Jimmy Carter photo

Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania Remarks to City Residents.

October 20, 1980

Thank you very much, Mr. Mayor. Mayor Campese, Congressman Atkinson, Congressman Walgren, President McBride, Chairman Donatello, Senator Ross:

This is a very famous town for me and particularly for my mother, because she's one of the greatest admirers and almost in love with Joe Namath, and I'm glad to be here for her and for me.

This morning I came into Pittsburgh, drove here to Beaver Falls, and I go from here to Youngstown, Ohio, because I want to make a talk to you this morning about some subjects that are crucially important to everyone who lives in this important region, the backbone of one of the basic industries of our Nation. It's a pleasure to be back in Beaver Valley. As you know, I've saved the best areas for last in the campaign.

I wanted to see again the beautiful land and natural area that God has given to you. In 1978, I held a town meeting not far from here, in Aliquippa, and I wanted to come back to the Valley to talk to you about some of the choices that we face in this election. This is steel country, I know, and I'm glad to be here to talk about steel.

As a preliminary, I want to talk to you about another basic industry before I get to steel, and that is coal, because in this entire region, the industrial heartland of our country, these two basic industries are important to every American.

Since January of 1977, in Beaver County, we've had an increase in employment, in spite of very serious economic problems, of 7,100—7,100 more people now are employed in your county than there were the day that I was inaugurated President.

We still have a long way to go, obviously. We've worked out for the entire country an energy policy that will help us in the future not to be threatened again by OPEC oil price increases. In 1979, the OPEC oil nations increased the price of oil more in 1 year than oil prices had increased since it was first discovered in the 1800's, not very far from here.

We have decided to expand coal production, its domestic use, and its export to other countries. So far we have been very successful. This year we will produce more American coal—over 800 million tons—than has ever been produced in any year in the history of our country. This is a good start. What we've done in energy now provides us with a superb base on which to improve the entire American industrial complex.

We have a very important and exciting future ahead of us. And we have now brought together management of the steel industry, the steel workers under Lloyd McBride, the president who's here with me this morning, and our Government agencies to revitalize the very basic industry of steel. That's good news to you; it bodes well for the future. We have an exciting number of years ahead of us.

As you know, recently the chairman of the board of United States Steel, in this area, made a statement that confirms what I've just said. We've already seen a revitalization of the steel industry commence. In 1981, we'll see a further growth in the use of steel productivity. We've now restored the trigger price mechanism for the basic steel industry, and if it's possible to do so, after we determine that there's injury to the specialty steel industry itself, we will expand the trigger price mechanism or work out equivalently for specialty steel.

It's important that this be done. But first we had to reconstitute our approach to basic steel. The revitalization program that will be put into effect next year will give special tax breaks to the steel industry to reinvest back into areas like your own, where the steel management has not done an adequate job in the past. We'll give special depreciation rules to help with reinvestments in the steel industry, and for investment credit, we will let those now be made in cash rather than on credit for future income tax payments.

We also have worked out an agreement with the help of management in the steel industry—Lloyd McBride representing the steel workers—and the Environmental Protection Agency to make sure that in the future, environmental protection rules, as we honor the quality of air and water, will have a minimal adverse impact on employment in the steel industry. This is a good agreement, never before worked out between us in this country. We now have found effective, long-term aid for the industries of this area.

I'd like to make a few remarks now to remind you of what is at stake in your own life, in the lives of your families, and in your community when you go to the polls to vote on November the 4th. This has been a strong—this is a strong Democratic area, and it shows your sound judgment based on what's best for you.

All of you remember, who are old enough, as I am, the Great Depression years of the 1930's and early 1940's. All of you remember when Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed social security. The Democratic Congress worked hard to implement social security. The Republican Party and the Republican Members of Congress opposed social security. The Democrats finally got it passed. That is not just ancient history, because my opponent in this election has several times in recent years called for making participation in social security voluntary. This would mean that anyone, if they chose, could withdraw from making payments to the Social Security Trust Fund. It would mean that social security would very quickly go into bankruptcy and would be out of commission and out of the secure, permanent, sure future that retired Americans deserve.

