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American Society of Newspaper Editors Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session by Telephone With Members of the Society.

May 03, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. First of all, let me say how delighted I am to have a chance to talk to all of the newspaper editors who are assembled in Honolulu. I would like very much to be there myself. As George has just pointed out, I missed the last annual meeting and hope that next year I can be with you.

I understand that I am supposed to give you a 3- or 4-minute summary of the first hundred days and then respond to questions.


I would like to say that the basic thrust of my own administration in its early life has been to try to carry out the campaign commitments that I made for the last 2 years, without regard to the difficulty of the questions that we face and regardless of how long they've been either deliberately ignored or avoided by officials in past administrations.

We've already completed work on a comprehensive national energy policy which has been very well received, I think, in the Congress, and particularly in foreign countries. And the American reaction has been favorable to a degree that surprised me. We've now got authority to reorganize the executive branch of Government, which is what we wanted. We've done a great deal of work on a comprehensive welfare reform package that will be presented to the Congress in the legislative form prior to their summer work period in August.

Within the next 2 weeks, I'll have a proposal to the Congress on illegal aliens, or undocumented workers. This has been a growing problem. We now have, perhaps, more than a million a year who enter our country from other nations illegally.

I've made proposals to the Soviet Union on nuclear weapons, advocating-and I will continue to advocate--substantial reductions in the level of armaments. We have taken a very controversial position that has aggravated some of our natural allies and trading partners on the control of proliferation of nuclear explosive capability. This relates almost directly to international energy supplies in the future, and this is one of the things that we will be discussing at the summit meeting beginning this weekend in London.

We are trying to get both supplier nations and consumer nations to hold down purchases of conventional arms, particularly the .sales to the developing nations of the world.

I have issued a statement today announcing and endorsing, I believe, a resolution to the very controversial issue of the antiboycott legislation. We've emphasized to an adequate degree, I believe, our own Nation's commitment to human rights, which has been a disturbing factor in international councils.

I have removed all restraints on American citizens to travel abroad, reopened discussions with the Vietnamese, with the People's Republic of China, with Cuba. We tried to lead toward a normalization of relations with those countries, and also with 10 or 11 other nations with whom we don't now have diplomatic relations.

And of course, on the domestic scene, we've put forward a comprehensive economic stimulus package which, even after the withdrawal of the $50 tax rebate, still comprises a heavy emphasis on jobs, job training, public works, and amounts to more than $20 billion.

These are some of the items that we have discussed. I think the major criticism of my administration has been, perhaps, that it's been too open; that an apparent naivete in dealing with foreign countries and with the Congress through the public debate and discussion has, perhaps, in some instances prevented the concealment of failure or, perhaps, in some instances contributed to dissension between ourselves and our friends and allies both in the Congress and overseas. But my own commitment is to try to address difficult questions, to do the best we can to resolve them, to make our proposals public, to have a maximum of exposure of what we are doing, so that debate both among American citizens and in the Congress and overseas can be conciliatory toward deriving the best examples or the best solutions or answers.

These are some of the things that I see as an analysis of the first 3 months or so. And I'd be glad now to answer any questions that you might have for a few minutes.



Q. Mr. President, this is John Quinn of the Gannett News Service.


Q. In the first hundred days, some have seen a pattern of compromise rather than confrontation with Congress. After the experience with the tax rebate and the water projects and with that heavy agenda of issues ahead, can we expect to shift to a "no more Mr. Nice Guy" policy?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, contrary to what has been reported, the $50 tax rebate was withdrawn simply because it is not needed. At the time we proposed it we had a completely different set of economic circumstances, and we hoped for the rebate to actually go out in the mail very early in May. As the time for the vote in the Senate grew near, the economic improvements had made it unwarranted and the delay, even if it had been warranted, would have been counterproductive.

On the water projects, I haven't given up on those. We have advocated, as you know, about a dozen and a half projects to be completely eliminated. We've drastically reduced the amount of money committed to about nine others, and we've approved some that we reassessed.

I think the subcommittee in the House took an action within the last few hours that is very mistaken, and I intend to pursue a curtailment of water projects until the last vote in the House or Senate.

I'm very determined to carry forward the proposals that I make to the Congress. I'm eager to get along with the Members of Congress but have no hesitancy about going public with my positions or fighting for projects, even though sometimes we may not win them all.

I believe the best thing to do is to put them on the table, to have an open debate, and when I see that there is a better solution, accommodate it. But I'm not naturally inclined to overcompromise, and I don't have any apology for what we have done so far.

I think we've still got our sleeves rolled up and gloves off, and I believe that we have a growing awareness of the problems of Congress. I think they are getting to know me. And I anticipate that we will have tough debates and sharp confrontations, but the product of this will be success.


Q. Mr. President, this is Tom Winship of the Boston Globe and Waikiki Beach. [Laughter] It's always a pleasure to visit with you over the telephone from the convention hall, and I do hope sometime we can get a live encounter.

I have a question: Now that the 100-day assessments are over with and behind us, what is your minimum list of accomplishments that would make you satisfied after your first 300 days?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would like to get the economic stimulus package passed. I'd like to get a new department of energy approved and established. I would like to get Congress to accept the essence, hopefully all, of the proposals we made on a comprehensive national energy policy. I'd like to have a common approach among the developed, industrialized nations of the world toward dealing with inflation and unemployment.

I'd like to have as much of a commitment as I can in our country to providing jobs for our people. I'd like to get antiboycott legislation passed. I'd like for there to be a worldwide awareness and, hopefully, an increasing commitment to the acceptance of human rights and the abolition of the deprivation of those rights. And I guess 300 days would probably include a productive Geneva meeting on the Middle East and, also, some easing of tension in the establishment of good relationships with countries which presently are not very close friends of ours.

