Jimmy Carter photo

Communications Workers of America Remarks at a White House Reception.

April 05, 1978

First of all, let me say that I feel like I'm among friends and among partners. I've had this feeling ever since I have been involved in politics. And I had it strengthened in 1975, when I was with you in San Diego at your convention. A lot of you were there. It was when I was lonely and searching for friends. And I reached out my hand and you took it, and you helped me in Florida and all the succeeding primaries. I won't forget Texas.

You helped me during the general election, and I particularly thank you, since I have been President and living in this house, that you've helped me even more as the leader of our country.

On behalf of myself and Rosalynn, our entire family, I want you to know that you're welcome, you're part of our family, and you belong here as much as we do. Thank you for coming this afternoon.

We also share something else. You were born in October; so was I. You were born 40 years ago. Well— [laughter] —well, we're not exactly the same on everything. But I know that this last year, because you are a part of our Nation which is enlightened and progressive and concerned about the essence of our country, you represent democratic principles in all their finest aspects. You are respected and trusted throughout the country in your own local communities as an organization, on Capitol Hill, and throughout places where decisions are made.

This is a great tribute to you. Last year, when I came into office in January, we had almost a 9 percent, over 8 percent unemployment rate. We had a 9, 10 percent inflation rate. With your help and with the help of the fine Democratic Congress on the Hill, we were able to put into law some very effective programs that were able to cut down unemployment much more than we had anticipated. We created a net of 4.1 million new jobs in the United States. It was a great achievement. You helped me with it. And I would not have been able to get this bill through the Congress, the Congress would not have been able to pass it, without your help.

You also were effective in giving me the right to reorganize the structure of Government. And we are trying to do that now on a 3-year program that will be effective in helping all of you:

We were able to create a new Energy Department, to introduce energy legislation. You've worked hard at the progress we've made. We've got three out of our five major bills. We're on the verge of getting our fourth one. Following that will be the last one. This will do a great deal to strengthen our country's economy, to hold down the inflation rate, to restrict our unwarranted imports of oil, and although it doesn't affect your jobs directly, it affects you as American citizens and as human beings. And your constructive help has been a crucial element in the progress we've made already.

You've helped me with international affairs, in learning how we could reach out our hands to new friends around the world, to countries who in the past we had ignored and who will comprise in the coming years an extremely influential element in international matters that will affect the lives and the well-being of every single American. And your vision in stretching beyond this country even has been a very beneficial element of my administration.

You've helped me to get through the Senate the first of the two Panama Canal treaties. I need your help on the next one. I believe you and I together can prevail.

Now I particularly need your help to get other major legislative proposals through. One of the most important is labor law reform. We need it, we're going to get it. The House passed this legislation with your help, with over a hundred-vote margin. It's not going to be easy in the Senate, we're going to have to work together, but I believe that together we can prevail again.

We also need to put into effect the tax reform package that we put forward to the Congress. We need a $16 1/2 billion tax reduction for the American citizens. You can certainly use it. All your neighbors can use it, and that's part of the package. We need to inspire business to expand to make available additional jobs. I personally have never seen why some of the privileges in the tax laws ought not to be eliminated. I see no reason for a telephone operator or a supervisor or a person who works with their hands to pay for a three-martini lunch for some bigshot business executive, $50 a day [applause] . This has been part of our tax law too long, and I see no reason either for the tax privileges that have in the past encouraged American businesses to transfer American jobs overseas when we still need the jobs here in our own country. So I need your help with that.

The other thing I would like to mention specifically, and there are a lot of things that I could mention, is we're going to have to do something about inflation. We've had superb .good fortune and great progress in cutting down on the unemployment rate. We're going to make some more progress this year.

We've already reached the point at the second month in this year that we had set as a goal for ourselves at the end of 1978. But the inflation rate is creeping up. And unless we all stand firm, cut out waste, have a sound economy, stabilize the dollar, have the energy package passed, cut out unnecessary spending, and hold down the budget deficit, we're going to all be robbed of the improvements we've made with your help this last year.

I would like to say one more thing to you. I've given you a lot of credit, which you deserve, but I think a major part of the credit that the Communication Workers of America has earned is because of the superb leadership of Glenn Watts.

As I said before, you are a progressive union, and he's a progressive leader. You are an enlightened union, and he's an enlightened leader. You are a union that's unselfish, that tries to get benefits for people in our country who are not members of your own organization, and that's the kind of man he is. You are an effective group, and he's an effective leader. You are American citizens who represent the finest aspect of what our country has been, is, and can be to an even greater degree in the future, and he accurately represents that in his own leadership role. He's a kind man, a gentleman, an effective man, and a tough negotiator, as you know, and a good, competent friend to have.

It's with a great deal of honor that I stand here on this small podium with one of my best personal friends who had confidence in me very early, who sets high demands on my own performance of duty as President, who's never satisfied with mediocrity or halfway reaching of very high goals. I look on him as a counselor, as a constructive critic, as someone who supports me when I'm right, and is not afraid to criticize me when I'm wrong. And he is valuable to you; he's valuable to me; he's valuable to our country. So, together you represent the kind of friends and partners I need, I like, and I appreciate from the bottom of my heart.

Note: The President spoke at 4:30 p.m. in the East Room at the White House.

Jimmy Carter, Communications Workers of America Remarks at a White House Reception. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244923

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