we have already gotten Congress to agree--the bill has been signed, it's been passed into law--to reduce taxes $4 billion with the primary emphasis on the low- and middle-income families, which means that a family that makes about $10,000 a year on a permanent basis would have a 30-percent reduction in their income tax payments. That's already been done. Walter Mondale, my Vice President, worked for years unsuccessfully, 8 years, to try to get a $100-million increase in the Title I programs for a better education for poor people, poor children. We have already proposed, and the Congress has already agreed, to increase the Title I program more than $350 million.
  • We've made a major expansion in what is called countercyclical revenue sharing to focus into the most deprived urban ghetto, unemployed areas, to be administered by Patricia Harris. And I've already signed into law a $4 billion public works bill. Under a new urban program that we are proposing, the Secretary of HUD, Patricia Harris, will have the authority to target large amounts of this money, in her judgment, on areas that are the most needy. For a long time in the past whenever a Federal program was approved by the Congress and the Republican Presidents, a large portion of that money went to areas where the need was least, in the suburban areas for housing and jobs went to areas with already low unemployment. We have reversed that now, and we're going to send the Federal money where it's needed most. Another of my first tasks has been to reorganize the Federal Government and to handle discrimination complaints faster and more effectively than we have in the past. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission now has a backlog of 130,000 cases. Many of these cases aren't considered for 3 years. There are seven different Federal agencies that are supposed to be taking care of these needs, these discriminatory practices. That's not been done yet. Because these cases have dragged on so long, quite often the witnesses have disappeared and the victims have given up. This is one of our top priorities--to reorganize the structure. It's not an easy or quick thing that can be done, and the person in charge of it is Eleanor Holmes Norton.
  • I'd like to outline very briefly for you, in the time I have available, some of the achievements already. But I want to emphasize again, I'm not bragging about it because we recognize, as does Vernon Jordan, my friend, that we have a long way to go. We've set as a goal for this year the reduction of the unemployment rate from 8.1 percent, which it was last December, to 7 percent by the end of this year. We've already reached that goal, and we expect it to go on down, perhaps as low as 6.5 percent before the end of the year, with a trend downward that will be maintained. We have also created just a few of the jobs that I have described to you. Of the $4 billion public works bill--the benefits that have not mirrored in the reduction in unemployment that we've already seen; that's still to come because it takes a long time to get these programs going once the Congress approves the measure--of the $4 billion, we last week signed the first contracts for less than one percent of the money that's available. But beginning with this week, we will be approving 1,000 public works contracts per week, and we'll have all $4 billion allocated by September 30 and, for the first time, for the first time, 10 percent of every contract must go to a minority subcontractor or supplier. This can mean $400 million in additional, new income for minority business men and women.
  • Now, I mentioned an increase in the public service jobs from 310,000 to 600,000. That legislation is just now being passed, and it will be the end of September-September 30--before we have the 725,000 people involved. Right now, we are adding 15,000 public service jobs per week. Our proposal for youth employment has now passed the Senate and House conference, and I expect to have it at the White House for signature next week. It will create over 200,000 jobs in a National Youth Conservation Corps, built on the old Civilian Conservation Corps that was put into effect by Franklin Roosevelt. And we are just doubling the Job Corps slots to 40,000. Now, this is a program that's been approved, but it hasn't yet been put into effect. But it will be put into effect rapidly now that we have it on the books. Income security--a lot of people are concerned about the social security system. We have proposed to the Congress-I hope they'll act quickly--to make sure that we have a sound social security system. And we have made a proposal to put it back on a sound basis without increasing the tax rate of American workers above what's already been prescribed by law. I want to mention food stamps--again, an income for poor people that's very valuable but, as you know, in the past they've had to have cash money to buy food stamps. We have proposed, and the Senate has already approved, and I hope the House will approve quickly, the elimination of any requirement to purchase food stamps. In the future they won't have to buy them. We're taking the first step towards comprehensive health care by proposing to the Congress hospital cost containment. The price to sick people of hospital care has gone up too rapidly. It is now doubling. It's now doubling every 5 years, about twice the rate of growth of the normal, nationwide inflation rate. By early next year, we'll have a comprehensive package of health care to put forward. And we're prepared to move more rapidly but, I have to tell you, frankly, that the Congress this year has almost all it can handle. But I've worked out with the congressional leaders that next year they'll start their full work on a comprehensive health care system for our country.
  • I want to add just a couple of more points. Then I'll be through. We are concerned about the rebuilding of American urban centers. I won't cover what Patricia Harris is going to cover in her speech, but we've asked for $5 billion increase in budget authority and proposed new formulae to focus this attention where it's needed most. In housing we are increasing Title VIII sections of housing, reviving the 202 housing programs for elderly people. We've proposed an extension of $200 million in separate funding for private day care services, and action by both Houses of Congress is quite near. And we recently proposed major reforms in the foster care system to permit more easily approved adoptions and to hold families, again, together. I could go on and on, because the list of programs is very long and the amount of money involved is very great, and the eagerness to implement these programs by me and the Democratic Congress is there and the Cabinet officers and administrators contains an attitude not of holding back what Congress has approved, as has been the case too often in the past, but an eagerness to put into effect these programs completely and without delay.
  • Now, I've mentioned a lot of figures to you. I've talked a lot about programs that we've already passed, about a lot of money that's already been appropriated. And then you might say, "Well, he's talking about a lot of money and a lot of help. But I haven't seen that money in my Community yet." But the point I'm making to you is it takes time to change the trends of history and to reverse the bureaucratic mechanism to one of support and compassion and concern and enthusiasm from what was formerly reluctance or lack of enthusiasm. We have, obviously, a long way to go. So, when I talk about these figures, it's not with a sense of final accomplishments. It's with a sense of dedication to the future to perform as President of our great country in such a way as to make you proud and to let you feel that there is in the White House and there is in the Democratic Congress and there is within the Cabinet members of my administration a partner with the Urban League, eager to work in the private and governmental sectors toward common goals. I'm talking about real money, real programs to help real people in real need of help. And I'm not talking about just abstract figures--although a billion dollars is a lot of money--or meaningless statistics about percentages of reduction of unemployment. I'm talking about a flood of new programs that will be coming into your own community in the weeks and months ahead. I'm talking about my administration living up to its commitments to the poor and to the hungry and to the timid and to the weak and to the unemployed. I need your partnership and you need my partnership. And I believe that that partnership is available to us and it can have a profound impact so that you and I and my Cabinet and the Congress together can make this a better place in which to live, particularly those who haven't yet realized the guarantees expressed 200 years ago by our Founding Fathers, of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We've made great strides in this country already. We still have a long way to go. And you've got my pledge to respond well to counsel, to advice, to caution, and to criticism. And I believe that this can be very constructive. And together we can put smiles on the faces instead of tears, and we can have a support of our system of government instead of a lashing out because deprived and unemployed people feel alienated from the structure of society that's been so good to all of us here. Those are my hopes and my dreams and my prayers. You're partners with me and Vernon and all of you. I'm proud of that partnership and what it can mean to us in this greatest of all nations on Earth. Thank you very much.
Question-and-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors
White House interview with President Carter. (July 29, 1977). Source: Interview With the President Question-and-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors, The American Presidency Project.
  • This last few days has been one of great activity around the White House, which is not different from most weeks. I'm putting the final touches on my own welfare reform proposal, which I will complete after meeting with Chairmen Russell Long and Al Ullman next week. I've spent a good bit of time on that recently, and we've been working on this with a great deal of enthusiasm and, I think, a good success ever since I've been in office. We hope that the House and Senate, very quickly now, will take final action on the Department of Energy. They're making good progress on the overall energy policy. I think the House is very likely to finish that work before the mandatory summer recess. I've been meeting frequently with foreign leaders. I think, so far, we've had 15 heads of state who have come here on official visits with me, and I've learned a lot from them. On my visit to Europe, I had about the same number with whom I met just a few minutes or extensively-a couple of hours, and I have a good relationship there.
  • This morning I had a meeting with the Panama Canal negotiating team, both our two Ambassadors and the two representing General Torrijos. And early this morning I met with Cy Vance, who will be leaving very quickly now to go to the Mideast. He'll go to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia, to Jordan and Syria, back through--Israel is the last stop this time, to try to put together some sort of framework on which we and the Soviet Union jointly can call for a Geneva conference this fall. We still have a lot of difficulties to overcome. My own belief is that they can be overcome. Harold Brown is on the way back tonight from California, having finished a trip to Japan and to South Korea. Cy Vance is also preparing to go to China, and we'll spend all tomorrow morning, with me and him and Dr. Brzezinski and the Vice President and a few others, going over the component parts of his discussions with the Chinese Government. We've embarked on a massive, 3-year reorganization program for the Federal Government, and I think this will be a slow, tedious, thorough improvement in the organizational structure of Government. It minimizes unnecessary intervention in the private lives and the business lives of our Nation and, at the same time, to be more efficient, more economical and simpler structured, with a clear delineation of authority and responsibility on the officers who will be responsible for certain functions. We have, at the same time, tried to restore or improve our relationship with the developing nations of the world, with our own allies in Europe, with the African countries and, particularly, to deal with the long-standing problems in Rhodesia and Namibia. And at the same time, we've made strong and continuous overtures to our friends in the southern part of this hemisphere to make sure that we have as close as possible a relationship with them. The last thing I'll mention, in passing, which is of crucial importance to us all, is the progress in our friendly relations with the Soviet Union. I put a lot of time on a speech that I made in Charleston last week to try to encapsulate, as best I could, the overall thrust of our policies. We were successful yesterday in reaching an agreement with the Soviet Union and Great Britain to go to the detailed negotiations of an agreement on the comprehensive test ban. Our own desire is that we prohibit the testing of nuclear explosives completely, and we are making some progress in that direction. So far, the Soviets still would like to reserve the right to conduct some peaceful nuclear explosives. But we've opened up new concepts of actual reductions in atomic weapons for the first time since they've been invented, to restrain military development in the Indian Ocean, to work with the Soviets on comprehensive SALT discussions, a prohibition against the destruction of observation satellites, prior notification of firing of test missiles, and so forth. So we've a lot of things going on with the Soviet Union, which I think, potentially, are going to be very constructive. We have found them in their private attitudes toward us to be very forthcoming and cooperative. And these are difficult matters which have been ignored or postponed for decades, and we're trying to address them as forthrightly as possible. I could go on with another long agenda, but I won't do that. I'd rather let you pick out the other items on the agenda that I have not mentioned, and I'll try to answer your questions as briefly and thoroughly as I can.
  • Well, I believe that, obvious]y, the Cuban-Americans here have complete freedom. We are not committed to the destruction by military force of the present Cuban Government; our hope and aspiration is that maximum freedom for people who live in Cuba can be achieved. But I think at the time of the Bay of Pigs, our country gave up the thought that we might do it by military attack. We've proceeded very cautiously in our dealings with the Castro government. I've spelled out publicly on many occasions my own attitude toward this procedure. We have signed now with the Soviets-I mean with the Cubans--a fishers agreement and a maritime agreement. And we are continuing in practical application the anti-hijacking agreement which has not been renewed. We have also opened up the possibility, which will be realized very quickly, of diplomatic officials to be stationed in Washington and in Havana in the embassies of other nations. I don't see any possibility soon of normalizing relationships with Cuba. Castro's position has been that a prerequisite to this must be the removal of the trade embargo before negotiations can even commence. As I've said on numerous occasions, my concerns about Cuba are that they still have large numbers of political prisoners incarcerated that ought to be released. They have large numbers of troops in Angola and other places in Africa which ought to be returned. And they still maintain an attitude of unwarranted intrusion into the internal affairs of some of the other nations or places in the Western Hemisphere. So, I think all those factors tie together. But I assume from the tone of your question you were talking about a military overthrow of the Castro government. That is not part of our national purpose.
  • Dolph Briscoe is my friend, and I don't want to get into a personal interrelationship with him except on a basis of mutual understanding and friendship. I think it's accurate to say that Congressman Krueger and several other Members of the Congress have adequately put forward the so-called Texas plan for energy development which, in my opinion, is primarily based on a complete deregulation of the price of oil and natural gas, which I think at this time would be inappropriate and a devastating load to the well-being of the consumers of this Nation. I also think it's unwarranted. The degree of deregulation which we have advocated, a substantial improvement over what it is now, would result in the natural gas field alone in a $15 billion increase in the income of the natural gas companies between now and 1985. There have been assessments made by the Library of Congress and by the GAO and other groups who advise Members of Congress, that the so-called Krueger Plan--I haven't seen the Briscoe Plan; I would guess they are similar and perhaps have a similar origin--would cost the consumers of our country maybe $70 billion more than what we advocate. But I think that this is a crucial question in the overall energy concept-whether or not we should have extremely high prices to be established by the oil and natural gas companies without constraint and accept their proposition that exploration would build by leaps and bounds, that we would have unlimited supplies of oil and natural gas as a result, and that this is the best approach, or our own proposition on the other hand. I don't think that a crash program to extract oil and natural gas in a hasty fashion from American supplies is advisable under any circumstances. I think that the emphasis on conservation and a shift toward coal, which we advocate, is the best approach. I also don't think there would be substantially increased exploration if oil was worth $20 a barrel and if natural gas was $3 or $4 a thousand cubic feet. I think the present rate of exploration would not be substantially enhanced, but it would be a great windfall to the oil and natural gas companies of our Nation. As I said in the letter that Dolph Briscoe has, as I said in my speech on the energy proposal to the Congress back on April 20, our first move toward deregulation is one that will be followed later by others. It's a first move to carry out my commitment. But I can't bring myself to accept the proposition it ought to be done peremptorily. We've advocated, by the way, a $1.75 price for natural gas to be moved in interstate and intrastate supply lines, which is a substantial increase over interstate price now, and I think is adequate.
  • Yes. But I think it's accurate to point out that the major impediment-one of the major impediments to increased drilling on the Atlantic seaboard has been the oil companies themselves. They don't like the legitimate constraints that are placed on them by the Department of Interior and the Federal energy agency and others. As Governor of Georgia, though, I worked with the Governors of our two neighboring States to the north---North and South Carolina--to provide, along with the oil companies, I might say, some assessment of what we ought to do. And we identified five places along the coast where we would like to see oil brought ashore, five places near this seacoast where we would like to see oil refineries built. And I would hope that all the States north of us on the eastern seaboard would do the same. This new drill rig, one of the most modern in the world, I think, has greatly enhanced safety devices and oil spill control devices that were not extant when the Santa Barbara spills took place and were not applicable or installed in the North Sea spill. So, I don't think that we need fear, to the extent we did in the past, environmental consequences of offshore oil exploration and production. So, to answer your question in a nutshell, I do favor a rapid increase in oil exploration and production on the eastern seaboard, and I hope that they find oil near the Georgia coast, first of all.
  • The public is not paying attention. That's correct. And this has resulted in an enormous increase in the waste of fuel and also an increase in imports, which seriously unbalances our trade relationships with foreign countries. I just spent some time right before lunch going over the reasons for it. There may be some indication that stockpiling is taking place in anticipation of the wellhead tax being imposed and because of the uncertainty of future price increases by the OPEC nations. But that's a relatively minor factor, although it is a factor. I hope that the Congress will act expeditiously and not weaken the energy legislation, one of its primary purposes being to impose strict conservation measures. But I would say that at this point, the public has not responded well; that the absence of visibility to the impending oil shortage removes the incentive for the public to be concerned. And I'm afraid that a series of crises are going to be a prerequisite to a sincere desire on the part of the American people to quit wasting so much fuel. We've seen this now on two or three occasions already, as a precursor. One, obvious]y, was the natural gas shortage this past winter; another one was the embargo in 1973, the rapid escalation in prices, and now the very severe trade imbalance. I think these are just predictions of what is to come. I'm concerned that the public has not responded well. And I think voluntary compliance is probably not adequate at all. We will take what the Congress does this year and continue to build on it in subsequent years. I'm determined to have a complete and comprehensive energy package on the books before I go out of office. And what we don't get this year, we'll get in subsequent years.
  • I haven't given up on that hope yet. Of course, a lot of those agencies, as we all know well, are minor commissions and boards and so forth that have been established by statute and you know can be eliminated when the need for them is no longer there. But I have not been unpleasantly surprised, Billy. I had a good bit of experience, as you know, as Governor of Georgia and was familiar with at least a State bureaucracy. And I had heard such horrible stories about the Federal Government that I didn't expect to find a smooth-running, well organized mechanism here in place. So, I wasn't very greatly surprised. I have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of my Cabinet; that there is not a weak person on it, and not a single one that I would want to change if I had the whole choice to do over again. They've worked well together. We have, for the first time in years--I don't know how long--we've got a weekly Cabinet meeting. And any defects that are carrying over in the governmental structure are partially overcome by the close-knit working relationship between the White House staff and the members of the Cabinet. We have established now--almost completed the Department of Energy, which is to some degree a replacement for about 40 other Federal agencies. And our plan for reorganizing the entire structure of the Government is well in place. I've been through this before, for 4 years in Georgia, and I think there's a good parallel there to serve as a guide for me. So to answer your question, I'm not disappointed nor unpleasantly surprised. And what defects are here, we are overcoming them by close relationship among the officials involved.
  • We obviously didn't cause the problem; it's an inherited problem that's been built up for long years. I think in the past there's been too much of an emphasis on major Federal programs when billions of dollars have been spent on helping people that didn't need the help very badly. I'm from the Sun Belt States. I think there's been too much of a channeling of Federal moneys into Sun Belt areas. I think between the downtown ghetto areas on crime control, housing development, and so forth, the funds have quite often been channeled off into the suburbs because of more highly educated people, better organized people, more able to speak loudly and who understood the complexities of Federal programs. We're trying to change that and focus the attention of the Government, whatever it is, on the downtown, urban, deteriorating neighborhoods. Another thing that we're trying to do is to concentrate on the rehabilitation of homes. I've seen this happen in Baltimore. I've seen it happen in Savannah, Georgia, and other places around the country, where with a small effort on the part of a chamber of commerce or the local officials, the banks, working with the Federal Government--that instead of seeing a neighborhood deteriorate, that existing structures can be rebuilt or renovated to make very attractive homes near the core area for executive and professional work without abandoning the central cities and moving out into the suburbs. We're trying to do that, too, with our general HUD programs.
  • And on crime, I think the major cause of crime in those downtown areas is unemployment, and we're trying to focus on this question. We've got now about 1.1 million jobs allotted during the summertime for young people, much more than ever has been before. We are putting into realization at this moment 20,000 public service jobs per week, even a greater rate than Franklin Roosevelt put people in the CCC camps when you had the Army to de. it and when the Nation was devastated by depression. We are now approving 1,000 public works projects every week, with at least 10 percent of that allocation money being guaranteed to minority business people. And in addition to that, we have taken the CETA jobs, the comprehensive education and training jobs, and have multiplied them by more than a hundred percent, more than 200 percent. We hope to increase those by 400,000 jobs between now and a year from now. None of these programs have yet been felt. Last week was the first week we ever were able to get a public works project approved. This week the Congress has completed passing additional legislation on youth employment, above and beyond what I've just described to you. And I think by the time we feel the beneficial effect of all these programs, we'll be able to observe some improvements.
  • Obviously, we've got a long way to go in law enforcement. I think, to a substantial degree, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funds have been wasted in years gone by. We are trying to bring a more narrow focusing on them to prevent crime and to get out of the waste of buying very expensive and fancy machines and so forth and actually concentrate in the areas where the crime rate is highest. I think I've seen statistics lately from the FBI and others that show that there's a general reduction in the crime rate. I think there's a better tone in the country, a little bit more trust in the Government. This was certainly subverted by the evidence in New York earlier this month. But I think, in general, throughout the country there's more of a respect being built up for public officials--not because of anything I've done, but just because we've recovered partially from the embarrassment of Watergate and the CIA and the Vietnam war and so forth. But I think we ought not to give up on our urban cities and our downtown deteriorating neighborhoods. And my whole administration is focusing on this, and I feel hopeful about it.
  • Yes, I was upset. As I said I think it's an obstacle to peace. And I let Mr. Begin know very clearly that our Government policy, before I became President and now, is that these settlements are illegal and contravene the Geneva conference terms. Mr. Begin disagrees with this. But we've spelled this out very clearly on several occasions in the United Nations and other places that these settlements are illegal. I think that it's accurate to say that the Israeli Government has never maintained that they are permanent but, that on a temporary basis, maybe extending quite a while in the future in their view, that they are legalized, but not as a permanent settlement. Israel has never claimed hegemony over the West Bank territory, as you know. And I think that it would be a mistake, as I said in my press conference yesterday, to condemn Mr. Begin about this action because this was a campaign commitment he made. I think what he did was in consonance with the desires of the Israeli people. But I don't want anybody to misunderstand our feelings about it. We think it's wrong to establish these settlements, it's wrong to insinuate that they are legal, it's certainly wrong to ever claim that they are permanent. And to establish new settlements would be even more unsettling to their Arab neighbors, as we try to go to Geneva in a good spirit of compromise and cooperation, than the allocation of legality by the Government to those already in existence.
  • We didn't consider it to fall in the legal definition of a disaster area. Those definitions are established very clearly in the Federal law. And the department leaders involved, Patricia Harris in HUD and others, analyzed the situation in New York as best we could, analyzed the definition of a disaster area in the law, and found out that it didn't match. We did make a special allocation through Housing and Urban Development, Commerce, EDA, Labor, and other departments--including the Justice Department, to expedite the hearings on those that were accused of looting--I think a total package of about $11.4 million. I doubt that any more money would have been allocated to the city if it had received an official declaration. So we did all we could within the bounds of the law to recognize the problem in New York.
  • Thank you all. I'm sorry I have to go, but I've got another meeting in a few minutes. I've enjoyed it, and I hope that you had a chance to meet with some of our staff members. I didn't make a speech at first, but I would like to say that it's important to us to have you come here. We learn, I'm sure, a lot more from listening to your questions and from my staff members talking to you about domestic and foreign affairs than you learn from us. And I think it's important for your readers and listeners and viewers to know that this is their White House, and that we don't have anything to conceal here. We've made mistakes. We're obviously going to make them, like you do at home in your own business. But we don't try to cover up, conceal anything. I've enjoyed the press conferences twice a week. Cy Vance has a press conference every month. It happens to be this afternoon. And on many of the controversial issues that in the past have been decided in a very secret way between the Secretary of State and the President, for instance, are now discussed openly with the American people. I feel that's a good move. It exposes our doubts and uncertainties and controversies on occasion, but after that debate goes back and forth in the Congress and throughout the Nation, among American people, we monitor that opinion very closely. And I think that by the time I make a decision--which may or may not always agree with what the people are thinking at home--I have a much surer sense of what our country ought to do. And I think that foreign countries feel, for instance, that when I speak or Cy Vance speaks or the Vice President, that we speak for the country. We also do the same thing with the Congress. I've met with every single Member of the Congress, Democrat and Republican, unless they just didn't come when they were invited. And if they missed one meeting, they've been invited to subsequent meetings. You know, very recently, I've had breakfast with all the Democratic Members of the Senate, and now we're starting to have breakfast with all the Republican Members. We've spent an hour and a half just sitting around a small table, and let them bring up any subject they want to me and I answer any question they ask me.
Interview With the President
President Carter talks to reporters. (September 16, 1977). Source: Interview With the President Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors, The American Presidency Project.
  • I want to welcome all of you to the White House. Some of you have been here before. I think you've had a chance to meet with some of our staff this morning. And I hope that the day will be fruitful for you. One of the most important things to me as President is to have a means by which I can understand the problems and the questions that arise throughout the country-sometimes removed from Washington itself---to get a different perspective and also, of course, during my news conferences, that have been held and will always be held, I hope, twice a month, to receive questions from the Washington press corps. The number of issues that confront me are very voluminous. I'd just like to outline a few of them for you in preparation for your questions.
  • This morning I concluded my own talks with the Prime Minister of France, and this is a final meeting with him. He'll now, this afternoon, meet with economic advisers, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Energy, and others so that we, in shaping our own policies for the future, will know the special problems of France, and vice versa. These discussions which I have had with many foreign leaders have been very helpful to me. As you know, I've never served in Washington before January. I've got a lot to learn about the processes, and I've gone out of my way this year to expand my own circle of knowledge outside just domestic issues. Last week, I met with, I think, 19 heads of state of the Latin American countries. And I think we have a new relationship with them, brought about primarily by the prospect of the ratification of the Panama C. anal Treaty. We are continuing our negotiations with the Soviets on the SALT question; also, on a comprehensive test ban of nuclear weapons. And as you know, the Soviet Union in addition is a cochairman, along with us, of the Mideast talks that we hope will take place before the end of this year. This coming week, I'll have the first of a series of foreign ministers who will come and meet with me from the Middle Eastern region--Foreign Minister Dayan from Israel. And during the following weeks, I'll meet with all the others. These meetings that come to me directly are preceded, of course, by long discussions with the Secretary of State and others. We have, in addition, many other defense matters that have come to my desk. Quite often, we have foreign matters that don't relate to the prospect of war or the issue of peace. A recent one, concluded last week, was with the Canadians, on a means by which we might bring natural gas down to our country. And this is the biggest construction project ever undertaken in the history of the world, and I think we arrived at a common purpose there. We have already implemented the construction of a new Department of Energy. I approved it this week. Dr. Schlesinger has been working on this ever since I've been in office. We have finished in the House, I think, substantial legislation to set up an energy policy that might guide the new Department in its functions. We are running into additional problems in the Senate. The political pressures are enormous from the oil companies and others on the subject of energy. I think the House took very courageous action in this respect, and my hope and expectation is that the Senate will do the same. Welfare reform has been presented to the House and to the Senate this week in its final, legally drafted version of legislation. And before the Congress adjourns this year, hopefully in October, I will present to them my tax reform package as well. This will take a great deal of debate and study, along with welfare. And that, obviously, can't be concluded during this calendar year. We have, I think, been fairly successful so far. We've been learning, and I think that we put together a good organization here.
  • I've obviously been concerned recently about the Bert Lance case, and I've not let it interfere with my own functions. I don't think Bert has let it interfere with his functions as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. This is an agency with which I'm most intimately involved, personally, on a multiple basis every day. And because of my own engineering background and my habits acquired while I was Governor, I set very specific and rigid time schedules for the accomplishment of each component part of a major undertaking. And I can assure you that there has been absolutely zero slippage in the Office of Management and Budget because of this series of allegations that are now being answered by Bert Lance to the Senate--I hope, successfully. We've initiated this year--and this is the last point I'll make--a brand new budgeting system that I used in Georgia, called zero-based 'budgeting. It's a massive undertaking for a bureaucracy of our size to completely change its mechanism by which next year's budget will be prepared. But the fiscal year '79 budget will be prepared in its entirety using the zero-based budgeting technique, where you don't make any assumptions that present programs or expenditures are sacred. You don't just deal with the new additions next year for the budget considerations, but you start from zero and analyze the entire appropriation of funds. The reorganization effort is on schedule, and I think by the end of the 3-year period that's been given me by the Congress, we will complete it to the satisfaction of the people of our country. I'll be glad now to answer any questions that you might have.
  • Yes, that's something I'll have to balance. And as I said yesterday in a telephone talk to the news programers of television and radio stations, I don't know of anything illegal that Bert Lance has done. I don't know of any unethical conduct on his behalf. And I'm keeping an open mind about this entire subject until the Senate goes through its present procedure of analyzing in detail all of the new charges and allegations and claims and statements that have been made about Bert Lance. He's now being given a fair chance to say these are all of the charges, this is my answer to them. And of course, I will certainly have an eagerness to learn of any reason for me to change the assessment that I've just made. But I want to be fair about it, and I have a sure sense of the basic fairness of the American people. The facts, if divulged, will be conclusive, I think, in the shaping of public opinion. And one problem about the whole incident that I can't comprehend, perhaps, adequately, is--let's leave Bert Lance out of it for just a moment; just take any of you, or myself. If a series of, say, incorrect allegations are made day after day after day with the highest possible publicity, the lead story on every television network every night and the headlines in the Washington Post and other newspapers every day, and then all those allegations are proved to be false, how much of those allegations remain to damage the character of the person who might be totally innocent? And then you say, well, this person is damaged so that he can't perform his functions adequately, when the damage has been caused either erroneously or falsely. Well, if that was the only factor, then my decision would be easy. But if I also have confidence that as the American people learn--and it might take a while--that the allegations were basically false and have successfully been answered, that the character of the person, say, yourself, would be restored, then my decision would 'be a different one. And I really have been concerned about this matter, as you know. I don't know an easy answer. But at this point, I have no evidence to indicate that Bert's done anything illegal or unethical. I wish that every one of you could read the FBI report which has been the subject of many references. Bert has an ability, under the law, to get the FBI report under the Freedom of Information Act and make it public. They interviewed, I guess, a hundred people--three of those people were in the Comptroller's Office; three additional ones were in the Department of Justice. And the FBI questioned them about these same allegations, and the response of those, I think, all men, six men, were unanimously almost effusive in their recommendation of Bert. But now their testimony under the pressure of Senate interrogation is a little bit different. But at the time that the Senate investigated first, I think the information was offered to them. Obviously, a lot of new questions have been raised. But in general, I'm still keeping an open mind about it.
  • Well, I can't say that I depended on overdrafts to run my business, but as I have said in one of my regular news conferences that was televised nationwide, yes, I've had overdrafts. Let me add one other thing. There is a fairly common practice--and I am not trying to criticize banks, because I don't know how wide the practice is-but there's a general sense at home, not because it's in the South, but because I live in a small town, that if you have several accounts and a substantial balance in all those accounts, but then you become overdrawn in one of those accounts, then that's not considered to be an illegal or an unethical act. I run, I would say in my business, six or seven individual accounts, different aspects of my farm or my warehouse business. Also, I have a personal account. I never write any checks. I haven't written three checks in the last 5 years. My wife does all the check writing. But if we should have $50,000 or $100,000 in my warehouse account, and in my own personal account my wife should buy a dress and give a $25 check to pay for it and the check bounced 'because we were overdrawn, they would not send for the sheriff or call me on the phone to say, "You've disgraced yourself by having an overdraft." They would say, in effect, "We'll honor this check. We'll put a notice in your mailbox, and then you can shift some money from your warehouse account over into the personal account." But I don't excuse overdrafts. You know, it's obvious that I would rather my own life have been completely free of any overdraft. But I can't say that it's an acceptable thing. But I still don't believe that it's an unethical or illegal thing in the banking circles in which I've had to operate.
  • My preference is to have the wellhead tax receipts go to tax rebates. There are some alternatives that obviously will .be considered by the Congress with or without my approval, and I can't say that my own position will prevail ultimately. But there are different ways to use wellhead taxes. My preference is, as we presented it to the Congress, the rebates. One reason for that preference is that it's fair. Another one is that it doesn't create a tremendous withdrawal from the national economy of substantial amounts of money. If you have increased wellhead taxes and immediately return that money to people in better paychecks on a 2-week basis, then there's not a shock to the country. If you withdraw that money and wait 3 months, 6 months, or a year before it gets back into the economy, you have a tremendous dampening effect on our national economy, which is bad. Now, if some of the wellhead tax should be shifted to enhance the effectiveness of the energy goals, then I can't see anything very bad about that. If you had better rapid transit systems, better insulation of homes, more research and development, for instance, for new energy sources, that would be one thing. But the constant threat is that because of political pressures, that money is going to be returned to the oil companies under the guise of enhancing production. I think the oil companies have enough cash flow right now-- certainly the majors do--to have an adequate degree of exploration. In fact, that exploration, in my opinion, is adequate at this point. And I'm just as afraid that there is a threat that the wellhead tax is going to be given to the oil companies to reward them financially. I think that our package has a gracious plenty of incentives for enhanced exploration and enhanced production of oil in this country. We have by far the highest price for newly discovered oil in this energy package of anywhere on Earth, and I don't think the oil companies deserve to get this money taken out of the consumers' pockets and put in the pockets of the oil companies.
  • In the first place, I have not decided on any specifics of a tax reform package at all. I've certainly not decided on eliminating credits for interest paid on homes or property taxes paid for homes. During the political campaign, I promised that there would not be a reduction in the stimulus for American families to own their own homes, and if there should be any change it would be compatible with that commitment of mine. Now, I have some doubt about whether this same level of interest rate deduction should be applicable to a $500,000 home or a second or third or fourth home for very wealthy families, as contrasted with the average American working family who's trying to pay for one home in which they live. Also, you have to remember that if the credit is on a percentage basis, then a family that has a $15,000 income, if given a certain amount of credit for interest, only gets, say, 20 percent of that interest payment credited on their tax. But if you're in the 70-percent bracket, you get 70 percent of any interest that you pay on your home. So, equalizing those homeownership credit incentives is part of the package. But it will not hurt the average family in trying to purchase or pay for their own dwelling place.
  • I've not had a chance to watch the television programs, except that my staff puts together an 18- or 20-minute recap on some of the highlights. And I see those on occasion. I spent all yesterday and today in my regular business and meeting with Prime Minister Barre. But my assessment from the brief time I've watched it, and also from my own staff, is that he has enhanced his position, because he was in a situation where, literally, for weeks, all kinds of allegations or charges were made, including criminal violation of the writing of checks to avoid paying of taxes, which is fraudulent and illegal. He was alleged to be an embezzler by a convicted felon. And on that basis, the chairman and the minority leader of the Senate [committee] had called for his immediate resignation, and he had not had a chance to answer those charges. Now that he has answered the charges--I hope and believe successfully--I think he's certainly enhanced his position.
  • Yes, I would object to that. I don't have any objection to any analysis of the question, but I think my own statement and the statement of all the leaders of our country that whatever Puerto Rico's people want t° do is acceptable to me. If the Puerto Rican people want to be a commonwealth, I will support it. If the Puerto Rican people want to be a State, I will support it. If the Puerto Rican people want to be an independent nation, I would support it.
  • I don't think the U.N. has any jurisdiction. And particularly when this question is raised by Cuba, a government that has no respect for individual freedom or individual liberty and permits no vote of any kind in their own country, to accuse us of trying to subjugate the people of Puerto Rico, to me, is absolutely and patently ridiculous.
  • I would like to come down there as soon as I can. An important goal of my administration is to build up a renewed understanding and trust and communication with the nations and the people who live south of here in our hemisphere. My wife's already visited seven nations, as you know.
  • Well, I would like to say one thing to start with, that the people of California are my constituents just as much as they are the Governor's constituents, and I have just as deep a concern about the future prosperity and good life of the people of California as the Governor or anyone else. I've never had any disagreements with Governor Brown. So far as I know, he's never mentioned the western leg of the pipeline to me. If he corresponded with some of my staff members and I'm not familiar with it, then, of course, that would be understandable. I've been with him several times this year, both in California, and he spent a night with me at the mansion. We've had long discussions, but I did not know he was dissatisfied with the arrangement at all. One of the problems, however, with the El Paso route, which was the alternative, was the reluctance of California to provide some means by which oil or natural gas could come into the State to be used there and also to be transported to other parts of the country. I don't say that in a spirit of criticism, because I'm concerned about environmental questions and possible oil spills and, also, the deterioration in the quality of air, because of heavy shipping transport, as well. But I would expect that Governor Brown and I and other State and Federal officials would eagerly search for a basis on which we could assure California adequate energy supplies in the future. My decision to go with the Alcan route was one of great importance to our country. But certainly none of the factors involved was to damage California people whom I care about very much.
  • Well, one of the major Considerations in evolving the tax reform package is obviously to provide adequate incentive for business expansion. And I believe that when the tax reform package is made public, that there will be a sigh of relief and also a removal of the inevitable uncertainty about what the terms of the tax proposal might encompass. Also, of course, through long weeks of House and Senate hearings, any possible improvements on the tax reform package would be explored. We have met with many leaders--I have personally--representing small businesses, large businesses, the professions, labor, consumers, tax experts, in trying to evolve a good package. And I think it will be good. We hope that there will be equity. We hope that there will be a reduction in tax rates. We hope that there will be simplicity, and we hope that we can provide an adequate assurance of improved venture capital in the future. And we hope that there will be substantial tax reductions. Those are about five factors that I hope will be in the tax reform package and which I can predict to you with great assurance will be in the tax package.
  • Yes, I think that sugar prices ought to be supported. I think that a 13 1/2-cent sugar price is about the minimum that would be advisable, both for domestic producers and also for imported sugar. We have supported the new farm bill which provides price supports until the international sugar agreement can be implemented. I did this reluctantly, as you may know. We did not support the de la Garza amendment in its original form and-accepted it only if the conferees would agree that the price support mechanism would be terminated at the time an international sugar agreement was reached, if the international sugar agreement encompassed a price of about 13 1/2 cents. Tariffs are a terrible thing to impose, because many of .our friends in Latin America depend heavily upon sugar. One of the most democratic nations in the world derives almost its entire income from the export of sugar. And for us to put an obstacle to their shipment of sugar to our country would, I think, almost destroy their economy, their government, probably shift it toward a complete dependence on totalitarian assistance and would not be fair, as well. We've tried to avoid a protectionist policy since I've been in office. And I think the best way to do it is through international agreements that, in effect, set minimum and maximum prices for commodities whose prices, without constraint, fluctuate so wildly. We've seen this happen in the case of coffee. We've seen it happen in the case of sugar, where it went almost up to a dollar and then dropped down to about 8 cents. Well, we can accommodate that. It's devastating to a sugar farmer or to the sugar producers, but our national economy is so varied that we can accommodate it. But for a country where 85 percent of all their exports is sugar, this is devastating. So, I don't like tariffs as such. They would particularly be damaging to our closest friends and allies in this hemisphere. They also, I think, would cost the American taxpayer a great deal more. And I think that an international agreement on sugar of about 13 cents would be the preferable approach, and until that can be put into effect, I have reluctantly agreed to support the price support aspects of the new farm bill.
  • I've never endorsed the PLO. Our Government has had no communication, at all, directly with the PLO. The only communication has been when representatives of the PLO have been to Arab leaders immediately prior to a Cy Vance visit with them or their visit to our country and have delivered messages to us indirectly. Our agreement with the Israeli Government several years ago, before I became President, was that we would not communicate with the PLO as long as they did not refute their commitment to destroy the nation of Israel and did not accept the right of Israel to exist. Our public position is the same as our private position. There is no difference between them. We have said that if the PLO would accept publicly the right of Israel to exist and exist in peace, as described under United Nations Resolution 242, that we would meet with them and discuss the future of the Palestinians in the Middle East. We have never called on the PLO to be part of the future negotiations. We have said that the Palestinian people should be represented in the future negotiations. That is one of the three major elements of any agreement that might lead to lasting peace--one is the territorial boundaries; the other one is the Arab countries accepting Israel, to live in peace as neighbors; and the third one is some resolution of the Palestinian question.
  • I've never called for an independent Palestinian country. We have used the word "entity." And my own preference as expressed in that talk that I made in New Jersey, I think, and now, is that we think that if there is a Palestinian entity established on the West Bank, that it ought to be associated with Jordan, for instance. I think this was the case among many Israeli leaders as their preference in the past. So, we have been very cautious, very careful, very consistent in spelling out our posture on the Middle Eastern settlements. When we have gone around, for instance--I haven't, but Cy Vance has gone around to Israel, to Jordan, to Syria, to Egypt, to Saudi Arabia--to talk about a future Middle Eastern conference and, hopefully, a settlement, we have taken the same exact written set of principles so there would be no difference among them, and discussed it with Sadat and Hussein and Asad and Fahd and with Mr. Begin, so that there would never be any allegation on any part of theirs that we took one position with the Israelis and a different position with the Arabs. Sometimes the Israelis would say, "We don't accept this principle number 4." Sometimes the Arabs would say, "We don't accept principle number 1." But we've tried to negotiate in good faith. I might say one other thing. We are not just an idle bystander. We are not just an uninterested intermediary or mediator. Our country has a direct, substantial interest in a permanent peace in the Middle East. And I sincerely hope and I believe that the nations who live there also want to have a permanent settlement and a permanent peace in the Middle East. And the principles that I described in that speech, the principles that the Vice President described in a speech he made in California earlier this year, and the principles that we espouse in our public and private conversations with Arabs and Israelis and with Prime Minister Barre, yesterday, from France, and others who are interested, are exactly the same. We've never deviated. We have learned a lot. And as we've learned, we've added additional new items onto our basic proposal. But ultimately, the Middle Eastern settlement has got to be an agreement among the parties involved. Now, I hope that all the countries are eager to negotiate in good faith. I hope that none of them are putting up deliberate obstacles to prevent a Geneva conference from being convened. That's my hope and that's my present expectation.
Remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Dinner
President Carter speaks at the annual dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus at the Washington Hilton Hotel. (September 24, 1977). Source: Remarks at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Dinner, The American Presidency Project.
  • I appreciate the chance to come. You've probably noticed that I was a little late in arriving. I met Alex Haley outside, and I made the mistake of saying, "Alex, how's your family?" Unfortunately, he told me. And it took a while to get in. Alex and I have a lot in common. I just came up a few minutes ago from an afternoon of campaigning in Virginia, and was in Williamsburg right across from where my own folks came to this country, I think 340 years ago, across the river from Jamestown. He and I were both in the Navy. We both were famous enough last year to be interviewed by Playboy magazine. We both wrote a book. Mine was called "Why Not The Best?"; his was.
  • Of course, all of you know how much I depend on Andy Young. Andy is valuable in more ways than one. Of course, he's a great diplomat. But there was a time, whenever things were going bad with me and my administration and I didn't want my name to be in the headlines--Andy would always take over, and he saved me from a lot of embarrassing attention. Unfortunately, he taught Bert Lance the same thing the last few weeks. I guess Andy and I are back on our own, beginning this week. As a diplomat, however, Andrew Young is always in there fighting and pitching for our country, giving the world and me new ideas. He's just told me tonight about a brilliant political and diplomatic achievement that we now have in progress; I haven't announced it before. As you know, we have a problem in the Mideast. We have a difficult fight on our hands with the Panama Canal Treaty. I'd say we're lucky that 50 percent of the people favor the treaty. And his proposal is that we give the East Bank to Panama--that we keep the West Bank and make it a Palestinian homeland. Andy and I have not yet decided who would be the ruler of this new entity, but Andy tells me that before long, Ian Smith's going to be looking for a new job.
  • One thing that I want to talk about tonight is that we share, the Black Caucus, all of its supporters, and I, a common, ultimate dream for America. It's going to be a long time coming because this dream is so great. We want a time to come when all Americans will be well off enough to afford the same tailor that Ron Dellums 1 has. Now, to be serious for a few minutes, I'd like to say that I've had a very interesting relationship with the Black Caucus in this first part of my administration. Sometimes we've been in complete harmony. Sometimes I haven't exactly satisfied Parren Mitchell and the other members of the Black Caucus. I can tell the difference when I get my mail. In the low times, the mail that comes from Parren Mitchell to the White House is just addressed to "Occupant." But I have to say that in many ways the partnership that I have formed with the Black Caucus has been good for me, good for my administration, good for the entire Government, and good for our country. We've got a long way to go. And expectations are high, and they ought to be high. But because of that, quite often achievements that a year ago or 5 years ago would have been greeted with a great sense of jubilation and a sigh of relief-that an enormous achievement had been accepted by the American people with only a response, "It should have been more."
  • The Congress and your President has done a great deal already. The programs that are in place now to improve the economic conditions of our people who need it most are beginning to bear fruit. We are now completing a thousand public works contracts every week, and because of the good work of the Black Caucus members, of course joined by other Members of the Congress, the law requires that 10 percent of all those contracts for the first time in the country have to be given to minority businesses, and that's the way it ought to be. And the rate of new jobs that are going into our urban centers now are at 35,000 per week, which exceeds even what was done during the depths of the Depression with the New Deal, the WPA, the CCC-35,000 a week. It's still not enough, but it's a great step forward, and we're now channeling those jobs deliberately and with a great commitment as they have not been channeled in the past to the young people of our country and, particularly, to young people who happen to be black. And that's the way it ought to be, and it's going to be more in the future. We've had a billion dollars put in the youth employment programs. I asked for a billion and a half. We are now going back to the Congress for the other half billion dollars. We are evolving an urban policy. Within the next week or 10 days, there will be a final decision made on the form of the Humphrey-Hawkins bill, so that for the first time in the history of our country we'll have, as a national policy, full employment. When we presented our welfare reform package to the Congress, which will be passed next year, an integral part of it, which can be phased in early, would be an additional 1.4 million jobs, and, of course, these jobs will be channeled to families that have in the past been supported by welfare.
  • So, we are making some progress. And one of the things that we've done, too, is to direct by executive order that the rate of purchases of Government supplies from black enterprises must be doubled in the next year. Parren Mitchell and the Black Caucus members were gracious enough to help us prepare a recent brief in the Department of Justice. We confirmed strongly the principle of affirmative action, and we made it clear that race can be and ought to be an integral part in alleviating discrimination that has existed far too long. Where do we go from here? The progress has in the past been a source of pride to all of you assembled in this room, long before I became involved in our own Federal Government. But the extrapolation of what you have already accomplished to the future is a goal of yours and also a commitment of mine. Many of you suffered anguish of heart, and sometimes physically, in the years gone by, to achieve civil rights in our own country. And now, we're involved together on a concept of enhancing human rights, here and around the world. And the example you've set is now an inspiration to many throughout the globe.
  • Just this past week, I publicly endorsed a concept, for the first time, of human rights for the District of Columbia. Thank you; you're welcome. The endorsement by the President, of course, is not the final step. The Congress must act, and the people have to ratify a change in the United States Constitution. As I say, we still have a long way to go. We join together in matters that affect all human beings--a search for peace in the world, a reduction in armaments, a channeling of scarce financial and human resources to give people a better life, a life with education possible, better health care, more human freedom, the rule by the black majorities in the African nations. And there has been a change among the developing nations of the world in their attitude toward us. And I would say that the crucial factors that have been involved are represented very well by the three men who stand behind me--Parren Mitchell, Alex Haley, and Andrew Young--and many others in this audience who have come before them and who have marched with them and will join with us in the future in a spirit of brotherhood to make sure that the great achievements that we've seen in our own country can be enhanced and that they can be made available to the needy and downtrodden people throughout the world. Thank you very much. I love you all. Thank you.
Detroit, Michigan Public Policy Forum
President Carter answers questions at a public policy forum at the Veterans Memorial Building. (October 21, 1977). Source: Detroit, Michigan Remarks in a Panel Discussion and Question-and-Answer Session at a Public Policy Forum Sponsored by the Community Services Administration, The American Presidency Project.
  • First of all, let me say that I'm very grateful for a chance to come back to Detroit. I was here the first time as Governor in 1973 and then came back again as Governor in 1974. Then in 1975 I came back several times during the campaign and not--well, more than once in 1976. This is a regional meeting, extending in many directions from Detroit--suburbs and urban areas--with representatives here who bring to this panel table a wide range of interests and also experience and also advice for me. The purpose of the meeting is to make sure that I, as President of our great country, am able to learn in a human way about the special needs of people who have quite often been most deprived, most alienated from the sometimes distant Government in Washington, and to see from a personal perspective how well-meaning programs that are poorly administered don't serve the needs of those who need. the services most and sometimes how Presidents and Members of Congress, Governors and even mayors overlook opportunities for providing a better life for our people. I'm very proud of Detroit. This city has come a long way. Two years ago the unemployment rate here when I came was about 25 percent--23.4 percent. This past month it was down about 8 or 9 percent, which is still too high. But to have that drastic a reduction in unemployment is a very great credit to those who serve you so well. I was living in Atlanta as Governor, and Detroit was known as the murder capital of the Nation. In the last 2 years alone, with the good work of your mayor and with close cooperation from officials in the suburban areas, the State government, and particularly the police, the murder rate has been reduced 64 percent. And the crime rate in Detroit in the last year has dropped 21 percent--the greatest reduction in crime of any major city in the whole country. So, these achievements are notable, but we're here today not to brag on one another but to point out how we can make our people have an even better life. The format for this meeting has already been described to you, I'm sure, but I will call on each member of the panel just to comment briefly on your own background and then bring up an issue that you'd like to .discuss with me. I don't claim to know all the answers. But I think in this general discussion that we'll have, I think all of us are quite relaxed at this point. This will probably take about an hour. I think many of the issues that have been on the minds of the audience who will later participate will have been answered. But then we'll turn to the audience members, who are not around the table, for additional questions. I want you to know that, again, I'm here as a student, first of all, to learn how I can be a better President and, secondly, to let you understand what the present and future services might be, coming from your Federal Government. I'd like to call now on Mr. Lawrence Hall to make a brief comment and perhaps ask a question, and then we'll go around the table. Lawrence, it's good to have you here.
  • Many of us in Government, when we see a 6- or 7-percent unemployment rate, are quite pleased if a year ago it was $ or 9 percent. And we tend to forget the human suffering and the challenge and the loss of self-respect and a deep fear about the future that comes with someone who is, as you say, 56 years old, who has worked all your life in one industry, and now is unemployed. I also have a 10-year-old daughter, as you know. She was 10 this week. So, I feel a kinship with you. I can point this out to you to begin with: You are one of the fortunate unemployed, in that the steel industry is a special impacted industry and there are special assistance programs for you. But that's not the way you want to live. You want to earn your own living by working and not get even the assistance that comes from the impacted area. I had a meeting this past week with executives, your own labor leaders, the Members of Congress who represent the steel industry, who came to the Oval Office, to the White House, to meet about what we are going to do concerning the steel industry itself. One of the problems, obviously, is a worldwide semirecession. The growth rate in our economy, the construction of buildings, the construction of homes, the construction of machinery is not growing as rapidly as it has been sometimes in the past, and the order for steel from European, Japanese, and American sources is just down. I think that we will see in our own Nation an increasing demand for steel. Our housing construction now is the highest it's been in many years. Over 2 million housing units per year is the present rate. I think, with passage of a new energy bill--although you're not concerned with energy right now; you're concerned with a job--will provide increasing demands for steel.
  • One of the first things that the steel executives and labor leaders told me when I came into the room to meet with them was that they don't want to build a wall around our country. They don't want import quotas. They don't want high tariffs, because that hurts the trade on which our Nation relies so heavily. But they want to stop the dumping procedures that have been in place for steel this year and in years past where producers of steel in other nations, in Europe and Japan, for instance, sell on our market against the law, I might say--steel at a price below what it costs them to produce it. And we can stay competitive with other nations if they comply with our law. So, that's one thing that I can promise that we will do, is enforce the antidumping laws, cut down on the illegal competition from overseas, continue the impacted area or industry programs that will keep you at least on your feet until we can get you another job, and with our public works programs, which I'll discuss later after some other questions, with our housing programs that we're keeping going, and also with our new tax reform measures that will be forthcoming next year that will stimulate the economy, I believe we have a good chance, Mr. Hall, to put you back to work. I'll do my best on this subject. And every time I consider a measure that might relieve the unemployment question, you're one of those people that I'll be thinking about.
  • I don't think anybody could make a better speech, if they prepared it for a long time, than you and Mr. Hall have made. And what makes you so able to express yourself is because you've been there as a migrant worker and you see at first hand what a job means--first of all, what a lowpaid job means, secondly, what an absence of housing means. And even not having a home community aggravates all those other problems. For someone who is poor, who is a minority member of our society, but who has a stable home, there are services available to them, like public health and so forth, that are not there if you are a migrant. One of the things that we are doing, for instance, is to make sure and to require that Medicaid and Medicare provisions be made available to all migrants, which has not been the case in the past. I've picked tomatoes by the hamper myself, and I've picked cotton, and I've shaken peanuts. And my first home when I got out of the Navy was in a public housing project. And I understand, at least to some degree, the environment that you have described. We've made some good progress already in this first 9 months or so that I've been in office. The Congress has cooperated, and I think the Nation will begin to feel the benefits of what we've done in the next few months in an increasing degree. For instance, I just signed this month a housing and community development act, which in 3 years will provide about $12 1/2 billion to improve the quality of housing, both low-rent housing for poor people and better loans, community development projects, and funds that will be made available to mayors and others to provide housing. We also have put money into programs, which are just now being felt, to put our poor people back to work. In the Comprehensive Education and Training Act, for instance, and in the public works projects, many of these programs are designed specifically for minority groups. Detroit, just to take an example, has received approval already for, I think, $67 million under the public works projects-money--and for the first time in the history of our Nation, 10 percent of that money has to be spent with minority contractors or builders. This means that the Spanish-speaking, the black, and other minority groups can participate not only in the benefits of projects once they get finished but also can provide the workers to build those projects, which is a step in the right direction. One of the things that's concerned me very much is that among poor people we have a very inadequate health care system. Quite often a medical doctor will not be available to serve transient workers or others. And I was talking to Senator Herman Talmadge yesterday about a bill that will, for the first time, permit the service of what's called physician extenders, who are men and women who have training a little bit above and beyond a registered nurse, who can act as a medical doctor when doctors themselves are not available. I would predict to you that the Congress will finish their action on this legislation this month, and I'll sign it into effect, obviously, as soon as it's completed. We have put into effect, to close out my answer, under Ray Marshall, who is the Labor Secretary, I think a much better way to place both local workers who are unemployed and also migrant workers in contact with the jobs that are available. I think he's the kind of person who will get out with his workclothes and get to know people who really are suffering because of the lack of services and jobs. Pat Harris, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is the same way. She's Been here and been many other places to try to see how we could improve the housing area. So, we have made some first major steps toward meeting the needs of the people that you represent, Mrs. Molina. And I believe that in the future, after assessing what you've said, we can make even greater steps for those people. I might say, before the next panelist starts, that I try to take notes, as you've mentioned the housing and minority employment and migrant workers problems. And if any of you ask me a question that I fail to answer, then don't hesitate to follow up, because I'll try to keep notes and answer all the questions. Father Hernady came here from Hungary in 1950, and I'm very glad to be with you today, Father. And it's time for you to comment.
  • As Father Hernady said, I have visited his neighborhood, and, as some of you may remember, I got in trouble during the campaign talking about ethnic purity or ethnic heritage. I think it's very important for us Americans who are black or Spanish-speaking or Hungarian or Polish or Irish to have a continuing pride in our background, in our history, in our characteristics as human beings, and also in the preservation of the quality of our neighborhoods. I'm proud of where I live, the little town of Plains, Georgia. And I know that all of you, to the extent that one is proud of a family or community or a home, the quality of that family or community or home will be maintained. When pride leaves, then the neighborhood deteriorates. And I think one of the greatest contributions to our country, in my lifetime at least, has been the pride of black people in their own heritage and a refusal to accept the proposition that was put forward by many that there was an inferiority in being a minority. There's just as much pride and strength in a minority group of any kind as there can be in a majority group.
  • We have a very deep concern about the destruction of the neighborhood fiber and strength. You mentioned banking. In this bill that I signed last week, which is now being put into effect by Housing and Urban Development, there is a tight constraint that will prevent the red-lining practices that have been implemented before. This was an amendment placed on the bill by Senator Proxmire. And I believe that that, combined with a voluntary effort to bring in the State and local governments, the Federal Government, and the private business leaders in a community, is the best way to stop a neighborhood deterioration. Here in Detroit, for instance, there's a superb example of that, where the downtown area is being rebuilt with local, State, and Federal funds, yes, but also with the support of neighborhood groups and also the support of the local banking and other leaders. One of the major contributing factors to the dramatic reduction in crime that does permit the children to walk to school and does permit people to go out on the front porch at night without being fearful is the close relationship between people who live in a neighborhood and the police officers who serve there. I rode in from the airport today with the mayor of Detroit, Coleman Young, and I asked him, "How in the world have you and the police officers had such an unprecedented reduction in the crime rate?" And he said that one of the major reasons is that the police officers now are closely related to the community in which they serve. And they become friends of the people who live there, and eventually that friendship is reciprocated. Quite often in a community that is very poor, that is going downhill, the people distrust the police officers and look on them almost as enemies instead of friends. I think that that permanent, friendly, mutually supportive relationship with the police officials among the neighbors who live in that community is a very vital part that can prevent a deterioration. Obviously, our public works programs, the community development programs, the housing programs, the red-lining programs, the crime control programs will be of help. Another couple of things that I'd like to mention briefly is that we're trying to hold down the exorbitant costs of, for instance, medical care for people that you care about. We have a hospital cost containment bill that's already passed the two major committees in the House and the Senate. And this will stop the rapid increase in the cost of families, like in your neighborhood, where the income is fairly fixed. A very high portion of people whom you serve are older. I think about 60 percent in your neighborhood, I understand, are maybe 65 or older--an extraordinary percentage. And they live on a fixed income. So, we're trying to do something to hold down inflation of all costs. We got some statistics this morning that show that the inflation rate, at least for last month, is less than 4 percent. I would like to maintain this permanently. I don't think we can, but at least we're making a step in the right direction. The last point f want to make is that under the Housing and Urban Development Department, for the first time, we have a special Assistant Secretary for neighborhoods. His name is Father Baroni. And I know you're familiar with him. During the campaign, two things that I emphasized almost everywhere I went was, one, the importance of the neighborhood, and the second was the importance of the family. I think if we can keep those family structures intact, that will make a great step forward.
  • First of all, on the energy special funds for those that have their power cut off or their heat cut off, as you know, last year, quite late in the freezing winter, we came forward with $200 million under Graciela Olivarez, who runs the Community Services Agency [Administration]. This money was distributed to the local and State governments very efficiently, very effectively, in a hurry, too late. I've already had Senator Muskie and Senator Kennedy come to see me this week saying, "What about this coming winter?" And I can promise you that we're not going to be too late this coming winter. On the bilingual approach to many problems, not just in education--of course, this is something we are pursuing. I promised this during the campaign and will continue with it. And you mentioned that HUD hasn't cared where people lived or what kind of houses they lived in. This may have been the case in the past, that there have been housing funds frozen and impounded in the past. That won't ever happen as long as I'm in the White House because I know you'll be watching me too closely. I don't think we could have a better Secretary of Housing and Urban Development than Pat Harris, that we've got now. She's there with you, she cares about you, and you can depend on her and me not to let this happen again.
  • We have, in the whole country, now brought the unemployment rate down, I'd say, about 1 percent below what it was a year ago. And as you've already heard, in Detroit itself in the last 2 or 3 years, the unemployment rate has dropped about 75 percent. But that still means that when you have a 6 or 7 percent unemployment rate nationwide among young men like you, who are black, who have a fairly good education even, the unemployment rate runs 35 or 40 percent, which is entirely too high. What we have tried to do already-and I would say the Congress has cooperated--is to concentrate our efforts on the Comprehensive Education and Training Act among young people themselves. We are now building up those jobs to 725,000. It will take a while to get up to that level. We are adding about, I'd say, in that particular program about 15,000 new jobs per week, which is a fairly big increase. About half those jobs will go to minority young people. In addition, we've got a $1 1/2 billion youth employment bill that the Congress passed, ! signed into law. This has been within the last month or so. And it's just beginning to be put into effect. Another thing that will help you is that in the public works projects that will be built in your area--and we're concentrating them more and more not in the wealthy suburban areas, but in the downtown areas where the need is greatest--at least 10 percent of those contracts in the future must go to minority business enterprises, and we're trying to make sure that the business is actually owned by a minority and not owned by the majority with just a figurehead black person whose name is used to qualify for the funds themselves. Another thing that I'd like to point out to you is this: We've got a better economy than most of the nations of the world, but we've still got a long way to go. My goal, already established, is that before this term of mine is over that we'll bring that unemployment rate down from 8 percent, which it was last December, to well under 5 percent by the time 1981 rolls around. There are not any automatic or easy answers. It's a very tough proposition. But the only thing we can do is make sure the jobs are made available in private industry, first of all, in government, second of all, and to make sure that the discrimination that has existed in the past against minority young people like you is wiped away and that we give 'a first priority in all our programs to the areas of the Nation, the areas of cities that have been hurt the worst. All those things are of substantial change or improvement over what we've seen in the past. But it's going to be a hard, long, tough proposition, and I wish you well.
  • We are now facing a major decision by the Congress and by the Nation on energy legislation. And one of the toughest battles that I have to fight is to protect the consumers and to make sure that the Congress doesn't give the oil companies all the financial breaks as we put into effect an energy package. I might say that I have had superb support from the Vice President, from the Members of Congress from your own State in the House and Senate, and I'm going to go by Sunday afternoon and pick up the finest American that I have ever known--Senator Hubert Humphrey--and he's going to go back to Washington with me. The Michigan delegation came with me. They are helping me, too, with this very difficult energy legislation. But it could mean, if we make a serious mistake, a devastating blow to the people who are not sometimes adequately represented by the lobbyists in Washington. And I hope that you all will look on me as your prime lobbyist in Washington for those who don't have strong representation at times. We have done a few things, just to answer your specific questions, on food. This year already the Congress has very wisely removed the purchase requirement for food stamps, which, I think, will make the program much easier to administer in the future, and it will prevent poor people from having to put cash money into food stamps. They'll get the food stamp themselves now in the future without having to put money into it. We also have done the best we could to provide some help for fuel costs during the rough winter we had last year. We'll have the same program, I don't have any doubt, this winter to take care of families who might have their energy cut off. We have put forward, in addition, some programs that will be of great help to the poorer-built homes, with direct aid for those who want to insulate their homes. Quite often the poorer a family is, the more inefficient their home is in preserving heat and energy, and we want to be sure that that's corrected in this bill so that it will be a protection for you in the future. We want to make sure that the money collected on oil price increases goes back to the consumers directly. And as you know, there's a great deal of pressure to give a large part of this money to the oil companies. We are trying to have electricity rate reform. At this time the electric power companies charge the highest electric rates to those homeowners who use the least amount of electricity. If you have a big building like this or a big office building or a big factory, the more electricity you use, the less you pay per kilowatt-hour. And we want to be sure that that's turned around.
  • We also want to make sure that there's an end to the construction of unnecessary electric powerplants, because when there is a waste of electricity and the power companies have to build new plants to meet that need--increased demand that's not necessary--then the present consumers of electricity have to pay for the construction costs. This has not been addressed adequately in the past. The other point I'd like to say is we are very concerned about health. We have put into effect a new immunization program. Now only about 45 percent of our young people are immunized against diseases. When I was a child, or when some of you were children, almost a hundred percent of us had had immunization shots. We hope to increase that very quickly. And, you know, our CHAPS program, where we give full physical examinations for young people at a very early age--we now have only about 1 1/2 million children who get that program. We intend, before I go out of office, to increase this 500 percent and have about 8 million more young people get these physical examinations and when things are found wrong with them at an early age, to give them health care that they need. Because if they go into the teenage years and later years, if they've had an early disease or problem that could have been corrected, it becomes very expensive for the public and also, of course, destroys their lives. So, we have many programs that are now being put into effect very quickly under me and the Democratic Congress that I think are going to meet the needs of some of the people that you represent so well in Minnesota.
  • One thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is the welfare reform proposal that we've put to the Congress. This program is designed to give our people better jobs and income. That's the name of it--Better Jobs and Income Program. And we have in there a heavy allotment of funds and programs for day care, for child care, that would specifically relate to women who want to work. And we also have included in the program 1.4 million jobs, Mr. Webb, for the heads of families. That is above and beyond anything that I've described here to you so far. We recognize that almost every person who is on welfare that's able to work would rather work if they are given an opportunity. And that will be the thrust of the welfare reform proposal that Congress will be working on and, hopefully, will pass next year. They already have the legislation on their desk. They have already' started hearings on the subject. So, to put people back to work that are able and want to work will be a major new thrust of the welfare proposals that Congress has now.
  • One of the first things I did when I was elected was to appoint a special commission on those Americans who have mental problems and those who have disability problems. My wife is the Honorary Chairman, and as you may know, she has had hearings all around the country and has just recently given me her report. In the meantime, though, we've been learning from this special study. One of the things that we are doing is, as we set up the day care centers and child care centers and expand that program, we're giving first priority to children who have learning disabilities and other problems of that kind. In the past they have been the last priority. We have now moved them up and will move up to the first priority. The second thing we are doing is to. make sure in all our programs that deal with disabilities that we are emphasizing not institutional care, but community oriented small units, where the children can be close to their families, close to their own homes, where the cost is much less and the benefit of training programs and education programs are greatly magnified. Another thing that we've done is to increase greatly the Head Start programs, which give the children in low-income communities an early start in the learning experience. The first Head Start program that ever existed in Georgia--I happened to have been the head of it. And I learned at that time the tremendous benefit that can be derived for children who come from deprived homes, not only handicapped because of emotional or mental or physical problems but also because of social problems and environmental problems, where the families are so poverty-stricken that the kids have never seen a book, they've never heard a bedtime story, they don't have any base on which to compete with the other children. And the last thing I'll mention very briefly is the so-called CHAPS program, which I think is very crucial in the future. This will provide early, complete physical examinations which will include not only teeth and eyes and their bodily functions but also will include any disabilities that are at least apparent at that time. We now have about 1 1/2 million children a year who are given this kind of early, thorough examination. We expect to expand this very rapidly to about 9¼ million, which is an additional 8 million or about a fivefold increase. This will be done as rapidly as the bureaucratic structure can be established. Again, we want this to be done as nearly as possible to the children's natural living environment, either in the Head Start program, the first days when they attend the first grade, or in the home or community structure. So, we are moving very quickly to correct some of the defects that have existed in the past and also to give special emphasis to those children who have special learning disabilities.
  • The reason that the agencies compartmentalize your clients is because the agencies are compartmentalized in Washington. And there's no way to make it possible at the community level to have a client-family deal with one key person who can take care of the needs, without running all over the community, unless we have some coordination coming out of Washington. This is what we are trying to do with our reorganization proposal. When I became Governor of Georgia, we had this same problem. We did an analysis and found that in some poor families we had seven different State agencies going to that one family. Every one of those agencies had a separate file on that family. And there was no way for the poor, sometimes ignorant people in the family that didn't have a telephone and didn't have an automobile to find the right agency when they had a problem. But we had what we called a one-door policy that we established. We brought all those agencies together in a human resources department, and we arranged it so that in every community there was one place where a family could go for advice or counsel or even services, themselves, and for financial assistance. And we tried to make sure that one lead agency person it might be a mental health worker, it might be a social worker, or others-would go into that family and get to be friends of theirs. And that family had that person's telephone number. And if an aged person had a problem, and the social worker that worked with that family happened to be a specialist in mental health, they could call that person in the middle of the night, and that person would know who the aged counselor might be. But we now still have a grossly disorganized Federal Government. At the regional office you have the same thing. But we're working on that. And the Congress gave me early this year authority to reorganize the structure of the Government. I'm going to do it, and I need for you to help me reach this great goal. I believe we can do it together.
  • I believe that you would agree that when John Kennedy was President and when Lyndon Johnson was President, that the community action agencies had a life of their own and helped to make decisions about government programs. In the last 8 years--and I won't call the names of the Presidents who were in the White House--[laughter]--those community action agencies were put into a very secondary position and lost the influence and the decisionmaking authority that they formerly had under the leadership of people like Joe Califano in HEW, who helped to put into effect many of the Johnson programs 10 years ago. And under the leadership of Pat Harris and Juanita Kreps and Grace Olivarez and others, we're trying to bring back the life of those community action groups. I think that it's impossible, no matter how intelligent or how dedicated a Washington official might be--it's impossible for them to know what the needs are in your community as well as you know them. That's the reason that I brought Grace Olivarez with me today, because that's her responsibility, working with the people that I've just named, to make sure that in the future we have a reviving of the community group influence and authority, whether it's a Hungarian American community or a Spanish-speaking community or a predominantly black community in Youngstown where a steel mill has shut down or a community of older people in Florida who have moved down there on a very low income; that doesn't matter. I want that particular community to let me know, through the Government agencies, how we can best address your problems. I want to thank you for that good question. I think Grace would agree that we're making a move in the right direction. And I think meeting with you today will help to expedite what we want to do. I think that everybody in the audience would agree that we've had a superb panel. They've asked very good questions, brought forward very good ideas for us. And I and all my staff members who are here, the different Federal agencies represented-and almost all of them are represented-the national news media that will repeat what you have said to the world at large tonight will benefit greatly from the sound, good judgment that you have provided and the personal experience that make your words carry even more authority than the words of a President. You know what you're talking about. I'm trying to learn what you're talking about.
Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner
President Carter's address in the Veterans Auditorium. (October 21, 1977). Source: Remarks at the Democratic Party Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, The American Presidency Project.
  • When I think of Iowa, I think of people, mostly. I think about Marie Jahn, Soapy Owens, Harry Baxter, Floyd Gillotti, and literally dozens of other people who had confidence in me months and months before I was able to convince the rest of the world that I was a political figure who needed watching. Two years ago, I came to speak to the annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner in Iowa at Ames. I was not the only main speaker on the program. But when the evening was over, we had won what proved to be a great national victory. I have to admit that most of my votes came from people who were sitting in the balcony in the $5 seats. And even now a lot of them are wondering whether or not they got their money's worth. But it formed a tie or a cement between myself and your State and your people that will last until the last day I live. I'm grateful to you, and since then I've had a chance to learn more about this country, more about its people. My family have become the centers of attention--there has been 2 or 3 weeks of publicity about whether Amy was playing "Three Blind Mice" or "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" on her violin. We've had a chance to learn about the rest of the world. We'll be making a long overseas trip beginning the last of November. We'll be going down to Brazil to pick up the sweater that Rosalynn left there last spring. We'll be making several stops on the way--in Venezuela, Nigeria, Iran, Saudi Arabia to refuel our plane and to get special dealer's rates from the oil-producing countries. It's really kind of a pleasure trip for me as President. You get to do things that everyone wants to do but very seldom has a chance to accomplish. How many of you have ever had Thanksgiving Day in Lagos? See what I mean? But I hope to take to those countries an accurate image of our Nation, representing you. My family has been affected in other ways. My brother, Billy, has found another way to make a living other than growing peanuts. He can go to Canada and do a bellybuster in the swimming pool and make more money than he made all year on the farm. When I mentioned that to Billy, he said, "Well you forgot, Jimmy, that I don't know how to swim." But anyway, he is doing his share for the Nation's economy. He's put the beer industry back on its feet--almost alone. A lot of people criticize Billy, but his standing in the public opinion polls is substantially above my own. As a matter of fact, lately--you couldn't tell it by tonight--but the polls have been down a little. But I remind myself that even in the worst of polls, I've only dropped 3 percent since election night. So, I'm pretty good there. And in the more responsible and reliable polls, we're still up pretty high, as you know, and I have enjoyed it.
  • Tonight, I went to the hotel room for a couple of hours before coming over here, and I wanted to write some notes for my speech. I thought back to a little more than 3 years ago when I first came to Iowa. I traveled across your State. I think I stopped in seven towns and cities. And I began to talk about issues that were important to you and important to me and important to our country. Quite often very few people came. Harry Baxter and his wife arranged for two or three hundred to come to a reception here in Des Moines. I think three people came, including Harry Baxter's wife and Jody Powell and one other. And I was invited over to the courthouse and went through and shook hands. But way back in those days we were already talking about human rights. We were talking about stopping the construction of the B-1 bomber. We were talking about bringing lasting peace to the Middle East. We were talking about holding down weapons sales, not only from our country, which is the worst violator of all, but among arms producers throughout the world. We were talking about a better relationship with the Soviet Union, a comprehensive SALT agreement that would put a limit on atomic weapons of all kinds. And we are making great progress on this effort. And I can tell you that in a few weeks, my prediction is that we will have a SALT agreement that will be a pride of our country, and following that, we will proceed toward my ultimate goal of reducing nuclear weapons in this world to zero. Back in those early days, even a year ago, there was a general feeling that nothing could be done to stop the proliferation of nuclear explosives among countries that presently don't have them. But in the last 9 months we have formed a commitment among the nations of the world to permit some use of atomic power to produce electricity, but to prevent the production of weapons. And I believe that we'll never see another nation again added to that horrible club that we started of countries that have nuclear destructive weapons in our repertoire.
  • This week 36 nations came together in Washington to talk about the international nuclear fuel cycle and how we might bring into being this dream of all people in the world. We talked about the reorganization of the Federal branch of Government, the executive branch, to bring some order out of bureaucratic chaos. And the Congress has given me authority now, for 3 years, to carry out this effort. And I am as determined now as I was 3, 2, or 1 year ago, to do it successfully. We talked about inflation. A year ago the inflation rate was very high--last December, 10 percent. We've brought it down slowly and steadily. The information that was given out this morning on a 1-month-only basis was that the inflation rate is below 4 percent for the first time in quite a while. I think the prevailing inflation rate is about 6 or 6 1/2 percent. It's going to be almost impossible to hold it down. But we are making some progress. We're doing the same thing on the unemployment rate. Last December it was 8 percent. Now it's down to 7 percent, a little bit lower. It's still a great challenge to us all, but we are making some progress. I was in Detroit earlier today. Two years ago, the unemployment rate in that urban city was 24.4 percent; now, it's 8.8 percent. But we still have an unemployment rate among minority groups, particularly young people, 35 or 40 percent. It's not going to be an easy thing to do, but I'm just as determined as I was before to carry out my commitment to you to bring some order out of chaos in our economy. We're working orderly and persistently with other nations of the world to address these matters on a multinational basis, and I believe that we are making some progress. I know that our country's persuasive effort around the world to bring about peace in Africa, in the Middle East, better relationships with our former enemies, depends upon a strong economy.
  • Tonight, I'd like to mention two subjects that are important among all those others. One is the economy as it relates to agriculture. Yours is a great agricultural State. It provides one of the ties between me and you. The economy of our country is based upon agricultural production. We're the greatest nation on Earth in the production of food and feed and fiber. Your State is preeminent. But we have some problems in agriculture that we're also trying to address. Agriculture and the people who participate in this effort are not well understood. It would be a serious mistake to think that we have no inherent problems. We can't take for granted bountiful crops. We can't take for granted economic health. We can't take for granted food supplies. We are now forming efforts to bring about our hopes. We have an Agriculture Secretary, Bob Bergland, who's a dirt farmer. He's the kind of man who understands the special problems of farm families. He's been there. He went to Florida as a migrant worker. He came 'back home and borrowed money to start a small rent farm operation. He now has about 600 acres of farmland, as you know, in the northernmost part of Minnesota. And he's working on the extremely complicated subjects that deal with the farmers' lives in a very enlightened, down-to-earth, practical, and effective way. We've come out this year with a comprehensive farm bill that will help in many ways to carry out the promises that I made to you when I was campaigning in your State. We've established target prices which on an average will meet production cost, and it's done in a conservative way which will help to hold down the rapidly escalating prices for farmland. We've also set price supports that will keep our products competitive. We've increased exports. In this last 12 months our farm exports were $24 billion, the highest they've ever been in the history of our country. This year, on a worldwide basis, we have fairly good crop weather. Exports may not be as good in fiscal year 1978 as they have been last year, but we'll try to hold them up.
  • One of the promises that I made to the farmers of this State and others during my campaign was there would be no more grain embargoes, and you can depend on that. There won't be as long as I'm in the White House. We're trying to establish, for instance, a noncommercial insurance program to make sure that farm product exporters are protected from losses that they can't anticipate. We're trying to expand Public Law 480 to increase the export of our farm products, food and fiber and feed, to nations that are destitute and hungry. We're trying to cut down artificial trade barriers in the multinational trade negotiations now going on in Europe. We're opening agricultural trade offices in places around the world where they haven't existed before. We're trying to make it possible for farmer-owned cooperatives to negotiate directly in the sale of feed grains and food grains. We're making sure that we bring together the different departments of our Federal Government in the common effort to sell agricultural products--the Labor Department, our Special Trade Representative, the Commerce Department, the State Department, as well as the Department of Agriculture. We're trying to establish a comprehensive world food policy to match the tremendous production that we have with the tremendous need among the hungry people of the world. And we're trying to explore new markets, not only in Western Europe and Japan but in Eastern Europe and other countries as well. So, in the export of food we're trying to increase the quality of service that the great farm areas of our Nation provide for the rest of the world. We've got a long way to go. We have to work out the problem with food reserves, and my promise to the farmers of this area was that when we did have high-yielding crops--and this is the greatest crop we have ever had in corn; it's the greatest crop we've ever had in soybeans that we would have reserves that would be not under the control of the Government, but supported and controlled by farmers so there can be no dumping on the market, artificially, to lower prices. And I promised you that we'd do the best I could to get the Government out of interference in the production, storage, and marketing of crops. These kinds of challenges are constantly on my mind. We have a long way to go in soil and water conservation efforts, and we've got a long way to go in providing a comprehensive disaster assistance program.
  • There's another item I'd like to mention tonight, and that's the subject of energy. I presented to the Congress and to the American people last April, for the first time in the history of our Nation, a comprehensive energy policy. We had a severe blow in 1973 when the prices of oil were quadrupled almost overnight. And when an oil embargo was slapped on our country, that economically almost brought us to our knees. Other nations suffered the same challenge. They have reacted well. The consumption of oil in Germany, compared to 1973, is down. The consumption of oil in Sweden is down, France down, Italy down, Japan down. The consumption of oil in the United States since 1973 is up 87 percent. This year we are importing $45 billion worth of oil from overseas, half of the oil we use. And that's almost exactly the amount that we waste, that we don't have to waste. Notice that this is twice as much oil imported as all the agricultural products that we export. Something must be done.
  • It's not easy to remove the hold on our government processes that have been in existence for a long time by the oil and gas companies, but I'm determined to do it with your help. In many ways, the acceptance by the American people and the acceptance by the American Congress of a comprehensive energy policy is a test of our strength and a test of our national will. The rest of the nations of the world watch us very closely to see if we can sacrifice in a time of international need. The proposal that we've put forward is bitter medicine, but it's not nearly so bitter as the catastrophe that might befall us if we don't take rapid action. We have put forward a well-balanced program that will induce our own selves to conserve energy of all kinds. It will induce us, without hurting us deeply, to shift to other forms of energy, away from oil and natural gas. I'm determined that the consumers of our Nation will not be hurt and that the oil suppliers, the companies that produce oil and gas, will not be enriched in an unwarranted fashion. We have built into our proposal adequate incentives to encourage oil and gas exploration and production. Under our own program new oil discovered by American companies in the future will have the highest price on Earth. But still the oil companies want more. And unless we stand firm, they may get it. And if they do, it will come out of the pockets of those who need it, who need the money and who need adequate energy supplies most. As a farmer, I know that we, just a small part of the American population, use $6 billion worth of oil and gas every year. About 75 percent of all the energy we use is oil and natural gas. This means that we have got to have a supply in the future, because it takes natural gas and propane to dry our crops. It takes oil to drive our tractors and our trucks and our other machinery. We can't very easily shift to coal. So, as we conserve and shift to other supplies of energy, in the production of electric power, for instance, it makes that much more available to farmers in the future when energy supplies become even more scarce.
  • There are some myths that are exploited on your television set several times a day, sometimes several times an hour. The first myth is that the oil and gas industry is controlled by free market forces. All of us believe in the free enterprise system, but there is no free enterprise system in the oil and gas market. The prices are not established by competition. The prices are established arbitrarily when the OPEC nation leaders meet in secret and say, next year this is what we will charge for oil. And, as you well know, immediately that oil price prevails in new oil discoveries in our country. We have a need, at least for our Government, to play a stronger role, as is played in other countries. But we ought to get away from the proposition or the thought that free market forces control oil or natural gas prices. Another myth is that there's an inherent conflict between conservation and production. This is not true. We are making good progress in exploration for oil. There's about an 8-month waiting period right now for new oil drilling rigs. If we triple the price of oil and natural gas, there could be no substantial increase in the rate of exploration. It would be just an enormous windfall of profits. The cheapest oil is what we save, and the cheapest natural gas is what we save. Quite often it costs nothing to save the equivalent of one barrel of oil per day. When we add expensive conservation measures, it costs maybe from zero to $3,500 to provide the saving of one barrel of oil per day. The oil that we are now going to bring down from Alaska costs about $20,000 in capital investment for one barrel of oil per day, used at its final place to heat a home. For the production of electricity, the capital investment required is much greater, maybe $50,000 to $100,000 for the equivalent of one barrel of oil used in your home in electricity. For nuclear powerplants, the investment is $200,000 to $300,000 per barrel of oil per day, when it's actually delivered to your home for use. So, to conserve a barrel of oil is much better than producing that barrel of oil in investment alone. And at the same time it reserves for future use these extremely scarce supplies.
  • I wanted to mention tonight especially those two among many subjects that fall on my shoulders--agriculture and energy. The tests of political strength are severe; the responsibilities are great; the complexities are very difficult; the questions are hard to answer. But what gives me a sense of assurance and confidence is the degree with which I am close to you. When I base my opinion and my decision and my efforts on what I know you feel and what I know that you want, to that degree I feel that I represent you and our Nation well. I have a feeling that we are making good progress in correcting some of the deep concerns that we felt a year, 2 years, 3 years ago. The spirit of our country had been damaged severely by the Vietnam war. It had been damaged severely by the Watergate revelations, by the CIA investigations. There was a sense of concern about what our Nation stood for.
I think now there's a new spirit in our Nation. I believe with our stand on human rights, our efforts to bring peace, to reduce the nuclear threat, to alleviate the hatreds in the Middle East, to bring majority rule and peace to southern Africa, that there is a sense of purpose again. And in my own way as a human being with limits that you and I both recognize, but occupying the most important office perhaps in the whole world, I want to be sure that the American flag is once more lifted high and when anyone on Earth sees it, they think about freedom, they think about the worth of an individual human being, they think about hope, they think about a sense of compassion and love, they think about high ideals, they think about openness of government, they think about democratic principles, they think about compassion and concern, and they think about the worth of our people who live in harmony from so many different places on Earth. These are the hopes that I have as President.
  • I think now there's a new spirit in our Nation. I believe with our stand on human rights, our efforts to bring peace, to reduce the nuclear threat, to alleviate the hatreds in the Middle East, to bring majority rule and peace to southern Africa, that there is a sense of purpose again. And in my own way as a human being with limits that you and I both recognize, but occupying the most important office perhaps in the whole world, I want to be sure that the American flag is once more lifted high and when anyone on Earth sees it, they think about freedom, they think about the worth of an individual human being, they think about hope, they think about a sense of compassion and love, they think about high ideals, they think about openness of government, they think about democratic principles, they think about compassion and concern, and they think about the worth of our people who live in harmony from so many different places on Earth. These are the hopes that I have as President. I thank you for your involvement in the democratic processes, your support of our party, your friendship toward me. I thank you for the fine congressional delegation that you've sent to Washington who represent you and our Nation so well. And I know that I can speak for them as I repeat a phrase that I used thousands of times in my long campaign: All I want and all they want is a government as good as the people of our country. Thank you very much.
The President's News Conference (November 1977)
President Carter's news conference. (November 30, 1977). Source: The President's News Conference, The American Presidency Project.
  • Good morning. Thank you. I have two brief statements to make. One concerns Senator John McClellan from Arkansas, whose funeral is being held today. He served in the Congress for 39 years and exemplified a deep commitment to his own major committee assignments. He has recently been the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. He was always a strong fighter for an adequate national defense, and he was a man of supreme integrity. In a few minutes, the Vice President and my wife, the First Lady, will be going to the funeral along with a large delegation of Members of Congress. And I want publicly to express, on behalf of the American people, my admiration for what he has done, my public condolences, in addition to the private condolences I've already extended to his wife, and my appreciation for his tremendous contribution to our country.
  • The other comment I'd like to make is concerning the Middle East. In the last few days we have seen, I believe, an historic breakthrough in the search for a permanent, lasting peace in the Middle East because of the true leadership qualities that have been exhibited by the courage of President Sadat and the gracious reception of him in Israel by Prime Minister Begin. This has been, already, a tremendous accomplishment. I think the importance of it is that there has been an initiation of direct, person-to-person negotiations between Israel and the major power in the Mideast among the Arab nations who are Israel's neighbors. Lebanon, Syria, Jordan have a total population of about 12 million; Egypt has a population of 36 million and has by far the greatest military force. And the fact that this strongest Arab country and the nation of Israel are now conducting direct negotiations is a major accomplishment in itself. Two of Israel's most cherished desires have already been met. One is this face-to-face negotiation possibility, and the other one is a recognition by a major Arab leader that Israel has a right to exist. In fact, President Sadat said, "We welcome you in our midst." The United States has been very pleased to see this reduction in distrust and a reduction in fear and a reduction in suspicion between the Arabs and the Israelis. We have played a close consultative role with both of these leaders. We have, on several instances recently, acted as intermediaries at their request. Both Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat have publicly expressed their reconfirmation that these exploratory talks are designed to lead toward a comprehensive settlement including Israel and all her neighbors.Sunday, President Sadat called for a conference in Cairo. This is likely to be held around the 13th of December, about the middle of December. We will participate in that conference at a high level--Assistant Secretary Atherton will represent our Nation. We look on this as a very constructive step. The road toward peace has already led through Jerusalem, will now go to Cairo and ultimately, we believe, to a comprehensive consultation at Geneva. It's not an easy thing to bring about a comprehensive peace settlement. Immediate expectations have sometimes been exaggerated. The definition of real peace--I think we've made good progress on that already. The resolution of the Palestinian question still has not been decided. And the solution to the problem concerning borders and national security has also not been decided. We have played, I think, a proper role. I have tried to convince, in the past, Prime Minister Begin of the good intentions of President Sadat and vice versa. When there has been no progress being made, the United States has taken the initiative. Now that progress is being made, a proper role for the United States is to support that progress and to give the credit to the strong leadership that's already been exhibited by Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat and to let our Nation be used, as called upon, to expedite the peace process. I believe that this is a move that the whole world looks upon with great appreciation. And again, I want to express my congratulations and my appreciation to these two strong leaders for the tremendous progress already made and for their commitment to future progress.
  • Well, I think that President Sadat, in his private communications with me and even in his public statements, has said that he is trying as best he can to represent the Arab position concerning Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and also the resolution of the Palestinian question. Obviously, the leaders in Syria, even Jordan, certainly the PLO, have not recognized that Egypt is speaking for them adequately. I think, though, that in his speech to the Knesset, in his followup speech to the People's Assembly in Egypt, President Sadat has evoked very clearly the basic Arab position that I have understood in my private conversations with President Asad from Syria and with the King of Jordan, Hussein. So, I believe that this is an exploratory effort that does accurately represent the basic differences between Israel and all their neighbors. And the fact that Jordan and Syria have not been willing to participate, I don't think has dampened President Sadat's commitment or enthusiasm at all. It is constructive, and I think what he discovers in his already completed discussions with Prime Minister Begin and those that might be taking place in Egypt in the middle of next month will certainly be conducive to pursuing the Arab cause. I think it's constructive, because for the first time, the Arab position on those controversial issues has been spelled out very clearly for worldwide understanding. And I think the differences that have been faced by us and others for long years are now much more clearly understood by the public. The differences are still sharp; the resolution of those differences is going to be very difficult. I think that to the best of his ability, President Sadat is speaking for the Arab world.
  • Well, we and Egypt and Israel have all taken the position, publicly, and the same position privately among ourselves, that a separate peace agreement between Egypt and Israel to the exclusion of the other parties is not desirable. This is predicated upon the very viable hope that a comprehensive settlement can be reached among all the parties involved. If at some later date it becomes obvious that Jordan does not want peace or that Syria does not want peace or that Lebanon does not want peace in a settlement with Israel, then an alternative might have to be pursued. But we've certainly not reached that point yet. I think that the other Arab leaders do want peace with Israel. And I am certainly not even considering, and neither is Sadat nor Begin, any assumption that the possibilities for peace have narrowed down to just two nations.
  • The Soviets have been involved in the peace negotiations ever since 1973. The entire Geneva conference concept was established through the United Nations with the United States and with the Soviet Union as cochairmen. So, this has been established now for at least 4 years. And this is a concept that has been adopted and approved by all the parties involved, including the United Nations overwhelmingly, perhaps even unanimously. In the past, I think it's accurate to say that the Soviets have not played a constructive role in many instances because they had espoused almost completely the more adamant Arab position. My own feeling is that in recent months, the Soviets have moved toward a much more balanced position as a prelude to the Geneva conference. We have tried to spell out very clearly-certainly since I've been in office and, I think, my predecessors as well--the United States position. We disagree in some of those issues with the Soviet Union. We've not concealed those differences. We disagree in some instances because of the procedural items that are being discussed. But there is no division between us and the Soviet Union now that didn't exist before, and I would say that their positions have been much more compatible recently. I wish that the Soviets had decided to go to Cairo. They've decided not to. But we'll make as much progress as we can, following the leadership of Sadat and Begin, to make real progress in Cairo with the Soviets not present. And my belief is that the desire of the whole world is so great for peace in the Middle East that the Soviets will follow along and take advantage of any constructive step toward peace. The fact that we do have differences of opinion is well known and I don't think is an obstacle to eventual peace in the Middle East. But we did not bring the Soviets in. They have been in since the very initiation of a Geneva conference. Do you have a followup?
  • Well, I think that we or the Soviets ought to play a constructive role. And I think both of us will. We have been the nation then and, I think, now that is uniquely trusted by all the parties involved to act fairly and consistently concerning the Middle East questions. I don't believe that the Soviets occupy that position. And I don't have any doubt that if the nations surrounding Israel can work out an individual peace settlement with Israel leading to peace treaties, that the Soviets will play a constructive role, certainly at that point. It would be contrary to their own interest to be identified as an obstacle to peace. I don't think they are trying to be an obstacle to peace. Their perspective is just different from ours.
  • I've never had any conversation with Senator Long that would either encourage me or require me to change my position from what it was last April. We still maintain that the proposition we put to the House and Senate in the energy proposal is the best. The House-passed version of the comprehensive energy plan is very close to what we've proposed, and we support the House position in almost every instance when there is a disagreement. I don't have any inclination to modify that position anytime soon. We will be consulting very closely with the particular conferees who most nearly espouse the administration's position, and I would guess that the negotiations leading to some ultimate resolution of differences would be between the Senate conferees, headed by Senator Long and also, of course, Senator Jackson, on the one hand and the House conferee leaders on the other side. We will add our assistance when we can, but we will not betray the confidence of people who look to us for leadership. And I will not work out any private agreement with Senator Long that would betray the commitments that we've made previously, publicly, I might say, in all instances. So, I don't see any possibility of doing what you propose, or what you ask about. Obviously, both sides are very likely to compromise. They've already had compromises on literally dozens of issues. The three major issues remaining, as you know, are the electric rate reform--we have a good chance of having that resolved this week--the pricing structure on natural gas--and that conference committee will go back to work tomorrow; Senator Jackson is returning to Washington, D.C., then--and of course, the tax on crude oil. And these are to some degree interrelated. But I think that we've got a good chance, still, for making progress now, and I'm going to maintain the position that we described last April as long as possible, support in every instance the conferees that support our position.
  • Well, as I spelled out in my last fireside chat to the American people, there 'are three basic elements that I would require: One is fairness in dealing with consumers; the second one is meeting the goals of both conservation and production in the energy area; and, third, an energy proposal that won't bankrupt this Nation nor seriously disturb the future budgets of our country. That's a fairly broad base, and I think it's an adequate parameter within which the conferees can work. But if any of those principles are violated, I would not sign the bill.
  • I'm trying to fulfill all my promises. And I think I was quite reticent in making those promises, certainly compared to some of my opponents. But we've put forward already to the Congress proposals that carry out the major promises that I made--reorganization, energy, welfare reform, and so forth. We've also been successful, I think-when an analysis is made of what the Congress achieved this year, I think there's going to be a very pleasant reaction from the American people when they see the progress that we've accomplished. So, I don't think I made too many promises, and I think I'm doing an adequate job in trying to fulfill those promises. There is a very heavy agenda for the Congress. And it's much easier for the administration to evolve a proposal or to present legislation to the Congress than it is for Congress actually to pass it. And so the Congress will inherently follow behind any administration in dealing with very controversial issues that have no easy solution. So, I think so far our relationship with the Congress has been good. The effort to carry out my promises has been adequate. I don't think I made too many promises to the American people.
  • No, I think not. I don't believe anybody is indispensable, you know, a President or the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board or anyone else. I think that if I should decide to replace Dr. Burns as Chairman of the Federal Reserve, then it would be incumbent on me to get someone who is competent and who would arouse the confidence of the American people, including the business community.
  • Well, the high councils of my administration are comprised by the Cabinet members and the major heads of the agencies involved. I consult on foreign affairs not with members of the immediate White House staff who might be from Georgia, but with Dr. Brzezinski and with Secretary Vance, on transportation with Brock Adams, on defense with Secretary Brown, and so forth. The members of the Cabinet, I think, are broadly representative of the American people. My immediate White House staff, who don't run the departments-many of them are from Georgia. But I don't think that there's an excessive dependence on them, no more than has been the case in the past when President Kennedy brought large numbers of people from Massachusetts to work intimately with him who had been with him before, or President Johnson, or others. The other part of your question about the Office of Management and Budget-Jim Mcintyre is the head of the OMB and he's doing a very good job. Whether or not I would replace him in the future still has to be decided.
  • Yes, not with the PLO; we have no contact with the PLO. But with Jordan and with Syria, with Lebanon and, in a supportive role, with the Saudi Arabians and others, we have played, I think, an adequate role. At the time we discovered that President Sadat was going to make a proposal to go to Jerusalem, we immediately began to use whatever influence we had available to us to encourage the other nations not to condemn President Sadat. This particularly applied to Saudi Arabia, to Jordan, to the European countries, to the Soviet Union, and to Syria. In some instances, either they decided not to condemn him or our influence was successful. We would like very much to keep any of the nations involved in the immediate Middle Eastern discussions from rejecting an ultimate peace settlement and withdrawing from the prospect of going to Geneva. This includes, of course, Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat. They have not rejected the concept that there must be a comprehensive settlement. In the meantime, we don't see anything wrong; in fact, we look with great favor on the bilateral negotiations between Israel and Egypt. In the meantime, we are trying to induce the Syrians, the Lebanese, the Jordanians, and, as I say again, in a supporting role, the Saudis and others, to support both the ongoing negotiations that will continue from Jerusalem into Cairo and also to avoid any condemnation of Sadat that might disrupt his influence and put an obstacle to peace in the future. That's about all we can do. We have no control over any nation in the Middle East. When we find the progress in the Middle East being stopped, we use all the initiative that we can. When we see progress being made by the parties themselves, we support them to move on their own. I think it's much more important to have direct negotiations between Egypt and Israel than to have us acting as a constant, dominant intermediary. I think this is a major step in the right direction. We hope later that Jordan and Syria and Lebanon will join in these discussions, either individually or as a comprehensive group, dealing with Israel directly.
  • Well, we are not offering them any payment of money or anything, but we primarily capitalize on their clear determination, their clear desire to have peace. There is no doubt in my mind at all that President Asad, who has been one of the most highly critical leaders of what Sadat did--there's no doubt in my mind that President Asad wants peace with Israel, and there's no doubt in my mind that King Hussein wants peace with Israel. And sometimes it's very difficult for them to communicate directly with Israel. We act as an intermediary there. We meet with those leaders on both sides. Obviously, if there should be a breakthrough in the future, similar to what occurred between Egypt and Israel--let's say, for instance, that if King Hussein said he would like to negotiate directly with Prime Minister Begin, we would support that enthusiastically and offer our good offices to encourage such an interchange. But we don't have any inclination nor ability to dominate anyone nor to require them to take action contrary to what they think is in the best interests of their nation.
  • Yes. I met Monday with the Secretary of Interior, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Army, and the head of the Corps of Engineers. We have 9,000 high-risk dams in this country which are not Federal dams. These are nonfederal dams. We will commence very shortly an inspection of all those dams. My present intention is to distribute, within the next few days, certain guidelines to be worked out with individual States so that the Corps of Engineers personnel, perhaps assisted by some from the Department of Interior, would begin to inspect the dams that we consider of most danger, about 2,000 the first year. It costs about $7,500 per dam to inspect them, on the average. We've allotted $15 million for this purpose. In that process, we will train the State personnel who will continue the inspection process after this original inspection is made. We would then continue this for 2 or 3 additional years until all the 9,000 dams have been inspected. This program then would be taken over primarily by the States because the Federal Government has no direct responsibility for these nonfederal dams. In the meantime, of course, dams that have been built by and are controlled by the Corps of Engineers and the Department of Interior are being inspected, I think adequately, by the personnel in those departments because they are Federal dams.
  • 1977 is a year when we are seeing major legislation, long overdue, passed, hopefully, that cause some increases in taxes. And additional taxes are necessary to restore the integrity of the social security system; some wellhead taxes are necessary to carry out a comprehensive energy policy and to hold down unnecessary consumption. I would hope that all those changes in the law that bring about any tax increase would be concluded in 1977. In 1978, there will be substantial tax reductions, and combined with that will be an adequate proposal for tax reform. I spent several hours this week going over the details of our tax reform package. We can't conclude that analysis until we know what will be done on energy and social security, because they have such a high impact on the tax structure. But there will be substantial tax reductions in 1978, combined with comprehensive tax reform.
  • The revelations about October's balance-of-trade deficit were quite disturbing. We analyzed this and found that the same monthly rate of deficit that had existed ever since last May or June, about $2.4 billion per month, is exactly the average of September and October. So, we apparently have a fairly stable pattern per month of a $2.4 billion deficit, primarily caused by two factors: One is our extraordinary importation of foreign oil. We import $3.7 billion worth of oil every month. This means that we have, if we didn't import the oil, about a $15 billion trade surplus per year. And we have got to cut down on the excessive importing of oil from overseas before we can hope to get our trade balanced. The other reason for an adverse balance is that our own economy has improved in the last few years--few months, much more than has the rest of the world. Because of our improvement in the economy, we are much more able to buy and much more willing to buy goods from overseas than those nations are able to buy from us because their economies have not been restored as much as ours. We have one major element that can be introduced to cut down on our trade deficits-and that's obvious--and that is to reduce oil imports.
Interview With the President (December 1977)
President Carter's answers during a Cabinet Room interview. (December 9, 1977). Source: Interview With the President Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors, The American Presidency Project.
  • Good afternoon, everybody. Have a seat, please. I apologize for interrupting your meeting. First of all, I want to thank you for coming to the White House to interview our people and to let me see some old friends. Jody 1 began this program at the beginning of this year over some opposition of mine, because I thought it would be too time-consuming, and I was afraid we couldn't get enough benefit from it and understanding of what we are doing in the White House. This is the 16th meeting we've had so far, more than 450 editors and others from around the country. Jody tells me every State except three-we haven't had anybody yet from Hawaii or Alaska or, just because of scheduling, Vermont--but 20 percent of the newspapers in the United States have had editors here at the White House this year to talk to me personally and to ask questions in an unrestricted way. It's been a very helpful thing for us in telling the American people accurately what we are doing, what our problems are, what our achievements have been, what our plans are for the future. As has been my custom, I'd like to take about 5 minutes to outline present circumstances, what's going on right now, and then spend the other 25 minutes answering your questions.
  • The two major items that the Congress is dealing with, of course, are social security and energy. We've had a very productive year so far, and I think when a tabulation is made of what the Congress has done, it will be well received. We've had a major agenda. The Congress committees have been heavily overloaded, and they've responded very well in my opinion. They certainly have my appreciation and admiration. In the energy package we've got five major programs. I'd say three of them have been successfully resolved. We have made a good bit of progress lately on the crude oil equalization tax; we still have natural gas pricing to go. But the committees are working in a very difficult, complicated, and politically unattractive field or subject. I think the American public is in favor of a comprehensive energy package being passed. But they are not in favor of some of the specifics that need to go in the package to make it effective. And I think the Congress has shown a great deal of both hard work, dedication, and courage in bringing us as far as they are. I hope that we'll have the complete work by the committees and a chance to vote on the energy package before Christmas. It all depends on unpredictable kinds of agreements between the House and Senate conferees. The other thing is social security. We faced when I came into office, as was the case in energy, a longstanding problem that nobody had been willing to address. It's not an attractive thing to do to provide adequate taxes to bring the social security reserve funds back into a sound position. The integrity of the social security system is of intense importance to most Americans. One of the reserve funds would have gone bankrupt in 2 years, another one probably 2 years, another one 5 years. And the Congress has moved on that. We now are down to the point of negotiating on particular subjects, the most controversial of which have absolutely nothing to do with social security. But they've been added on to the social security package, just as a legislative maneuver, so that they could be considered not on their own merits but as part of a package that, because it is attractive, might not be vetoed by me. We are trying to cut down on the very liberal add-on provisions in social security because somebody has got to pay for it. And the ones that have to pay for it, of course, are the families that still have workers. We are very concerned about this aspect of social security.
  • In international affairs, Cy Vance arrived this morning in Cairo. He's just attended a NATO conference with all the European foreign ministers. He'll be going from Cairo to Jerusalem, and then he'll be going from there to visit the other Middle Eastern leaders. We're trying to hold together as best we can a commitment that presently exists in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Israel to have a comprehensive peace settlement. I personally believe that the Sadat visit to Jerusalem has broken through what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles and has greatly clarified the issues that have to be still addressed. I believe that Sadat showed a great deal of courage. And my hope and my expectation is that the Israelis will respond accordingly. We are trying to keep the door open so that the Syrians can come into the negotiations later on, the Jordanians the same, and also the Lebanese. And we hope that the Saudis, who are not part of the negotiations, will continue their constructive support of Egypt and give their tacit support, at least, to the initiatives that President Sadat has taken. We have good and substantive talks going on with the Soviet Union on a comprehensive approach to prohibiting the testing of nuclear explosives, a comprehensive test ban, for the first time. We had fairly good progress on that recently. The SALT negotiations--we are proceeding on three levels. One is a 3-year protocol which would temporarily take action. At the end of 3 years, we'd assess that action to see if we want to renew it or to modify it in some degree. A longer agreement, it would go for about 8 years, and then we would initiate an outline of what SALT III would comprise.
  • My own ultimate goal is to eliminate the use or threat of nuclear weapons altogether. And I personally have been pleased in the last few months, at least since the summer, at the constructive attitude of the Soviet Union. We have to be very careful on technicalities and on major strategic elements of the negotiations to protect our own interests. We've got to be sure that we do have an equal or dominant position on all aspects of strategic deterrent. And I believe that we have that posture now, and I want to be sure to maintain it. We've tried to open up a new relationship with Africa. We've been successful, I think, so far. We've got a very good relationship with Latin America. I think that could possibly be wiped out overnight if the Senate fails to ratify the Panama Canal treaties, but I hope and believe that the Senate will ratify these treaties. We've got a good relationship, perhaps better than at any time in recent history, with Canada; strong, constant negotiations on a variety of items with Mexico. And we've, I think, restrengthened our position in Europe. We consult almost constantly with European Community nations and also with our NATO allies on military affairs. Harold Brown has just come back from there--well, I think he's on the way back now. The other aspect of our foreign policy, of course, extends to the Western Pacific. We are now in hard negotiations with the Japanese on trade matters, and I hope that we can resolve those differences. Japan has a very high positive trade balance. We have a very high negative trade balance. The obstacles to selling our goods in Japan are quite difficult to overcome. But Prime Minister Fukuda, I think, is negotiating in good faith. Perhaps we can have some success there. I'll be leaving Washington on the 21st, going down to Plains until the day after Christmas, and then I'll come back and leave almost immediately for a trip, beginning in Poland, that would encompass a visit to Brussels, to France, to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and India. And then I'11 come back home after about a 10-day trip. Perhaps you have some questions. I just briefly sketched a few points to arouse your interest.
  • I never endorsed and I would be very cautious about endorsing the use of the coal slurry concept of transportation when water at the origin was scarce. That would not be my highest priority for use of water. Obviously, the use of water for drinking purposes, human use, and for agricultural purposes would come first. This is a matter that hasn't yet been proposed, so far as I know, in any tangible fashion for the more arid regions of our country. I did support the right of eminent domain in the future if the local courts should decide that it was necessary. In my opinion, that is important because some of the other competing forms of transportation--say, for instance, the railroad--could permanently block a necessary coal slurry line just to prohibit competition. But I don't favor the escalation of water for coal slurry use above those purposes that I've described to you.
  • I was very proud that Pete Flahetty came to work as a Deputy Attorney General. That was an an arrangement that was made really without my prior knowledge between the Attorney General and Pete Flaherty. Secondly, I did not know ahead of time that Pete was going to resign and go back to Pennsylvania. It was not a result of a dispute or an argument or an incompatibility between him and the Attorney General. It was an action taken by Pete on his own initiative. He did a very good job during the time that he was here. He was basically in charge of reorganization of the Department, doing some long-range studies for management reasons. I think he and the Attorney General were completely compatible. And the only, comments that the Attorney General has made to me were in praise of Flaherty. I have not talked to Pete. I got a written letter saying that he intended to resign, and I've written a letter back to him accepting his resignation and expressing my regret that he was leaving and my good wishes for the future. But he's not discussed with me any involvement in the campaign. My policy has been and will be not to involve myself in any sort of Democratic primary campaign. But I have habitually supported Democratic nominees, after they, were chosen, in a general election.
  • Well, I think it's hard to pick out the accomplishments. We were very pleased to get the economy moving in the right direction. We had an economic stimulus package that the Congress passed with dispatch. The unemployment rate has dropped about 1 percent. Employment has increased more this year, I think, than ever before in history--4 million people net gain in employment this year; 900,000 last month alone. Since June, the inflation rate has leveled off at 4 percent. I wish I could predict that it was going to stay that low; I don't think it will. But this shows a good response. We formed a new Department of Energy, which brings order out of chaos in one of the most serious challenges that might affect our Nation in the future. Formerly, we had 50 different agencies in the Federal Government that were dealing with energy. It was almost impossible to get the answer to a question or to register a complaint or to make a beneficial suggestion.The Congress, I think, has dealt fairly with my programs. We've got a long-range, very well-considered farm bill that will be in effect now for about $ years. We've met all the challenges, so far as I know, that I've put to the Congress. We've made good progress in getting back on the track the negotiations with the Soviet Union. We've protected .our own interest; we've shown them that we are firm and can't be pushed around. We've begun some major reorganization effort, projects. It will take us about 3 years to finish them all; some require a great deal of time. But the Congress has given me almost unlimited authority, subject to subsequent congressional veto, to take over the executive branch now and to bring it into a manageable state. We've cut back tremendously on Government regulations, paperwork, reports to be required. This past week, OSHA, for instance, eliminated 1,100 regulations that they had evolved over the last number of years.
  • I'm trying to approach the Government as a business manager and also as a small businessman who knows the defects in the Government. Our family has been brought very close together. We've had substantial success in the developing nations of the world in being reaccepted as a part of the world community who had some concern about them and who treated them with equality and mutual respect. I believe we've had a blessing in that we've not had a serious military threat. This, obviously, is something that I hope to maintain throughout my term in office. I hope that we've taken at least a small step forward in restoring the confidence of the American people in the integrity of the Government and the competence of Government. This is going to be a slow process. It's something that can't come in a year, or even 2 years, because with the horrible shocks of Vietnam and Watergate and the CIA revelations, the American people had lost confidence that there was something here in Washington that they could trust and admire. I think the most pleasant surprise to me has been the worldwide impact of our reemphasis on human rights. I really felt when I came into .office that something needed to be done just to raise a banner for the American people to admire and of which they could be proud again. I think that the emphasis on human personal freedom and democratic principles is very important for us to espouse. And although a year ago, I think, very few national leaders anywhere in the world paid much attention to human rights, I don't believe there's a single one out of the roughly 150 that now doesn't consider, "Before we take action, what is the world going to think about me, the way I'm dealing with political prisoners or out-migration or the reunification of families or the persecution of human beings?" I think the human rights issue has been a great escalation. We've also made a major move toward nonproliferation of nuclear explosives. And again, I think a year ago there was great despair in the world about whether anybody could ever put the nuclear genie back in the bottle. I think there's a reconfirmation now of effort on the part of even countries that have sold reprocessing plants, like Germany and France, all the rest of us, to try to stop the spread of nuclear explosives and not let it go into nations that haven't had them in the past. Those are a few things that come to mind.
  • Well, in the first place, as I mentioned briefly in passing, I think we've got a very good farm bill that was passed this year, that will be in effect for the next 5 years. We've had some increase in farm prices since I came into office. Corn prices are up about 38 cents--the last time I checked the market. Wheat prices are up about 60 cents a bushel compared to when I came into office. I certainly don't attribute that to the fact that I'm here. But we have got a Secretary of Agriculture who's a dirt farmer who understands the special problems of farmers. And with the exception of the time I've served in the Federal (and State) 2 Government, all of my income all my life has come from the farm. And I have a sense, too, of what agriculture does need. I think we've had a very good step forward in having grow, in the Department of Agriculture, a special concern about consumers. We don't have enough farm-supported Members of Congress to prevail in a showdown vote. But the more we can let the average American consumer who comes from, perhaps, the urban areas know how valuable a resource we have in our land and in our food and fiber production, the better off we'll be in prevailing and treating the farmers fairly. We've got a very good price support, target prices, that approach the cost of production, at least in the areas where the efficiency is high. I think we've got this Printed in the White House press release. past year, up to the 1st of October, the highest farm export level we've ever had in history--$24 billion worth of American farm products were sold overseas. We've never done that before. We are even emphasizing that effort much more in the future. We'd like to open up permanent sales possibilities in countries that don't presently buy food from us. My first stop on my trip will be Poland. We want to maintain our sales of agricultural products grown in this country to the so-called Eastern European countries, to the Soviet Union, to the People's Republic of China, as well as to our natural allies and friends in this hemisphere and others. In the energy package--we've tried to put it together in such a way that it would not only protect the farmers and the agricultural communities but also open the way for increased use of, as you refer to it, biomass, and also forestry products. I spent about 4 1/2 hours this morning--I got up at about 5 o'clock and came over here early to work on it--and I will be spending 2 1/2 hours immediately after this meeting, in this room, working on the budget for the Department of Energy next year. And I'll be analyzing and making final decisions, pending congressional approval next year, on how much research and development money to put into things like the use of biomass, wood products, forestry products, shale, and other energy supplies. But I think the fact that I do know agriculture, do know farm families' needs, and have an Agriculture Secretary the same way, gives me a sense of judgment that maybe I wouldn't have if I had a different background. So we've got, I think, a good thrust now to resolve some of the longstanding problems. I disagreed very strongly with some of the policies that Secretary Butz had when he was in office. There are not any easy answers. I would say that Bob Bergland has one of the most difficult jobs in Washington. It's a tough proposition.
  • Okay, I'd be glad to. I have a permanent call-in to the Secret Service at 6 o'clock. If I don't call them the night before, they always wake me up at 6:00. On Monday mornings, I have to get up at 5:00, because in addition to my regular work, I have a 2-hour Cabinet meeting and I need to prepare myself for the Cabinet meeting. I also have my weekly senior staff meeting Monday morning immediately before the Cabinet meeting. I would say about three mornings a week I get up at 5: 00 or 5: 30. I've always done that. It's not a handicap for me; it's not a sacrifice or an extraordinary thing for me to do. I prefer to work early in the morning rather than staying up late. Most nights I go to bed by 11 o'clock, and so does my wife. And I always set aside some time to go home in the afternoon, 5:30 or 6 o'clock, to be with my daughter and to listen to her play the violin and to brag on her and to go over some of her school studies.
  • Amy and I planned the treehouse, and we built it together. We go to Camp David whenever we can. We find that that's the most pleasant place for us to go. In fact I'll be leaving for Camp David this afternoon. Amy and Rosalynn can't come until tomorrow morning. This is the first time I've gone without them. But I've invited, as my guest, Senator Humphrey. When I brought him back from Milwaukee [Minneapolis] a few weeks ago, he commented to me that he had never seen Camp David. His wife is temporarily in the hospital, so he and I are going to go up together this afternoon and have a chance to sit in front of the fire and talk about both history and the future. And in the warm season of the year, I play tennis about three times a week. Amy and I and Rosalynn have bowled twice this week. We have a little---one bowling alley in the White House that was put there by Harry Truman. We go swimming at Camp David and do a lot of hiking, bike riding. I get a good bit of exercise. I keep my weight exactly the same as it was 10, 15 years ago. I weigh about 155. And although some people say I've aged--the people that say I've aged, I've noticed they've aged, too. But to summarize, I enjoy it. I'm in good shape, physically, and I get a thorough examination quite often. I have a fulltime doctor that stays with me all the time and have a dentist that comes in about every 6 weeks to check my teeth and make sure I'm in good shape. But I've enjoyed it and get a lot of exercise and don't overwork. This is a new editor, by the way. Saul [Saul Kohler, Newhouse News Service] is going to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to be an editor there. He has been on the White House professional reporting staff.
  • Well, Asad has not been here; I met him in Geneva. But I have met with all of them. I don't anticipate any need for me to go to Geneva or to go to the Mideast to bring about a negotiated settlement. My commitment to that is very strong and permanent. If it takes the full time I'm in office to bring about a complete, comprehensive, permanent peace in the Middle East, I'll devote my fullest resources to it, both in convincing the public of this country and the public of the world that it's necessary and in assuaging hurt feelings, trying to bring together leaders who may have been separated by one circumstance or another. One of the reasons that I wanted Cy Vance to go over is because Asad and Sadat are not presently on very good terms, and I wanted Cy Vance to meet both of them and see what bounds could be reestablished to pull them back together. But obviously, if I felt sometime in the future--and I don't anticipate this, Saul--but if I felt sometime in the future that my personal presence was the difference between success or failure, obviously I would go, because I consider this to be a very important thing not only for the Middle East but for the world. If you analyze the quantity of oil that we have to get from the Middle East, it's enormous. But if you look at our allies and friends, Japan, Germany, Italy, and others, they are almost completely dependent on the Middle Eastern oil. And so I don't know of any area that concerns me more. There's nothing in foreign affairs that has equaled the time and effort I've spent both studying long-past history of the Middle Eastern problem and also analyzing possible solutions in the future. So, I would do almost anything within reason if I thought it was necessary to bring permanent peace to the Middle East.
  • Well, Scotty Reston asked me that the other day. Always, I think, in your life--and mine as a farmer and mine as a naval officer and mine as a candidate, if I knew everything then that I know now, I would have done some things differently. I made some mistakes in judgment that weren't fatal. I underestimated, first of all, the quality of the Congress, the intense concentration that individual Members of Congress put on a specific issue, sometimes for 25 or 30 or 40 years. They become experts in that issue. And the quality of their staff work is equivalent completely to the quality of my own staff work here in the White House. This was something that I had not experienced in the Georgia State Legislature, when they only meet for 40 days and then go home. There's no continuity of the legislative process in my State. And I was pleasantly surprised and underestimated the competence of Congress. I think it's a very. good thing that no longer do you have a dominant White House as sometimes existed--I don't say the country suffered when, say, Franklin Roosevelt was here and he could send up bills to the Congress and almost immediately they would be voted on without thorough analysis. I overestimated the Congress in its ability to deal with complicated subjects expeditiously. This is particularly the case with the Senate, where every Member of the Senate is autonomous and prides himself on being independent, has the ability if he chooses to delay action on any bill no matter how important it is to the country; a constant threat sometimes realized, some not exercised, of a filibuster. Even when you have enough votes to override a filibuster, it takes 5 or 6 days to go through the legislative procedures to do that. And I think you've noticed that the burden of work we've put on the Congress has just been more than they could handle in the time allotted, so I've had to delay the implementation of some of the programs that I wanted to put forward much earlier. I had anticipated having a comprehensive tax proposal to the Congress by September. And now, of course, we are ready to go with it as far as the executive branch is concerned, but I don't want to send up a comprehensive tax proposal until I see what the impact on the tax structure might be from social security and, say, energy. And as soon as I get those answers, we'll have the package ready to go. But I don't know of any serious mistakes we've made; probably expecting a little too much from the Congress on expeditious passage, underestimating their competence on the other hand.
  • At first, we had a shaky start in just knowing how to deal with the Congress. We were eager to do the best Ave could. I've consulted with Congress, perhaps more than any President who has ever served in this office. And I've consulted with the Joint Chiefs more than they've ever seen the President. I had lunch with the Joint Chiefs last week, and I said, "How do I compare in negotiating with you and getting help and advice from you, compared to previous Presidents? I met with you at the Blair House before I was President. I met with you about 6 or 8 or 10 times since I've been President." We had long discussions about Korea and about China and about Taiwan, and about the Middle East and about SALT and everything else. And they said, "Mr. President, we saw you more than we had ever seen any President that first meeting at Blair House before you ever came into office." [Laughter] So, I've learned and I've benefited from it. I want to thank you again. I got to go, but I want to thank you again for letting me have this chance to meet with you. This is an enormous job. It's one that taxes any individual human being to encompass the challenges and solutions to problems. The ones that arrive at my desk are obviously the ones that can't be solved in a home or in a city hall or at a State Governor's office, and they come to me. But I've really enjoyed it. It's been a reassuring thing to have a superb Cabinet. There's not a single weak person on it. I've really been pleasantly surprised with them. And the Congress has given me strong and good support. The differences that have arisen between me and the Congress have been that the much more easy job of my preparing a proposal and drafting legislation, than the Congress debating it and passing it. There's an inherent delay in the congressional process which I think is very good and very healthy. And as you know, I've never served in Washington before at all. I've got a good, sound White House staff. I use my Cabinet more than previous Presidents have. We have a full-scale, at least 2-hour session here every Monday morning, with the full Cabinet sitting around this table. Most of the time, we have a 100-percent attendance. And it's a lively discussion, and the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Secretary of HUD have a chance to listen to an explanation of what Cy Vance is doing, what Bob Strauss is doing, what the Secretary of Treasury is doing. So, there's a good interchange and good team spirit. I don't have the same need for a chief of staff or a strong, powerful, autocratic White House staff that President Nixon felt. There will never be an Ehrlichman or a Haldeman in my White House staff that gives orders and commands to the Cabinet members who are trying to run the major agencies of Government. This is not the way I ran the Governor's office. in Georgia. It's not the way I am going to run it here. And some of the local press have deplored the fact that I don't have a similar set-up as was the case when President Nixon was in office. It's just not my way of running things.
As you know, President Eisenhower also had a chief of staff, Sherman Adams, who ran things almost like a secondary President. But I've substituted for that an unprecedented use of the Vice President. He and I are close, personal friends. We have a harmonious partnership. I've grown to respect and like him more every day I've known him. And he has authority and responsibility in foreign and domestic affairs and also in helping to manage the White House staff that no Vice President has ever dreamed of having. And it takes a great deal of the burden off my shoulders. Formerly, Vice Presidents were over in the Executive Office Building across the street. I asked Fritz specifically to move over and occupy an office right down the hall from me. And so, in effect, he is the one who coordinates the staff work in the White House. He's thoroughly familiar with the Congress. He's been there for 12 years himself. He was on the Finance Committee and also the Budget Committee. So he's familiar with that. When I have budget hearings 2 1/2, 3 hours here in the afternoon--3 1/2 hours yesterday on defense--Fritz is there at my side. And I've incorporated him in this strategic military chain of command. No other Vice President has ever occupied those positions. And if something should happen to me, he would be thoroughly familiar with all the controversies, all of the foreign affairs considerations, all of the defense considerations, and be ready to act in a proper way.
  • As you know, President Eisenhower also had a chief of staff, Sherman Adams, who ran things almost like a secondary President. But I've substituted for that an unprecedented use of the Vice President. He and I are close, personal friends. We have a harmonious partnership. I've grown to respect and like him more every day I've known him. And he has authority and responsibility in foreign and domestic affairs and also in helping to manage the White House staff that no Vice President has ever dreamed of having. And it takes a great deal of the burden off my shoulders. Formerly, Vice Presidents were over in the Executive Office Building across the street. I asked Fritz specifically to move over and occupy an office right down the hall from me. And so, in effect, he is the one who coordinates the staff work in the White House. He's thoroughly familiar with the Congress. He's been there for 12 years himself. He was on the Finance Committee and also the Budget Committee. So he's familiar with that. When I have budget hearings 2 1/2, 3 hours here in the afternoon--3 1/2 hours yesterday on defense--Fritz is there at my side. And I've incorporated him in this strategic military chain of command. No other Vice President has ever occupied those positions. And if something should happen to me, he would be thoroughly familiar with all the controversies, all of the foreign affairs considerations, all of the defense considerations, and be ready to act in a proper way. So, there are some different ways of management that I have brought into the White House that quite often have not been understood, but which I've very carefully evolved and of which I'm quite proud.


