Jimmy Carter photo

Excerpt of Remarks at an Airport Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma

October 30, 1976

In the last two years, since Richard Nixon left the White House, and Gerald Ford came in, we've had two and a half million Americans who've become unemployed.

In the last four months alone, we've had 500,000 American families who've become unemployed. This is not the character of the American people.

I grew up on a farm. I?ve worked all my life. I believe in hard work. And I believe our people deserve a right to work if they are able to work. Yesterday morning, from Mr. Ford's own Department of Commerce, we received the economic indicators that showed what's happened in September, that show what's likely to happen in the months to come.

They show that the average work week had dropped in this country for the second month in a row. They show that the number of layoffs from jobs was up for the second month in a row. They show that the number of orders for consumer goods that will keep our factories open in the future had dropped for the second month in a row. This shows that Mr. Ford's environmental council estimate [sic], that if he's President we're going to have an unemployment rate of 10 percent, is accurate, and I want to be sure that I can work with the Congress, work with governors, work with private industry, strengthen our agricultural community, and put our people back to work and not on welfare in the future. That's important for us.

I'd like to point out something to you that you may not have thought about. Do you know who pays the cost when people are unemployed? It's the ones that are still working. Now, we've seen in the last two years, under President Ford, a $23 billion extra cost for unemployment compensation and welfare payments. Now the welfare recipients don't pay income taxes. Those who draw unemployment compensation checks don't pay income taxes. Even those who are on Social Security and need it very much, don't pay income taxes on Social Security. The ones who pay for the costs of unemployment with increased taxes, increased property taxes, are the middle American families who are still lucky enough to have a job. [Those are] the ones that Mr. Ford has betrayed, those are the ones that I am concerned about. We've got to have our people back to work to strengthen our whole nation and to make sure that we don't put too much of a burden on the average middle class American family which has been betrayed by the Republican Administration. We're going to change that next January. [applause]

For the last 22 months I've traveled around this country running for President. It's been a wonderful experience for me ...

We don't have any unity in our nation any more; we have division. Sometimes hatred, sometimes embarrassment. Sometimes we've been ashamed of our own government.

So you can understand how the needs of our people have not been met and how many people say, "I'm not going to vote next Tuesday." But I've also seen other things in our country that caused me a great deal of encouragement.

I've seen a spirit of the United States that hasn't changed. A spirit that brought us together over long generations to this country. It doesn't matter whether our families came here 2 years ago, or 20 years ago, or 200 years ago, or more. What matters is why we came here and what we do after we arrived.

We've got a strength that exists economically, that hasn't been damaged.

God blessed us with broad open fields and good mineral deposits. He blessed us with pure streams and good air. He blessed us with an access to the oceans on both sides of our country. And he blessed us with an economic strength that can't be changed.

We also have in the United States the best system of government on earth. Richard Nixon hasn't hurt our system of government ...

And I know the importance of hard work. I also know the importance of a strong agricultural community in this nation. Our country can be the breadbasket of the world. In the last two years we've had three grain embargoes. None of them were necessary. Short of a national calamity, we're not going to have any grain embargoes while Jimmy Carter's President. [applause]

As you also know, every person now who is feedlotting cattle, any cattle, [is] losing $50 to $100 a tow. We've got a situation in agriculture where wheat prices have dropped almost 50 percent in the last year. We've got a situation where the farmers are going broke producing food that the consumers can't afford to buy. It's been a long time since we've had a farmer in the White House. I think Thomas Jefferson was the last one. It's time we had another one. [applause]

And I'm going to make sure that the Secretary of Agriculture and the President convince the American people of the fact that what's best for the family farmer and the family rancher is exactly what's best in the long run for the consumer. We need a strong agricultural policy that's predictable, and we're going to have it next January. [applause]

We're the only nation in the world that doesn't have a comprehensive and predictable energy policy. Now your state is blessed with major deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, and the rest of the nation looks to you to make sure that that supply of energy is uninterrupted. We've got to make sure that we do whatever is necessary to encourage continued exploration, that prices are fair. We need to deregulate the price of natural gas for a period of time to make sure that we do have an adequate supply.

When I was Governor of Georgia we tried to get additional natural gas coming into our state to manufacture nitrogen fertilizer for our farmers. We couldn't do it. But we need to have in this country, a realization that all gas, coal, consumers, government, industry, labor, agriculture, all work together toward a comprehensive energy policy. If we have this, the consumers would best be served with adequate supplies at a reasonable cost, and those who explore and extract and refine gas and other commodities could have a reasonable profit.

Now Mr. Nixon, in the winter of 1973, made a speech about independence from overseas imports. At that time we imported 35 percent of all our oil. Today, we're importing about 45 percent. We've become increasingly dependent on oil imports.

You all remember what happened in 1973 when an oil embargo was imposed against our country. [They] brought this country to its knees and I want to be sure that never happens again. If the Arab countries ever again impose an oil embargo against us, instantly we'll consider that an economic declaration of war and we'll impose an embargo against them and not ship them any [applause] weapons, no spare parts for weapons, no spare parts for drilling rigs, no oil pipes, no nothing.

What I want to do is not to be belligerent. Not to go to war, even economic war, but to make sure that there is a prohibition and we can prevent another embargo against our country.

The last thing I want to say is this. I need your help. This election is going to be very, very close. It's almost always the case in the United States. And just a few votes can make a tremendous difference. In 1960, a few thousand votes in the whole breadth of our country could have meant that John Kennedy never would have been President, that we would have had Richard Nixon eight years sooner ...

Jimmy Carter, Excerpt of Remarks at an Airport Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347592

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