Jimmy Carter photo

Corpus Christi, Texas Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Townhall Meeting.

September 15, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby, Congressman Joe Wyatt, State Senator Carlos Truan, State Senator Bill Patman, who will be with me in Washington next year, ladies and gentlemen;

Es un gran placer para miestar aqui con ustedes, mis amigos, en el gran estado de Texas.

And for those of you who don't speak Georgia Spanish, let me say that- [laughter] —it's a great pleasure to be here with all my friends in the great State of Texas. First of all, I want to thank you for the warm hospitality. And before I begin taking questions, I'd like to make just two points: first of all concerns our Nation's military, strength.

I've just come from the Naval Air Station-as an old Navy man this is very important to me—and as you know, the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi is important to our Nation's strength. And I can tell you there is no plan to be moving the Naval Air Station away from Corpus Christi.


When I was elected President and took office there had been an 8-year decline in the commitment of our Nation's wealth to a strong defense. We reversed that downward trend with the Cruise missile, the MX missile, the Rapid Deployment Force, the Trident submarine, with a stronger alliance with our NATO Allies and with others around the world. And we will continue in the next few years to make sure we've got a strong America so that we can have an America at peace, and you can depend on that.

It's very important that no potential adversary underestimate either the strength or the will or the unity or the commitment of the American people. Next month we'll be celebrating the birthday of the United States Navy, and Secretary of the Navy Hidalgo will be down at Corpus Christi to celebrate this birthday with you.

And the second point I want to make is that 1980 will be a very decisive year for you, for your personal lives, for the lives of your families, and for the future of this Nation. Americans on November the 4th will be choosing not just between two men, not just between two parties, but between two futures. We'll decide whether we continue down the road of equality of opportunity and justice and fairness or whether we'll turn away from that long and important struggle. In my judgment, I'm in the right city to talk about this because, as was the case with my own area of the Nation in the Deep South, we've struggled to overcome racial prejudice. No one can forget that tragic day 30 years ago when a brave war veteran was denied burial here just because he was an Hispanic. We don't want that ever to happen in this country again.

As you know, Corpus Christi is the birthplace of the American G.I. Forum and the League of the United Latin-American Citizens—LULAC. You organized to carry on a struggle—that's now nationwide—that at times was lonely and sometimes unpopular. These struggles must continue to make sure that our Nation accurately represents what our Constitution says and the principles and ideals that live in Americans' hearts of all races. It's a constant struggle. It needs constant commitment and constant bravery.

We want to make sure that justice is practiced throughout our Nation so that every person has a chance to work, to be useful, to have a decent life. I'm very proud that now there are nearly 5 million Hispanics at work in the United States. One out of four of those jobs, by the way, has been created in the last 3 1/2 years, since I've been in the White House, and we're going to continue that kind of progress in the next 4 years.

We've come a long way; we've got to keep going. It's time for us to modernize American industry, to increase the productivity of American workers—already the highest in the world—and to lay the basis for a full-employment economy based on the tremendous progress we've made in energy in the last 3 1/2 years. But in doing that, we cannot lose sight of this desire for justice and for fairness.

You're going to hear this year that the only way to create new jobs is to give a massive tax cut to the rich and hope that some of the benefits trickle down to everybody else. That's not so. An efficient government and fair tax laws can help to revitalize our economy and provide a better life for us all. And we must never forget that the major advances for justice and fairness came about—some of them under a great Texan, President Lyndon Johnson—simply because people like you could mobilize our Nation to do away with injustice and get action from the government.

Civil rights is part of all that. The violation of federally protected human rights is a serious crime, no matter who the victim might be, no matter who the violator of the law might be. And as long as I'm President, the United States Government will fully enforce civil rights laws.

I'm committed to equal justice for all Americans. That's why we now have four times as many Hispanic Federal judges as we did 3 1/2 years ago when I took office.

I'm committed to securing for all children in America an equal chance to learn and to excel. There's a saying in Spanish, "Negar la educacion a nuestros ninos es la ruina de las naciones." [To deny education to our children is the ruin of nations.] And if we deny a good education to our children, it could bring about the ruin of the Nation we love. We've increased Federal support for education, leaving control of our schools at the local and State level where it ought to be. We've greatly increased bilingual education, more than double since I've been in office, because we know that too many children, as they learn English, must also be able to learn other subjects at the same time.