  • The reason for raising this is that the Israeli position in the past was that they would withdraw from the West Bank, and I believe that Prime Minister Begin left the Cabinet over this issue.
  • We believe in the right of every country to be free from interference in its own internal affairs by another country. And we believe that world peace can come — which we both devoutly hope to see — through mutual respect, even among those who have some differences between us.
    Our goals are also the same, to have a just system of economics and politics, to let the people of the world share in growth, in peace, in personal freedom, and in the benefits to be derived from the proper utilization of natural resources. We believe in enhancing human rights. We believe that we should enhance, as independent nations, the freedom of our own people.
    • Welcoming ceremony for Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania (12 April 1978), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 Book 1: January 1 to June 30, 1978, p. 735
  • We have the heaviest concentration of lawyers on Earthone for every five-hundred Americans; three times as many as are in England, four times as many as are in West Germany, twenty-one times as many as there are in Japan. We have more litigation, but I am not sure that we have more justice. No resources of talent and training in our own society, even including the medical care, is more wastefully or unfairly distributed than legal skills. Ninety percent of our lawyers serve 10 percent of our people. We are over-lawyered and under-represented.
    • Remarks at the 100th Anniversary Luncheon of the Los Angeles County Bar Association (4 May 1978)
  • I want to stress again that human rights are not peripheral to the foreign policy of the United States. Our pursuit of human rights is part of a broad effort to use our great power and our tremendous influence in the service of creating a better world, a world in which human beings can live in peace, in freedom, and with their basic needs adequately met.
    • Remarks at a White House meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (6 December 1978), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 Book 1: January 1 to June 30, 1978, p. 2163
  • Human rights is the soul of our foreign policy, because human rights is the very soul of our sense of nationhood.
    • Remarks at a White House meeting commemorating the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (6 December 1978), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1978 Book 1: January 1 to June 30, 1978, p. 2164
Interview With the President
President Carter's answers during a Cabinet Room interview. (January 27, 1978). Source: Interview With the President Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With American Press Institute Editors, The American Presidency Project.
  • We've now finished a year as the administration in the White House and have learned a lot. I think I have a much better and easier and understanding relationship with the Congress, with my Cabinet-which I consider to be superb-and we've defined issues very carefully. We're trying to carry out our campaign commitments. There's a growing understanding among the American people of what we are trying to do. We're addressing some difficult questions that have been long unaddressed, or at least unsolved. We don't have any magic answers, but I think there's a growing comprehension around the world that we reestablished a true and accurate sense in foreign policy of what the American people stand for and what we want to have as a characteristic of our own Nation and our own Government. We're trying to guarantee peaceful resolution of any differences or competition with the Soviet Union. We're trying to add our good will and our good offices in the Middle East when the discussions lag or when there is a problem there in communication among the leaders. I think we are trusted, in general, by all of them who are seeking peace. We are strengthening our relationship and our involvement and interest in Africa. We've had a good response in Latin America, particularly as a result of successful negotiations with the Panama Canal treaties, which are now being considered by the Senate, as you know. As I pointed out in the State of the Union message, we had a very successful economic year in our country in 1977. But we still have some chronic problems, particularly unemployment among minority groups and young people and a general uncertainty about the economic future because of a lack of resolution of the energy question, that need to be addressed. We have gone through, now, one complete budget cycle. And I've put an enormous amount of time in, personally, in the evolution of the fiscal year '79 budget, more than I will for the 1980 or 1981 budgets, because I had to learn about the different, specific programs that are buried deep within the large number of Federal agencies. I think we have a good prospect of holding the budget basically where it is. It's a tight, conservative budget, but it meets the needs of our people adequately. We'll have an urban policy evolved early in the spring, and we have enough flexibility, I think, to accommodate the specific financial needs there.
  • Just a few minutes ago, I signed a proclamation of emergency in Indiana so that we can provide help. And last night, I did one for Ohio. This will permit the legal use of military forces, National Guard, and others, to alleviate the traffic conditions and to reach stranded motorists and others. Well, we're trying to approach the energy question on a comprehensive basis, and it's a very complicated and difficult and politically divisive issue. The first natural gas deregulation bill that was vetoed, I think, was by Harry Truman, 27, 28 years ago, so that this is not something new. But I think for the first time the Congress has made tremendous progress in trying to resolve these major differences. I just finished having lunch with Senator Talmadge, who's on the Finance Committee of the Senate, who's also chairman of the Agriculture Committee, and we discussed farms and energy primarily. I think that we're flexible enough in the executive branch to deal with almost any reasonable solution that the House and Senate conferees can evolve. There are only three prerequisites as far as I'm concerned. One is to have an increase in conservation, an increase in production, be fair to consumers and, at the same time, not break the Federal budget. So, within those bounds, which are quite general, I'm flexible. There are some deeply felt opinions on both sides of this issue, based on 20 or 30 years of voting record, and it's hard to get people to accommodate those differences. They've never been able to in the past. So, I think we have a good chance to have a comprehensive energy bill this year that will at least let the American people know where we are going. I think the uncertainty is one of the crucial problems that we have.
  • Well, we've tried to make this a joint, voluntary effort on the part of government, business, and labor, so that there could be a self-imposed restraint on escalating wages and prices. Here again, I'm not in favor .of wage and price controls, either voluntary or mandatory, and the degree to which labor and business will cooperate is really up to them. I think the first step has already been taken, and that is to draft the proposal in writing and present it to the leaders in business and labor. The second step has been taken, that is, my public espousal of it in the State of the Union message. The third step is now under way, whereby, as decisions are made to increase prices and to demand wage increases, they measure the average increases of the last 2 years and try to make sure that the 1978 increases are at least less than they have had average in the last 2 years. In most cases, a patriotic motivation and one to assuage or to please the public will have at least as much or more effect than any jawboning or pressure from us. We'll offer the good service of the Council on Wage and Price Stability to assess the inflationary impact of proposals. We're not requiring, for instance-don't have any inclination nor authority to require—that labor unions propose in advance to us the demands that they'll make for fringe benefits, health programs, or for wages, but we just hope that it'll create a tone in the country of generally dampening the inflationary impact. We have now an underlying inflation rate of about 6 or 6 1/2 percent. So, that's as far as we are inclined to go. And I've met around this table with a fairly large number of the top business men and women in this country, and their response was favorable. I've had a luncheon last week with President Meany. He expressed some concern about the point that I just raised to you, that they can't submit ahead of time all of the labor union negotiating demands. We don't ask for that. But we hope that in Government, we can also set an example. But it's a strictly voluntary program that I think can work with the right sort of spirit and tone. If—the last thing I'll say about it is this—if we tried to be too intrusive in the private sector from the Government, I think there would be an adverse reaction, and the whole thing would fail. So, the degree of voluntary compliance in self-initiated compliance is the measure of whether it'll be successful. There's no way to answer your question specifically, because it's kind of an ephemeral thing, but I think it can be the source of tangible benefits.
  • I think, first of all, that the Helsinki agreement has played a useful role. We've never acknowledged, as you know, the absorption by the Soviet Union of the groups to whom you refer. My wife's brother—his wife is an Estonian; she was born and raised there. And we've had a chance in the last few months at Belgrade to specify particular violations of human rights which were in conflict with the Helsinki agreement. As you know, the Soviets wanted to minimize the so-called third basket and not discuss human rights, but talk about military and political interrelationships. I think we're making some progress. In my private discussions with foreign leaders-and I set a record last year by meeting with 68 heads of state—hardly ever do we have a 10- or 15-minute or, certainly, not a 3-hour discussion that the subject of human rights doesn't arise. In most instances, they raise it. My guess is that 2 years ago, the subject of human rights would be a rarity among heads of state. But now, even the most abusive governments, there is a concern—"what does the rest of the world think about me, what will happen if I persecute this group or bring a legal charge against this person?" I think we are making success in a very slow, tedious way. I notice that this morning—I can't vouch for the accuracy of it—there was a story in the news, for instance, about contending military leaders in Argentina. And the challenging group, I think from the Navy, said that their basis for future success was their deeper commitment to human rights, and they thought that we might support them because they were more convinced that human rights was a case. Last night I watched the news, which I don't ordinarily do—I don't get home that early, but I had company—and there was a story about the 10,000 Indonesians who are being released from prison this year. I think there is kind of a subtle thing, but I think that this is one of the major commitments that we've made that has aroused worldwide interest, not always worldwide cooperation. And I don't intend to back down on it ever. As long as I'm in the White House, human rights will be a major consideration of every foreign policy decision that I make, and I might say, also, domestic.
  • As you know, we have a longstanding treaty with the Soviet Union preventing any atomic explosions in space. But we were guilty of that a long time ago. I think it's time to reexamine that question. I believe that this recent incident with the Soviet satellite has shown that we don't have an adequate, guaranteed safety requirement on nuclear fuel in space. This particular satellite and all those that we've ever launched—I think the first one we put up using nuclear power was in 1965—they have what's called a subcritical mass there's not enough radioactivity there to cause an explosion under any circumstances. And when the satellite is first launched, it's relatively clean; you could get probably close to it without having radiation. The longer it burns, the more byproducts are made and the more radioactive they become. This particular satellite was designed, as are most of them, to be elevated into a higher orbit when it had served its purpose. And when the Soviets attempted to elevate it into a higher orbit, which would have kept it in space for a thousand years or more, some mechanism failed—I don't know the details of it. But I think that we now are in the process of deciding' what we can do to minimize this danger from space. One possibility would be to design such a nuclear powerplant, which is very small, so that it would surely burn completely as it came down through space itself by increasing the drag of friction, and so forth. Another one would be to have standby mechanisms, so that if the first one failed to eject it into outer orbit, another standby would be required. This is something that we have not yet gone into in any definitive way. We have a much higher reliance, as you may know, on solar panel power supplies, and we do not rely on the atomic power supplies as much. But you have a good question. It's something that we have not yet addressed with the Soviets, but I'm sure it's something that we will address.
  • Well, of course, the '78 crops haven't been planted, except for winter wheat. You know, I'm a farmer, and Senator Talmadge is a farmer. Bob Bergland is a farmer. We have a genuine problem. I would say that in the last 5 years that the cost of producing most crops has increased a hundred percent, certainly as far as equipment prices, energy prices, fertilizer prices is concerned. At the same time, most commodity prices have increased very little, if at all. The debt that farmers now hold has increased rapidly. The amount of reserve finances in country banks is down below the historical averages. We do have a good bit of flexibility within the 1977 agricultural act that the Congress passed and I approved last year. We have large reserve supplies of feed grains, food grains carried over. There's no way to predict what the weather will be this year. We've already initiated a moderate set-aside program at some substantial cost to the Government. And we have about 6 or 7 billion dollars in increased payments authorized to the farmers, because of higher target prices and support prices. What else needs to be done at this point I haven't decided. The impact of the new farm legislation has not yet been felt on the agricultural community of our country. It only went into effect the first day of October, and of course, it hadn't gone through a crop season yet. I think there will be some benefit at least from that. I don't see any possibility of lower prices for fuel, nor for fertilizer. I think that there's going to have to be a sober assessment by the farmers themselves of economic circumstances now and in the future. I live and have always lived among and with farmers. My people have been in-my Carter family has been here over 300 years—we've all been farmers, every generation of us. And it's a characteristic of many farmers to spend this year what you made last year. And I think there's been an inclination with the limited acreage to have a heavier and heavier investment in equipment that's very costly. At the same time, of course, yields have gone up. In the long run, the food and feed demands with a fixed or dwindling acreage supply will correct the problem. But at the present time, we have an excess surplus on hand, and as you've shifted from the smaller tractors and livestock cultivation to the very large tractors, you've cut out the windrows and, in effect, you've gone to a fence-to-fence operation. This has amounted to about, I think, a 50-million acre increase in the land being cultivated. So, with our present set-aside program and the present farm program, we have a step in the right direction. And we will assess other factors, the carryover crops, prospective worldwide production for this 1978 year, the lending capability of farm banks, the amount of debt carried over—we'll analyze all those factors and decide whether to use the flexibility in the present law or to ask for additional legislation. We have not yet decided.
  • I made the decision myself to contact the Soviets. We told them that we were aware of the problem, asked them for any information about the satellite, and told them unofficially that we would not try to capitalize on their misfortune in a propaganda way. We wanted to be sure that the adequate preparation was made for the reentry of the satellite into the atmosphere, and we notified some of our key allies around the world who would have the capability both to monitor the progress of the satellite and also to deal with radioactivity once it fell. I had a difficult decision to make in how much publicity to bring to this satellite, because it's almost impossible to let people know the facts without the threat being exaggerated, and we didn't want to create exaggerated fears. We monitored the satellite constantly. We shared with the Soviets estimates of when it would come down. the exact point of its penetration of the atmosphere was not known until just an hour or two before it crashed, because it was tumbling. And when a satellite of that kind enters the atmosphere, it can skip off and go several thousands of miles further than you have actually anticipated. We knew that it would fall somewhere between just north of Hawaii, northeast of Hawaii, or the eastern side of Africa. And it was making a great circle route up above the point where it finally fell. That was just about the northern point. The Soviets did tell us, in general, what kind of reactor it was. They told us that their best estimate was it would burn as it entered the atmosphere. So, I can't—without going back and checking the exact language of their report to us—I can't say whether they gave us all the facts. But I think it was handled properly; certainly, by us. I don't know who else the Soviets notified. When I found that it was going to hit Canada, early that morning—I come over here quite early in the morning—I called the Prime Minister of Canada and talked to him on the phone. And we were pretty lucky in telling him where it was going into the atmosphere. We had it on radar. But in retrospect, it may be that the Soviets could have given us more information. I think they probably gave us about what we would have given them in a similar circumstance.
The President's News Conference
President Carter's twenty-fifth news conference. (February 17, 1978). Source: The President's News Conference, The American Presidency Project.
  • I've just talked to the Secretary of Labor about progress on the settlement of the coal strike. They are making good progress. No final agreement has been reached. I've been in coal mines in Pennsylvania and other places to see the miners at work. I know that they are hard-working and patriotic Americans. They and the industry leaders both recognize that there is a tremendous responsibility on their shoulders, because the future of the unions, the future of an effective collective bargaining process, the future of the coal industry, and the we]fare of our Nation depends upon the success of these negotiations. They've been bargaining now, steadily, since they began at the White House a day and a half ago. They continued in their discussions until 2 o'clock this morning, and then after that, management with the Secretary of Labor from 2:30 until 5 in the morning. And I've asked them to stay at the bargaining table until a final agreement is reached. I have confidence that they will be successful, because they and I want to avoid the necessity for me, as President, to take more serious action if the bargaining process is not effective. The whole Nation is looking to them with hope and with confidence.
  • In many ways, our economy last year was good. The inflation rate went down, and wages, profits, production, housing starts, real income, investment all went up. Four million new jobs were created, an all time record, and many of these jobs, I'm glad to say, were in New England. Employment here in New England last year went up 5 1/2 percent. The unemployment rate dropped 3 full percentage points, from 8 1/2 percent down to 5 1/2 percent. But unemployment and inflation is still higher than I'm willing to accept, and so my top priority this year on the domestic scene is still the economy. I've asked the Congress to help me put into effect a coherent program to make more jobs and to bring inflation closer under control. We need a cooperative anti-inflation effort, with voluntary action being taken by industry and by labor to keep wages and prices from pushing each other up. We need an expanded jobs program to help those who are hit hardest by unemployment. Next week I will send to the Congress legislation that would reauthorize the $12 billion Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, provide for 725,000 public service jobs and for a billion dollar youth employment and training program.
  • Also, we need tax reduction and tax reform. They go together. They add up to $25 billion in net cuts in the income taxes Americans have to pay, and they are also designed to create an additional 1 million new jobs. Seventeen billion dollars of this tax cut will be for working families in our country, personal income tax reductions, and the rest in corporate tax reductions. Corporations will also receive higher tax credits for investing in the sort of new plants, new equipment that will make New England and the rest of the Nation competitive with aggressive foreign exports. But we can't have these cuts in taxes unless we help pay for them by eliminating some of our unnecessary and unwarranted income tax subsidies. Two of these are the deferral subsidy and the DISC subsidies. Both have a particularly bad effect in New England, where competition from abroad has had such a terrible effect on businessmen and on workers alike. The deferral subsidy sets a situation in effect where multilateral corporations pay lower taxes on foreign profits than they pay on their U.S. profits. This amounts to subsidizing corporations to export jobs overseas. The so-called DISC subsidies are just as bad. They let U.S. corporations set up dummy corporations to handle foreign exports, so as to keep from paying U.S. taxes on half their profits. Both these giveaways go overwhelmingly to a few of the largest multinational corporations, and both mean that the average taxpayer has to pay the bill, more taxes, just to take up the slack caused by these subsidies. And both cost America, and particularly New England, jobs. Both loopholes should be closed. As for the famous three-martini lunch, I don't care how many martinis anyone has with lunch, but I am concerned about who picks up the check. I don't think a relatively small minority has some sort of divine right to have expensive meals, free theater tickets, country club dues, sporting events tickets paid for by heavier taxes on everybody else. If the Congress will help me by getting rid of these tax loopholes and by enacting the entire economic program, we can have a good start on correcting unemployment and inflation. The economy won't turn around overnight, of course, any more than an ocean liner can turn around on a dime. The job will require slow, careful planning, not dramatic master strokes. It will require small corrections, of course, that we adhere to very patiently. It will require careful planning, careful adjustment, careful tuning and cooperation. The machinery of the American economy is sound. We have a lot to be thankful for. It's worked well despite severe shocks, but it can work better, and that's our major goal in this country this year.
  • We have for a long time sold military equipment to Saudi Arabia, one of our closest allies, staunchest friends, and economic partners. This is the first time we've sold F-15's to Saudi Arabia, but they have other advanced equipment. The first planes will be delivered to Saudi Arabia not this year or next year, but in 1981 or 1982. The planes that we have agreed to sell to Egypt are the F5E's, not nearly so advanced a weapon as the F-15's or F-16's. But as you know, a few years ago, Egypt, which is now one of our staunchest friends and allies, severed their close relationship with the Soviet Union and, in effect, became an ally of ours. And I don't believe that there's any danger of this relatively short-range, not advanced fighter causing any disruption in the peace between Egypt and Israel. So for those reasons, I am advocating to the Congress that they approve these sales, and I believe the Congress will agree.
  • Well, the country is suffering already from the consequences of the coal strike. I have asked the Secretary of Labor and I've asked the negotiators from the workers and from the coal operators to stay at the bargaining table in constant sessions until they reach an agreement. There has been some progress made to date. As you know, there is a division within the labor union itself. But the bargaining council, which consists of 39 members, is being kept as close as possible to the negotiating team that represents labor. We hope that when an agreement is reached that this will be in such a form and with close enough consultations ahead of time that it will be presented immediately to the membership of the United Mine Workers for approval. So, I think that all of us are determined. I've met personally at the White House with labor and management in the coal industry, and I can testify to you that they are sincere in wanting to reach an agreement.
I do think that a State, or the people within a State, should have the right to determine the degree of shifting to nuclear power as a source for energy. As you know, some States have had referenda on this subject. This is a prerogative that the State legislature and the Governor and, in some instances, through referenda, can be accomplished. But the Federal Government does not have and would not want to have the right to prohibit the construction of a nuclear powerplant in a State if the Federal laws were met.
  • I think in every instance of this kind, the primary responsibility has got to be for the Governor or local officials in the State to make a judgment on what's best for that particular area. And if a Governor or a legislature or a mayor has made that decision, I would not want to contradict it. Whether the unemployment compensation payment is more crucial—at that one moment during or immediately following a disaster—or whether it's more important to correct the consequences directly if there's a disaster in physical terms, I would not want to judge. That's a decision the Governor will have to make.
  • Well, as you know, there are now no legal prohibitions at the Federal Government level from proceeding with the Seabrook plant. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not yet given a license. But the Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that the cooling system, as proposed, was adequate. I do think that a State, or the people within a State, should have the right to determine the degree of shifting to nuclear power as a source for energy. As you know, some States have had referenda on this subject. This is a prerogative that the State legislature and the Governor and, in some instances, through referenda, can be accomplished. But the Federal Government does not have and would not want to have the right to prohibit the construction of a nuclear powerplant in a State if the Federal laws were met. But I do think that in New Hampshire or Vermont or other States, that the legislature certainly should have a right to set the standards by which those plants should be built.
  • When I was in Saudi Arabia early in January, I told them that shortly after the Congress reconvened I would send up a recommendation for military sales to the Middle East. Every time I've ever met with Prime Minister Begin, both in the public sessions, that is, with staff members, and also in my private sessions with just him and me present, this has been the first item that he's brought up: "Please expedite the approval of the sales of military planes to Israel." I think that the timing is proper. We're not trying to shortcircuit the allotted time for the Congress. As a matter of fact, we will not begin the process until after the Congress reconvenes, the Senate reconvenes. So there will be a full 50 days for the Congress to consider the matter. Twenty days after this coming Monday, I'll send up the official papers. So, I don't think it's a bad time to send it up. I recognized ahead of time that there would be some controversy about it. And we did give it second and third thoughts before I made a decision about the composition of the package and the date for submitting it.
  • Yes, I think the Humphrey-Hawkins bill, if passed—and I think it has a good chance to be passed—would provide enhanced job opportunities for college graduates as well as others. It would set a goal of a 4-percent unemployment rate, and it would permit me to judge when this was in conflict with a control of inflation. It would also bring into being a much closer coordination of effort between the President, the Federal Reserve Banks, the Congress, and others in the Government and in private industry to work together. It would require me to submit to the Congress an economic plan over several years, 4 or 5 years, that would ultimately lead to the realization of those goals. So, I think the planning concept, the involvement of all the elements who determine the outcome of our economic goals, would be a step in the right direction itself, and it would put a heavy emphasis on the reduction of unemployment.
  • We have now reached an agreement as far as the Federal Government is concerned, represented by me, and the Indian tribes. It would not require any further negotiation nor litigation by any landowner in Maine who owns less than 50,000 acres of land. It does leave up to the State of Maine and, I think, 14 landowners who have more than 50,000 acres, an option without any constraint on them—they can either accept the negotiated settlement, they can negotiate further for a better settlement for themselves, perhaps, or they can continue to litigate in court. The reason that I got involved in it, reluctantly, I might say, was because almost every piece of property in Maine was potentially tied up in a lawsuit, could not be bought or sold, and I could foresee a very serious economic consequence to Maine unless I made some effort to address it. This settlement would cost the Federal Government about $25 million. But I would like to point out, too, that we are bound by law—that is, the Department of Interior, represented legally by the Attorney General—to represent the Indians. And this is a recent development, brought about, as you know, by the discovery of some old treaty papers, I think in 1971, and we've tried to expedite the process. But there is no constraint on the large landowners nor the State to accept the settlement that we have evolved. That's up to them.
  • This year we are faced with a deficit that's about $15 or $20 billion higher than it would have been because we're trying to give a tax break, tax reduction, to the American people. In every instance, you have to make a judgment on that. One of the reasons that we are giving the tax reduction is because the taxes are too high; another one is that it would result in a stimulated economy, a million more people at work and paying taxes rather than on the Federal dole. And so you have to make a judgment. We have expectations, with some fairly accurate projections, that the budget deficit next year, fiscal year 1980, will be considerably below 1979. And if the economy continues to progress, then I have good hopes that in 1981 we will reach my goal. Obviously, I don't have complete control over the economy. But I've not given up in trying to carry out the principles that Adam Smith espoused in your quote.
Saudi Arabia is our ally and friend. Egypt is our ally and friend. Israel is our ally and friend. To maintain security in that region is important.
  • Well, as you know, we are not introducing new weapons into the Middle East. F-15's are already being delivered into the Middle East. Also, I have pledged myself to cut down on the volume of weapons each succeeding year as long as I'm in office, barring some unpredictable, worldwide military outbreak. This year there will be less weapons sales than last year, and this will include, of course, the Middle East. I think it's very good for nations to turn to us for their security needs, instead of having to turn to the Soviet Union as they have in the past. I'm talking specifically about Egypt. And you have to remember that Saudi Arabia has never had any active aggression against Israel. Saudi Arabia is our ally and friend. Egypt is our ally and friend. Israel is our ally and friend. To maintain security in that region is important. Egypt has other threats against its security. The Soviets are shipping massive quantities of weapons into the Middle Eastern area now, into the Red Sea area—Ethiopia, into Syria, Iraq, Libya-and we cannot abandon our own friends. So, I don't think that it's wrong at all to ensure stability or the right to defend themselves in a region with arms sales. We are continuing multinational negotiations with other sellers of weapons to get them to join with us in a constant step-by-step, year-by-year reduction in total arms sales. If they do, I think the world will be much more peaceful in the future.


