Jimmy Carter photo

Democratic National Committee Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner.

September 27, 1978

I just heard the introduction of me by the Vice President, and of all the witty, clever, intelligent introductions I've ever heard, his is the most recent. [Laughter]

This is the most successful Presidential Democratic fundraiser in the history of the United States. And a great deal of credit is certainly due to our great chairman, John White, to Evan Dobelle, to all those who sold tickets, and to the famous people who are here who helped to draw a crowd.

Bob Strauss, our former chairman, is here. As you know, a lot has been written about Bob. Just this morning I was reading about him. I read that he's the best politician in the Carter administration- [laughter] —that he's the number one troubleshooter in the United States of America, that he's the least appreciated public official that's ever been known, that he has a personal savoir faire that inspires the American people to reach for greatness and to try to emulate him, that he's one of the best dressed men in the Nation, and a lot more, a lot more. If you'd like to read the entire memo from Bob, I'll share it with you later on in the future. [Laughter]

One of the other great people that always attracts a crowd was introduced a little earlier—my mother, Lillian. She always has the ability to put her finger right on the most incisive element in a certain episode, no matter how small or great. As soon as I returned from Camp David with President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin, I had a brief television program with them, went upstairs, the phone was ringing. Mother was on the phone. She was campaigning for someone in Arkansas. She very quickly asked me the most important question. She said, "Jimmy, is Anwar Sadat already married?" [Laughter]

She's the only one in the family that knows how to handle the press. She stays in Plains and—sometimes she stays in Plains. And not too long ago—this is a true story—she had a young woman who came to interview Mother about me from a very famous newspaper in Paris. And the young woman was cross-examining Mother—and she doesn't like women news reporters very much as it is- [laughter] —but the questions got more and more aggressive and abusive. And finally she said, "I understand that your son said he would never tell a lie." And Mother said, "That's right."

She said, "Is your son absolutely honest?" Mother said, "I think he's reasonably honest, yes." And she said, "He wouldn't tell any kind of lie?" Mother said, "Well, I think on occasion in his life he's told maybe a little white lie." And the woman turned on her tape recorder very quickly. She said, "What do you mean by a little white lie?" And Mother said, "Well, just a little white lie." And the woman said, "Well, define it for me, define it." And Mother said, "I don't know how to define a little white lie." The woman said, "Well, at least you could give me an example." Mother sat there for a while, and she said, "Well, I guess I could. Do you remember a few minutes ago when you came in the front door and I said that you were a very attractive young lady?" She said, "That was a little white lie." [Laughter]

I'm proud of our Democratic Party officials. I'm proud of Bob Strauss, the other people that serve with me. I'm proud of my family—my mother, my wife, my sons, their wives. I'm proud of the team that we have created in the last 2 years to serve our Nation.

Two years ago, I completed a long travel through this country, promising the people that we would try to create a government as compassionate and as competent as were the American people themselves. Our party has always been known as a party of compassion. But in the last 2 years, we have also proven that we have a party of competence. Along with effective new programs, we've proved that the Democratic Party is the party of fiscal responsibility.

I would like to announce to you that I've just received a news report from the wire services—AP, UPI, Reuters, Jerusalem Television, State Department, and the OPS Center—that the Knesset voted for peace, 85 [84]; against the removal of the settlements, 19. So, we've made a great step forward, and I'm very grateful for that.

That's indeed good news, and it's sure proof of the tremendous courage of Prime Minister Begin, the Israeli members of the Knesset who have now formed a possible partnership for the rest of our lives with their neighbors, the Egyptians, under the leadership of President Sadat. I'm very proud of this decision by them. We've got a great country, and we've got great friends and partners around the world.

Ours has been a party that believes in a strong United States, strong not just in military weapons—we're the strongest on the Earth in military weapons; not just the strongest economically—we're the strongest on Earth economically; not just the strongest in our political structure, our free enterprise system—we are the strongest politically and in our societal structure. But we are strongest as well in our commitment to basic principles which never change, principles that are challenged every now and then under the most difficult circumstances by war, by corruption, by embarrassment, by failure on the part of some leaders. But the American people always stand staunch and never falter in our commitment to higher ideals and a greater nation in the future.

The Democratic Party represents those commitments, those ideals in the purest sense of all. Ours is the oldest political party on Earth. It's also the youngest political party on Earth, always eager for new ideas, always eager to meet change without fear, always eager to reach a hand out to someone not quite so fortunate as we—not down with a condescending air or as though we were doing someone else not quite so good as we a favor, but a party that believes in other people and the fact that they should have a right to take whatever God-given talent they might own and use those talents to the utmost.

We've corrected some of the defects in our party. In the past, at least in the South, where I come from, we've always had the image of a party with a big heart. Our Members of Congress, even our most conservative Senators, have always voted for social security, Medicaid, Medicare, to give people a chance in life. But quite often we've had the wrong impression in the minds of the American people about our party's commitment to effective management, how to make government be efficient.