And finally let me say that beyond all these actions, and underlying them, is a commitment to the ideals of our country. The ideals of a nation do not change. The commitment of a people does not change. Principles, deep beliefs do not change. America is great not just because we have military strength and economic power, but because we remain committed to those ideals that have brought ourselves and our ancestors here. We must live up to them.

Our Nation must always remain the champion of human rights around the world. We cannot stop until we have realized a dream for our Nation—for every American to have a better life in freedom. Thank you very much.

And now I'm looking forward to the questions.



Q. Welcome to Corpus Christi.

THE PRESIDENT. I feel welcome.

Q. My name is Anna Contreras, and my question is: Mr. President, with the recent Federal ruling affecting all school districts in regard to the enrollment of alien children, what will the immigration department do with the information gathered by the school districts in regard to the residency of their parents?

THE PRESIDENT. As you know, the other border States at this time provide education for the undocumented alien children, undocumented worker-children. This is a matter that is in the Federal courts. It would not be proper for me as President, because of the separation between the Executive and the judiciary, to involve myself in it. The State government, which has a substantial surplus which we don't yet enjoy in the Federal Government, has maintained that impact aid should be given to the Texas schools. This is not legal and will not be done, because impact aid is designed for communities that have extra costs in their school systems because of military bases and other Federal installations, and not because the State government happens to disagree with the Federal Government on an issue.

So the responsibility as presently expressed by the Supreme Court of the United States is that education must be provided for the undocumented worker-children, and I don't believe there's any possibility for impact aid from the Federal Government. The other States are complying with this ruling, and I feel sure that Texas will do the same since the courts have ruled.

Thank you.


Q. Mr. President, I'm Leonard Luther from Mathis, Texas. I'm a Federal retired person on civil service annuity, and I understand there's been an attempt to change the cost-of-living adjustment to twice a year and possibly even skip one and, on top of that, possibly put this annuity into another type retirement. My question is: We Federal retirees would like to know, if you are reelected, will you try to retain the cost-of-living adjustment to twice a year with no skips and not allow it to be joined to another retirement system?

THE PRESIDENT. I won't do anything to damage the integrity of the retirement system. We have not proposed that there be a merger between the Federal retirement system and any other, and I don't anticipate that. We did propose, however, that the cost-of-living adjustment be made annually instead of twice a year. The Congress will not do that, so your concerns about this change taking place this year-you can forget about that. The Congress has decided in the reconciliation bill in the House—and I feel sure that it will pass the Senate, too—that there will be no change in the biannual adjustment.

So, I don't have any plans to merge the two systems. We still are keeping alive the possibility of an annual adjustment, which I think would be fair, but we will not have a change in the foreseeable future because the Congress has already acted on it.

Thank you, sir.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Danny Kucera, and my question is: Has the Olympic boycott and the grain embargo you imposed on the Russians had any effect and, after you are reelected, will you take further measures to pressure the Soviets to withdraw from Afghanistan?

THE PRESIDENT. The answer is that there has been a great effect on the Soviet Union by the Olympic boycott and also by the interruption of grain sales to the Soviet Union. More than 50 other nations joined us in deciding not to send any athletes to Moscow at all, which was a major propaganda victory over the Soviet Union. In addition to that, many other countries let a few athletes go—like Australia, France, Italy—but they only permitted a very small number.

In the grain sales, the Soviets have had, in a 6-month period, a loss of 6 1/2 million tons of grain which they would have gotten in worldwide markets which they were not able to buy. In addition, when they have bought some grain to replace that that would have come from our country, they've had to buy it at a very high price. And the ships involved were very small ships, so the unloading was uncomfortable for them.

They've had a sharp reduction in meat production in the Soviet Union because of this interruption of feed grain supplies. As a matter of fact, in July alone meat production in the Soviet Union was 15 percent below what it was in July of 1979, and the meat production in the Soviet Union, in spite of increased population, is no higher than it was 5 years ago.

At the same time, we have made sure that American farmers have not suffered. We have increased grain exports from this country to reach an alltime record. One of the most important elements of that is that we now have three times as much trade of all kinds with Mexico as we did 4 years ago, and grain shipments to Mexico have now reached the 10 million metric ton mark. Our new opportunities in China, our increased sales all over the world have made darn sure that American farmers don't suffer. But the Soviets have suffered, and they're going to continue to suffer from these kinds of actions until they get their troops out of Afghanistan.