  • We face this choice from a position of strength as the strongest nation on earth, economically, militarily and politically. Our alliances are firm and reliable. Our military forces are strong and ready. Our economic power is unmatched.[1]
  • Along with other industrial democracies who are our friends, we lead the way in technological innovation. Our combined economies are more than three times as productive as those Of the Soviet Union and all its allies. Our political institutions are based on human freedom. Our open system encourages individual initiative and creativity, and that in turn strengthens our entire society.[2]
  • Our values and our democratic way of life have a magnetic appeal for people all over the world which a materialistic and a totalitarian philosophy can never hope to challenge or to rival. For all these reasons we have a capacity for leadership in the world that surpasses that of any other nation. That leadership imposes many responsibilities on, us, on me, as President, and on you other leaders who shape opinion and the character of our country.[3]
  • In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me, which is being dedicated today, will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy…. A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.
  • I thought a lot about our Nation and what I should do as President. And Sunday night before last, I made a speech about two problems of our country — energy and malaise.
    • Remarks at a town meeting, Bardstown, Kentucky (31 July 1979), referring to his The Crisis of Confidence address (he did not actually use the word "malaise" in that earlier speech), Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Jimmy Carter, 1979, Book 2, p. 1340
  • History teaches, perhaps, very few clear lessons. But surely one such lesson learned by the world at great cost is that aggression, unopposed, becomes a contagious disease.
  • A party with a narrow vision, a party that is afraid of the future, a party whose leaders are inclined to shoot from the hip, a party that has never been willing to put its investment in human beings who are below them in economic and social status.
The Crisis of Confidence
The Crisis of Confidence (July 15, 1979)
  • I know, of course, being President, that government actions and legislation can be very important. That's why I've worked hard to put my campaign promises into law — and I have to admit, with just mixed success. But after listening to the American people I have been reminded again that all the legislation in the world can't fix what's wrong with America. So, I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy.
    I do not mean our political and civil liberties. They will endure. And I do not refer to the outward strength of America, a nation that is at peace tonight everywhere in the world, with unmatched economic power and military might.
    The threat is nearly invisible in ordinary ways. It is a crisis of confidence. It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our Nation.
    The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America.
    The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July.
    It is the idea which founded our Nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else — public institutions and private enterprise, our own families, and the very Constitution of the United States. Confidence has defined our course and has served as a link between generations. We've always believed in something called progress. We've always had a faith that the days of our children would be better than our own.
    Our people are losing that faith, not only in government itself but in the ability as citizens to serve as the ultimate rulers and shapers of our democracy. As a people we know our past and we are proud of it. Our progress has been part of the living history of America, even the world. We always believed that we were part of a great movement of humanity itself called democracy, involved in the search for freedom, and that belief has always strengthened us in our purpose. But just as we are losing our confidence in the future, we are also beginning to close the door on our past.
  • In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.
    The symptoms of this crisis of the American spirit are all around us. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next 5 years will be worse than the past 5 years. Two-thirds of our people do not even vote. The productivity of American workers is actually dropping, and the willingness of Americans to save for the future has fallen below that of all other people in the Western world.
    As you know, there is a growing disrespect for government and for churches and for schools, the news media, and other institutions. This is not a message of happiness or reassurance, but it is the truth and it is a warning.
    These changes did not happen overnight. They've come upon us gradually over the last generation, years that were filled with shocks and tragedy.
    We were sure that ours was a nation of the ballot, not the bullet, until the murders of John Kennedy and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. We were taught that our armies were always invincible and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the Presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate.
  • We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.
    We ourselves are the same Americans who just 10 years ago put a man on the Moon. We are the generation that dedicated our society to the pursuit of human rights and equality. And we are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem and in that process rebuild the unity and confidence of America.
    We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self- interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.
    All the traditions of our past, all the lessons of our heritage, all the promises of our future point to another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values. That path leads to true freedom for our Nation and ourselves. We can take the first steps down that path as we begin to solve our energy problem.
    Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this Nation, and it can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our Nation a new confidence, and we can seize control again of our common destiny.


