Jimmy Carter photo

Aliquippa, Pennsylvania Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Town Meeting.

September 23, 1978

MAYOR Ross. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is John Ross, mayor of Aliquippa. On behalf of the borough of Aliquippa, I welcome all of you to the Aliquippa town meeting. And now, may I present to you the President of the United States, Jimmy Carter.

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Mayor, thank you very much.

It's a great pleasure for me to be back in this beautiful part of Pennsylvania and one of the most beautiful parts of the United States.

My wife, Rosalynn, during the campaign, spent 5 days in Beaver Valley, and all the people who were up here campaigning on the Peanut Brigade and my family and I thought that the most delightful campaign experience of our whole 1976 effort was in Pennsylvania. And we thank you for it and also thank you for the great results that helped to put me in the White House.

My mother is a great sports fan, and anybody who cares about sports knows about Beaver County. As you know, Joe Namath was a great friend of my mother's when she was in Alabama and still is. Pete Maravich played for our team in Atlanta, great athlete who began here-Tony Dorsett, another great athlete, as you know; Doc Medich, and many others. I won't try to mention all of them that came from here. But there must be something special about the climate or the training, because you have set a standard for the rest of the country in athletics.

And that's not all. We have a great song composer from Georgia, Johnny Mercer. And one of his good friends and fellow composers was also from here, and that's Henry Mancini. He was at the White House not long ago and gave a beautiful concert. And he and Johnny Mercer wrote several songs together, including "Moon River," which is one of my favorite waltzes—Rosalynn and I like to dance to it—and "Days of Wine and Roses" and many others.

So, we have not only a lot of political interrelationships with you but athletic interrelationships, cultural interrelationships, and just personal friendships.

It's a good opportunity for me as President of our great. country to come here and have a frank exchange with you. Not only are you responsible for my election, but in a very important way you are responsible for how good a job I can do representing you in the White House.

There are some things that prey heavily on my mind, many ideas, but I want to defer to you this morning on your questions. There are two, though, that I would like to mention just in passing that might stimulate some questions from you.


One of the great duties of a government is to police itself, to make sure that the core of our Nation in government is clean and decent and honest and open. Our Nation suffered the last few years because that has not always been true. And when it isn't true, there's a loss of trust among people like you in the government which is yours and in the elected officials which you put in office.

The Senate has already passed a very strong ethics bill. The House this week turned away many crippling amendments. And my hope is that next week our Nation will have a new standard of performance in financing and campaign contributing procedures for the Members of the Congress. I inherited many problems. This was one of them. And the Congress has cooperated.

And the General Services Administration, one of the biggest agencies in the Federal Government, not often highly publicized-we've got some serious problems.

I appointed a new Administrator, Jay Solomon, from Chattanooga, Tennessee. And he had only been there a few weeks before he began to investigate in depth, to root out the corruption that exists. The more he looked, the more he found. And he finally appointed a special investigator, and I asked the Department of Justice to help him. And now we're making some progress.

I don't know what the results will be, about the number of indictments and so forth. But we will stop that corruption of the core of our Government. What has occurred there over the last decades has amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from you, the taxpayers of our country. We are trying to set up a mechanism to prevent this happening in other agencies.

The Congress will shortly pass a bill, which I support, setting up 12 inspectors general, independent of the agency head, independent of me, who will make sure that in all the agencies of government, the major agencies, there is no tendency toward corruption.

Our new civil service reform legislation, soon to be passed by Congress, thank goodness, will help us again to have not only better use of worthy and dedicated and honest employees, but a way to correct deficiencies. And in that we'll have a special counsel, independent, to investigate and to make sure that we don't have a further corruption of your Government.

We inherited a mess, but we're getting it under control.

The other point I would like to make, because I'm here in the heart of steel country, is that we're making progress in keeping our people at work. When I became President about 20 months ago, 10 million Americans could not find a fulltime job; more than 7 million had no jobs at all. We've made good progress. And you have been one of the counties, this region, that has led that progress since I've been President. The unemployment rate now in Beaver County is down to 5.1 percent.

And we've had special success in trying to turn around the problems in the steel industry itself. Employment has risen 24,000 since the first of this year. When I became President, the utilization rate in the steel industry plants was down to 76 percent. It's now up to 90 percent. In spite of a general slowing down in the economy, domestic shipments of steel are up 5 percent; revenues of the steel companies-the second quarter of this year compared to the second quarter of last year—up 71 percent, which means that they can reinvest in keeping the plants modern and competing with steel producers in other countries.