And after the last few years of embarrassment under Republican administrations, I thought it was particularly important for us in this new administration to run the Government well, to take control of it and let the people know that someone was in command. And the partnership that we have between the executive and the legislative branches of Government now are proving that we have achieved that very difficult task successfully.

Republicans talk about tax cuts. Democrats cut taxes. Republicans talk about balanced budgets, and they run up huge deficits, which we inherited. Democrats draw up responsible budgets, and we cut back Republican deficits. Any person who's lucky enough to be President and smart enough to be a Democrat— [laughter] —knows that his success, my success, is based on our long party history of great national and international purpose—the desire to keep the United States sound and strong; the desire to assure peace and liberty throughout the world; the desire to help those who are poor and weak and timid and inarticulate; the desire for vigorous and sustained and economic growth to give us confidence in the future; the desire to protect our great American natural beauty of pure air, of clean water; the desire to keep power, political power, where it belongs, in the hands of our people, in the hands of government closest to the people, no matter whether they might be young or old, consumers or producers, wage earners, retired people, farmers, city dwellers.

We not only reach out to people but we bring them into the heart of things, into our hearts individually and personally and into the heart of our political organization to let their own lives be magnified and influenced. This is the essence of the Democratic Party, the party of Thomas Jefferson.

That's why our party produces great leaders like my colleague, Fritz Mondale, the best Vice President I guess this country has ever had. Others have had perhaps equal potential. I don't know about that. But Fritz takes on the full duties of a President on occasion. He's an equal partner with me. There's nothing that I do that he doesn't share.

Our great Speaker, Tip O'Neill, who preceded Fritz Mondale, Majority Leader Bob Byrd, who won a remarkable victory today in the Senate—and I thank him for it—Jim Wright, Alan Cranston, all of our Democratic leaders in the House and Senate, chairmen and other members who have constructed already for the 95th Congress a superb record—we have a Congress that will not be forgotten.

The people won't forget that Congress helped to shore up crucial partnerships, crucial to us with our historic allies around the world who had begun to feel neglected. They won't forget the Congress that worked with me to strengthen NATO and to strengthen our defense around the world. They won't forget the Congress which has helped to restore the moral authority of our Nation.

As I've said recently in some campaign speeches, when I was Governor of Georgia, when I was a candidate, I actually used to shrink up inside every year this time when the United Nations General Assembly convened, because I knew that my Nation, which I love, would be the butt of every joke and the target of every attack for more than two-thirds of the nations in the world. And I'm proud that in the last 2 years that has not been the case, and we've now got new friends among the poor nations, the small nations, the new nations, and the nations whose people are black and brown and yellow. We've made hundreds of new friends, and I'm proud of that.

These are some of the promises that I made to the American people during my 2 years of campaigning; they're part of our Democratic platform, as you well know.

Two years ago I promised the American people a responsible government, one that was lean and efficient and manageable. And that's what the Congress has helped me give them.

Two years ago I promised the American people that we would get control of the bureaucracy, restore incentives and the work ethic to our civil service system, let good employees be rewarded, let poor employees be inspired to do better or transferred or perhaps discharged, let managers manage, let our Government be a source of pride and not despair, admiration and not condemnation. That's what we've done.

Two years ago I told the American people that the Democrats believed that competition and market forces in a free enterprise system should determine prices, and we proved what we meant by making good progress on the airline deregulation bill, which I hope will pass, and by administrative decisions of .the GAB, that's lowered fares and boosted profits of the airlines of the United States. I'm proud of that, too.

Two years ago I said that Democrats believed in a free economic system with minimum intrusion by Government in the private affairs of American citizens, and we've proved it by eliminating regulations, almost as fast as the other party used to write them, and we're beginning to rewrite the ones that are left in plain English so ordinary Americans, even Democrats— [laughter] —can understand them.

And 2 years ago I promised to maintain our national security and to keep our Nation strong, and we've done that. The defense establishment has never, never been so strong. But we've done more than guarantee our basic security with military strength; we've cut wasteful military expenditures.

We put in a superb new management team under Harold Brown and the new Joint Chiefs of Staff to head our military establishment. We've brought our strategic thinking into the 21st century.

We are now working on the last phases of a SALT II agreement with the Soviet Union, which I hope to consummate very soon. And we have stopped the spread of nuclear weapons and the capability to have nuclear explosions around the world. The Congress did that; I'm grateful to them.

But that's not all we've done. Two years ago I said that peace is more than just the absence of war. Peace is the unceasing effort to preserve human freedom and to preserve basic human rights. And we've made that effort. It's becoming increasingly successful. There's not a day that I have been President that we've not sought to narrow the gap between the values that we hold most dear as a people and our actions abroad in dealing with other people. Our goal is freedom and peace and justice for all. That's America's most cherished purpose, and we are strong in the pursuit of it.

I said 2 years ago that we would remove fraud, waste, and corruption from the Government, and we are doing it-not overnight; it took a long time to create the mess that we inherited, and we can't eliminate it in 1 year. But we'll get rid of it, and you can depend on that.