Democratic Victory Fund Barbecue
President Carter's remarks at the Democratic Victory Fund Barbecue. (October 21, 1980). Source: Orlando, Florida Remarks at the 1980 Democratic Victory Fund Barbecue, The American Presidency Project.
  • I'll never forget what Florida did for me in 1976. As I told a small group a few minutes ago, we came to your State, our neighbors, when I didn't have any friends in this country, very few people knew who I was or had ever heard of me. And we went from one courthouse to another and one small radio station to another, one of your homes to another, met with just a few friends, visited in your churches, in your Lion's Clubs, in your schools, talked to you, and learned and listened. I went in one direction; my wife went in another. And that was the basis for my success later on in 1976. The contest here in your primary, I think, was the turning point in the entire election. It focused attention not only on you Floridians and your judgment but also on the fact that my campaign did have some strength. It made a great impact on the rest of the Nation. 1976 in the primary was a very gratifying gift that Florida people made to me. Later it was generally assumed that Florida, because of some of your past voting mistakes, might go Republican in November. But when the returns came in, the Florida electors went to Jimmy Carter and to Fritz Mondale. That was in '76 in November.
  • Again this year, if you remember back in November, it was generally thought throughout the country that if Senator Kennedy announced that he was a candidate for President that Florida would certainly go for him. We campaigned down here among you. You had confidence in me again. When the returns came in, you were in my column. I'm a southerner, and I believe in tradition. You've established a good tradition of supporting Jimmy Carter for President. I want you to help me again on November the 4th. Okay?
  • There are a few things that I want to mention to you. You've been very gracious and very generous to come out here today to meet with me. As we approach the last few days of the campaign there are some memories that ought to be impressed on our minds. I grew up not far from the Florida line on a farm. I was born in 1924. When the Great Depression came, I was a young, impressionable man, a boy. I remember what Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Party did to change my life and the life of my family. We didn't have running water in our house. We didn't have electricity. The Democrats thought that REA would be good for farmers; the Republicans were against it. They called it socialism for the Federal Government to help build dams and generate electricity for farmers. There were a lot of sweatshops in our country, and young people about Amy's age, 13 years old and younger, boys and girls, were working under uncontrollable and embarrassing conditions. Working families didn't have a right to earn a decent living to finance their homes. And the Democrats proposed a minimum wage, 25 cents an hour; the Republicans opposed it. The Democrats finally prevailed and gave working people of this Nation a better life. I graduated from high school in 1941, my first job at a minimum wage, 40 cents by then. That increase from 25 to 40 cents was a great thing in our lives. Democrats sponsored it; Republicans, they were against it. Democrats saw that older people were living in poor folks homes, we called them, without any self-dignity, without any security, having slaved away all their lives to make this a better country. So, the Democrats said, "We need something to give that security to older people," and put forward the idea of social security; Republicans were against it. Social security passed. Later, I won't go into all the details, but Democrats, again, put forward Medicare to give older people a chance to have a better health care after their retirement age. My opponent, Governor Reagan, got his start in politics working for the American Medical Association, traveling around this country speaking against Medicare.
  • You might say minimum wage is ancient history, but he says the minimum wage has caused more misery and more unemployment than anything since the Great Depression. Democrats have always been interested in people that were temporarily out of work and need a way, during those trying times, to feed their families, to keep their children in school. Unemployment compensation was devised by Democrats. Recently, my opponent said that unemployment compensation was just a prepaid vacation for freeloaders. This general sense, that started in the 1930's or before and has come all the way up to this time, to modern days, separates one party from another. I've had major responsibilities on my shoulders as a President to honor your expectations to keep our Nation as you want it.
  • The 13 years before I became President, under two Republican administrations, spending for defense went down 7 of those years. Defense budgets went down 37 percent the 8 years before I went into the Oval Office. Since then, we've had a steady increase, predictable increase, sound increase every year in defense expenditures. I don't have any apology to make for it. I'm a military man. My background is as a naval officer. I was a submarine Officer, as some of you know. And I believe that the best way to keep our Nation at peace is to keep it militarily strong. As long as I'm in the White House, we're going to do that.
  • Those of you who are deeply committed to peace, don't worry about that, about military strength. Our weapons, our military forces, men and women, will never be excelled by any other nation on Earth. We're in the cutting edge of progress. And our strategic nuclear weapons and our conventional weapons, our Navy, our men and women, are strong, and they're going to stay strong. But an airplane doesn't fly on just one wing. With that powerful military strength, you've got to have two more things. One is a commitment to arms control, because we don't want to have a nuclear arms race in this world. Every President since Harry Truman has insisted upon balanced, equivalently equal, controlled, observable arms control treaties. Recently, as you know, my opponent said, let's throw the arms control treaty in the trash, and let's start an arms race or threaten an arms race against the Soviet Union, to play a trump card against them. That's a radical departure from what all Presidents have done, Democratic and Republican, since the Second World War. It's important to us as a nation, it's important to our allies and friends, like Israel and the Middle East, to make sure that Iraq and other countries of a radical nature do not have military weapons that are nuclear explosives. We've had a very strong nonproliferation policy under Democrats and Republicans, but Governor Reagan says that nonproliferation is none of our business. The issues are clearly drawn, not only about the past and present but also about the future. We now have a sound energy policy to give us a basis on which to revitalize American industry, to have modern tools and modern plants for American workers, to put all our people to work; to have better health care for our citizens, more preventive health care, catastrophic health insurance, better care for pregnant women and little babies, better care for elderly citizens, more outpatient care rather than inpatient, the holding down of hospital costs. These changes in our health program can be implemented with a national health insurance plan. I'm for it, Democrats are for it; Governor Reagan's against it.
  • And the last two points I want to make are these. My background since I got out of the Navy has been as a farmer. I'm very proud that you have given me some good, well-trained Florida leaders to come and help me. Reubin Askew is one of the best public servants I've ever known, and he's our Special Trade Representative. Since he's been there, we've made remarkable progress. This year we'll have $40 billion worth of American agricultural products sold overseas. That's an $8 billion increase over last year, and 1979 set world records. 1978 set world records. 1977 set world records. Another man you've given me is Jim Williams. We will have these first 3 years, with the help of him and others, the highest gross income and the highest net income for farmers in our Nation's history. We've made good progress in getting Government's nose out of the private affairs of American citizens. We've deregulated the airlines, the railroads, the financial institutions, trucking, working on communications. And those of you who live in the Orlando area know that airline deregulation has been good for you. Before it took place, there were 4 flights coming in here; now 15. That increase has been very good for the entire country. It's put the competition back in the free enterprise system, let our Government work like it ought to.
  • And finally, let me remind you about the importance of you as an American citizen. Your coming here and contributing financially is very beneficial to us. We couldn't get along without it. We've been counting on you, and you haven't disappointed us. Richard Swann's done a superb job, and all of you've joined in. But I'd like to remind you that that's not enough. If you believe in the greatness of our Nation, if you believe in the principles of our party, if you believe in the importance of democracy and the partnership that must exist between the White House, the Oval Office, the President, and you personally, if you care about your own family and the people that you love outside your family, I'd like for you this next 10 days to work as hard as you've ever worked before to try to shape this election so that we can be victorious.
  • You might say one person can't make much difference. I remember in 1960 if 28,000 people had changed their votes in Texas and a few thousand in Illinois, John Kennedy would never have been President. In 1968 if all of the people assembled here and a few like you around the country had had the confidence in the Democratic candidate to go out and work hard for him, Richard Nixon would never have served in the White House, and we would have had a great Democratic President, Hubert Humphrey, to carry on the principles that I've described to you. But when you think back on Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Johnson, Kennedy, those memories, for working people, for people who believe in a strong defense and for peace, for people who believe in a brighter future for our country, better education for our children, self-respect for the elderly, dignity for those who are black or who don't speak English well, but might speak Spanish, are very important. And our country has taken the leadership in recent years in trying to bring peace not only to our own Nation but to others. I've been proud to represent you in negotiating with President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin to bring peace to Israel. And I see this not just as an achievement for Israel, to make sure that they are secure and strong and democratic and free and at peace, but that investment there by the people of our Nation, with me as your leader, has given our own Nation more stability, more security, more chance for freedom and for peace, and has stabilized a very troubled area of the world. These kind of strategic common relationships that bind us together with foreign countries are important to us all. I'm grateful to you for what you mean to me in the past and in the present, and I'm even more grateful for what you're going to mean to me 2 weeks from now when you have helped to elect me and Fritz Mondale to another term in office.