We've put into effect, as you know, a trigger price system to stop dumping. And as long as I'm President, we won't have any worry about that any more.

So, we are making good progress in almost every aspect of your lives, with good cooperation between the Congress and the President in trying to mirror accurately in the White House what you want done for your country.

I won't go into any other items. I could spend the whole hour doing that. But I want to spend the next 50 minutes answering any questions that you have in your mind. And now, I'd like to turn, I understand, to the first microphone over here if there is a question. And I'll try to be brief with my answers so that we can cover as many questions as possible.



Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. I am Evelyn Rosmini from Aliquippa, and I have a question for you.

Mr. President, we have lost three oldfashioned things—respect, management, and cooperation. We no longer have smalltown lifestyles. Everything is deteriorating, and the youth are going to the cities.

Do you have any community development package plans for improving smalltown economics so we could keep our young people in our towns?

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Ms. Rosmini. I think you know you mentioned a subject that's dear to my own heart, the small towns. I come from Plains, which has a total population of less than 700, and we are trying to make sure that in the allocation of Federal funds for different projects—highways, schools, health care, beautification—these needs are met.

I think it's a very serious thing when we have a barrier built between our large metropolitan centers and the more rural areas of our country. I believe it's accurate to say that in the last year almost, we have turned the corner in providing strength in the basically agricultural regions with the new farm bill that went into effect October 1, 1977, which happens to be my birthday.

We also have tried to bring together for the first time in many years the local, State, and Federal officials who work together as a team, rather than having them separated one from another. In the White House under my top assistant, Jack Watson, we have a continuing mechanism by which any mayor or county official from the smallest towns and counties in our country can come directly to me through Jack Watson to get needs met.

In the departments, of economic development under the Commerce Secretary, Housing and Urban Development, Health, Education, and Welfare, Labor, we're trying to make sure that the programs are not designed specifically for just the large metropolitan centers. I think it's very important for us to retain the strength of our small communities and the agricultural areas. And since this is where I came from, and you can rest assured it will never be ignored as long as I'm President.

That's a good question.


Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is Mrs. Etta Colbert, and I live in Aliquippa. I also live in the Logstown district of Aliquippa.

My question is, since the Logstown district, or part of it, is being redeveloped, and homes and buildings are being torn down and others are not, I would just like to know why are some of the buildings and some of the homes being torn down and others are left to stand in a very critical, deplorable condition? And that's my question. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you. I wish I knew the answer about your particular community, but I don't. I think it might be good for me to have Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Department, Mrs. Pat Harris, contact you directly, if you don't mind, with a telephone call and see if she can investigate the exact problems that cause you concern.

As you know, the basic decisions on which particular homes or buildings are torn down and which ones are left standing have to be, under our own system of government, a decision made by private families and also by local government and State government officials. It's not right nor proper for the Federal Government to come in and make a decision about which houses to tear down or leave. And I think this is something that must be done by the local people themselves.

But I'll ask Pat Harris, if you don't mind, to give you a call directly so that she can have one of her people look into the question, since I'm not familiar with the exact circumstances you describe. Is that okay?

Q. Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Mrs. Colbert.


Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is Attorney Melvin Clark, Jr., and I'm residing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I first would like to commend you on your splendid efforts at Camp David. I think I can speak for the majority of Americans in saying that we are extremely proud. I would like to ask my question as a representative of the Church in the Round, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.

That question is simply, what is your personal opinion on bringing prayer back into the public schools?

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Attorney Clark, for your comment and also your question.

I am not in favor of the Government requiring prayer in the schools. At the same time, I'm not in favor of the Government prohibiting or preventing prayer in the schools. My own religious beliefs, which I think are compatible with the Supreme Court decisions on this, are that the first amendment to the Constitution, separating the church and the state, must be maintained.

I believe that prayer is a private relationship or communication between a person and God, and that each person should have a right to worship as he or she chooses. So, I think that prayer ought to be permitted in the schools, but not required for a particular student.


Q. Good afternoon. My name is Alice Feehley. I'm from Erie, Pennsylvania. I have a question for you.

Considering your principles for the national health program, you say in it that there will be no additional Federal spending until the year 1983. I want to know if that means that-

THE PRESIDENT. No additional what, Miss Feehley?

Q. Federal spending, okay?—until 1983; also that there is no adverse impact on Government budget or the taxpayer. Does that mean what we have will stay in the budget of the Government now, or does that mean we can expect no tax increase or no new Federal programs?

THE PRESIDENT. That's an excellent question, and one of the most difficult I will get today.