All of you remember during the Great Depression years the argument about the minimum wage. The Democrats proposed the first minimum wage; it was only 25 cents an hour. The Republicans opposed the minimum wage. I graduated from high school in 1941. My first job was 40 cents an hour, 10 hours a day. When we increased from 25 cents to 40 cents an hour the minimum wage, the Democrats were for it; the Republicans were against it. That seems like ancient history, but my opponent in this election, Governor Reagan, says about the minimum wage, and listen to this: "The minimum wage," he said, "has been the cause of more misery and more unemployment than anything since the Great Depression." And this year when we had high unemployment in this country, Governor Reagan said, and I quote him again, "The high unemployment in large measure is due to the minimum wage law."

Democrats have always been interested in working families. Democrats have always been eager to see people who work for a living be given a fair wage. Some of you have been affected, your own families have been affected by unemployment. We're working hard to put people back to work. But in the meantime, we must have unemployment compensation. Let me tell you what Governor Reagan said about unemployment compensation, and I quote him again: "Unemployment compensation," he said, "is just a prepaid vacation for freeloaders.

THE PRESIDENT. Right. That's the kind of attitude that still prevails in the Republican Party.

So, when they try to give you misleading statements about what the differences are in this election, you remember ancient history like in the Great Depression years and how Democrats under Franklin Roosevelt, later Harry Truman, later John Kennedy, later Lyndon Johnson, have helped your life. And you remember the unchanging commitment to just the opposite principles expressed by my opponent in this election and by the Republican Party.

Finally, let me say a word about perhaps the most important issue that will face your life now and in the future, and that issue is a strong national defense on the one hand, which we all support, and peace on the other. The control of nuclear weapons is one of the most important issues, the important issue, in this election. We have got to have a continuation of the control of atomic weapons. Every President since Harry Truman, Democrat and Republican, has worked to put a balanced control, confirmable limit on nuclear weapons between ourselves and the Soviet Union.

My opponent, Governor Reagan, has abandoned that policy. He calls for three things: One is to throw the SALT treaty, which was negotiated under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and myself with the Soviet Union, in the wastebasket; secondly, he calls for playing a trump card of a nuclear arms race against Russia; and third, he calls for nuclear superiority, which sounds good on the face of it but has a very serious defect. What would you think if President Brezhnev made a speech and said that the nuclear arms control treaty—that we have negotiated over a 7-year period-that he was going to throw it in the wastebasket; secondly, that the Soviet Union would now start an arms race and demand not balanced nuclear forces but nuclear superiority for the Soviet Union and would play this as a card against the United States in order to make us, force us, to reach some better agreement?

Obviously, we would reject that proposal and, obviously, the Soviet Union will reject that proposal. These issues—social security, minimum wage, unemployment compensation, the protection of the steel industry, the extension of protections of specialty steel, the work that our Nation must continue for nuclear arms control, for a strong defense, and for peace—these are the issues that affect this Nation in the next 2 weeks.

I'll do the best I can as a Democratic candidate to care for the issues that are important to you. But the fate of this Nation, as a result of the outcome of the election, is not in my hands. I'll do the best I can, but the fate and the decision to be made on November the 4th is in your hands.

You've always shown sound judgment in the past in supporting Democrats who ran for President. Most of the time we've been successful. But I'd like for you to remember just a moment the 1968 campaign when a lot of Democrats were confused by a third candidate, and we did not give Hubert Humphrey the support he needed. The issues had not changed. It was still a fight between Republicans on the one hand, Richard Nixon, and Democrats on the other, Hubert Humphrey. And because a lot of people didn't work the last 2 weeks of the campaign for the principles that were important to their lives, Hubert Humphrey, who would have been a great President, never served in the Oval Office, and he was replaced by Richard Nixon. Let's don't let that happen in 1980. If you help me the next 2 weeks, we'll keep a Democrat in the White House and a better life for all of you.

Thank you very much. God bless you. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:20 a.m. outside the Carnegie Free Library.

Jimmy Carter, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania Remarks to City Residents. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251366

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