  • With the possible exception of my two predecessors, I know better than anyone how complicated and intransigent are some of the foreign policy questions that confront a President. [4]
Farewell Address (1981)
America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way round. Human rights invented America.
The fundamental force that unites us is not kinship or place of origin or religious preference. The love of liberty is a common blood that flows in our American veins.
Farewell Address (January 14, 1981)
  • I am now more convinced than ever that the United States — better than any other nation — can meet successfully whatever the future might bring.
    These last four years have made me more certain than ever of the inner strength of our country — the unchanging value of our principles and ideals, the stability of our political system, the ingenuity and the decency of our people.
  • Within our system of government every American has a right and duty to help shape the future course of the United States.
    Thoughtful criticism and close scrutiny of all government officials by the press and the public are an important part of our democratic society. Now as in our past, only the understanding and involvement of the people through full and open debate can help to avoid serious mistakes and assure the continued dignity and safety of the nation.
In an all-out nuclear war, more destructive power than in all of World War II would be unleashed every second...more people killed in the first few hours than in all the wars of history put together.
  • In an all-out nuclear war, more destructive power than in all of World War II would be unleashed every second during the long afternoon it would take for all the missiles and bombs to fall. A World War II every second—more people killed in the first few hours than in all the wars of history put together. The survivors, if any, would live in despair amid the poisoned ruins of a civilization that had committed suicide.
  • Today we are asking our political system to do things of which the founding fathers never dreamed. The government they designed for a few hundred thousand people now serves a nation of almost 230 million people. Their small coastal republic now spans beyond a continent, and we now have the responsibility to help lead much of the world through difficult times to a secure and prosperous future.
    Today, as people have become ever more doubtful of the ability of the government to deal with our problems, we are increasingly drawn to single-issue groups and special interest organizations to ensure that whatever else happens our own personal views and our own private interests are protected.
    This is a disturbing factor in American political life. It tends to distort our purposes because the national interest is not always the sum of all our single or special interests. We are all Americans together — and we must not forget that the common good is our common interest and our individual responsibility.
  • National weakness — real or perceived — can tempt aggression and thus cause war. That's why the United States cannot neglect its military strength. We must and we will remain strong. But with equal determination, the United States and all countries must find ways to control and reduce the horrifying danger that is posed by the world's enormous stockpiles of nuclear arms.
    This has been a concern of every American president since the moment we first saw what these weapons could do. Our leaders will require our understanding and our support as they grapple with this difficult but crucial challenge. There is no disagreement on the goals or the basic approach to controlling this enormous destructive force. The answer lies not just in the attitudes or actions of world leaders, but in the concern and demands of all of us as we continue our struggle to preserve the peace.
  • Nuclear weapons are an expression of one side of our human character. But there is another side. The same rocket technology that delivers nuclear warheads has also taken us peacefully into space. From that perspective, we see our Earth as it really is — a small and fragile and beautiful blue globe, the only home we have. We see no barriers of race or religion or country. We see the essential unity of our species and our planet; and with faith and common sense, that bright vision will ultimately prevail.
    Another major challenge, therefore, is to protect the quality of this world within which we live. The shadows that fail across the future are cast not only by the kinds of weapons we have built, but by the kind of world we will either nourish or neglect.
  • Acknowledging the physical realities of our planet does not mean a dismal future of endless sacrifice. In fact, acknowledging these realities is the first step in dealing with them. We can meet the resource problems of the world — water, food, minerals, farmlands, forests, overpopulation, pollution — if we tackle them with courage and foresight.
  • I have just been talking about forces of potential destruction that mankind has developed, and how we might control them. It is equally important that we remember the beneficial forces that we have evolved over the ages, and how to hold fast to them.
    One of those constructive forces is enhancement of individual human freedoms through the strengthening of democracy, and the fight against deprivation, torture, terrorism and the persecution of people throughout the world. The struggle for human rights overrides all differences of color, nation or language.
    Those who hunger for freedom, who thirst for human dignity, and who suffer for the sake of justice — they are the patriots of this cause.
    I believe with all my heart that America must always stand for these basic human rights — at home and abroad. That is both our history and our destiny.
    America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way round. Human rights invented America.
    Ours was the first nation in the history of the world to be founded explicitly on such an idea.
    Our social and political progress has been based on one fundamental principle — the value and importance of the individual. The fundamental force that unites us is not kinship or place of origin or religious preference. The love of liberty is a common blood that flows in our American veins.
  • The battle for human rights — at home and abroad — is far from over. We should never be surprised nor discouraged because the impact of our efforts has had, and will always have, varied results. Rather, we should take pride that the ideals which gave birth to our nation still inspire the hopes of oppressed people around the world. We have no cause for self-righteousness or complacency. But we have every reason to persevere, both within our own country and beyond our borders.
    If we are to serve as a beacon for human rights, we must continue to perfect here at home the rights and values which we espouse around the world: A decent education for our children, adequate medical care for all Americans, an end to discrimination against minorities and women, a job for all those able to work, and freedom from injustice and religious intolerance.
  • We live in a time of transition, an uneasy era which is likely to endure for the rest of this century. During the period we may be tempted to abandon some of the time-honored principles and commitments which have been proven during the difficult times of past generations. We must never yield to this temptation. Our American values are not luxuries, but necessities— not the salt in our bread, but the bread itself.