Let me take just a moment to describe the problem that we have. We need to have some immediate changes made in the health delivery system in our country. We need to have an emphasis on prevention of disease, the cheapest possible way to ensure a person's health. We need to have an expansion of the kind of people who can treat illness once it occurs, under the supervision of medical doctors themselves, more use of physicians assistants, registered nurses, laboratory technicians, in some instances, special instances, and so forth.

We need to have more emphasis on outpatient treatment and not require persons who don't really need it to be admitted to the hospital at very large cost.

We need to fill in some of the gaps in our present health care coverage, because at this time, the bill for the Federal Government, including health programs, is paid by those who are able to work and pay income taxes primarily, and they are exactly the ones that receive practically no benefits from the Federal health programs.

Many people are not covered by private health insurance. The most important need we have immediately, though, is to put a lid on the cost of hospital care. We have a hospital cost containment proposal in the Congress this year. I really hope it will pass. And we' are fighting hard to get it passed. I'll give you the reason for it very quickly.

More and more our private hospitals are being owned and managed by exactly the people who decide whether or not you go into the hospital in the first place-what kind of health care you get, how long you stay, and how much to charge you. It's almost a monopoly, quite often, in a community. Because of that, health care has gone up since 1960 1,000 percent.

I was in South Carolina last night. I looked up the statistics: Last year in South Carolina health care went up 20 percent. The cost of health care for a given level of treatment is doubling every 5 years. This is the kind of thing that puts a tremendous, uncontrollable burden on the American people. And the charges in hospitals is going up twice as fast as the rate of inflation, which is high enough on its own.

So, we're trying to get a hospital cost containment bill passed. As soon as we can get these things done that I've just outlined to you very briefly, we'll be ready to move on a comprehensive health care package.

Another thing that we must do is to make sure that the Federal Government agencies and State government agencies and sometimes the local and private agencies are brought together to administer what we do have now in a much more effective way.

The Congress is making good progress on this. But we cannot afford just abruptly to put into effect an entire health care program that would cost the taxpayers maybe $70 or $80 or $100 billion. We've got to go into it step by step. Once we do the things that I've just described to you, we'll have a much better health care system with no additional burden on the American family for cost, and it'll be much more comprehensive, as well. So, that's what I think we ought to do in the initial stages.

And the final conclusion of that whole process will take a good while, I would say, at least 5 years. But we're not postponing all these actions until 1983. We hope by 1983 that everything I've described to you will have already been completed.


Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is George Henderson, Jr. I'm a resident here in Aliquippa. I would like to ask you a question dealing with our educational system.

It is one thing to have had high school dropouts to be mentioned throughout various Presidential campaigns and whatever. I would like to know, have you instituted yet into your so-called repertoire of whatever you're going to do with our country a means of contacting that young, uneducated, unemployed black youth?

THE PRESIDENT. That's one of the most serious problems with the unemployment question.

I said earlier that we've added a good bit of job opportunities to our country's society. We've a net increase, just since I've been in office, of 6 million jobs, 6 million more jobs than we lost. At the same time, we've had a substantial reduction in the unemployment rate, from about 8 percent when I took over down to already less than 6 percent. But we still have pockets of unemployment in particular communities, and we have pockets of unemployment in particular kinds of Americans.

You've put your finger on the most important and unmet need, that is, young, primarily male citizens from the minority groups, either those who can't speak English well or those who are black. We've had an addition of about 725,000 public service jobs that are designed more and more to focus on the kinds of people that you've just described, black youth in particular. And in addition to that, the basic youth programs have much more than doubled.

As the general unemployment rate in the whole country among adults, both black and white, goes down, then those remaining Federal programs, which we are keeping strong, can quit worrying about those that already have jobs and focus more and more of their attention on those that still don't have jobs. We have had a substantial reduction, by the way, in unemployment among young black citizens. But we've got a long way to go. And I believe that with the help of the private sector that we can increase this employment opportunity even more.

But we've recognized, obviously, this to be our most serious unemployment problem. It's the one that has responded less to our programs so far. But it will be the top focus of our attention in the months ahead.

Thank you, Mr. Henderson.


Q. Welcome, Mr. President. My name is Wendy Babiak, and I live in South Heights.

My first question I would like to ask you is, do you think you'll run a second term for office? [Laughter] And also, I'd like to ask you, if possible, and if Rosalynn wouldn't mind, could I please give you a big hug? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the answer to one of those questions is absolutely yes. [Laughter] And the answer to the other one is that I'll have to ask Rosalynn about both of them. [Laughter] This was not on the program. [Laughter]

I would like to ask all of you not to tell my wife about this until I can get home and explain it. [Laughter] Miss Babiak, that's the nicest question I've had so far.