I might add parenthetically, since it's an election year— [laughter] —that my Republican opponent has been against the grain embargo. He's been on both sides of the Olympic boycott—first he was strongly for it, then later he was against it. And he's also been against draft registration, the things that we have taken as actions against the Soviet Union that were effective. He's been against them all. He did advocate a blockade of Cuba—which, as you know, is on the opposite side of the world from Afghanistan-for some reason. But I think we've taken responsible action, and in my judgment, it has been effective.


Q. Hello. My name is Tony Martinez, and I'd like to welcome you to Foy Moody High School. Since I'll be turning 18 in a few months, I'd like to know from you what you plan to do about the draft.

THE PRESIDENT. Okay. I don't think there's any likelihood at all, Tony, of having a draft any time soon. I have been strongly in favor, as you know, of registration for the draft in case we do have to mobilize our forces in the future. We want to be ready to move rapidly, and this sends a clear signal to our allies and friends, to the American people, and to our potential opponents in the future that Americans are willing to take patriotic action for their country. We had a 93-percent signup for draft registration among 18- and 19-year olds. But our volunteer military forces are strong. You might be interested in knowing that 15 percent of the young people who registered during that 1-month period said they would like to have additional information about the military forces. So, I think this will help with recruitment on a voluntary basis.

So as long as our voluntary forces are adequate and strong and getting stronger, I see no prospect at all of going for a mandatory draft. So you need not worry.

Q. Thank you.


Q. Good morning, Mr. President. I'm Madalyn Cooke, and I have an economic question for you. Especially in terms of revising the personal income tax laws, what is the major difference between your economic plan and the plan being offered by the Republican candidate?

THE PRESIDENT. I'm glad you asked that question. [Laughter]

In the first place, the economic plan that we have proposed is designed to build on the energy progress we've made and to give Americans an exciting, progressive, better life throughout the 1980's, by revitalizing America's industry and creating new jobs that we've never foreseen in the past. We'll have enough money, for instance, to spend on improved conservation and production of American energy that would be greater in size than the total Interstate Highway System, the Marshall plan that rebuilt Europe after the Second World War, and the space program all put together. So this means that we've got a base on which to make further progress.

We've designed our economic plan to be noninflationary; it'll actually reduce the inflation rate instead of increasing it. The Republican plan, known as Reagan-Kemp-Roth, is an ill-advised plan that the business community has said would be, and I quote accurately, "a disaster," which is true because it would be highly inflationary in nature. It's designed primarily to give income tax reductions to rich individuals. For instance, under Mr. Reagan's plan somebody that made $200,000 a year in income would get 35 times more benefit than someone that made $20,000 a year.

Our plan is designed primarily to create faster investments in order to create jobs. We also included in our plan a proposal that would reduce income taxes enough so that as we increase social security taxes next year to keep the social security system sound, there would be no net increase for Americans.

We've also included in our plan a proposal that would reduce the so-called marriage penalty, to make sure that a man and wife living together, where both of them work, would not have to pay more income taxes than a man and a woman, both working, who were not married. That's something that to me is very important.

There's another element to it—and then I'll wind up my answer—and that is that we have a total tax reduction in the year 1985 of $60 billion. It'll cost the Federal Government about $60 billion in 1985 under my plan; under Mr. Reagan's plan, $280 billion, and by 1987 a total of $1 trillion—that's a thousand billion dollars that Mr. Reagan's plan will cost. Where that money's going to come from, nobody knows. He says he's going to cut Federal spending by $92 billion. In 1976 when he was running against President Ford, he said he was going to cut the Federal Government $90 billion. That's a mystery, because nobody's been able to pin him down yet and say, "What are you going to cut out of the Federal Government that amounts to $92 billion per year?"

So I think in all those elements our plan is sound, progressive, noninflationary, well balanced, helps the working families, revitalizes American industry. And the Republicans' proposal is just the opposite. Other than that, their proposal's okay.