  • Except during my childhood, when I was probably influenced by Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel depiction of God with a flowing white beard, I have never tried to project the Creator in any kind of human likeness. The vociferous debates about whether God is male or female seem ridiculous to me. I think of God as an omnipotent and omniscient presence, a spirit that permeates the universe, the essence of truth, nature, being, and life. To me, these are profound and indescribable concepts that seem to be trivialized when expressed in words.
    • Living Faith (2001), p. 222
  • The existing and long-standing use of the word 'evolution' in our state's textbooks has not adversely affected Georgians' belief in the omnipotence of God as creator of the universe, There can be no incompatibility between Christian faith and proven facts concerning geology, biology, and astronomy. There is no need to teach that stars can fall out of the sky and land on a flat Earth in order to defend our religious faith.
  • Iraq is an unjust war. I thought then, and I think now, that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary and unjust. And I think the premises on which it was launched were false.
  • This war has been motivated by pride or arrogance, by a desire to control oil wealth, by a desire to implant our programs.
  • We are completely in bed with the Israelis to the detriment of the wellbeing of the Palestinians.
I can't deny I'm a better ex-president than I was a president.
  • Since I was 18 years old, I have taught the Bible. For the last fifteen or twenty years, I have taught every Sunday when I was home or near my own house, so that would be 35 or 40 times per year. Half of those Sundays, the text comes from the Hebrew Bible. I have had a deep personal interest in the Holy Land and in the teachings of the Hebrew people. God has a special position for the Jewish people, the Hebrews, or whatever. I know the difference between ancient Israel and Judaea, and I know the history. I don’t have any problem with the Jewish people.


  • I have become convinced that the most serious and unaddressed worldwide challenge is the deprivation and abuse of women and girls, largely caused by a false interpretation of carefully selected religious texts and a growing tolerance of violence and warfare.
    • A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power (2014)
  • I normalized diplomatic relations with China in 1979. Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None. And we have stayed at war. (Carter said the United States is) the most warlike nation in the history of the world... How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?... We have wasted, I think, $3 trillion (military spending) ... China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that's why they're ahead of us. In almost every way... And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure, you'd probably have $2 trillion left over. We'd have high-speed railroad. We'd have bridges that aren't collapsing. We'd have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of, say, South Korea or Hong Kong.... I wasn't comparing my country adversely to China... I was just pointing that out because I happened to get a phone call last night.
  • I still have complete confidence that the United States, if given time, will resolve its problems. We have always been able to do that in the past, whenever we faced difficult questions. The United States still has that innate strength.
    • As quoted in "Jimmy Carter says Trump re-election would be ‘a disaster’" by Ernie Suggs, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (September 18, 2019)

Nobel lecture (2002)

The unchanging principles of life predate modern times
Lecture in Oslo, Norway (December 10, 2002), after receiving the Nobel peace prize.
The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes — and we must.
  • Most Nobel Laureates have carried out our work in safety, but there are others who have acted with great personal courage. None has provided more vivid reminders of the dangers of peacemaking than two of my friends, Anwar Sadat and Yitzhak Rabin, who gave their lives for the cause of peace in the Middle East.
  • The world has changed greatly since I left the White House. Now there is only one superpower, with unprecedented military and economic strength. The coming budget for American armaments will be greater than those of the next fifteen nations combined, and there are troops from the United States in many countries throughout the world. Our gross national economy exceeds that of the three countries that follow us, and our nation's voice most often prevails as decisions are made concerning trade, humanitarian assistance, and the allocation of global wealth. This dominant status is unlikely to change in our lifetimes.
    Great American power and responsibility are not unprecedented, and have been used with restraint and great benefit in the past. We have not assumed that super strength guarantees super wisdom, and we have consistently reached out to the international community to ensure that our own power and influence are tempered by the best common judgment.
    Within our country, ultimate decisions are made through democratic means, which tend to moderate radical or ill-advised proposals. Constrained and inspired by historic constitutional principles, our nation has endeavored for more than two hundred years to follow the now almost universal ideals of freedom, human rights, and justice for all.
  • Ladies and gentlemen: Twelve years ago, President Mikhail Gorbachev received your recognition for his preeminent role in ending the Cold War that had lasted fifty years. But instead of entering a millennium of peace, the world is now, in many ways, a more dangerous place. The greater ease of travel and communication has not been matched by equal understanding and mutual respect. There is a plethora of civil wars, unrestrained by rules of the Geneva Convention, within which an overwhelming portion of the casualties are unarmed civilians who have no ability to defend themselves. And recent appalling acts of terrorism have reminded us that no nations, even superpowers, are invulnerable. It is clear that global challenges must be met with an emphasis on peace, in harmony with others, with strong alliances and international consensus.
  • I am not here as a public official, but as a citizen of a troubled world who finds hope in a growing consensus that the generally accepted goals of society are peace, freedom, human rights, environmental quality, the alleviation of suffering, and the rule of law.
  • The unchanging principles of life predate modern times. I worship Jesus Christ, whom we Christians consider to be the Prince of Peace. As a Jew, he taught us to cross religious boundaries, in service and in love. He repeatedly reached out and embraced Roman conquerors, other Gentiles, and even the more despised Samaritans.
    Despite theological differences, all great religions share common commitments that define our ideal secular relationships. I am convinced that Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and others can embrace each other in a common effort to alleviate human suffering and to espouse peace.
    But the present era is a challenging and disturbing time for those whose lives are shaped by religious faith based on kindness toward each other. We have been reminded that cruel and inhuman acts can be derived from distorted theological beliefs, as suicide bombers take the lives of innocent human beings, draped falsely in the cloak of God's will. With horrible brutality, neighbors have massacred neighbors in Europe, Asia, and Africa.
    In order for us human beings to commit ourselves personally to the inhumanity of war, we find it necessary first to dehumanize our opponents, which is in itself a violation of the beliefs of all religions. Once we characterize our adversaries as beyond the scope of God's mercy and grace, their lives lose all value. We deny personal responsibility when we plant landmines and, days or years later, a stranger to us — often a child – is crippled or killed. From a great distance, we launch bombs or missiles with almost total impunity, and never want to know the number or identity of the victims.
  • The most serious and universal problem is the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth. Citizens of the ten wealthiest countries are now seventy-five times richer than those who live in the ten poorest ones, and the separation is increasing every year, not only between nations but also within them.
  • Ladies and gentlemen: War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children.
  • The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us the capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes — and we must.

