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Letter to the Speaker of the House Urging Immediate Action on the Tax Surcharge.

May 05, 1968

[Released May 5, 1968. Dated May 4, 1968]

Dear Mr. Speaker:

Time is fast running out on one of the most crucial legislative measures of the decade-the tax surcharge. Further delay is a ticket to disaster.

I have repeatedly urged passage of this vital revenue measure. It is modest--about a penny on the dollar earned. It is an American imperative, essential in its importance to the national interest:

--To help ward off inflation that will rob the pockets of the poor and elderly and the millions of families living on fixed incomes.

--To support responsibly the needs of our sons and brothers in Vietnam who fight to defend us all.

--To safeguard our dollar, the guardian of our prosperity at home and the bulwark of the free world monetary system.

The $186 billion budget I submitted in January was tight. It was tailored to finance responsibly the urgent work we must pursue in our cities, to help the poor and to protect our national security.

The budget which was made up last year and the year before contemplated tax increases which the Congress has not enacted. But the President can only propose in matters of taxes and appropriations. Under the Constitution he cannot dispose. That is the duty and power and responsibility of the Congress.

Now the Congress is indicating that reductions in the January budget will be necessary to secure passage of the tax bill. I do not recommend or urge such reductions--for the budget is already lean.

But so crucial is the tax surcharge to the national interest that I would reluctantly accept some reductions if they are realistic and reasonable.

The House Appropriations Committee late last week approved a formula which included a $4 billion reduction in expenditures for fiscal 1969.

To accept reductions any deeper than this in an already lean budget--designed to meet the urgent needs of our people at home and abroad--is unwise.

As Secretary Fowler stated, the reduction formula voted out by the House Appropriations Committee will be approved by me, although I know it will require great sacrifices. I think it would be a serious mistake to go beyond that formula. But above all, it is essential that the Congress act and act at once.

I know that you will, as you have always done throughout your career, place the interest of the Nation first and do all in your power to secure passage of the necessary tax legislation. I cannot too strongly urge immediate favorable action by the Congress on the vitally needed tax increase.



[Honorable John W. McCormack, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.]

Note: The Revenue and Expenditure Control Act of 1968 was approved by the President on June 28, 1968 (see Item 343).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the Speaker of the House Urging Immediate Action on the Tax Surcharge. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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