Q. Hi, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Good afternoon.

Q. Welcome to the greatest county in Pennsylvania—Beaver. I'm Eleanor Vavro from Patterson Township. Beaver Falls, Joe Namath's town. Tell Lillian.

THE PRESIDENT. I'll tell her.

Q. Mr. President, I will leave all the big questions to all the people. I know there's many, many large ones. But my question is a very simple one. I will talk about something that I know something about.

How would you like to be the first President of the United States to honor us by being a member of the Beaver Castle Girl Scouts? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. It would be a great pleasure for me. As a former—as a former— [laughter] —well, I wasn't a

Q. I'll help you out, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. I wasn't a Boy Scout, because I lived too far back in the country. But I was a Boy Scout leader when I got a little bit older.

Q. Great. Great. May I present this T-shirt to Amy, please? I also have a patch from the Beaver Castle Girl Scouts for you, and I also have a pin, if you will let me invest you now.

THE PRESIDENT. That'll be fine. Why don't you stand over here, and after I get the next question, I'll take the pin. And I'll give the shirt to Amy as soon as I get home.

Q. Fair enough.



Q. Mr. President, my name is Philip Mancini. I'm from Aliquippa and a student of Quigley High School in Baden. I would like to ask you, why did you publicly state that you would vote against the tax tuition bill as proposed by Senator Moynihan of New York if it made it through Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. For two reasons. One is, I think that we should honor the constitutional separation of church and state. As you know, we are providing, under rulings by the Supreme Court, a considerable amount of different kinds of direct aid from the Federal Government to the private schools. I think it is best to minimize the interference of the Federal Government in the private school system throughout our country

My own belief is that it is unconstitutional for the Federal Government to support to a substantial degree the curriculum and basic costs of the private school system. In addition, we have allocated for student aid, for scholarships, for loans at the college level, a much more effective means of financing than just to provide tax credits. The tax credits themselves benefit too greatly the family which is fairly well off.

And the focus of it is on the highincome families, $30,000 or more. I think as long as we have a certain amount of either Federal tax credits or Federal taxes that are collected and spent, that the money should be channeled to help most directly those families in the middle range of income and the lower range of income, where they need it much more. So, because of this strong bias towards helping very rich families and my concern about the constitutional provisions, those are the two reasons.

Thank you, Mr. Mancini.


Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is James Hawkins. I'm from New Sewickley Township here in Beaver County. I wish to welcome you here to western Pennsylvania.

There are approximately 100,000 orthodox Christians here in the Pittsburgh area, Mr. President. Many of us have been very concerned with the treatment which our brothers and sisters, the orthodox Christians in occupied Palestine, have received for the last 30 years at the hands of the Zionist invaders, who have stolen the land and evicted them from their homeland.

We want to know why your administration has not had the courage to stand up to Menahem Begin and to the American Jewish community by simply cutting off all foreign aid to the Israelis until they give back all territories stolen from the orthodox Christians and others in occupied Palestine?

THE PRESIDENT. I thank you for your very objective and unbiased question. And I'll try to answer it as best I can. [Laughter]

I don't think that in addressing this particular problem of the Palestinians, nor in addressing all the broader interests in the Mideast, that my administration or I have been timid or cowardly. We have raised, as you know, for the first time in any administration, the basic problems of the Palestinians who live in the region as you described, without regard to the religious affiliation of the people involved.

Palestinian Jews, Arabs, and Christians in my opinion should have a maximum opportunity for a change, to escape the military occupation rule and to have their own government within which they can manage their own affairs, religious affairs and affairs concerning education, police, highways, and the normal administration of their lives.

One of the remarkable results of Camp David is that everything that I have just described to you has been accomplished. And the Israelis, under their spokesman, Prime Minister Begin, have agreed to this. As soon as the negotiations can be completed, hopefully within just 2 or 3 months, there will be a self-government set up in the Palestinian area with full autonomy. The Israeli military government will be withdrawn for the first time in many years, and the people will have a chance to administer their own affairs, including the right to worship.

I believe that you would agree that this is a major step forward, the first time it has been accomplished.

Now, of course, the fact remains that many issues still remain to be resolved. And in the absence of a willingness of the Palestinians themselves to negotiate further and in the absence of a willingness, for instance, for King Hussein to negotiate further—because some of these disputes involve Jordan; many of the inhabitants of the West Bank, for instance, are Jordanian citizens—the progress we can make will be limited.

