Jimmy Carter photo

Addison, Illinois Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session with Du Page County Residents.

October 06, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. Can you all hear me okay? Very good.

Well, first of all I want to thank Bud and Margaret Loftus for letting me come and be with them at their home and to meet with you. In 1976 Bud had a choice between having me in his backyard or Senator Lloyd Bentsen— [laughter] —and he decided to choose Lloyd Bentsen, right? [Laughter] So, this is kind of to equal the score.

I would like to say that Bud not only takes care of the present but also the future—I just met nine children, I think, in the house. [Laughter] And I'm also interested in the future.


This afternoon I'd like to spend just a few minutes talking to you briefly about some of the things that are important to all of us, and then answer your questions for a half an hour or so.

Our Nation is the strongest country on Earth. Militarily, politically, economically, we're the strongest nation on Earth. But we faced and are facing some very serious questions and problems brought about primarily by the troubled areas in the world, in the Mideast, in Africa, in Asia, and also brought about by the increase in oil prices imposed on the rest of the world by the OPEC countries.

Last year the price of oil increased more in one year than it had the entire time since oil was first discovered in the 1500's. And this economic fact has swept across our Nation, and it's hurt us severely. But this impact has not been too strong for our country to assimilate, because, as you all know, every time in the past our Nation has been challenged and our country was unified, we've been able to meet that challenge or answer that question or resolve that problem as a united country.

We're a country of great diversity, people here from all over the world, almost every country on Earth, represented here, trying to keep our heritage and our religious convictions and our family structures close, to remember our history, but still at the same time to be Americans first of all and to keep our country strong because we are diverse in nature.

This election is one that involves the future, perhaps as much as any election I ever remember, and the election is a contest between the sharpest differences between me and Governor Reagan, between the Democratic Party and what it stands for and what the Republican Party now stands for and between the two futures that we face.

We have a problem of controlling nuclear weapons. Every President since Harry Truman, including all the Republicans and the Democrats, have worked to carve out with the Soviet Union an agreement whereby we could limit and balance and then reduce the dependence on atomic weapons. Governor Reagan has thrown that out, saying that he would withdraw the SALT II treaty from the Senate, that he would start a nuclear arms race as a card to be played against the Soviet Union. This is a very dangerous proposal, and it shows Governor Reagan's lack of understanding of how important it is, and also the adverse impact on the attitude and consciousness of our own country, and also what it means to our allies and friends, the countries around the world that don't have nuclear weapons, and also the attitude of our relationship between us and the Soviet Union.

We've got to have a balance in military strength on the one hand, and arms control on the other. It takes two wings for an airplane to fly, and you can't just fly with military strength alone, a nuclear arms race, and not work toward maintaining peace and maintaining arms control. The same thing with economics.

Energy is the greatest threat right now. You've got to have a combination of conservation on the one hand and increased energy production on the other. A plane's got to have two wings to fly. We've had a very balanced approach to the energy question. We've cut down on our consumption; we have insulated homes; we've had a very restrained attitude on the part of the American people to eliminate waste. At the same time we've increased production of energy in our country.

This year for instance, we'll produce more coal than any other year in history. We'll drill more oil and gas wells this year than any year in history. And my hope is to continue that progress and eventually to replace as an energy basis for the rest of the world OPEC oil and substitute Illinois coal. I think it would be a very good development.

Also it's important to realize that here again the differences are very sharp. Governor Reagan wants to eliminate the Department of Energy. He wants to repeal or drastically change the windfall profits tax. He doesn't believe in conservation, and he wants to do away with the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, for instance, and put our country back into a position that might be excessively dependent on the OPEC nations for oil. We've cut back 2 million barrels a day on how much oil we buy from overseas since I've been in office. And the program has just now been put into effect.

And the last point I want to make before I answer your questions is on taxation. It's very important for us to have a balanced and fair tax program with a proper delineation of responsibility between the Federal Government on the one hand, and local and State government on the other. We've done a lot to get the Government's nose out of the private affairs of Americans and the private enterprise system and let competition work. We've deregulated the trucking industry, the airline industry, the rail industry, the financial institutions industry of this country, working on communications, trying to get the Government to let competition work.