DNC address (2004)

Address to the Democratic National Convention (July 26, 2004)
  • My name is Jimmy Carter, and I'm not running for president.
  • As many of you may know, my first chosen career was in the United States Navy, where I served as a submarine officer. At that time, my shipmates and I were ready for combat and prepared to give our lives to defend our nation and its principles. At the same time, we always prayed that our readiness would preserve the peace.
    I served under two presidents, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, men who represented different political parties, both of whom had faced their active military responsibilities with honor.
    They knew the horrors of war. And later as commanders in chief, they exercised restraint and judgment, and they had a clear sense of mission.
    We had a confidence that our leaders, both military and civilian, would not put our soldiers and sailors in harm's way by initiating wars of choice unless America's vital interests were in danger.
    We also were sure that these presidents would not mislead us when issues involved our national security.
  • Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America, based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world.
    Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world.
    Without truth, without trust, America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between a president and the people.
    When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken.
  • After 9/11, America stood proud -- wounded, but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this good will has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations.
    Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.
    Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support.
    We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights.
    But recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice.
    What a difference these few months of extremism have made.
    The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war.
  • In repudiating extremism, we need to recommit ourselves to a few common-sense principles that should transcend partisan differences.
    First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what is most precious to us, namely the centrality of human rights in our daily lives and in global affairs.
    Second, we cannot maintain our historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic.
    Third, we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda that polarizes and divides our country.
    Next, we cannot be true to ourselves if we mistreat others.
    And finally, in the world at large, we cannot lead if our leaders mislead.
  • Ultimately, the basic issue is whether America will provide global leadership that springs from the unity and the integrity of the American people, or whether extremist doctrines, the manipulation of the truth, will define America's role in the world.
    At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul.
  • I am not discouraged. I really am not. I do not despair for our country. I never do. I believe tonight, as I always have, that the essential decency and compassion and common sense of the American people will prevail.
    And so I say to you and to others around the world, whether they wish us well or ill: Do not underestimate us Americans.
Full title: Our Endangered Values : America's Moral Crisis (2005)
I believe that anyone can be successful in life, regardless of natural talent or the environment within which we live. This is not based on measuring success by human competitiveness for wealth, possessions, influence, and fame, but adhering to God's standards of truth, justice, humility, service, compassion, forgiveness, and love.
Some of our actions are similar to those of abusive regimes that we have historically condemned.
Instead of honoring the historic restraints, our political leaders decided to violate them, using the excuse that we are at war against terrorism. It is obvious that the Geneva Conventions were designed specifically to protect prisoners of war, not prisoners of peace.
I never felt that my dedication to military service was a violation of my faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
  • I have experienced the intensity of patriotism as a submarine officer, the ambitions of a competitive businessman, and the intensity of political debate. I have been sorely tempted to launch a military attack on foreigners, and have felt the frustration of having to negotiate with allies or even former enemies to reach a consensus instead of taking more decisive unilateral action.
    • Introduction, p. 5
  • I believe that anyone can be successful in life, regardless of natural talent or the environment within which we live. This is not based on measuring success by human competitiveness for wealth, possessions, influence, and fame, but adhering to God's standards of truth, justice, humility, service, compassion, forgiveness, and love.
    • Ch. 2 : My Traditional Christian Faith, p. 28
  • Of the several hundred visitors who attend my Sunday lessons each week, only about 15 percent happen to be Baptists. When I take a few minutes to let my class identify themselves, there are usually about a half dozen "mainline" Protestant denominations represented, often accompanied by Roman Catholics, Amish, Mennonites, Mormons, Quakers, and Seventh-day Adventists. Our church welcomes Jews, Muslims, and other non-Christian worshipers, and we encourage everyone to take part in the discussions. They are quite interesting and helpful to me, and over the years I have acquired an insight into the beliefs and interests of many other religious people.
    • Ch. 2 : My Traditional Christian Faith, p. 28
  • There is a remarkable trend toward fundamentalism in all religions — including the different denominations of Christianity as well as Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. Increasingly, true believers are inclined to begin a process of deciding: "Since I am aligned with God, I am superior and my beliefs should prevail, and anyone who disagrees with me is inherently wrong," and the next step is "inherently inferior." The ultimate step is "subhuman," and then their lives are not significant.
    That tendency has created, throughout the world, intense religious conflicts. Those Christians who resist the inclination toward fundamentalism and who truly follow the nature, actions, and words of Jesus Christ should encompass people who are different from us with our care, generosity, forgiveness, compassion, and unselfish love.
    It is not easy to do this. It is a natural human inclination to encapsulate ourselves in a superior fashion with people who are just like us — and to assume that we are fulfilling the mandate of our lives if we just confine our love to our own family or to people who are similar and compatible. Breaking through this barrier and reaching out to others is what personifies a Christian and what emulates the perfect example that Christ set for us.
    • Ch. 3 : The Rise of Religious Fundamentalism, p. 30 ; response on being asked by Christianity Today to explain the statement in his 2002 Nobel address in Oslo: "The present era is a challenging and disturbing time for those whose lives are shaped by religious faith based on kindness towards each other."
  • A Contemplation of What Has Been Created, and Why
    I tried to fathom nature's laws
    From twirling models and schoolroom sketches
    Of molecules and parts of atoms,
    And nearly believed- but then came quarks,
    Bosons, leptons, antiparticles,
    Opposite turning mirror images,
    Some that perforate the earth,
    Never swerving from their certain paths.
    I've listened to conflicting views
    About the grand and lesser worlds:
    A big bang where it all began;
    Of curved, ever-expanding space;
    Perhaps tremendous whirling yo-yos
    That will someday reach the end
    Of cosmic gravity and then
    Fly back to where they can restart
    Or cataclysmically blow apart-
    And then, and then the next event.
    And is that all an accident?
    • Ch. 5 : No Conflict Between Science and Religion, p. 51
  • For instance, I have never believed that Jesus Christ would approve either abortions or the death penalty, but I obeyed such Supreme Court decisions to the best of my ability, at the same time attempting to minimize what I considered to be their adverse impact.
    • Ch. 6 : The Entwining of Church and State, p. 57
  • The government and the church are two different realms of service, and those in political office have to face a subtle but important difference between the implementation of the high ideals of religious faith and public duty.
    • Ch. 6 : The Entwining of Church and State, 57
  • There is a strong religious commitment to the sanctity of human life, but, paradoxically, some of the most fervent protectors of microscopic stem cells are the most ardent proponents of the death penalty.
    • Ch. 8 : Would Jesus Approve Abortions and the Death Penalty?, p. 78
  • Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and justifying their belief on an erroneous interpretation of Hebrew Scriptures. "An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth," their most likely response, overlooks the fact that this was promulgated by Moses as a limitation- a prohibition against taking both eyes or all of an offender's teeth in retribution.
    • Ch. 8 : Would Jesus Approve Abortions and the Death Penalty?, p. 82
  • Eight years before he became vice president, Richard Cheney spelled out this premise in his "Defense Strategy for the 1990s." Either before or soon after 9/11, he and his close associates chose Iraq as the first major target, apparently to remove a threat to Israel and to have Iraq serve as our permanent military, economic, and political base in the Middle East.
    • Ch. 10 : Fundamentalism In Government, p. 100
  • Formerly admired almost universally as the preeminent champion of human rights, the United States now has become one of the foremost targets of respected international organizations concerned about these basic principles of democratic life. Some of our actions are similar to those of abusive regimes that we have historically condemned.
    • Ch. 12 : Attacking Terrorism, Not Human Rights?, p. 117
  • It is apparent that prisoners of war are among the most vulnerable of people. Not only are they completely under the control of their captors, but in a time of conflict, the hatred and brutality of the battlefield are very likely to be mirrored within military prison walls.
    • Ch. 12 : Attacking Terrorism, Not Human Rights?, p. 125
  • The authenticity and universal applicability of these guarantees were never questioned by a democratic power — until recently, and by America! Instead of honoring the historic restraints, our political leaders decided to violate them, using the excuse that we are at war against terrorism. It is obvious that the Geneva Conventions were designed specifically to protect prisoners of war, not prisoners of peace.
    • Ch. 12 : Attacking Terrorism, Not Human Rights?, p. 126
  • Aside from the humanitarian aspects, it is well known that, under excruciating torture, a prisoner will admit almost any suggested crime. Such confessions are, of course, not admissible in trials in civilized nations. The primary goal of torture or the threat of torture is not to obtain convictions for crimes, but to engender and maintain fear. Some of our leaders have found that it is easy to forgo human rights for those who are considered to be subhuman, or "enemy combatants."
    • Ch. 12 : Attacking Terrorism, Not Human Rights?, p. 129
  • With massive arsenals still on hair-trigger alert, a global holocaust is just as possible now, through mistakes or misjudgments, as it was during the depths of the Cold War.
    • Ch. 12 : Attacking Terrorism, Not Human Rights?, p. 141
  • I never felt that my dedication to military service was a violation of my faith in Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.
    • Ch. 14 : Worshiping the Prince of Peace, or Preemptive War?, p. 147
  • For me personally and for most other Americans, this commitment to peace and diplomacy does not imply a blind or total pacifism. There are times when war is justified, and for many centuries the moral criteria for violence have been carefully delineated.
    • Ch. 14 : Worshiping the Prince of Peace, or Preemptive War?, p. 151
  • When combined, the small individual contributors of caring, friendship, forgiveness, and love, each of us different from our next-door neighbors, can form a phalanx, an army, with great capability.
    • Ch. 16 : The World's Greatest Challenge in the New Millennium, p. 186
  • It is good to know that our nation's defenses against a conventional attack are impregnable, and an imperative that America remain vigilant against threats from terrorists. But as is the case with a human being, admirable characteristics of a nation are not defined by size and physical prowess. What are some of the other attributes of a superpower? Once again, they might very well mirror those of a person. These would include a demonstrable commitment to truth, justice, peace, freedom, humility, human rights, generosity, and the upholding of other moral values.
    • Conclusion: What Is A Superpower?, p. 199

Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006)



This is a national tragedy and is not who we are as a nation. Having observed elections in troubled democracies worldwide, I know that we the people can unite to walk back from this precipice to peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must.
Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me ~ 2023
  • Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished.
As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.


  • If you don't want your tax dollars to help the poor, then stop saying that you want a country based on Christian values. Because you don't.