But President Sadat has committed himself to me in writing, a letter released yesterday, that in the absence of cooperation or participation by, for instance, King Hussein, he himself will continue the negotiations, not just on the Sinai relating to Egypt-Israel but also will continue the negotiations concerning the West Bank and Gaza Strip area.

We've addressed as best we could, also, the problems of the refugees and also the displaced persons who left that area as a result of different events that have occurred in the last 30 years.

So, I believe we are making great strides toward realizing the hopes that you have just outlined, to terminate military rule and to give people a chance to worship as they please. And I'm proud to report that to you and believe that we can do even more in the future when all the negotiating parties are willing to sit down and take advantage of the wonderful door that has now been opened because of the Camp David agreement.


Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is William R. Petrelli. I reside in Hopewell Township.

The question I want to ask you is why did Attorney General Bell go against the recommendation of the Justice Department Antitrust Division and okay the merger of LTV and Lykes Company? This will cost jobs in Aliquippa.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. That's a decision, as you know, that's made independently of the White House.

This was a result of a lawsuit and other matters concerning enforcement of the antitrust laws. And under our Constitution, as you well know, there's a very sharp division between the rights and responsibilities of the judiciary system, the fights and responsibilities of the executive branch of Government, and the rights and responsibilities of the legislative branches of Government.

These decisions by the Attorney General, who of course does serve on my Cabinet, can be appealed and might be resolved in the future. I don't know the details of the case, have not been involved in it myself. My own commitment, however, is, after this very controversial decision is made, to minimize the damage that might be done to any community, including your .own. And I pointed out a few minutes ago in my opening statement that although there are serious problems in the steel industry, that we have made progress in rejuvenating or giving new life to the American steel industry. And I think that although there are always concerns about any unemployment, the unemployment in your area is among the lowest in the whole Nation with, I think, 5.1 percent in July of this year, which are the last statistics that I have.

So, I'm not trying to evade your question. I don't know anything else about it, and I've almost told you more than I know about it already. [Laughter] Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Mr. Petrelli.


Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is Mike Brown, and I reside in Monaca, Pa.

First of all, let me thank you for being the person who you are and for representing us the way you've been representing us since you took office.

Mr. President, you have been a strong advocate of the department of education. By creating a separate Cabinet office, what advantages do you feel would there be that the HEW can't already do, by creating another office?

THE PRESIDENT. I was Governor of Georgia for 4 years and, before that, was in the Georgia Legislature for two terms and was the chairman of one of the committees responsible for education. Prior to that, for 7 or 8 years, I was on the local board of education. It's been one of my primary interests.

When I campaigned around the Nation for 2 years to become President, that was one of the issues that was constantly put forward to me in meetings of this kind-at first with a much more tiny crowd than this, later growing in size.

After I became President, it was startling to me that in my regular Cabinet meetings, where all the issues that are important to our country are discussed for a couple of hours on Monday mornings, that we rarely had come to my own attention any matter concerning education. I would say less than 2 percent of my time or 1 percent is spent on education. And when it does come up at a Cabinet meeting or directly involving myself, ordinarily it's concerning a lawsuit involving civil rights or some other aspect of controversy between the Federal Government and a State or local board.

I think that the issue of education should be much more greatly dramatized and discussed at the Federal level of government. And I think a separate department of education would let us go more deeply into the reasons why we are spending an ever-increasing amount of money for education and apparently getting less results in the actual knowledge and ability of our students when they graduate from grammar school or high school.

I don't know the reasons for it. My own approach to education is fairly oldfashioned. I think we ought to get back much more to the basics of education and make sure that when a child does leave, for instance, the third grade, that child can read and write. Many of our young people can't read and write when they finish grammar school, and some of them can't read and write well when they get a high school diploma. That ought to be changed.

Another thing that concerns me very much is that we should have a concentrated commitment that even with the new department of education, that the Federal Government never gets into the role of trying to run the local school systems. That ought to be a decision made as closely as possible to the control of the parents themselves.

The essence of it is that in Washington now, in spite of the fact that we have had, since I've been in office, the greatest increase in Federal contributions to education in history—even including those great days when Lyndon Johnson put into effect the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and the Higher Education Act of '65—the Congress has put more into education since I've been in office than ever before—we still don't have as much attention given to education as it ought to have.