Thank you, Madalyn.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Raul Vasquez, Jr., president of LULAC council number one. Corpus Christi has been privileged to receive over 14 million Federal dollars to demonstrate a method of reforming our welfare system through employment. What is your administration's current stance on welfare reform, and do you expect it to become a reality by 1982?

THE PRESIDENT. The answer to the second part of your question is yes, I do expect it to become a reality, because it's such a sound proposal. It's based on this: first of all, the elimination of the confusing Federal bureaucracy so there can be a clear policy, administered efficiently, to provide welfare for those who are not able to work and to give encouragement to work to those that are able. And the other part of it is to provide jobs, primarily in the private sector, not in make-work Federal jobs, for those that don't presently find employment but can physically and mentally qualify for a job. This will also mean a substantial transfer away from the local taxpayers in the financing of welfare to the Federal Government in those areas that are burdened down so heavily with local welfare costs.

So those are the basic elements—simplification, a focusing of welfare payments on those that are not able to work, the provision of jobs for those that are able to work, and financial encouragement through tax reductions to encourage them to get off of welfare and get a job.

Thank you, Raul.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Roxanna Gonzalez, and I'd like to know what you have, what you want, what you plan to do for the poor people without jobs.

THE PRESIDENT. Okay; that's a good question, Roxanna.

We've been able, in the last 3 1/2 years, in spite of worldwide economic problems, as you know, to add 8.6 million jobs in this country. We've never had that many new jobs created in any similar period of time in the history of our Nation. We've also been able to focus those job opportunities outside the Government, into the private, free enterprise system where the jobs could be permanent. And we've had a special emphasis on minority citizens in providing jobs for them.

As a matter of fact, employment among Spanish-speaking Americans has gone up 22 percent—1 million total increase in jobs; and among black Americans has gone up, I think, 18 percent—l.3 million jobs. So, so far we've done a good job.

In addition to that, with the economic plan that I just outlined to Madalyn, over here on your left, we have a possibility of at least a million additional new jobs in the next 2 years, above and beyond what we'll get with our proposals that are already in Congress hands and already on the books, and also above and beyond' what normal economic recovery would bring.

We'll have about 500,000 new jobs in 1981, another 500,000 jobs in 1982. We also have now in Congress—which has an excellent chance to pass—what we call a youth bill. This will add another $2 billion in training for young people about your age, at the junior and senior level in high school, for instance, for preparation for a career in private industry. And that's a good program, too.

What this will do is to let a young person find a job in private industry, and they may not be qualified yet, but to receive special training at the high school on how to hold a job, how to show up on time, how to keep records, and do things like that. And then as they become qualified in a job, working for an oil company or working for a department store or working for Coca Cola Company or something like that, then the Federal Government gets out of it, and the young person holds the job from then on permanently.

This program will tie together the Labor Department, that knows where the jobs are, and the Education Department, where the children are trained either in high school or vocational-technical school or junior college. So this will mean in the future we'll have a much closer relationship between what a graduate of a school knows how to do and the jobs available in that young person's own community. Those are some of the things, very briefly, that we are doing to increase or to improve an already good record on building new jobs in this country.


Q. Mr. President, I'm Maria Lopez. Mr. President, as the leader of this great Nation, when will you do something to actually bring our hostages home?

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you. From the very beginning, when the hostages were taken, we've had two commitments, Maria, that have been constantly on my mind and on my heart: first of all, is to protect the honor of our country and the integrity of our Nation and to let other nations join in with us in convincing Iran that they were making a serious mistake for themselves in holding these innocent Americans captive. That's the first point. The second point is, then, not do anything as a President that would endanger the safety or the lives of the hostages themselves. And we've been very careful in both these elements.

The problem has been, in Iran, that there has been no government there with whom we could talk or negotiate or who could act. The terrorists, the militants, the students, whatever you want to call them, have been the ones making the decisions. Now, finally, there is an elected congress-or Majles, they call it—in Iran. There is finally, just chosen last week, a Prime Minister. There's a speaker of the house, and there's a President. So, they are making statements in Iran that might very well lead to a resolution of this problem in the future.

The last thing that any political candidate ought to do, including an incumbent President, is to get into a negotiation with the Iranian authorities through public statements or through the news media. So, this is constantly on my mind. We're maintaining our position. We'll do everything to get our hostages home safe and to protect our own Nation's integrity and honor and, at the same time, not do anything that would endanger the independence and freedom, as a nation, of Iran. But I think it would be a serious mistake for me to make specific public statements about what I accept or do not accept; it's just not a good way to negotiate with a government, through the public news media. Thank you very much.


