Dan, members of the Cabinet, members of the executive branch of the Government, all of you from the States in the Northwest:
It is a great privilege and a very high honor to have an opportunity of participating in this White House Conference. I thank your great Governor for his warm welcome on this and other occasions here today. And I can only reiterate that it has been always a great honor for me to work with him on governmental, political, substantive matters, and I think you are very fortunate in this State to have Dan Evans as your Governor.
Obviously, I am very pleased to be in the Pacific Northwest and particularly in the great city of Seattle in the State of Washington. I know you have had a full day of White House Conference, so I will try to keep my remarks brief. I might say parenthetically, I know you have interrogated people from the executive branch, from the Cabinet. I hope that you have used all your venom-[laughter]--if you had any, on them and will be kind and considerate to me.
THE NATION'S GOALS
[1.] As you know, many of you, I am sure, I have been a part of the Federal Government for 26 years, and I am very concerned about the ever-widening communications gap between Washington on our east coast and our fellow Americans in all other parts of the United States. Too many Americans have difficulty making their views and their wishes known to the people with whom they must communicate in Washington. This difficulty was probably best summed up in a letter, or an envelope that I received quite recently. It was plaintively addressed as follows: To President Gerald R. Ford, or Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, or just plain anybody who will listen. [Laughter]
As you have seen here today, I, along with other key members of the Cabinet and the staff, have come to listen and to learn. I hope we have kept the speeches to a minimum and, hopefully, our responses to a maximum.
I do look forward to your questions, your concerns, your ideas about the future of our country, about the directions that you believe we should take. But first, let me very briefly touch on some of the basic directions I think our Nation can and should take in the months and years ahead. Obviously, the economy is one of our principal concerns; energy is another.
Over the years, the American free enterprise economy has created a better life for more people than any other system of government in the history of the world. Yet in the past year we have seen it pass through some very difficult times. Recession on the one hand, inflation on the other have strained the economic security of millions and millions of Americans. Some of the causes of our economic difficulties were beyond our control. International developments prompted the skyrocketing oil prices. Others were the result of Government activity, such as inflationary spending at the Federal level. But on the basis of the latest figures, the darkest days of the recession are behind us. The American economy is starting a sustained recovery that we all desire.
But let's be frank, we have a long way to go. Unemployment is far, far too high and must be brought down. Our factories must start producing at maximum capacity again. And while we must start to fight the recession, we must also fight just as hard against rising inflation, a problem that is still with us.
Another problem is energy dependence. No one knows better than the people of the ...
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