I have a great interest in education, from all my background, more than any other single subject except, perhaps, national defense. And those are some of the reasons that I think a separate department of education ought to be a good idea in our Government. It may not pass this year; I hope it will. The Senate has already taken action; it's in the House. But if it doesn't, then I'll be pursuing it again next year—I hope this year; if not, next year.


Q. Hello, Mr. President. My name is Dan Chamvitz, and I live in Hopewell Township.

My sister happens to live in Israel. The PLO has set off bombs within 100-yards of where she works and where she lives. So, I would like to know how the United States could let the PLO, an organization which has openly killed hundreds of people, open an office and .distribute propaganda in Washington, D.C.?

THE PRESIDENT. We have in our country a constitutional right to freedom of speech, one of the deepest commitments of the American people. There are a lot of organizations in our country which are obnoxious to some of us, what they stand for, what they believe in. And it's a difficult thing for a public official not to use this kind of issue to demagog and to stamp out an unpopular group, no matter how small it might be.

There is obviously no threat to our Nation's security. There is obviously no threat to the well-being of people who live in Israel if the PLO has this small information office. My own guess is that they will learn more about our country by being here and what we stand for than we'll learn from them.

There are many groups like this that cause us concern. The Ku Klux Klan, for instance, the Communist Party, the Nazis—you know, it would be nice for us if they would just go away. But it's part of our system of government to let them have a fight to speak. And I believe that as long as the American people are educated and knowledgeable about the threat of these organizations, that that's the best way to stamp them out.

I might add one other thing: I have a commitment to the people of Israel not to negotiate with nor to have private meetings with the PLO until after that organization recognizes Israel's fight to exist and espouses United Nations Resolution 242, with which I know you are thoroughly familiar. So, I think we're making good progress in the Mideast.

You need not fear the little office in Washington. I believe we can handle the PLO, not by stamping them out, but by the American people.

Thank you.


Q. Shalom, Mr. President.


Q. I am Barbara Heyman from Conway, Pennsylvania. And I personally would like to extend a mazel toy to you for all your accomplishments at Camp David.


Q. You recently stated that you wanted to hold wage increases to 7 percent or less. Why do you only want to give the Federal worker 5 1/2 percent, when in fact many unions have and will exceed the 7 percent?

What further action is the Government contemplating to protect the American steel industry against foreign imports? We understand that there are about 2 million tons a month coming in with your price trigger mechanism in effect.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you. Shalom to you, also. [Laughter] When Prime Minister Begin left the Oval Office for the last time, I gave him a little plaque that said, "Shalom, y'all." [Laughter]

It would be a mistake for anyone to blame the inflation rate on either the Federal Government, the labor unions, the working people, or industry, or the private citizens. All of us share a responsibility for controlling inflation. It's been a constant burden for the American people and a constant threat for at least the last 10 years. As you know, at one time in 1973 or '74, it got up about 14 percent. It's still running at a prevailing rate of about 7 percent, much too high.

I'm responsible directly for the Federal Government. I can't control labor unions, I can't control private industry, I can't control private citizens' lives, nor the buying patterns of housewives or others who shop for products in our country. But within the limits of my own ability and short of mandatory price and wage controls, which I do not favor and don't have any intention to implement, I have to do the best I can.

Among the top officials in Government, including all my Cabinet, the administrators, I have put a zero increase at all. And they — some of them willingly, some of them unwillingly — will absorb the full increase of inflation during this 12-month period. I think that thir income, which is fairly high, is enough to accommodate it.

Among other Federal employees, we tried to put into effect a salary increase level about what the prevailing rate of increase has been for the last year or two, since I've been in office — not this year, last year — about 5 1/2 percent. I don't think that will work any extraordinary hardship on a Federal employee. It would obviously be better for them to have a 7 -or 8- or 9- or 10- percent increase, which are not limited at all.

And I think in the future with the new civil service reform legislation that I expect to sign into law shortly, they'll have a better life for themselves.

So, I'm on pretty sound ground in recommending to the Congress — I think the Congress will honor my recommendation that 5 1/2 percent ought to set a standard or a guide for the rest of the Nation to follow.

Let me say on the steel imports, I described earlier the benefits that have been derived already from the trigger price mechanism that we put into effect. There's been an actual reduction in Japanese exports, for instance, of steel. There's been an increase, tremendous increase, in production of steel in our own country. In the last 12 months, the production of steel in our country has gone up 10 percent. So, I think we've got a good start on controlling imports.