Q. Hello, Mr. Carter. My name is Chris Raymond, and I'd like to talk to you about busing. When they're busing the gifted and talented students, they handpick the teachers, also. Why don't they leave those all over town to help the other kids as well as us?

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Chris. Chris, I'm going to be frank with you and say something that I might get in trouble about. Okay? I don't believe that busing is the way to solve the school problems, in general. I want to make it plain that I'm not familiar with the local situation; I've not studied it. And sometimes these disputes to make sure that children have an equal opportunity go into the Federal courts, and when they're in the Federal courts, it's not appropriate for a President or anyone else to comment on them publicly. So I'm not trying to interfere in a local situation.

What is needed in Los Angeles and Atlanta, in Houston, in Chicago, in New York and Boston, in Plains, Georgia, where I live, is a sense of common commitment among the parents of the black students and the Hispanic-American students and the Anglo students—the parents, working with the teachers and the State and local officials to make sure that every element of discrimination or lack of equality of opportunity is eliminated.

I come from the Deep South, as you may know, from deep south Georgia. When I first got on the local school board, which is the most difficult political job I ever had, counting President— [laughter] —tough job; pray for the school board members, everybody—but when I first got on the local school board, the white kids rode the buses to school; the black kids in my county had to walk. The white kids got the new books, and the black kids got the old books that the white kids had worn out. The white kids had good schools; the black kids were going to school in the basement of churches and in the backrooms of people's houses. That kind of thing almost makes you sick to think about it, right? [Applause]

So I think that you, as a bright young man, ought to do everything you can to make sure that there's equal opportunity for all the children, regardless of their race or how much their parents are worth in money, and that there's a good quality education for everybody and that people have a maximum chance to do what they wish, to go to the school of their own choice.

If the Federal courts do issue an order, then, of course, the only alternative that a President has or your parents have is to obey that order. And I believe that the good will that I describe to you, among parents and students of all races, is the best way to resolve the issue. If they can do that, then the role of the Federal Government and mandatory busing can be reduced to a bare minimum. That's the best way to handle it.

That's a good question. Thank you.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Eliseo Cantu, Jr. I'd like to welcome you to Corpus Christi. The last time I had the opportunity to see you was in Fayetteville, North Carolina, at your nephew's wedding.

THE PRESIDENT. Good to see you again.

Q. I'm disturbed by the rumors that I hear that you're not going to participate, at least in the first Anderson-Reagan-Carter debate. I think that the people realize that Anderson, whether we like it or not, is on the ballot to stay, and I think that you are making a mistake if you do not debate Reagan and Anderson in person. With your appeal here, I think that you would clobber them.

THE PRESIDENT. I have already accepted three debate invitations to meet Governor Reagan, who's the nominee of the Republican Party and the only other man, in my judgment, that has any chance in the world of being elected President. Governor Reagan has refused to accept these same invitations. One of them was by a major television network, CBS, I believe, another one was the National Press Club in Washington, to have a debate format between me and him, and the other one was a major magazine. My preference is to have frequent debates with Governor Reagan. And I have also said, although no President's ever done this before, that after that is done I would be glad to debate the other candidates, any other candidate, including Governor Reagan, Congressman Anderson, and others, who had a theoretical chance to be elected President.

I presume that next weekend there will be a Republican debate between Reagan and Anderson. I will not be there. But as I've said from the very beginning, I am eager to debate Mr. Reagan, and after that I'll be just as eager to debate Congressman Anderson, Mr. Commoner, or anyone else, along with Governor Reagan, who has a chance to win.


Q. Mr. President, I'm Sarah Hill, and I want to thank you first for my birthday card. I attended a meeting in Austin—on the windfall tax, in Austin, and there was something about politics for Reagan. But anyway, I didn't go there for that purpose. I wanted to know more about it. Now, would you give me your opinion on the windfall tax that the oil companies are fighting you about?