Governor Reagan, on the other hand, wants to put the burden of welfare and education programs off the Federal Government onto the shoulders of people in your community and communities all over Illinois and the rest of this country. In Illinois the amount of money that the Federal Government contributes to the welfare and education programs is more than $2 billion, and if that was put on you, away from the Federal Government income tax system, it would mean that your property taxes and other taxes would have to go up an average of about $750 per family or either the Federal Government would have to give up that much more revenue and make the Reagan-Kemp-Roth tax bill be even more costly and even more inflationary and even more unbalanced.

So far, these kinds of issues have not been debated adequately between me and my Republican opponent, because he won't debate me on a two-man debate. And if that's not possible, because he refused in the future, then you need to make your judgment by November 4 based on what is best for you. The control of nuclear weapons, or not; an energy policy that's controlled by the people, or one that's turned back over to the oil companies; or the kind of tax program and education programs, welfare programs that are balanced between the Federal Government, local and State government, or put back on the shoulders of the local people. Those are the kinds of issues, just hurriedly, that illustrate the sharp differences between us, and I hope that you'll keep that in mind as you go to the polls on November 4.

And now, I'd like to answer your questions. I've talked enough, and I'll be glad to start over here on the right.



Q. The question I have, Mr. President, we in Du Page County, one of our personal pressing needs is the availability of water. We have Lake Michigan 20-some miles to the east of us; we have a plan; we have the engineering done; we have the association of all the communities of Du Page County who can avail themselves of Lake Michigan water. If we get Lake Michigan water, we reduce the dependence on the deep water aquifers, which are being depleted. We need the help of the Federal Government on the basis of a low interest loan to finance the construction of the tunnel, the deep tunnel from the city of Chicago to Du Page County, and I'd like to know what your thoughts are on this. You have a report now from the Urban Water Supply Task Force, and you have not addressed that as yet.

THE PRESIDENT. I'm not familiar with that issue, but I'll find out and let you know. We have, as you know, a very strong program in the Environmental Protection Agency to provide freshwater supplies and also sewage systems for governments that have been increased substantially. But that particular project to supply fresh water to Du Page, I'm not familiar with it.

Q. Yes, you've addressed the western part of the country, but there has been no policy on the urban water system, which we are part of.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, we do have a policy on urban water systems, but I'm just not familiar with that particular issue. But if you'll give one of my staff members your name and address, I'll find out the answer and call you back or let them do it, one or the other.

Q. Thank you.


Q. Mr. President, I have a two-part question. First, do you agree that the strength of a nation comes from the unity of the family? And second, if you agree, do you have any proposals for promoting the unity of the American family?

THE PRESIDENT. Karen asked about the importance of the unity of the American family—what it means to our country and how we could promote it. The answer is obviously, yes. Our country is so diverse in nature, with people coming here from like 120 nations on Earth, that the structure that holds our country as a unified entity is the families being cohesive and the communities being self-reliant and sharing responsibilities for the future.

It's very important that we don't overlook the principles and ideals and religious faith that preserves the sanctity of the marriage vows and also let the family be stable in its relationship to one another. Having good schools, good transportation systems, and good jobs, and not having a disruptive society also helps substantially. We have, for instance, in our proposal for tax reductions, one element that would help people to keep the families together all over the country, and that is to eliminate the so-called marriage penalty. Now if a husband and wife live together, both of them working, they pay more taxes, more income taxes than a man and woman living together, both working, who are not married. And we will propose to the Congress for passage next year the elimination of that marriage penalty.

We've also had very good programs put into effect to let there be a good day-care center for wives who work. And of course, I think it's crucial that we pass the equal rights amendment, in my judgment, which would strengthen the American family structure. Too many women, now, a lot of women have to work, and they are in effect the breadwinners of the family. And if they only receive for the same hours and the same quality of work 59 percent as much as a man—if a man gets a dollar for doing a certain amount of work, the women on the average only get 59 cents-this tends to hurt the structure and the self-respect of the American family.

We've had an increase, for instance, in allocation of funds for education, almost 75 percent since I've been in office in just 3 1/2 years. In addition to that, we've had a commitment that I've shared that any young person in this Nation who finishes high school can go to college now if they're qualified academically to do the work without regard to the economic income or wealth of the family itself.