Two years ago I promised the American people that we would get control of our runaway energy problem. It's been the most difficult legislative task, I believe, that the Congress has ever undertaken in the history of our Nation. And at long last we are getting the tools to do this job. I was excited by the work that Scoop Jackson has done in the Senate and others who worked with him.

Two years ago I promised the American people that we would revitalize our educational system and to focus the attention of it on the poor and the deprived children who haven't had an adequate chance in life, whose parents perhaps are illiterate and haven't had the will or the motivation or the vision to inspire those little kids. Even compared to the halcyon days of Lyndon Johnson, the Congress has voted the largest increases in funds for school and education in history, and it's focused accurately on those who need it most.

Two years ago when I campaigned around this country, the common question asked me by almost every group that had elderly citizens in it is, "How are we going to deal with a bankrupt social security system?" I promised them that we would act responsibly and restore integrity to that system, and we've kept that promise. It hasn't been easy, politically speaking, but we've done it.

Two years ago I said my administration would have an urban policy for the first time to revitalize our cities, to inspire the mayors and Governors and others, private citizens, in a new partnership. And we have that policy now.

Two years ago I told the American people that we had to bring our Federal budget under control. The last full year before my election in 1976, the budget deficit was $66 billion. We cut that deficit the first year to $51 billion. We'll get it down, with the great help of the Congress, at least to $40 billion this year, maybe a little lower. And we're going to cut it significantly further next year. And we're going to keep right on cutting the budget deficit with good management and sound programs as fast as the strength of the economy permits. We've kept that promise without yielding our commitment to let Americans have a better life.

One of the biggest problems we inherited, as you well know, was 10 million American adults who could not find a fulltime job, 6 or 7 million who couldn't find a job at all. In just the short period of a year and a half, we've had a net increase of about 6 1/2 million full-time jobs in the United States. The unemployment rate has dropped 25 percent in that short time, and we're going to keep it going down.

And you ought to realize that we have cut the budget deficit, given jobs, better education, strengthened our defenses. At the same time, last year we had a multibillion dollar tax cut, and we have on schedule now another tax cut for the American people of about $20 billion. That is the kind of fiscal responsibility that American people deserve, to meet our people's needs while balancing the Nation's books.

Of course, Democrats have always believed in service, but carefully budgeted, efficiently delivered service. We can cut crime, we can build roads, we can deliver jobs, we can feed our people without huge deficits if we eliminate the waste and the bloat in government. This is responsible leadership. This is sound fiscal policy, and the American people know it.

It's not callous nor hardhearted for a government to deliver food to a hungry person without waste, with efficiency. It's not callous nor hardhearted management to give our children a better education without waste, and efficiently.

For the first time in political history, a recent Gallup Poll showed that twice as many of the American people now believe that Democrats are fiscally responsible as believe that Republicans are fiscally responsible. The Republic has finally woken up to know the truth about Democrats, compared to Republicans, and I'm thankful for that.

Well, let me say in closing that we're getting control of our energy problems. We're getting control of the bureaucracy. We're bringing new efficiency to government. We're taking control of foreign affairs. Our Nation is strong again, proud again, secure again in its place in the world. And we've made a good start on the most difficult task of all, solving our economic problems in the areas of unemployment, in budget deficits. Now it's time to put all our efforts into solving the most complicated and intractable and corrosive problem of all, and that's inflation.

Inflation hurts every one of us, not just the poor, not just the elderly. It saps away our national strength and will and confidence. Very soon I will announce a new package of anti-inflation measures. They'll be tough. They will require sacrifice from business, from labor, from government, from every family, every segment of our society. They will be tough, but they'll be fair.

I would like to caution all of you Democrats-those in my administration, those in the Congress—that we here in Washington must set an example. We cannot pass legislation that's identifiably wasteful. If we do, it will sap away the strength that we have to inspire the American people to solve this very difficult problem on their own.

The best birthday present I could get from the Congress is to pass the air deregulation bill, to pass the hospital cost containment bill, to send me appropriations bills and authorization bills that are solid and firm and cut to the bone without any waste. This is how the Congress can show its determination to join the fight against inflation.

If we fail here, it will be almost impossible to succeed elsewhere. This is the most pressing of the hundreds of large and small restraints that are necessary to win this battle. This is the future of our Democratic Party, a future in which we maintain our vision, even heighten our vision, while governing with prudence and responsibility that builds the confidence of our people in us.

I'm proud of what we've achieved in the last year and a half. I'm proud of the groundwork we've laid for future achievement. But there's more to do if the United States is to realize the full promise of our people. We must succeed in giving the women of America equal rights. And we must succeed in honoring the greatest of all Democrats, Hubert Humphrey, in meeting the yearnings of the poor people of our Nation by passing a full employment bill with his name on it, the Humphrey-Hawkins bill.

It's obvious to me, I'm sure it's obvious to you, that we cannot rest on past achievements. We cannot be complacent. We have work to do as Democrats and as Americans. Let's do this work for our country together.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:57 p.m. in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to John C. White, chairman, and Evan S. Dobelle, treasurer, Democratic National Committee.

Jimmy Carter, Democratic National Committee Remarks at a Fundraising Dinner. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/243455

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