We put a stop now to dumping in almost every incident. We are trying to hone down or to modify our trigger price mechanism to take care of unforeseen problems. And I believe that, in general, both the labor organizations and also the steel manufacturers in our country think that it's a good program. We'll continue it in effect, improve it as we go along. on their homes for 40 years or more should have to have their property reassessed?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, ma'am, yes, I do. It would be much better, obviously, if no one had to have their property reassessed. There are some senior citizens who are quite wealthy. Among the wealthiest people in our country are some senior citizens, not the ones about whom you have 'just asked me. But I think when you start excluding certain groups of citizens completely from any increase in property taxes for a number of years, you add on to the burden of others in the society, perhaps who are just as poor and just as in need as the senior citizens themselves.

One of the things that we are trying to do, however, is to make sure that as a senior citizen depends upon, for instance, social security payments to make those tax levies to the county or city, that the social security payments go up enough to accommodate the normal inflation rate.

One of the things that I'd like to warn about is that there are some demands being made now, on a nationwide basis, by the Republican leaders for a dramatic decrease in Federal income taxes, like 35 percent or some extraordinary figure of that sort under the so-called Kemp-Roth bill.

There's a given level of service to our people that has to be maintained for national defense, for social security, for education, for streets and highways and police forces. And if you drastically reduce income taxes, the only thing that you can do is to put a very large increased tax burden on property taxes, exactly what we do not want to do.

So, I think we need to cut income taxes substantially. I hope the Democratic Congress and I can do that, maybe $20 billion this year. We had about a $7 billion decrease last year. But to cut income taxes so much that you have to pile more tax burden on property taxpayers is something that we want to avoid. So, I think we'll do everything we can to make sure that elderly citizens are protected, particularly those with low incomes. We will not exclude the rich elderly citizens from paying their part of the taxes.

We'll try to hold down property taxes as much as possible by maintaining a reasonable level of Federal income taxes and increase the social security payments and others that go to elderly citizens to accommodate for the increases in taxes and other things brought, about by the inflation rate. That's in a very brief period of time the best I can do with a very complicated subject.

I know you want to pay your share. And I want to make sure you don't pay any more than your share. Thank you.


Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is Ken Joyce from Ambridge, Pennsylvania. There are many good communities here in Beaver County. And the next time you get a break in your busy schedule, I'd like to invite you to one of the better ones, which is Ambridge. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. Ambridge, by the way, is one of my wife's favorites. She was there, I think, twice during the campaign. She wants to come back.

Q. Well, she can come back, too, Mr. President.

My question for you is: As a man who has risen to prominence from relative obscurity—

THE PRESIDENT. That's putting it mildly. [Laughter]

Q.—what is your expectation as to how history will remember you? What is ,your hope, your goal as a President to be remembered by history?

THE PRESIDENT. That's a hard thing to answer. Just let me briefly say that there are two things that I would like to have remembered about me. One is that I helped to restore to our Nation and to its Government a sense of purpose, of idealism, of commitment and honesty, that deserves the trust of the people of our country.

We had lost that in my opinion, in recent years, with Vietnam and Watergate and CIA and so forth. And I would like for people, when I go out of office, to say, "I've got a clean government that's decent and honest, that I can trust." If I could accomplish that, or a major part of that, on the domestic scene, I would be very, very pleased.

On the international scene, of course, the overwhelming question is peace; not peace by military might imposed on other people, but peace based on two things. One is a strong national defense capability, depending on weapons first of all, hopefully never to be used. But the other one is strength based on what our national character is, treating other people fairly and with respect, with a total commitment to the enhancement of human rights around the world and trying to lessen the tensions that have been built up, for instance, in southern Africa, between ourselves and the Soviet Union, in the Turkey-Greece-Cyprus question, to strengthen the Eastern-Western European confrontation, in the Middle East, to restore our good, friendly relationships with countries that in the past have been our enemies. These are the kinds of things that I would like to do in the international scene.

So, I would say peace based on strength in its broadest sense, on the international scene, and a restoration of people's trust and love of our own government and country, on the domestic scene.


Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name's Donald Martin from Center Township.

In light of your opening remarks about corruption in the Federal Government, you know that Pennsylvania is running first or second there. [Laughter] And I would like to know what you feel that the average citizen can do to help to bring corruption to light and at the same time to protect our livelihood.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, first of all, I think it's good for private citizens who work in either local industries or in the government to be constantly alert to any sort of suspicious occurrences that they observe.

Secondly, I think you could elect officials who in their own past administrations have shown that they are capable of avoiding any allegations of corruption. Pete Flaherty would be an example that comes to my mind right offhand.

