EACH TIME a Democratic President meets with Democratic Governors, there is speculation that politics will be on the agenda.
My political message today is very simple. Sam Rayburn gave it to our party in 1948. Here is the essence of what he said--and it is as true now as it was two decades ago:
Despite what you might read in the newspapers from time to time, we're still the majority party in this country.
And the reason--Mr. Rayburn might have added--is that we are the party of action and progress.
Ours is the party that has broken through the old barriers that have marred American life too long:
--barriers to opportunity and equality,
--to education for all,
--to meaningful employment, and
--to decent health care for the old and the poor.
Ours is the party--the first one in history--that has delivered 90 percent of its platform. In doing that we have given the country the greatest record of legislative accomplishment in 175 years.
Today we continue this proud record.
I am signing the Older Americans Act of 1967. It is a further act of liberation for 19 million older citizens.
We have social security--and we are asking for more--to give them financial security.
We have Medicare--and we are improving it--to ease the crushing burdens that illness can bring.
Today we are celebrating Medicare's first anniversary. In 1 year's time, 4 million older Americans have entered hospitals under the program; 200,000 have received home health service. Medicare has paid out $2.4 billion for hospital care, and another $640 million for other medical services.
The purpose of the act I sign today is not so much to add years to the lives of older men and women--but to add new life to the years they will have. Its purpose is to help them take a fuller part in the society that they--through all their lives and labors-helped to build.
That purpose cannot be accomplished in Washington. A compassionate Federal Government can provide the means--and this bill does just that. But the big job is yours-in the States and local communities. It is to create and manage your own programs to improve the quality of life for your older citizens.
The vitality of all our programs is that they share the purpose and the thrust of this one.
Their target is improving the quality of life for all our citizens.
They offer practical solutions--in human terms--to the exploding problems of our times.
In developing those solutions--in making our programs work--we are giving our Federal system a strength and a meaning it has never had before.
Your role in our partnership is critical. But to be effective, your hand must be strengthened. And today, I can tell you of one measure we are taking to accomplish just that.
Very shortly, at my direction, every one of you--every Governor in this country-will have a chance to review, to advise, and to consult on every Federal regulation involving programs in your State.
This is an historic breakthrough. It can have a revolutionary impact on our partnership, and your position in it. It will strengthen your ability to plan, to budget, to coordinate, to an extent never possible in the statehouse before.
Other measures will follow, to make your role stronger, and your job easier.
You know the seriousness of our purpose. Governor Farris Bryant has lead a team of top Federal officials into 40 States over the last 4 months, for meetings with Governors and their key administrative officials. He tells me that during these meetings, 1,333 separate problems or grievances were identified. Of these:
--733 were answered on the spot.
--456 were settled with quick follow-up action.
That leaves 144 queries still to be answered-just 11 percent.
Even when those questions have been cleared up--and I have given instructions that I want this done just as quickly as possible-we don't expect to rest. New problems arise each day, and each day new solutions must be searched for and found.
This is true of our entire program, as well.
Our pride is in the promise of our party, as well as in its performance.
Yesterday, with all its satisfaction, is gone. Tomorrow beckons ahead, and there is still work to be done--turning protest against emptiness into productive fulfillment.
Earlier this week, I visited a center in Philadelphia where I saw the next logical American step after protest.
It was a center for disadvantaged citizens. The leaders of that center had protested-with full justice--a lack of job opportunities for Negroes. The business community listened--and made more opportunities available. But then the protesters found that there were not enough men and women with skills to fill the jobs that opened up.
Their response should inspire us all with deep pride--and faith in our future. They did not react in bitter frustration against the dead past. They set their eyes to the future. They rolled up their sleeves, and they built a place where Americans who might have lived out lives without hope could be trained, and made into productive, contributing members of our society.
Your Government helped to provide funds for that center--and there is no investment of which I am prouder. Business is contributing as well--and some labor and foundations and city government.
That can happen all over America. And it will--if we work to make it happen.
And to work to make it happen is the job which we Democrats have pledged ourselves to do. Our problems in America are but our opportunities are greater. Let us make the most of them in our time leadership.