There's hardly a single element of American life that's not directly related to the family, whether you're trying to maintain peace, whether you're trying to keep the unemployment rate down and employment up, whether you're trying to have a good education system, good water supply, equal rights for women and others, that doesn't affect the family. And the basic protection of Americans' rights to equal opportunity and the strengthening of religious and other ethical and moral standards, I think, are also important.

So, yes, the family's the basis for our economic and our social structure. Everything that the government can do ought to be done to preserve the family structure.


Q. Mr. President, as individuals, what can we do to help the administration and our country to fight the inflation that is going on?

THE PRESIDENT. Very good. One of the most important contributions to inflation is the rapid increase in oil prices and our dependence on foreign oil for our energy supply. Every person in our country can help to save energy. This is a program that we've addressed in the last 3 1/2 years that's bigger than the Interstate Highway System, the total space program, and the Marshall plan that rebuilt Europe, all put together. And it's the kind of thing, unlike the Moon shots, where every person, even Amy, who's 12 years old, and my little Sarah, who's a year and a half old, can contribute a little bit to it, and every family in their home, on the job, and going to and from work can help to save energy. That's the most important single thing to control inflation.

Another thing that you can do is to help me revitalize the American industrial society. We've now got a base of energy that will let us look to the future with confidence. American workers are the most productive on Earth, but we haven't been increasing American productivity as much as some other countries like Germany and Japan. So, to rebuild the American industrial system to give American workers modern tools and modern factories is a very exciting prospect where all Americans can participate.

Businesses that have profits can invest them back into modernizing their own plants, and Americans can save money and let that money be used in stocks and in loans by banks and otherwise to revitalize the American industrial system. That will let each worker produce more and make us competitive and hold down inflation.

Another thing you can do is to help reduce the Federal deficit. The Federal deficit does contribute some to inflation, and it sets kind of a tone or attitude in the Nation that makes it very difficult for people to believe that we're serious about controlling inflation.

So, those kinds of things—to save energy, to save your own earnings, to invest in a better productivity for American workers, and to help hold down the budget deficit by going along with efficiency in Government, not making too many demands on Government—all those things can help a great deal to control inflation.

And of course, the other thing is to buy wisely. When you get ready to shop, I think it's very important how you make a decision on major expenditures in the family budget. Lately, for instance, I visited some of the new and modern American automobile plants. The new cars coming off the assembly lines, in our own country, are more durable, they're safer, and they're just as fuel-efficient as any foreign car you can buy. And I hope that the next time you go to trade automobiles, you'll go in the showrooms that have American cars and give the American cars a chance to compete with those foreign cars, because there again, you're making an investment in our country, you're creating more jobs for Americans, and if you don't find the car you want, of course you can buy otherwise. But I hope you'll give the American cars a chance. So, just common sense will help a lot.



Q. Considering your outstanding records on environmental issues, how would you account for your recent proposal to Congress that would lift restrictions on the steel industry, enabling them to inject more pollutants into the environment? I realize that our steel industry must be modernized, but should it be at the expense of the environment?

THE PRESIDENT. No. One of the things that we've had to do is to deal with a few basic industries that have been severely damaged by, primarily, oil price increases—coal is one. I've told you already that we are producing more coal this year than any other year in history. Automobiles is another, and the American buying habits have changed on cars so that now people want the smaller, more efficient cars, and the industry is planning to spend $80 billion in the next 5 years to revitalize the automobile industry. And the other one is steel.

We have worked out with the steel industry and with other industries a good tax program to encourage new investments and to let them take credit quicker for building new machines and new factories. Another part of our proposal for the steel industry has been worked out very carefully with them and with the environmental community, Chris. So far as I know, every environmental group in the Nation has endorsed me for reelection as President. And one of the reasons is that we've been very careful before we made a decision to make sure that it was compatible with clean air and clean water and good quality and clean land.

The steel industry will have longer period of time to bring up their plants to meet air and water pollution standards provided they agree on a planned program approved by the Environmental Protection Agency to remodel and to revise those plants to bring them in compliance with the law. In the past, they've been able to delay year after year after year, and not ever correct their air and water pollution problems. Now, if they go ahead and invest in a new plant with pollution control devices, we'll give them a couple years longer to complete their work if they sign an agreement ahead of time not to pollute the air and water anymore in the future.