Quotations about Carter

Religion always functions best at the margins of society and not in the councils of power, and I think Jimmy Carter’s career illustrates that beautifully. ~ Randall Balmer
In alphabetized order by author or source.
  • Who ever decided that Americans were so bad off in the seventies anyway? From the right-wing revisionist propaganda that has become accepted as fact, you'd think that Americans under President Carter were suffering through something like the worst of the Weimar Republic combined with the Siege of Leningrad. The truth is that on a macroeconomic level, the difference between the Carter era and the Reagan era was minimal. For instance, economic growth during the Carter Administration averaged 2.8 percent annually, while under Reagan, from 1982 to 1989, growth averaged 3.2 percent. Was it really worth killing ourselves over that extra .4 percent of growth? For a lucky few, yes. On the other key economic gauge, unemployment, the Carter years were actually better than Reagan's, averaging 6.7 pervent annually during his "malaise-stricken" term as compared to an average 7.3 percent unemployment rate during the glorious eight-year reign of Ronald Reagan. Under Carter, people worked less, got far more benefits, and the country grew almost the same average annual rate as Reagan. On the other hand, according to the Statistical Abstract of the United States for 1996, under Reagan life got worse for those who had it worse: the number of people below the poverty line increased in almost every year from 1981 (31.8 million) to 1992 (39.3 million). And yet, we are told America was in decline until Reagan came to power and that the country was gripped by this ethereal malaise. Where was this malaise? Whose America was in decline? The problem with the 1970s wasn't that America was in decline, it was that the plutocracy felt itself declining. And in the plutocrats' eyes, their fortunes are synonymous with America's.
    • Mark Ames, Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond (2005), p. 99
  • He started the Carter Center and has been involved in more than 100 negotiations on elections or observing elections, and because of this there has been a huge American presence in the world. Because of this, he won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. No one has done as much in their post-presidential years.
  • The situations of the Wilmington 10, and the Charlotte 3, are very small symptoms of the monstrous and continuing wrong for which you, as the elected leader, are now responsible…I must add, in honor, that I write to you because I love our country: And you, in my lifetime, are the only president to whom I would have written.
  • No one's going to clarify the situation for black people. They know that very well-the situation of the kids in the street who have no jobs and no future. We have to articulate that necessity because Mr. Carter can't do it. He never sees those people. Those people are numbers in the bulk of the American population. I suppose that what I'm suggesting is that we're going to have to create the help.
    • interview in Conversations with James Baldwin edited by Louis H. Pratt and Fred L. Standley (1989)
  • In 1980 the Democrats were pretty much stuck with Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, who ran under the slogan "Four More Years?" The Republicans, meanwhile, had a spirited primary campaign season, which came down to a duel between Reagan and George Herbert Walker Norris Wainright Armoire Vestibule Pomegranate Bush IV, who had achieved a distinguished record of public service despite havig a voice that sounded like he had just inhaled an entire blimp-load of helium.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States (1989), p. 167
  • Reagan finally won the nomination by promoting "Reaganomics", an economic program based on the theory that the government could lower taxes while increasing spending and at the same time actually reduce the federal budget by sacrificing a live chicken by the light of a full moon. Bush charged that this amounted to "voo-doo economics," which got him into hot water until he explained that what he meant to say was "doo-doo economics." Satisfied, Reagan made Bush his vice-presidential nominee. The turning point in the election campaign came during the October 8 debate between Reagan and Carter, when Reagan's handlers came up with a shrewd strategy: No matter what Carter said, Reagan would respond by shaking his head in a sorrowful manner and saying: "There you go again." This was brilliant, because (a) it required the candidate to remember only four words, and (b) he delivered them so believably that everything Carter said seemed like a lie. If Carter had stated that the Earth was round, Reagan would have shaken his head, saying, "There you go again," and millions of voters would have said: "Yeah! What does Carter think we are? Stupid?
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States (1989), p. 167
  • The Carter administration set a goal of deriving 20 percent of U.S. energy needs from such renewable sources by the turn of the century. Today, the U.S. gets a mere 7 percent of its energy from renewables, the bulk of that from the massive hydroelectric dams constructed in the middle of the 20th century. Solar thermal and photovoltaic technology combined provide less than 0.1 percent.
  • By 1986, the Reagan administration had gutted the research and development budgets for renewable energy at the then-fledgling U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) and eliminated tax breaks for the deployment of wind turbines and solar technologies—recommitting the nation to reliance on cheap but polluting fossil fuels, often from foreign suppliers.
  • Throughout his career he invariably found himself defending tyrants and dictators at the expense of their oppressed peoples, not because he was insensitive but because he was confused.
  • Mr. Carter always subscribed to what my friend Michael Scroccaro calls 'Underdogma,' a knew-jerk reaction to champion the cause of the underdog however immoral the party. Poverty dictates virtue and weakness dictates righteousness.
  • At first glance, it may seem even stranger to compare the Manhattan real estate developer to a mild-mannered Georgia peanut farmer instead, and a president with serial marriages and allegations of sexual improprieties with a monogamous, Sunday school-teaching Southern Baptist. But politically, Trump and Carter have more in common than one might think, and the comparison goes well beyond Trump’s recent attempt to broker peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates as Carter did with Israel and Egypt. Indeed, if recent polls hold, their ultimate political fates will be more alike than different, forever united in history as one-term presidents who were largely unable to rise to the challenges of their day. When Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976, his victory was hailed as a triumph of the outsider. No governor had been elected president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, and with the exception of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the White House had generally been occupied by senators and former vice presidents who might best be described as "Washington insiders." No wonder, in a nation reeling from Watergate and Nixon’s subsequent pardon, voters looked for leadership without the stench of the swamp. Carter’s close-fought victory in the Electoral College reflected his ability to attract Southern Democrats, who now leaned Republican in presidential elections, to his side and produced an electoral map that hadn’t been seen since 1960—and hasn’t been seen since his victory. (Clinton, the next Democratic president after Carter, managed to win a few states in the Deep South, but the shift to Carter in 1976 was largely temporary.) The region voted for Reagan and Bush—and more recently against Obama—as it became reliably Republican at the presidential level. And in the lead-up to Donald Trump in 2016, the electoral map remained largely consistent. In short, Carter was the right person at the right time to draw enough of those voters back into the Democratic tent to win election. Flash back to 2016, and we see Trump also realigning the American electoral map, making inroads into working-class Midwestern states like Michigan and Wisconsin that hadn’t voted for a Republican in a presidential election since the 1980s. As with Carter, Americans elected Donald Trump as an “anti-establishment outsider” who promised to “drain the swamp” and change the way conventional Washington does business—messaging that his campaign is still using as an incumbent in 2020. Trump’s 304-227 victory in the Electoral College was similarly narrow to Carter’s 297-240, and whether he will be able to replicate this map in 2020 remains to be seen.
  • As we’re seeing in real time, Trump’s presidency will be singularly characterized by his ability (or inability) to rise to the challenges that now threaten his time in office—in much the same way that Carter’s electoral success ultimately depended on his handling of the Iran hostage crisis and the economic difficulties of his day. Like Carter, Trump is running for reelection with an economy in recession. One of the most critical difficulties faced by Carter in the 1980 campaign was Reagan’s question, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” Rather few can answer “yes” to that today—and the same was true for Carter. At first, Carter’s response to the recession received high marks from voters. His now infamous “malaise speech” in July 1979, criticized in years since, was viewed overwhelmingly positively at the time. Carter’s poll numbers rebounded such that by the start of 1980, he led presumptive Republican nominee Ronald Reagan by more than 30 percentage points in some polls. Much of the Trump presidency tells a similar story. Trump never had the same high approval ratings, but for perhaps even longer than Carter, he seemed to be well-positioned for reelection. And despite a “blue wave” in the 2018 midterms, Trump’s record on the economy pointed toward victory in 2020. He oversaw a bullish stock market, record low unemployment, and the strongest economic expansion since at least the mid-1990s—all traditional indicators of strength. But Trump’s fortunes changed dramatically this past spring, first with the rise of the novel coronavirus, and then with the development of civil and racial unrest in America’s cities. In both cases, his actions—or with respect to coronavirus, his inaction—only exacerbated these problems and threatened his chances of a victory in November. Teargassing peaceful protesters to secure a photo op for evangelicals, then sending heavily armed federal law enforcement officers to Portland, Ore., echoes Carter’s failed attempt at rescuing the hostages—only to have things blow up in his face.
  • Carter and Trump’s inability to respond effectively to their respective crises also stems from an unwillingness to engage with Congress and develop the relationships necessary to sway the legislature their way. While both had big plans for changing Washington—for Carter, it was energy and welfare reform; for Trump, a smattering of new trade deals, building the Wall and repealing Obamacare—neither mastered the levers of Congress and how to pull them to their advantage. Ultimately, they were stymied when crises struck and all the wheels of government needed to turn together. The seeds of these late-term failures were sown early in their terms. Trump and Carter both had a few, early successes. Both were able to deregulate massive swaths of American industry, and both signed tax cuts in the second year of their administration. Carter—much more of a fiscal hawk than the current President—aimed for a balanced budget but, like Trump, also faced a breakdown within his own party over health care. More often, though, Carter struggled to advance his domestic legislative priorities. He began his term with his party in control of both houses of the legislature, but Congress rejected his welfare reform plans and Democratic leaders famously scuttled his plans to wind down a collection of what he saw as pork-barrel water projects in their districts. Later, they would even override his veto of a bill that repealed oil import fees, the first time they had done so for a majority party president in 28 years. Likewise, when Donald Trump took office with Republican control of the House and Senate, he began hitting walls right away. Despite years of promises, the party was not able to take action on rolling back Obamacare, the signature achievement of Trump’s predecessor. Trump was not able to sell the issue to the public or members of Congress, and the majority-led bill famously went down in the Senate when John McCain cast the deciding vote against it. Trump’s much-vaunted border wall also failed to gain traction despite unified party rule, and he even tried to shift funds from the military budget to get his way. Unlike Carter, Trump quickly gave up working with Congress. In discussions over the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and later with Covid relief, Trump had Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin take over the role of chief negotiator with Congress, relegating the president to the sidelines. But no matter the amount of effort they put in, both presidents ended up acting largely alone until they hit existential threats—whether hostage-takers or a virus—that required seamless coordination among power centers. The failures that followed were almost predictable, whether an unsuccessful rescue attempt or an uncontrolled pandemic.
  • The country’s tilt against Trump may have come later in the campaign than it did against Carter, but the end result looks likely to be the same. And if that is the case, then the legacy of the 2020 election might have implications far beyond our current times. If Trump is our generation’s Carter, then 2020 just might look more like 1980 and make 78-year-old Joe Biden the Ronald Reagan of our times—a broadly popular figure rising out of the malaise and establishing a legacy for his party for the next generation. A strange turn of events, no doubt. After all, although history rarely repeats, it may yet again rhyme.
  • Today -- and I'm not making this up -- Jimmy Carter endorsed Donald Trump. Here's what Jimmy Carter said: the reason is Donald's views are malleable, he has no core beliefs on anything... This Cruz guy actually believes this stuff. I want the video, and I am going to pay to air Jimmy Carter attacking me.
  • Mr. Carter has presented a tour de force of the global abuse and manipulation of women, including statistics that will stun most readers with details that cannot be ignored. More importantly, he makes the argument that the treatment of women in world societies cannot and should not be justified by religious texts or appeals to ancestral tradition.
  • Coming from a "Sunday school teacher," the book is designed to shock us into the reality that the social creation of gender roles is not "the divine will." Rather, gender roles are the result of human social control, greed, power politics and the continued pursuit of sexual gratification that blames all women for the crime of seducing men. ... Mr. Carter's "A Call to Action" should not only be required reading in America, but should also serve as the template for a complete reinterpretation of the religious views behind our treatment of each other, to discover what he claims is the true meaning behind the miracle of creation.
  • Jimmy Carter has literally become such an anti-Israel bigot that there is a special place in Hell reserved for somebody like that. He has no sympathy or understanding for the suffering of the Jewish people—for the plight of the Jewish people. He loves every Muslim extremist he can find. He thought the former president of SyriaAssad—was a wonderful man. He bounced Yasser Arafat's children on his knee and loved Yasser Arafat and his crooked wife who stole three billion dollars from the Palestinian people, but he never had a kind word to say about almost any Israeli, except a few on the hard left who maybe tended to agree with him. ... If you're an Israeli, Carter doesn't like you and if you're an Arab or a Muslim, he likes you.
  • I watched Carter teach Sunday school at the Baptist church his friends started in the 1970s, after his original church refused to integrate. Some in Plains, disdaining his views on integration, tried to boycott his peanut business, but most came back. "I had the best peanuts," he told Rafshoon. I sat with the former president as he celebrated his 93rd birthday with a concert; he asked the pianist to play “Imagine.” Wearing jeans and a belt with a big "JC" buckle, he showed me the four-poster walnut bed he slept in with Rosalynn, which he had carved himself. The man was a marvel. The starchiness and righteousness were still there. He had not mellowed, thank God. He remained, to use the descriptor favored by one of his sons, intense. He still felt the sting of being dissed and held at a distance by his successors Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. As a postpresident, Carter’s decency and honesty shone. Unlike Clinton and Obama, he didn’t go Hollywood. Through the Carter Center, he worked tirelessly to eradicate diseases like Guinea worm and supervise elections in more than 100 countries. He cared so passionately about peace that he even offered to go on a mission for a Republican president with very different values, Donald Trump, to talk to Kim Jong Un in North Korea. Carter cared about building — furniture and relationships. The nasty new face of Georgia politics cares about dividing. The nasty new face of Georgia politics cares about dividing. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene followed up her furry catcalls to President Joe Biden during the State of the Union by proposing secession.
  • As it happened, the fifth anniversary of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam occurred at the time of the 1973 siege of Wounded Knee. It was difficult to miss the analogy between the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre and My Lai, 1968. Alongside the front-page news and photographs of the Wounded Knee siege that was taking place in real time were features with photos of the scene of mutilation and death at My Lai. Lieutenant William "Rusty" Calley was then serving his twenty-year sentence under house arrest in luxurious officers' quarters at Fort Benning, Georgia, near his hometown. Yet he remained a national hero who received hundreds of support letters weekly, who was lauded by some as a POW being held by the US military. One of Calley's most ardent defenders was Jimmy Carter, then governor of Georgia. In 1974, President Richard Nixon would pardon Calley.
  • There have been better presidents in U.S. history, but there have also been much worse, particularly in the years since Carter’s presidency. Perhaps more honorable and respectable people like Carter should feel empowered to run for office. Many current representatives and politicians are certainly hollow people — and even worse, spineless leaders. The laundry list of unethical and twisted U.S. leadership spans from Republican standouts such as former President Donald Trump, former President Richard Nixon and U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) to cross party lines with former President Bill Clinton, and, of course, alone in the uber-corrupt middle with U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.). All U.S. presidents have a scandal or two under their belts, including Carter. However, his missteps pale in comparison to Clinton’s perjury in court over his affair with Monica Lewinsky and Nixon’s infamous involvement with the 1972 Watergate scandal. Trump, despite being an outlying example of corruption and shattered morals, shows how awry politics can go and what elected politicians need to be directly fighting against. After losing the 2020 election, Trump has remained a prominent figure in American politics and media, often spotlighting himself and his achievements rather than addressing the turmoil everyday Americans face, as Carter did. Both during his tenure and after, Trump showed how corruption, discrimination and outright lies can tear apart a country instead of bringing it together, issuing in a new era of disingenuous politicians such as Greene and her Freedom Caucus cohort. Additionally, Democratic U.S. representatives like Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have been known to sideline policies extremely popular with their constituents in favor of the heavy paychecks they receive from corporate benefactors. Recently, Democratic President Joe Biden has even signaled his own priorities after seemingly greenlighting the massive Willow oil project in Alaska, favoring corporations and economic profits over the environmental hazards that will undeniably result. As opposed to all of these examples, Carter’s tenure and thereafter have uniquely showcased an immense dedication to civility and prosperity that simply is not present in modern politics. With politicians’ impassioned discourses in Congress seeming more like a stunt to gain traction for their new fundraising efforts, Americans now expect public officials to act in their own self-interest rather than for the public good. It is important that our country can find its way to its self-proclaimed values of equality, progress and transparency, following in Carter’s footsteps.
  • First of all stop thinking about yourself and actually think about getting things done for the American people. I think that the first problem is that they're concerned about how they look. Second of all, I think they've got it completely wrong. Biden will be remembered as being worse than Jimmy Carter because they're talking about gas prices and inflation and how things were bad then and now, but they're ignoring the fact that Carter's policies didn't fast-track us into a new Cold War or push us into a place where we're closer to a nuclear war now than since the Cuban missile crisis. Carter didn't denounce and reject half the country as domestic terrorists. Carter didn't sic the Department of Justice on parents who are trying to fight for their children's education and the list goes on and on. I really wish the president of the United States and the White House would really focus on actually doing the work for the American people rather than thinking about perceptions or politics or elections or all these other things.
  • President Carter's concern about the butchery in some Latin American countries seems healthy, but the present dictators are not self-taught: they have learned the techniques of repression and the arts of government at academies run by the Pentagon in the United States and the Panama Canal Zone. These courses are still being given today, and no change is known to have been made in their content.
    • Eduardo Galeano Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent (1997)
  • Amid the ongoing debacle in Afghanistan, some on the right have started making comparisons between the presidency of Jimmy Carter and that of Joe Biden. The parallels between the Iranian hostage crisis and the disaster in Afghanistan are limited, but it is notable that the hostage crisis was the unforeseeable consequence of a series of events that the U.S. was not in any real position to control (which is not to claim that Carter handled the events leading up to the fall of the Shah particularly well, on the contrary). By contrast, what is now unfolding in Afghanistan is the direct and all too predictable consequence of a specific decision that — down to its disastrous timing — was ultimately Biden’s to take. Another seeming parallel between Carter and Biden is the problem of inflation. Of course, inflation was a major issue throughout the Carter administration as well as during the Nixon and Ford years, with rates bouncing around wildly through much of the decade. But Biden’s inflation problem, like the Afghanistan debacle, is likely to end up resting mostly on Biden’s own shoulders if his spending plans go through, with the rate having jumped from 1.4 percent in January when he took office to 5.39 percent in June.
  • As if the scales were already not tilted in Carter’s favor relative to Biden’s (at least to date), the starkest differences between the two can be found in the area of economic regulation. On this transformative issue not only was Carter much better than Biden, but he may be one of the most notable deregulatory presidents in modern history. He’s almost certainly the most unexpected. As president, Carter led the way in deregulating America’s airlines and interstate trucking, as well as freight railroads and even beer brewing. Each of these reforms has stood the test of time, resulting in cheaper transportation, more industry competition, and better living standards for millions of Americans. While Americans often complain about cramped quarters on airlines, the actual preferences of most ticket purchasers continues to be for inexpensive, “no frills” options. Meanwhile, just last year, over 1,000 supporters of the 1980 Staggers Act, which deregulated much of the railroad sector, signed a letter reaffirming their support for the policies outlined in that bill. As noted in that letter, since the act’s passage, “[r]ail traffic has doubled, rail productivity has more than doubled, rail rates are down more than 40 percent, and recent years have been the safest on record.” In other words, deregulation worked, and it has been working to our benefit for decades since. Lest you think you haven’t benefited adequately from more efficient transportation, Carter also signed legislation that legalized craft brewing, something that helped pave the way to the numerous innovations in beer brewing that have pleased millions of Americans, from hop-heads to those who prefer fruit and chocolate-infused flavors and everything in between.
  • These points may not convince many conservatives that Jimmy Carter was a good president (and to be clear, I don’t think he was, myself), but perhaps they will convince some that Carter had significant and lasting accomplishments to show for his four years in office. Given his track record to date, Joe Biden is beginning to make Jimmy Carter look pretty good. That may not say that much about Carter, but it says a lot about Biden.
  • President Trump called former President Jimmy Carter for the first time this weekend... It was the first time they'd spoken... He said Trump told him that he is particularly concerned about how China is "getting ahead of us." Carter said he agreed with Trump on this issue. "And do you know why?" Carter said. "I normalized diplomatic relations with China in 1979. Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None. And we have stayed at war," Carter said the United States is "the most warlike nation in the history of the world" due to a desire to impose American values on other countries, and he suggested that China is investing its resources into projects such as high-speed railroads instead of defense spending.
  • Gerald Ford used every bit of his presidential incumbent power to narrowly stave off Ronald Reagan's challenge at the 1976 Republican National Convention. But Nixon's pardoner and the steward of a poor economy lost to the "untainted" and unknown former Democratic governor of Georgia, Jimmy Carter. Black hopes were high until the austere Carter administration, to boost the economy, started unprecedented cuts in social welfare, health care, and educational programs while increasing military spending. From the lowest Black poverty rate in US history in 1973, the decade ended with record unemployment rates, inflation, falling wages, rising Black poverty rates, and increasing inequality.
    • Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (2017). New York: Bold Type Books, p. 424-425
  • Yes. Three of them were strong for universal comprehensive coverage, effectively a single-payer or universal coverage, except Carter. Carter refused, during the whole course of the campaign, to take that position. He had reasons that I don’t know. I guess he wanted to do everything on his own on this thing. He sort of relished the idea that he didn’t have to make a commitment on universal comprehensive coverage. He had stated, in the course of the convention—The convention in ’76 had a good plank for universal coverage, which he claimed to support and which was written mostly by the people that supported—by the UAW people, and Leonard Woodcock and Corman, Woodcock being the head of the UAW then. But whenever he was asked about it—he talked about healthcare; he talked about coverage; and he talked his way around it. You know, he used artful words all the way through this. I campaigned for him and appeared with him on a number of occasions, but he was never—When he got the nomination in ’76, I think it’s probably the only convention I didn’t speak at. He wasn’t all that interested in me speaking at it. He wanted to be separated and clear from the Kennedys, and he made that somewhat clear.
  • Since Biden circa 2022 is often compared to 1970s Jimmy Carter due to a combination of sluggish job approval ratings, unhappy progressive activists, and big-time economic problems (especially inflation), it is germane to observe that Carter managed to soundly defeat Ted Kennedy — the liberal lion of the 1970s and subsequent decades — in the 1980 nomination contest. Are there any Ted Kennedys around right now to mobilize progressive anti-administration grievances into a successful insurgent candidacy? Someday, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez may have that stature — but not now. Indeed, the only potential rival from any wing of the party who is in that position is Bernie Sanders, who is older than Biden. And even if there were some Kennedy-like figure available, would the fight disable the Democratic Party (as it arguably did in 1980) more than slogging ahead with the incumbent?
  • (Sinda Gregory: “Science fiction seems to appeal to a lot of Americans today who are concerned about the things you write about, who feel that something drastic needs to be done before we blow ourselves up or completely destroy our environment.”) Le Guin: We have to thank Reagan and friends for this mood, maybe. They've scared us. Poor Jimmy Carter, who was perfectly aware of what World War Three would be like, couldn't get through to the public. We let him do the worrying for us, and then blamed him for our problems.
  • Former president Jimmy Carter recently made a profound and damning statement — the United States is the “most warlike nation in the history of the world.” Carter contrasted the United States with China, saying that China is building high-speed trains for its people while the United States is putting all of its resources into mass destruction. Where are high-speed trains in the United States, Carter appropriately wondered.... As if to prove Carter’s assertion, Vice President Mike Pence told the most recent graduating class at West Point that it “is a virtual certainty that you will fight on a battlefield for America at some point in your life... You will lead soldiers in combat. It will happen.” Clearly referring to Venezuela, Pence continued, “Some of you may even be called upon to serve in this hemisphere.” In other words, Pence declared, war is inevitable, a certainty for this country.
  • After the Black leadership meeting in 1983, the Rev. Jesse Jackson decided to test the waters. Re-enter Preston Love, Jr. Because of Jackson’s relationship with Young, my presence in his administration and my newly found political reputation, Jackson asked me to take a leave of absence from Young and work with him during his presidential exploratory journey. I accepted. At that point, I was Jackson’s only staff member. Late in the summer of 1983, while Jackson and I traveled the southern sector registering Black voters and urging them to vote, we visited Carter at his home in Plains, Georgia. I remember so well what gracious hosts the president and his wife, Rosalyn, were to Jackson and me. He was insightful, and had a historic perspective of the presidency. about the pitfalls and the realities of doing such. After meeting with him, I felt a tremendous like and respect for the man. We also had a short, but exciting, tour of the complex and a quick course in farming peanuts. While Carter encouraged Jackson to pursue a run for president, he was very clear and forthright. I mourn the fact that he, to this date, has not received his due. Not only as president, but for his post-presidential service, and for his interactions and relationships with the Black community.
  • The downside to US political memory is that substance often counts for little. If it were taken more seriously, Jimmy Carter would be credited for having seeded the Soviet Union’s demise and Ronald Reagan would not have been canonised as a modern saint. But marketing is a powerful drug. Conventional wisdom insists that Carter played Chamberlain to Reagan’s Churchill. After four years of Carterian vacillation, Reagan grabbed the reins in 1981 and the rest is history. Except that it is shoddy history. Understanding how the US won the last cold war is key to managing the next one. America’s distorted memory stems partly from the fact that the right adores Reagan while the left disowned Carter. Such was its sense of betrayal that influential Kennedy-era liberals, such as Arthur Schlesinger, refused to vote for the Democratic party in 1980 for the only time in their lives. Carter is thus an orphan of partisan historiography. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama went out of their way to ignore him. Joe Biden is the first of Carter’s successors to have paid his respects to America’s 39th president. That is no coincidence. Biden and Carter have overlapping world views.
  • The second liberal gripe against Carter is that he lost to Reagan. As the saying went, Carter was defeated by the three Ks — Khomeini, Kennedy and Koch. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Iranian revolution led to the hostage crisis that was a millstone round Carter’s neck. After 444 days in captivity, the US hostages were released a few minutes after Carter left office. It has not been proved that Reagan struck a back channel deal with Khomeini’s government to keep the hostages until after the 1980 election. But the evidence is very strong. Carter believes that William Casey, Reagan’s campaign manager, did strike a bargain. Such an unnatural Rolodex would also explain Reagan’s Iran-Contra shenanigans a few years later. Ted Kennedy’s primary challenge also damaged Carter. Though Kennedy infamously could not explain why he wanted to be president, Carter had his own theory: Kennedy saw it as his birthright. The gap between the rural Georgian farmer who grew up without shoes and the Boston aristocrat is a faultline that still hobbles the Democratic party. Biden is on Carter’s side of it. Ed Koch was New York’s Democratic mayor who thought Carter was biased against Israel. Carter’s Camp David deal neutralised Egypt — Israel’s most potent enemy — and thus did more for Israel’s security than any US president since. No good deed goes unpunished. Carter was the only Democratic president to get less than half of the Jewish vote. Paul Volcker’s last name does not start with a K. However, the then chair of the US Federal Reserve is probably the largest contributor to Carter’s defeat. With interest rates at 20 per cent, Carter stood little chance at the ballot box. It is worth noting that Carter picked Volcker in full knowledge of his anti-inflation credentials. On that, as so much else, Carter did the right thing but got no credit. The left hated him for it. The right pretended it was Reagan’s doing. Much the same can be said of how America won the cold war. The moral of Carter’s story is that virtue must be its own reward. History is a biased judge.
  • Democrats need to stop deflecting attention from their own complicity in our nation's over-dependence on foreign oil. They need to stop paying lip service to the need for domestic exploration while quietly supporting efforts to suppress it. They need to end an approach that hasn't changed since the Carter Administration. Just like Carter, they're more interested in using this crisis as an excuse to push for higher taxes than they are at solving the problem itself. And just like Carter, they're underestimating the frustration of the American people. And the nation continues to suffer for it -- in lost jobs, in lost independence, and in lost opportunity and growth. I've focused on gas prices in particular because that's what everyday Americans are concerned about most right now, and because in this particular area, the Obama administration has taken the Carter playbook to new heights.
  • Moreover, Trump bears some comparisons to Jimmy Carter. His personal popularity is poor, and he has proven largely unable to transform his party in policy terms. Moreover, like Carter he leads what is arguably a demographically declining coalition of older voters in shrinking states. And if you think Trump is a failed "disjunctive president" at a moment when the winds of populism are blowing, then Sanders is the obvious successor. He would be able to steal Trump's populist thunder, waving the White House's Medicare-cutting budget like a bloody shirt, much as Reagan was able to accelerate Carter's deregulatory reformism and military buildup. But Trump-Carter comparisons are limited by two facts. First, Carter not only was unable to transform his party ideologically (as Trump largely has); he was also unable to establish control of it institutionally. That is emphatically not the case with Trump, who continues to purge his administration of disloyal elements and has struck fear in the heart of nearly every Republican senator not named Mitt Romney. Trump has faced primary challengers in 2020, but nothing remotely on the scale of Ted Kennedy's challenge to Carter. The Republican Party in 2020 will be absolutely unified behind Trump.
  • The opposition to Ford-Kissinger-the names became joined by a hyphen-was so deep in the Greek-American community that there would have been enthusiastic endorsement for whomever the Democrats nominated. The unknown Jimmy Carter may not have been the first choice, but Greek-American organizations rallied strongly behind him. Even Republican Greek-American newspapers endorsed Carter's candidacy. A Carter strategist estimated that 87 percent of the Greek-American vote went for the national Democratic ticket. Though this estimate may be inflated, the Greek-American vote was particularly significant in Ohio, which Carter carried by only 6,500 votes...In Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, Greek Cypriots danced in the streets when Carter's victory became known. They praised Greeks in America for making the victory possible.
    • Peter C. Moskos, Greek Americans: Struggle and Success (2013)
  • In June, 1978, President Jimmy Carter called a meeting of Greek-American leaders at the White House to explain why he reneged on a campaign promise to retain the U.S. arms embargo against Turkey (passed by Congress in the wake of the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus). One of the American-born Greeks in attendance, Christos Spirou, Democratic leader of the New Hampshire legislature, characterized the Administration's bid for support as "offending Greek philotimo." When reporters asked what the word meant, a chorus of voices shouted back, "Love of honor."
    • Peter C. Moskos, Greek Americans: Struggle and Success (2013)
  • A high water mark attempt to establish a consumer protection watchdog agency was derailed by corporate pressure during the presidency of Jimmy Carter in 1978. The degree to which the plutocracy has dominated and defeated efforts to advance the public interest in the United States has steadily expanded over the last 40 years.
  • Reagan and Thatcher are not usually declared dead as part of an objective assumption about which way the winds are blowing. These declarations are formulated as if their era was some kind of ideological deviation, when wild theorists and radicals dragged politics in a dogmatic neoliberal direction, and as if now we can finally return to common, interventionist sense. That is not what the reform era was about. Although liberal economists inspired many of the changes associated with Reagan and Thatcher, their era was never an ideological experiment but a pragmatic attempt to deal with the fact that an earlier model of inflation and regulation, along with a constantly expanding government, was in free fall. One sign of this is that the ‘Reagan/Thatcher era’ started before Reagan and Thatcher. It was actually initiated by their political opponents. It was Reagan’s Democratic representative, Jimmy Carter, who in his first State of the Union speech in 1978 declared: ‘bit by bit we are chopping down the thicket of unnecessary federal regulations by which the government too often interferes in our personal lives and personal business.’ It was the Carter administration that deregulated aviation, railways, trucking and energy (and craft beer! Before him you would not have been allowed to drink a Samuel Adams). It was Carter who appointed Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, who declared war on inflation in October 1979. In Britain, Thatcher’s predecessor, Labour’s James Callaghan, explained to party members in 1976 that they used to believe recessions could be ended through higher spending and more inflation: ‘I tell you now, in all candour, that that option no longer exists,’ and in so far as it ever did exist, it was only by ‘injecting a bigger dose of inflation into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step.’ Thatcher’s fight against the unions to close 115 loss-making and environmentally damaging coal mines made her admired and hated, but did you know that the two previous Labour prime ministers, Callaghan and Harold Wilson, closed no less than 257 coal mines in total?
    • Johan Norberg, The Capitalist Manifesto: Why the Global Free Market Will Save the World (2023)
  • In the film, Carter repeatedly and unequivocally states what Palestinian and Israeli peace advocates view as undeniable: To achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace with all its benefits for the world, Israel must end its illegal and oppressive occupation of the West Bank. That is a prerequisite that neither President Bush nor congressional leaders of both parties can approach for fear of being labeled anti-Israeli or even anti-Semitic (as Carter has been).
  • As Israelis, Eldar and Zertal employ language that not even Carter dares use: "Israel’s lofty demands that Palestinians strengthen their democracy and impose control on extremist organizations is . . . nothing but deceptive talk covering its own deeds, which are aimed at achieving exactly the opposite – of eroding Palestinian society." Carter goes further in this direction than any other prominent American in “Man From Plains,” and people who wander into a movie theater to see the film may be shocked. It raises questions that must at least be asked for the contemplated conference at Annapolis to have any chance.
  • Now it was 1977, Carter was in the White House, and serious Canal negotiations were under way. Many of MAIN's competitors had taken the wrong side and had been turned out of Panama, but our work had multiplied. And I was sitting in the lobby of the Hotel Panama, having just finished reading an article..."The Country with Five Frontiers,"... a gutsy piece...The clear implication was that the U.S. intelligence community was determined to undermine the wishes of President Carter and, if necessary, would bribe Panama's military chiefs into sabotaging the treaty negotiations.
  • Carter may have been an ineffective politician, but he had a vision for America that was consistent with the one defined in our Declaration of Independence. In retrospect, he now seems naively archaic, a throwback to the ideals that molded this nation and drew so many of our grandparents to her shores. When we compare him to his immediate predecessors and successors, he is an anomaly. His worldview was inconsistent with that of the EHMs [economic hit men]. Reagan, on the other hand, was most definitely a global empire builder, a servant of the corporatocracy.
  • Almost two months ago, in accepting the Presidential nomination of my party, I spoke of the historically unique crisis facing the United States. At that time I said: "Never before in our history have Americans been called upon to face three grave threats to our very existence, any one of which could destroy us. We face a disintegrating economy, a weakened defense and an energy policy based on the sharing of scarcity." Now since I first spoke those words, no action has been taken by President Carter to change this grave, unprecedented situation. In fact, during the last few months the overall economic situation in the United States has deteriorated markedly. The cumulative effect of the economic policies the Carter Administration has followed over the last three and one-half years has damaged our economy much more than virtually anyone could have foreseen. Interest rates and inflation have become unconscionably high. Almost two million Americans have lost their jobs this year alone. And the tax burden continues to steadily increase. In effect, Mr. Carter's economic failures are an assault on the hopes and dreams of millions of American families. They are essentially an unprecedented failure of Presidential leadership that strikes at the very heart of every American family, every factory, every farm, every community. Make no mistake about it: what Mr. Carter has done to the American economy is not merely a matter of lines and graphs on a chart. Individuals and families are being hurt and hurt badly. Factories are empty; unemployment lines are full.
  • We can go a long way toward restoring the economic health of this country by establishing reasonable, fair levels of taxation. But even the extended tax rate cuts which I am recommending still leave too high a tax burden on the American people. In the second half of the decade ahead we are going to need, and we must have, additional tax rate reductions. Jimmy Carter says it can't be done. In fact, he says it shouldn't be done. He favors the current crushing tax burden because it fits into his philosophy of government as the dominating force in American economic life.
There is only one phrase to describe the last three years and eight months. It has been an American tragedy. It isn't only that Mr. Carter has increased Federal spending by 58 percent in four years, or that taxes in his 1981 budget are double what they were in 1976, the equivalent of a tax increase on an average family of four of more than $5,000. The tragedy lies as much in what Mr. Carter has failed to do as in what he has done. He has failed to lead. Mr. Carter had a chance to govern effectively. He had a sound economic base with an inflation rate of 4.8 percent when he took office. But he has failed. His failure was rooted in his view of government, in his view of the American people. Yet he wants this dismal view to prevail for four more years. The time has come for the American people to reclaim their dream. Things don't have to be this way. We can change them. We must change them. Mr. Carter's American tragedy must and can be transcended by the spirit of the American people, working together. ~ Ronald Reagan
  • All of this demands a vision. It demands looking at government and the economy as they exist and not as words on paper, but as institutions guided by our will and knowledge toward growth, restraint and effective action. When Mr. Carter first took office, he had sufficient budget flexibility to achieve these goals. But he threw away the opportunity to generate new economic growth and to strengthen national security. Now the damage done to the economy by his misguided policies will make the achievement of these crucial objectives far more difficult. Nevertheless, this nation cannot afford to back away from any of these goals. We cannot allow tax burdens to continue to rise inordinately, inflation to take a stronger hold, or allow our defenses to deteriorate further - without severe consequences. This task is going to be difficult but our goals are optimistic - as they should be. Success is going to take time, as well as work. There is only one phrase to describe the last three years and eight months. It has been an American tragedy. It isn't only that Mr. Carter has increased Federal spending by 58 percent in four years, or that taxes in his 1981 budget are double what they were in 1976, the equivalent of a tax increase on an average family of four of more than $5,000. The tragedy lies as much in what Mr. Carter has failed to do as in what he has done. He has failed to lead. Mr. Carter had a chance to govern effectively. He had a sound economic base with an inflation rate of 4.8 percent when he took office. But he has failed. His failure was rooted in his view of government, in his view of the American people. Yet he wants this dismal view to prevail for four more years. The time has come for the American people to reclaim their dream. Things don't have to be this way. We can change them. We must change them. Mr. Carter's American tragedy must and can be transcended by the spirit of the American people, working together.
  • If you feel that Mr. Carter has faithfully served America with the kind of competence and distinction which deserve four more years in office, then you should vote for him. If he has given you the kind of leadership you are looking for, if he instills in you pride for our country and a sense of optimism about our future, then he should be reelected. But consider these questions as well when you finally make your decision: Are you more confident that our economy will create productive work for our society or are you less confident? Do you feel you can keep the job you have or gain a job if you don't have one? Are you satisfied that inflation as the highest rates in 33 years were the best that we could do? Are interest rates at 14 ½ percent something you are prepared to live with? Are you pleased with the ability of young people to buy a home; of the elderly to live their remaining years in happiness; of our youngsters to take pride in the world we have build for them? Is our nation stronger and more capable of leading the world toward peace and freedom or is it weaker? Is there more stability in the world or less? Are you convinced that we have earned the respect of the world and our allies, or has America's position across the globe diminished? Are you personally more secure in your life? Is your family more secure? Is America safer in the world? And, most importantly--quite simply--the basic question of our lives: are you happier today than when Mr. Carter became President of the United States? I cannot answer those questions for you. Only you can.
  • You say that you are Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military aid to the military here [El Salvador], because they use it only to kill my people.
  • Since Carter left office in 1980, the too-easy, misleading, canned analysis of his life was that he was a mediocre president who became an exceptional ex-president, leading for decades by virtue of his service and lived values. It is commonplace to suggest that his presidency was a footnote to history, one perhaps most notable because it ushered in the “greatness” of the Reagan Era. Because of the optics of the Iran hostage crisis that dominated his last year in office, Nobel Peace Prize-winner Carter was maligned as a “weak” foreign policy president who fortunately was succeeded by the disconnected, often-befuddled Reagan’s "strong" leadership as he allegedly went eyeball-to-eyeball with the Soviet Union and practically brought down the Berlin Wall with a single speech and a sparkling Hollywood smile. As happens so often, in this case, the conventional wisdom is exactly wrong. Carter was in virtually every respect superior to Reagan, especially in areas like foreign policy and the restoration of American leadership. Indeed, even out of office, Carter proved both more visionary and far more principled and courageous on world affairs than most of his successors were.
  • It was Carter who turned the initial outreach that Nixon and Kissinger made to China into normalized relations and diplomatic recognition, a vitally important development in what would become the most important bilateral relationship in the world. The Carter administration also deserves credit and recognition for overseeing the smooth handover of the Panama Canal to the nation of Panama, an important landmark in U.S. relations with Latin America. Reagan is often seen as the president who initiated the tough policies that brought down the Soviet Union. As noted earlier, the policies of containment and strong defense against the Russians date back much earlier. But it was Carter, with the notable advice of his National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan increased pressure on the Russians and reversed the reduction in tensions associated with the détente of the Nixon-Kissinger era.
  • Carter’s presidency was imperfect, but its contributions were clear and far more significant than he was given credit for while in office. Later, as he began his famed and rightly hailed "post-presidency" it became clearer and clearer—as a consequence of his actions in service of the country and the world—what an extraordinary leader he has been. Also during that period, Carter regularly braved contrary winds of public opinion to speak out against what he saw as wrongs that needed addressing. Nowhere is this more clear than his championing the rights of Palestinians and his having the courage to call out Israel as an apartheid state. When he first did that, it was so contrary to prevailing U.S. attitudes that I (like many others) condemned Carter. However, as years have passed, it has become clearer and clearer that he saw the truth and had the courage to articulate it regardless of the impact it might have on his popularity. That’s a demonstration of the kind of character we need but seldom see in our leaders. It is a repudiation of politicians who let polls determine their positions and of others who have no values at all other than the promotion of their narrow self-interests. We have seen far too many of both types of defective leaders in the years since Jimmy Carter served as our president. We have also seen presidents, like Reagan, hailed for accomplishments that were not theirs, for values they neither lived nor understood very well. And in contrast to them all, we have this Naval Academy graduate, former submarine officer, former farmer, former governor, and former president who has lived every minute of his life in the expectation that he will ultimately answer to a higher authority than donors or pundits or the ebb and flow of public opinion. As a consequence, he has remained constant even as we have changed.
  • There was something discomforting about Carter going back 30 years plus to hear him blame Kennedy for his own administration's failure. Of course, in fairness, Kennedy -- while now revered as a saint -- was not the most sympathetic and beloved figure back in the day. Chappaquiddick aside, he was widely seen as a man with many pleasures, most of which had to do more with himself than the Senate. From the moment Carter was inaugurated in 1977, he was always seen as plotting against him; at least that was the view of many in the Carter White House. It wasn't until after his challenge to Carter's nomination in 1980 failed and after he realized that the presidency was not in the cards for him did he become a true giant of the Senate. But Carter has always been one not to forget slights. And while it's always dangerous to dabble in psycho-babble, I'm sure he had to resent the widespread view among many in the party that he only won the nomination in 1976 because Kennedy stayed out of the race, and that the nomination in 1980 was Kennedy's for the asking were the Massachusetts senator to run -- many in Congress had said that out loud, including House Speaker Tip O'Neill. That had to grate on the president. Carter, in fact, told a group of congressmen in 1979 that if Kennedy were to challenge him, "I'll whip his ass." And he did.
  • President Obama is going to be giving a big speech, there's going to be lots of speeches, lots of words. Let me quote President Obama four years ago. 'If you don't have a record to run on then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.' Ladies and gentleman that is exactly what Barack Obama is doing today. The president has no record to run on. In fact every president since the Great Depression who asked Americans to send them in to a second term could say that you were better off than you were four years ago except for Jimmy Carter and President Barack Obama.
  • As former president Jimmy Carter has said, unlimited money in politics "violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now, it's just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and Congress members. So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election's over."
  • What has been lost in the mists of history is that Carter remained a relatively popular president during his first year in office with his approval rating in the Gallup Poll never dropping below 50 percent. Trump’s approval numbers, in contrast, are best examined by a submarine. After two months in office, according to Gallup, Trump was roughly half as popular (39 percent) as Carter (75 percent) at a similar juncture. But presidents are not judged by approval ratings alone. Inheriting a recessionary economy, Carter passed, in the spring of 1977, a stimulus package that included tax cuts and funding for an eventual 725,000 public service jobs. Partly as a result, the unemployment rate dropped to below 6 percent at the end of 1978. It is ironic that the stimulus was attacked at the time by liberals and labor unions for being too timid. In reality, it proved to be the last New Deal-style job-creation program in American history. As a former aide to Labor Secretary Ray Marshall, I still believe that these liberal aspects of the Carter administration get far too little historical credit.
  • Almost all the problems that now define Carter as a failed president only emerged in 1979, his third year in the White House. An oil crisis produced gasoline lines across the country and the inflation rate — which had also bedeviled the prior three presidents — approached 10 percent annually. Carter responded in July 1979 by delivering what is remembered as the “malaise” speech, even though that word was never uttered as the president talked about the "crisis of confidence" afflicting America. But what is forgotten — amid the ridicule surrounding Carter’s legacy — was that the speech itself was popular with the voters. I didn’t work on the speech, but I did write some of Carter’s follow-up addresses. As a result, I read dozens of emotional letters that ordinary citizens sent to the president, responding to his call for national unity in the face of the energy crisis. What upended Carter was not the speech, but his subsequent decision to fire four Cabinet members in a self-inflicted government shake-up. As for the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, it was partly triggered by the president agreeing to admit the exiled Shah to America for medical treatment. In making this fateful decision, Carter was swayed against his own instincts by appeals from Henry Kissinger and banker David Rockefeller. Once again, Carter was victimized by his hunger for establishment approval.
  • Carter despised Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin for his tenacious defense of Jewish rights and unwillingness to bow to U.S. pressure. He always blamed Begin for somehow deceiving him about Israel’s intention to defend the right of Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria, which the president wanted to end. But that was not true since, if anything, Carter deceived himself about what Begin’s promise of limited autonomy for Palestinian Arabs in the territories really meant. Carter’s hostility to Israel was no secret, and it played a part in the failure of his bid for re-election in 1980. Reagan achieved a modern record of 40% of the Jewish vote not so much because of his appeal but because of Carter’s unpopularity—something that Republicans have failed to remember as they’ve sought in vain to replicate that feat. Carter blamed the Jews for his defeat; it colored his post-presidency as he began a decades-long effort to promote Palestinian statehood and to smear Israel. He was not the only person to be wrong about the necessity for a two-state solution, but few matched the virulence with which he assailed Israel, and especially its American supporters, for their refusal to listen to his bad advice. That culminated in the publication of his 2006 book—Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid, which in no small measure began the effort, at least in the United States, to mainstream the big lie that the Middle East’s only democracy was in some ways morally equivalent to apartheid-era South Africa. For all of the applause he has received for his life as an ex-president, Carter’s animus against the Jewish state and willingness to use his moral standing and influence to besmirch it and aid the efforts of antisemitic hate-mongers and terrorists to undermine its existence is also part of his legacy.
  • So, when assessing his life, how do we weigh that against the many good things that can be said for Jimmy Carter as an individual? There is no calculus by which these competing arguments can be measured exactly. Like everyone, his life was a mixture of good and bad. It is entirely possible to acknowledge his outstanding personal qualities and even his undoubted positive intentions, but to also judge his presidency to be a disaster and his post-presidential efforts to have also done as much harm as good. We should all wish him and his family well and, whenever it does happen, his passing should be acknowledged with the solemnity and respect due to a former president of the United States. But we should not let that desire to think well of a historic figure color the verdict of contemporary public opinion or history. Jimmy Carter may have been a very decent man in many respects, but he was still a bad president and someone whose unfair attacks on the Jewish state deserve to be held against him.
  • Now more than halfway through his third year in office — with the economy flat-lining, American prestige evaporating, and public anxiety spiking — Barack Obama is the most vulnerable incumbent president since Jimmy Carter. The election is still 14 months away, but it's not too early to see the broad outlines of the GOP's case against the president.
  • The parallels between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter are hauntingly familiar. And if the eventual Republican nominee employs the right strategy against President Obama, America's 44th president will suffer the same fate as America's 39th president.
  • From the beginning of his race for the presidency, Carter—who recently entered hospice care at the age of 98—came across as a refreshingly different candidate. The public took note of the fact that he carried his own suitcase, engaged in honest, humble, and direct conversations with voters on the campaign trail, and was never shy about acknowledging his Christian faith, though not in a pompous, holier-than-thou manner. Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, were a breath of fresh air in the White House. After a few successful years, his presidency was done in by domestic and foreign policy crises that he did not create and which proved beyond his ability to control. When he left office, “pundits” were in agreement that he had failed and would be forgotten. That was not to be the case. On leaving the White House, one of the first things Carter did was to become closely identified with a nonprofit volunteer project, Habitat for Humanity. During its initial two decades, owing in large measure to Carter’s sponsorship, Habitat became a household name in communities across the US, building over 100,000 low-cost homes for over half a million people in the US and in 60 countries around the world. Well into their 70s, Jimmy and Rosalynn were still spending one week each year volunteering with Habitat. He became so identified with the group that when thinking of him, more Americans probably called to mind Carter in denim with a hammer in his hand than Carter in a suit in the White House. In 1982, just two years after leaving office, Carter further burnished his credentials as a great leader when he created the Carter Center, which described its role as “waging peace, fighting disease, and building hope.” Many of the Center’s initiatives were led by Carter himself, including monitoring elections in dozens of countries; negotiating peaceful resolutions to conflicts in Africa, Asia, and the Americas; undertaking programs to help eradicate dreaded diseases that plagued parts of Africa and Asia; and assisting farmers in Africa to increase their yield and improve their lives. Working tirelessly to address these global concerns, Carter established his legacy as the greatest of our former presidents.
  • When I finally met Jimmy Carter, years later, I told him about both my exclusion from the White House meeting and the Camp David flight. He was offended by and apologized about the former, and about the latter he said, "That was you! I wondered who did that. It was a great reminder." I met with Carter on a number of other occasions in the next few decades. I had the honor of serving under his leadership as an election monitor in Palestine in 1996. His very presence was an inspiration to Palestinians, especially as he fought to ensure that Palestinians in occupied Jerusalem would be able to vote. In 2016, we appeared on a panel together at the Carter Center before a group of Palestinian clergy to discuss the challenges to religious freedom imposed by the Israeli occupation. My flight was delayed by bad weather, so I arrived after the session had begun. In an act of characteristic Carter humility, he stopped his remarks as I entered the back of the room, and said, "Oh good, Jim Zogby has arrived. Let’s wait until he can be seated up here on stage." Most memorable, though, was a lengthy discussion I had with Carter in early 2001, where we discussed a number of hot-button Middle East topics. He expressed his frustration that he hadn’t been able to do more to secure Palestinian rights and noted the pushback he received both domestically and in Israel for his efforts. And he told me of his dismay that, in the years after Camp David, despite what he felt were Israeli commitments to him, Israel continued to deepen the occupation with settlements while successive US administrations “looked the other way” and allowed it to impede the prospects for peace. While acknowledging that Saddam Hussein was a "callous dictator," Carter was deeply critical of the US-led sanctions against Iraq, which he noted were "counterproductive," had resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children, and played into the hands of the Iraqi regime. He also took time to single out for commendation the leader of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed, for his role in building his country and for providing extraordinary assistance to many important health care projects across Africa. With all this in mind, I took personal note of the news of Jimmy Carter’s decision to enter hospice and was reminded of a quote from a talk he gave to his church in 2019: "I didn’t ask God to let me live, but I asked God to give me a proper attitude toward death. And I found that I was absolutely and completely at ease with death." This is the legacy of Jimmy Carter: a great former president who taught us how to live a life for others, and, as he approaches his end, is teaching us how to die with grace.

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