Third, you could help with some very controversial things in the Congress. I ran for President under a new election law that put a limit of $1,000 on contributions that could come to me from anywhere. And every contribution had to be revealed completely to the public. It cost us an enormous amount of time and money just to account for all those contributions. We need the same thing in the Congress, because you cannot imagine the extraordinary influence of special lobbying groups on Capitol Hill.

I mentioned hospital cost containment a few minutes ago. That's one example. But I think if we can ever get to the point where a Member of Congress was elected to office without any possibility of being financially indebted to the very wealthy and very well organized lobbying groups, that would be the best single thing that we could accomplish.

There's a lot of opposition to that on Capitol Hill. But I want to get that done. There's a lot of concern about it.

I was a little bit upset the other day when Amy came home and said they'd been playing a new game at school. And I said, "What is it?" She said, "Cops and GSA." [Laughter] So, we are trying to make government better. You can help by doing the things I described.


Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. My name is Eli Bucan. I'm from Hopewell, Beaver County here.

Most of the questions you seemed to have answered extremely well. So, I had one, but I think it was answered properly, So, I have other ones here like, why isn't the present government moving faster in getting a good, sound energy program in the United States, and why isn't that new fuel called gasocol, I think it's called—


Q.—why isn't it being pushed?

THE PRESIDENT. Gasohol. I think it will be in the future. As you know we've gone for several generations in our great country without any sort of a national energy policy that people could understand that would make production in our country be equal to our needs and to cut down on the enormous drain in buying overseas oil.

In the last 6 years we've had an 800-percent increase in oil imports, from about $4.7 billion, this year $45 billion. And many people don't even know that in 1978, of all the oil we use in our country, about half of it we have to buy overseas.

My guess is that before this Congress adjourns in October that we will have a major step taken by the Congress toward a comprehensive energy bill. I believe that we've got pretty good support in Pennsylvania, at least in the Congressmen among those who are Democrats. I think you could help me by inducing both your U.S. Senators to support in the Senate next Tuesday the passage of a natural gas bill, which is a key to the rest of the energy package this year.

So, I think that after this year we'll have the major portion of a new energy policy that'll help a great deal. We've got some serious problems ahead of us if we don't.

The value of the dollar is going down, inflation rates caused to go up by excessive imports that cost Americans jobs. We are dependent on foreign supplies when we ought to be able to produce our own energy sources and so forth.

On gasohol, this is a kind of new research and development effort that I think will pay good dividends. In some countries, like Brazil, who don't have any appreciable fuel of their own, about 10 percent of their gasoline now comes from growing plants, either corn or some tuberous plants; well, you have a tuber growing underneath the ground, like a potato. And I think in the future we'll see a substantial increase in gasohol in our own country. Right now it's a little too expensive. It can't compete with other forms of gasoline. But I think you'll see that grow in the future.

And we want to shift very heavily toward other sources, too. Coal is not being adequately utilized. Solar energy would be another one.

So, with a strong research and development program, a passage this year of a natural gas bill and other bills, we'll have a major step toward recognizing and resolving the question that you've described. Thank you very much.

I'm sorry, I don't have time for another question. We've been here now for 59 minutes, and I've only got 1 minute to close.

Let me say that I've been really impressed with the quality of your questions. Some of them have been very difficult for me to answer. And I don't claim to know all the answers. I think the best thing that I can do when I have a difficult question to address is to turn to you for help, not only in learning in a session like this but in your help in helping to pass legislation in the Congress.

Let me say this as a reminder to you. We ordinarily are concerned about and we study and we read about in the newspapers and we watch on television debates about some issues that seem to be very important at the time. But I'd like to remind you that those issues come and go; they are transient; and they don't indicate clearly in our minds the basic strength and the greatness of our country.

Sure, we've got some problems. America has always had problems; our ancestors had problems much more serious than the ones we have now. But God's blessed us in this Nation with tremendous natural resources. We are blessed by our forefathers with the kind of government structure that lets us work together as a team. And we also have individual rights, freedoms to stand on our own feet, to make our own decisions, to answer our own questions, to resolve our own differences, and to reach for greatness in the future.

So, I'd like to ask you every now and then when you're complaining about a particular thing like inflation or perhaps unemployment or perhaps steel imports or perhaps a bad education system or the wrong houses getting torn down, to remember in your conversation that we still, have the best and the greatest nation on Earth. And together we'll make it even greater.

Thank you very much.

Note: The town meeting began at 2:30 p.m. in the Aliquippa High School auditorium. It was broadcast live on radio and television.

Jimmy Carter, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Town Meeting. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243361

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