Q. I was wondering—do you know who shot J. R.?

THE PRESIDENT. No. If I did, I'd raise enough money to pay for my campaign. [Laughter]


Q. Mr. President, how do you see synthetic fuels and synthetic lubricants as affecting our reliance on the foreign oil that we're talking about here today.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there are two parts to dealing with the foreign oil import question. There's one, to save energy; the other one's to produce American energy. The OPEC Arab nations, all put together, have about 6 percent of the world's energy reserves. We've got 24 percent in this country, and it's oil and natural gas; it's geothermal supplies; it's tar sands and shale oil and coal—all kinds of energy that we've got here.

One of the important new developments will be the development of synthetic fuels, that is, clean-burning oil and clean-burning gas that's gotten out of oil shale and coal. Some of the Illinois coal, for instance, has high sulfur, but you can take that same coal that now has to have very expensive scrubbers and put it through a chemical process, as you probably know, and out of it you can get the cleanest burning gas and oil. So, we will have, in the next 10 years, about $80 billion available to put into the production of synthetic fuels in this country, which means that our almost unlimited supply of coal of all kinds, both high sulfur and low sulfur, bituminous and anthracite coals, that have in the past not been used for various reasons, can now be used to produce synthetic fuels. And this will give us a chance to be self-reliant and also open up tremendous numbers of hundreds of thousands of new jobs to produce the synthetic fuel.

So, synthetic fuel in the future will play a major role in making us more energy secure or energy independent, along with solar power, conservation, and of course, the production of oil and gas in this country.


THE PRESIDENT. Maybe in the back row. Yes, ma'am?

Q. Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. Go ahead, I can hear you.

Q. You can hear me? My name is Olga Sudless. I'm sure you know you are within a very short distance of two great national laboratories. I feel we live in a technological and scientific civilization. And I feel that the scientific research is very inadequately supported. If the Government, through the people, does not support the research, who's your supporters, and are they indeed aware of what is lacking and where it will bring us, for the future indeed lies within research.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, since I've been in office for the last 3 1/2 years, every year in the Federal budget we've increased substantially the percentage of our budget allotted for basic research, for research and development. This has not only been in the educational institutions, like universities, but also in the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Health. And I will continue this process of improving the percentage of the total expenditure in our country in the budget for research and development.

One of the things that we've agreed to do, for instance, on the steel industry is to allot several hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 5 years to research on more efficient ways to produce steel. In addition to that, we've made the same commitment to the automobile industry to help share with them not applied research, but basic research. And when I met in Tokyo not too long ago, last year, with the leaders of Japan and Germany, France and Italy, Great Britain and Canada, we agreed among the heads of nations that we would share basic research findings on transportation—like the reduction of friction formed between an automobile tire and the road, and a more efficient production of engines, and so forth.

The other thing that we've committed ourselves to do in the new economic stimulation program or revitalization program is to increase the amount of Federal money being granted to the universities and other research centers around the country. The space program is obviously still an ongoing program—several billions of dollars every year. I think the last part is on cancer research, and in all kinds of research concerning health, we've also increased it.

I have a scientific background of my own. I'm an engineer by education, but I did research work in science as well, in physics, and I'm very deeply committed to that. Frank Press, who's my science and technology adviser, has also been going to different countries around the world. He was recently in China; he's been in Russia before; he's been to several countries in Africa to try to get international cooperation on basic research that might help people have a better life—in food production and health matters and things of that kind.

So, I agree with you completely. I think our record's very good. And if you are more interested in details, if you'd write Dr. Frank Press, P-r-e-s-s, he can give you kind of a summary of other things that we've done that I don't have time to outline.

Q. What was the address?

THE PRESIDENT. Frank Press, The White House.


Q. Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. One more question? Can I get one more? Okay.

Q. Mr. President, I'm a registered Republican who plans to vote for you in November.

THE PRESIDENT. I love you. [Laughter]

Q. Some Americans believe that Russia will gamble on war in the eighties. What are your plans to increase both the numbers and the level of preparation for the military personnel in this country?

THE PRESIDENT. The question was, some people think that the Soviets might gamble on war in the 1980's. What are my plans to make sure our defense is strong, particularly relating to personnel?

My number one responsibility above everything else is to keep our Nation secure and at peace. The question illustrates, I think, perhaps better than any other question we've had the crucial nature of the Presidency itself and the decisions that are made in the Oval Office. It's not a place for simplistic answers. It's not a place for shooting from the hip. It's not a place for snap judgments that might have very serious consequences. I have a lot of potential crises that come to my desk on which I need to make a decision. If I make the right judgment, then you never know about it. But if I should make an error in judgment, then my error would cause a crisis that would affect every life here or perhaps every life in the whole world.