THE PRESIDENT. All right. Before I became President, Ms. Hill, there was no energy policy for our country. In 1976, we were importing from overseas 8 1/2 million barrels of oil every day and sending the money for it out of the United States to those foreign countries. Oil and natural gas were regulated, which was discouraging American production, and there was no way to finance a better transportation system, conservation in our homes, increased production of American energy, or a way to help poor people pay their heat bills with the increasing cost of energy.

We have corrected all of those problems with our comprehensive energy policy. All the Republicans talked for years and years about deregulating oil and natural gas; they never did it. Now we have a law that deregulates oil and natural gas. It's paying rich dividends. We will have more oil and gas wells drilled this year, 1980, than any other year in the history of our country. We'll produce more American coal this year than ever before in the history of the United States.

We are seeing a rapid increase in the use of solar power in homes. We are now using 10 times more—homes—solar power than we were just 4 years ago. The windfall profits tax, which is on the unearned income of oil companies, will help to finance some of these programs. When we begin to collect this money, it'll be used fairly. The oil companies, in spite of the tax, are having and will continue to have the highest, greatest income in their history, and those who explore for oil and gas, as I said before, are having unprecedented commitments to increasing American oil and gas.

We've cut down the amount of oil we import tremendously, already, with the help of people like you. This day and every day this year, we're importing 2 million barrels of oil less than we did in 1977. So, this is a very good start.

And although the oil companies in general don't like the windfall profits tax by itself, the total program that I described to you, including the windfall profits tax, is one that in my judgment, they approve privately, even though they might not approve it during these election-year weeks. So, I think it's a good program for our country; I have no apology to make. It's one of the greatest achievements of our administration and of this country and will put us back on the road to energy security, based on conservation here at home and the protection of energy in the United States, not where we have to buy it from overseas.


Q. Good morning, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning.

Q. My name is Larry Reynolds and I have one question here. In view of the busing situation in the country today, does the Federal Government plan to subsidize those school districts that are forced to bus or are we, the respective school districts, to foot the bill for the entire cost, especially with the rising cost in fuel as it is?

THE PRESIDENT. There has been a law on the books for years, that if a school district was required by a Federal court to bus children and incur the additional expense, that the Federal Government would help pay that expense. This has been used for years in places like Boston and in the South, and it'll be used in your community if that should happen.


Q. Hello, Mr. President. My name is Phyllis Brown. I'm a single parent with two teenagers. I'm one of the hardworking—

THE PRESIDENT. I sympathize with you.

Q. —average American workers who work for a salary, and with the help of my children's father, I fall in the range that the Internal Revenue says is middleincome people. There are 38.2 percent of middle income, according to the Internal Revenue Service, and we pay 60.1 percent of the taxes. And you've been talking about work programs for the people who don't hold jobs. What I want to know is, what are you going to do for us working people who pay this burden of taxes, year after year after year?

THE PRESIDENT. The major cause, lately, for increased unemployment in our country is among people just like you who had jobs in the steel industry, who had jobs in the automobile industry, and others like them that were caught up in a cycle of very high inflation and changing buying habits and the obsolescence of the American industrial system and the tools that workers have to keep them employed.

The entire program that we have is designed to provide new jobs in changing times for families, not in government but in the private sector—in the oil companies, in those that produce goods and services that we sell. At the same time, we've tried to increase the amount of American products that are sold overseas. We've got three times as much trade now as we did 4 years ago with Mexico, for instance. Mexico has now become our third largest trade partner. The only other two nations on Earth that we trade more with have been Canada and Japan.

So, to build up exports, to provide tax programs to create new jobs for people like yourself, and to make sure that we do have a modern industrial system as times change to keep from having unemployment among the steelworkers and automobile workers and people of that kind-that's what we're trying to do exactly. We also have tax reductions built in to this program, designed to accomplish the purposes that I've described to you. But there will not be placed on you, for instance, next year, an additional income tax burden in your withholding taxes to pay for social security. We'll give you an 8-percent refund on your income tax payment that will compensate you for the increase to keep the social security sound.

So the entire program, I think, would benefit you. There are a few programs that would benefit the poor and the unemployed-like the $2 billion youth jobs program I'm telling about—that might very well not benefit you personally, but will benefit your children when they reach working age.

Q. I hope he goes to college.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope so, too. But there are a lot of people that graduate from college that can't get jobs, and I'm trying to make darned sure that when they—yes, go ahead.

