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Gerald R. Ford: Remarks at the Chanute Community Foundation Reception in Rantoul, Illinois.
Gerald R. Ford
190 - Remarks at the Chanute Community Foundation Reception in Rantoul, Illinois.
March 6, 1976
Public Papers of the Presidents
Gerald R. Ford<br>1976-77: Book I
Gerald R. Ford
1976-77: Book I

United States
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THANK YOU very, very much. It's wonderful to be here, and I thank the Chairman; I thank the good mayor, Mr. McJilton. It's delightful to have with us here the outstanding Secretary of Agriculture, Senator Chuck Percy, Congressman Ed Madigan, Congressman Paul Findley, my very good friend and your former great Governor, Dick Ogilvie. I hope I haven't missed anybody.

The last 2 days in Illinois have been superb and, of course, this meeting here today is likewise a very wonderful experience for me. And I thank all of you for coming out on a Saturday afternoon, whether you come from your farms or your business or Chanute field.

And speaking of Chanute field, we've got an outstanding Secretary of Defense in Don Rumsfeld who comes from the great State of Illinois. And I think Don ought to come down here and take a look at it.

I might add, I had a wonderful experience out there listening to that delightful chorus. They sang just the kind of songs I like, and I suspect all of you do, too. But I also understand that the band from Rantoul High School postponed, at least, if not didn't go to the State Band Championship to play while I'm here. And if they delayed their departure, I'm thankful. And I am most appreciative, obviously, if they forewent the opportunity to go down to the championship. That kind of dedication I am most grateful for.

Now, let's talk about farm policy and let's say a word or two about defense. Let's take farm policy first. I, of course, have long believed in the kind of farm policy that Earl Butz has been promoting--full production, exports of the greatest amount that the United States has ever done. We were checking some figures last night. Between our commitments to sell to Japan, to Eastern Europe, to Western Europe, to the Soviet Union, we are expanding America's greatest resource in a very responsible way. And farmers will be prosperous and America will be prosperous because of the importance of agriculture to all of us.

But let me assure you that we are going to support the exports to the maximum, and I can assure you of one thing: Farm exports will never be used as a pawn in international politics.

But let's take a minute to talk about national security. The United States today is second to none in military capability, and that's because we have the best weapons, we have the best personnel, we have the best aircraft, we have the best trained people. The United States is strong. It can handle the problem of deterring aggression, it can handle the problem of protecting our national security, and through strength we can maintain the peace.

But I have to warn you that if the trend that has gone on for the last 10 years, where we are spending relatively less a percentage of our overall Federal expenditures for national security and a correspondingly greater percentage of our total expenditures by the Federal Government for domestic programs-we will be in jeopardy.

Ten years ago, out of the total Federal expenditures, we spent roughly 42 percent for national security, and we spent about 31 or 32 percent for various domestic programs. Last year, we spent about 24 percent for national security and about 51 percent for all our domestic programs. Now, we can't tolerate that situation.

Domestic programs have been going up at the 'rate of about 11 percent a year, and the military spending has been under pressure to hold the level or to go down. And the budget that I submitted a year ago, at that time was the largest peacetime budget in the history of the United States; Congress cut it $7 1/2 billion. They shouldn't have done it, but they did.

In January of this year, I submitted the biggest peacetime budget for the Defense Department in the history of the United States--$112.7 billion--the largest peacetime military budget in the history of the United States. But it's important, and Congress had better not cut it. They just can't, because while we, for the last 10 years were spending a corresponding lesser amount of our wherewithal in national security, the Soviet Union was adding to their expenditures.

Now, we are strong. We have the necessary capability to deter aggression, to protect our national interest, and to maintain the peace through strength. But I need your support to make sure that we get what we want, so the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marines can continue to do the outstanding job with the best equipment, the best personnel, the best training--just the best.

I need your help, and I say I think the Members of the House and Senate here will support me. But keep your eye on them. [Laughter] Don't let them cut it. If they want to add to it, that's all right with me, but we've got enough and we will be strong. We can 'reassure our allies, and we can negotiate from strength with any adversary.

It's great to be here. It is just a wonderful day here in Rantoul. It has been a great day and a half in all of Illinois. And I wish Betty were here, but she wore herself out last week down in Florida trying to help get my polls up to hers so I might win. [Laughter]

I do thank you very much. It's great to be here with all of your fine Congressmen, and I thank you very much for the chance to come to Redwood Inn.
Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 2:25 p.m. at the Redwood Inn.
Citation: Gerald R. Ford: "Remarks at the Chanute Community Foundation Reception in Rantoul, Illinois.," March 6, 1976. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=5678.
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