One of those constant series of judgments that I have to make is how to protect our Nation's interest—our security, our economy, and the influence that we have around the world—and still maintain the peace. I thank God that I have never had to order a soldier into combat since I've been in the White House. We've had peace. No President can say that for the last 50 years, and my prayer is that I'll go out of office, hopefully at the end of 8 years, with that record intact, with the Nation at peace. Strong, yes, because our ability to keep our Nation at peace depends on our strength, our known strength. We've not only got to be strong, but the American people have got to know we're strong, our allies have to know we're strong, and our potential adversaries have to know we're strong.

My belief is the Soviets also want peace. As long as they know we are strong enough to defend our interests, to protect our own country, to help protect Western Europe, to provide economic stability for the world, then we will stay at peace. But an important element of keeping our country at peace is what I described to you with the first airplane that only had one wing. If you've got just a strong military and you're jingoistic in spirit that is, you want to push everybody around and just show the macho of the United States-that is an excellent way to lead our country toward war. You've got to have strength militarily. You've got to also have arms control. And you've got to have a stable, sound policy that's well understood, that our Nation is strong, we'll protect our interests, but we want to live at peace. That's what we've done so far.

To abandon nuclear arms control, in my judgment, is probably the most serious mistake that this country could make in keeping our relationships with the Soviet Union sound. My background is as a military officer. I was in the Navy 7 years after I finished at the Naval Academy. I was a submarine officer. When I got to the White House, the 8 years before me had been Republican administrations. The amount of money spent on our national defense for 7 of those years had gone down, in real dollars, above inflation.

Since I've been in office, we've had a steady growth in our commitment to our national defense in dollars above and beyond the cost of inflation. It's careful, considered, steady, predictable improvement in the quality of our defenses. I think that's the best investment we can make. We spend about 5 percent of our gross national product in the strength of our Nation, in military strength.

The last thing I'd like to remind you of is that the best weapon is one that's never fired in combat, and the best soldier is one that never dies or sheds his blood on the field of battle. So, we do need the weapons; we do need the soldiers. But they're designed to deter war, to prevent war, not to push people around.

If you look at Mr. Reagan's record the last 8 or 10 years, including recently, many times when there was a troublespot in the world, when diplomacy was obviously the best approach, and my predecessors in office, Democrats and Republicans, resolved those issues peacefully, Governor Reagan has advocated the sending in of American military forces. In countries in this hemisphere like Ecuador, or Cuba, Angola, Cyprus, Lebanon, North Korea, and other places, he has advocated sending in American military forces. That's as a Governor or as a candidate for President. What he would do in the Oval Office I don't know.

But it's a serious question about the attitude of a President, who's a lonely man in many ways while he's in the Oval Office. You have very serious judgments to make. But how to keep our Nation strong and at peace, how to have a strong military and arms control, how to have tax reductions, but an improvement in the quality of American life and better jobs for our people, how to have energy conservation and the increased production of American energy—those kind of balances are very important and very difficult. And I've found that when the questions are most serious, that's when my advisers, who are very fine men and women, are most likely to be split fifty-fifty, and that question has to be answered by me as President. And those questions that come to my desk are perhaps the most difficult of all, because if a question's easy to answer, you'll answer it yourself or you'll do it in your home or you'll do it in a county courthouse or city hall or maybe a State legislature or the Governor's office. But if none of those places can find the answer to a question, then it finally gets to me, and I share it with the Congress.

So, the crucial nature of who's in the White House and what kind of judgment a President has can affect the quality of life of every person here and every person in this country, perhaps the whole world. That's why it's so important.

It's not a bad job. I like it. And the reason I do it is that in a democracy I have you to help me, and to the extent that you're involved in the political process, like backyard meetings like this and townhall meetings and exchanges on television, radio, and so forth, to that extent I feel that I have your support and your partnership. It's good to have partners like you.

Thank you very much, and I've enjoyed it.

Note: The President spoke at 3:45 p.m. outside the home of Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Loftus.

Jimmy Carter, Addison, Illinois Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session with Du Page County Residents. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250697

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