Q. May I come up and shake your hand?

THE PRESIDENT. That would be a very great pleasure for me, yes. You see, there are some nice things about being President, too.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Steve Dulaney, and I'm attending Carnettwood Academy High School, which is a local parochial school. Since parochial schools are educating a greater number of students each year, and they play a major part in the American education system, should the parents of these children attending these schools get special school tax breaks, and how could the Government help support these schools?

THE PRESIDENT. Good. As you know, a lot has been done by the Federal Government, both since I've been in office and before, to provide services for young people who do go to the parochial or the private schools. And in addition to that, we've done a great deal to make sure that any child in this Nation, regardless of the wealth of their parents, can go to college if that child or young person is qualified to do the work. This has been a great achievement for us.

In addition to that, we will have in the future a constantly expanding commitment by the Federal Government to education, both private and public, with the new Department of Education. In the past, the education programs have been buried underneath welfare and health. There has not been a single person in Washington where your parents or a school board member or a Governor could go and say, "We've got a problem," with private or public education, preschool, grammar school, high school, or college. "What can you do about it?" Now, Secretary Shirley Hufstedler is the new Secretary of a brand new Department of Education.

I'm not in favor of Federal payments directly to the private school system. But I recognize the tremendous contribution made by the private schools, and we have made equal benefits to young people who go to private colleges and those who go to the public colleges. And I believe the new Department will be beneficial to both the public and private school systems of this country.

Yes, you can ask another question.

Q. There's one point. My parents are paying taxes for the schools in this city, the public schools. And I attend a school, and they're paying a considerable amount of money to send me to that school. And I don't know, since I'm not using—since most of the private students don't use the public school facilities, should they still be supporting them?

THE PRESIDENT. In my judgment, yes.

Q. Why should they support them?

THE PRESIDENT. Have you never been to a public school?

Q. Yes, I have, for 2 years, sir, and those 2 years were probably a dormant stage in my education.

THE PRESIDENT. I see. Well, that's a judgment that you make.

Q. That's a judgment. That's my personal opinion.

THE PRESIDENT. That's a judgment that you make, and you have a right to your opinion. I'm able to send my kids to a private school, too. I've got a good salary, and I've had a good income a large part of my life. Amy's in the public school systems, and I think—in Washington, D.C.—a lot of people who are Members of Congress and who have jobs in my government think the private school system's better. I have always thought it was important to have a strong public school system.

I hope that your parents—wait a minute, let me finish—I hope that your parents and you are always financially able to pay the extra money to go to the private schools. That's your privilege in our country. But if something should ever happen to you or to your children—suppose you graduated from high school and couldn't get a good job and couldn't pay the tuition for a private school—I want to make darned sure there's a good public school there for your children to use.

I might point out that Steve's raised a good point and—

Q. The only point I'd like to say


Q. If some people that weren't paying taxes for these public schools, they might be able to attend some private schools if they wished to get maybe a Christian education.


Q. Okay, I'm not knocking the public school system.

THE PRESIDENT. I know. You've got a right to your opinion. We just happen to disagree. Good luck to you, Steve. You're a fine young man. Steve, are you on the debating team? You ought to be. You ought to be if you're not. Good luck to you.

Thank you.


Q. President Carter, Betty Godfrey. I represent—as a volunteer—I work with G.I. Forum and LULAC and all those other organizations of the United States of America. I'm tired of hearing what you didn't do. I want to bring out some points you did do, and other people blundered them. We have the national flood insurance program going on right now. There are men coming out—they are independent adjusters representing the United States Government, saying they are Government men, which I found one guilty; he is not a Government man but an independent insurance adjuster. I have taken care of this. I'm tired of hearing you blamed as our President for things you have not done.

Also, before we get any further, I represent the educational—[inaudible]—of Indian affairs. Indian discrimination—[inaudible]—Indian, and I know it still stands in Indian schools and Indian hospitals. I stand for their chiefs, for the chiefs' document, with Dr. Hector P. Garcia, for the education of anybody that can't afford it. Forty percent Federal aided—[inaudible]—for the people of the United States of America. I believe that our President is for the people, all people, the poor. It doesn't make any difference.

I am tired of hearing about the bad things he did—[inaudible]—these programs that are being misused by people who are not civil service workers who say they are at your door. I had a deal made at my home and was invited to the motel-what about that, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much. I appreciate it very much.