I would guess, too, that within that length of time, I would work out with Mr. Brezhnev an acceptable, first major step toward the resolution of the SALT question and the framework for much more drastic reductions of nuclear weapons in the future.

The other point that comes to mind is that I think that within that time period, I will have presented to the Congress for their resolution, a comprehensive welfare proposal, some guarantee that the social security system will be firm, and the first steps toward reorganizing the executive branch of Government.

Tom, I look forward, too, to meeting with you personally. I met with the editors of the Boston Globe a couple of times during the early stages of the campaign, and I would hope that my next meeting with you might be more productive politically.


Q. Mr. President, this is Joe Parham of the Macon News.

THE PRESIDENT. Joe, how's it going?

Q. We're having a wonderful convention here in Hawaii--and one little problem--no grits on the menu in the morning. [Laughter]

I have a question, sir.


Q. You scared the hell out of me the other night--[inaudible]---


Q.---[inaudible]--individuals in other nations in the next 7 years and 8 months.

THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe that my Monday night speech on energy was an exaggeration at all, Joe. The key people who have studied the energy question for years, some of the experts within the Congress, world leaders in other nations, the industries involved themselves, and economists, all feel that unless we do something we are going to have devastating consequences to our own economy, to our balance of trade deficits and, ultimately, to an increasing vulnerability if foreign supplies are withdrawn for some reason.

We have set goals for 1985 that are achievable. And it is hard to imagine the concern that other nations in the world feel about the gross waste of energy that takes place in this country. I believe that we have worked out--and I might say this has been surprising--a means by which we can reach those goals with a minimum of sacrifice on the part of the American people, compared to what I thought it was going to be when we began this study.

Dr. Schlesinger has had a wide-ranging background, and he has worked on this full-time for the last 4 or 5 months. And I don't think that I exaggerated the consequences to our country if we are not able to adopt and implement the comprehensive energy proposals that we put forward, or solutions very close to those that we did advocate.


Q. Mr. President, as a Japanese, I wish to take this opportunity to thank you for your wise decision to appoint Senator Mansfield to Japan as the new American Ambassador. The Japanese are all very happy not only because we know he is a man of character and duty but also because we've found that you value Japan as a very important key country in capacity ands[inaudible]. At the same time, however, we feel a little disappointed that at the end of your 100 days, you will soon be in Europe while you have no plans-no definite plans to pay a visit to Asia, including Japan or China.

In view of the importance of U.S.- China relations as well as U.S.-Japan relations, we strongly feel that you had better visit Japan and China as soon as possible. How do you feel about that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that's very gracious of you to say that. As a matter of fact, the last foreign country that I visited was Japan. And I only intend to make one trip outside our country this year and that will be to the London Conference. And while there, I'll go to Geneva to meet with President Asad from Syria.

As you know, Prime Minister Fukuda has had a very good meeting with me here. So have, I think, 11 other leaders of foreign countries. And he will be with us in London.

I look upon our relationships with Japan as being crucial to peace on a continuing basis in the western part of the Pacific. And my own hope is that with careful prior consultation before we make a decision that affects the world economy, in which Japan plays such a large role, or any matter that relates to political or diplomatic or military affairs in the Western Pacific, that this can strengthen our ties with Japan.

I would like to see Japan play a much more aggressive role in both economics and politics. And one of the things that we think can be accomplished in the London meeting is to have a growing closeness between Japan and the European Community--which we presently have, both with Japan and the European Community nations.

So, if we can help to bridge that gap on a permanent basis and a very friendly basis, I'm sure it will be productive for us all. But I certainly would not neglect, ever, the growing importance of Japan. And as you well know, within 3 or 4 days of the time I was inaugurated, the Vice President, Vice President Mondale, left here and went on a tour of just a few nations, one of which, of course, was Japan.

So, I thank you for your interest in my visiting your great country. I hope I can get back there maybe within the next year or two.


Q. Mr. President, this is Dave Broder from the Washington Post. The front page news here this morning was the report that the Soviet Union had made a breakthrough that could lead to development of a high-energy weapon against U.S. ballistic missiles. Is there any such development, and does it threaten the U.S. strategic deterrence?

THE PRESIDENT. We have no evidence, David, that the Soviets have achieved any major breakthrough in the kind of weapon described in the news today. We have conducted experiments along with the Soviets and others--they've been published in scientific journals--concerning laser beams, the use of charged particles, and so forth. But as far as their evolution into a major weapon capability, we believe that the Soviets are many years away from that possibility.

And I think that this is, first of all, a report that's based on some inaccuracies. Secondly, the assessment of the report in the aviation magazine has been exaggerated. So the answer, to summarize, is that we do not see any likelihood at all, based on our constant monitoring of the Soviet Union as best we can, that they have any prospective breakthrough in a new weapons system that would endanger the security of our country.

Q. Aloha, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. How are you doing? Did you ask a question?

Q. I said thank you, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Aloha to you. Thank you very much. I used to live in Hawaii. And tell Tom that I look forward to seeing him when tie gets back. I think he was on the panel last year. And I have always enjoyed talking to him and the folks of the Boston Globe, and particularly the Macon Newspapers and the Washington Post, and also, of course, the Japanese news. And I look forward to seeing all of you when you get back to the mainland. And next year, I hope that I can be with you in person.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 5:03 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House to the convention, which was held in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Jimmy Carter, American Society of Newspaper Editors Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session by Telephone With Members of the Society. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243884

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