Q. What about that?

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you very much. Thank you.


Q. Good morning, Mr. President. My name is Dorr Lewright.

THE PRESIDENT. What's your first name?

Q. Dorr.


Q. D-o-r-r. I want to ask you a question on energy. Regarding the new excess profits tax being levied on the petroleum industry, I feel that America would be far better served by allowing the private sector to develop the energy for our future needs through a plowback provision than to allow the inefficient Federal Government to consume this money. How would you compare the efficiency of free enterprise to big government in solving our energy problems?

THE PRESIDENT. I think the free enterprise system is more efficient, and that's what we've emphasized, Dorr, as a matter of fact. The Federal Government is not in the oil-producing business; we're not in the oil-refining business; we're not in the oil exploration business. We're not going to get into it.

What we are doing, however, is to try to protect the consumers and, at the same time, remove the shackles that have bound up the free enterprise system for too long. There's been an effort made to deregulate natural gas and oil ever since Harry Truman was President back in the late 1940's and early 1950's. We have finally passed a bill—it wasn't easy—to deregulate oil and natural gas, careful, phased, predictable, and that's what meant so much to the oil explorers who now have 2,800 rigs running, a number that's never been equaled in the history of this country.

Also, it's very important to me to make sure that over a period of time we produce new kinds of energy, to take shale, which has not yet been used in our country, tar sands, to use lignite, which is now becoming used, to take coal, and to change those materials into oil and natural gas forms that can be used as well.

We've not had good conservation in this country; we've been wasting too much energy. And for us to encourage, through tax credits, people to insulate their homes and to use growing crops to make gasohol, for instance, is a very good step forward. With some of this money we will encourage the production of synthetic fuels, gasohol, and so forth, with the Federal Government not doing anything in that these projects will be designed, built, operated by the private enterprise system. But we will have an Energy Security Corporation, made up primarily of distinguished business leaders, that will decide how we can provide the incentive for these companies to get started on their own.

So, I believe very much in the free enterprise system. Let me add one other thing. We have gotten the Government's nose out of the free enterprise system on trucking. We've gotten the Government's nose out of the free enterprise system on financial institutions. We've gotten the Government's nose out of the free enterprise system on the airlines. We've deregulated those industries as well as oil and natural gas.

So, I believe very strongly in what you said, that private enterprise can do a better job, that consumers must be protected, and in the past the Government has protected the bigshot business leaders and their corporations at the expense of the consumers. But now we'll have a better energy industry, we'll have a better airline industry, we'll have a better trucking industry, a better financial institutions industry than we've ever had before, by getting the Government's nose out of American people's business. That's what I believe.

I'm sorry, my staff tells me I can't take another question because we're out of time. Let me say in closing that I appreciate your being here and your letting me meet with you. It's very important to me as a President to have a chance to be cross-examined by you on subjects that are important to you. This is the 25th townhall meeting I've had since I've been President; it's the second one this month. This Thursday, I'll be having another press conference with the national press; I think it'll be the 59th press conference that I've had since I've been President. It's important for a President, it's important for anyone trying to be President, to have these kind of cross-examinations in public so their views can be known.

You've probably noticed that the campaign staff of my Republican opponent have put him under wraps. He's not having meetings like this. He's not having press conferences any more, because when he has spoken on his own the last few days, he's gotten himself in trouble. But this point is, well, the point is when you're in the White House, in the Oval Office, as President, that's where the most difficult questions come, perhaps to any human being on Earth, and you've got to be able to respond accurately, in a way that doesn't embarrass you personally and does not embarrass our Nation.

And I believe that this campaign season will be an excellent chance for the American people to size up the candidates and decide who can keep this Nation at peace, who can continue the progress that our Nation has made on civil rights and equality of opportunity that's so precious to us, who can make sure we have better relationships with other nations around the world, who can keep our country strong militarily, and who can let people like you have a voice in shaping the policies of our Nation so that the great principles that have made our Nation strong in the past will make our Nation even stronger and greater in the future. That's what I want. God bless you all.

Note: The President spoke at 10:37 a.m. in the Moody High School gymnasium.

Jimmy Carter, Corpus Christi, Texas Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Townhall Meeting. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251057

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