Memorandum of Disapproval of Nine Bills.
I HAVE promised the American people that I will do everything in my power to avoid the need for a tax increase next year. Today, I take another important step in the fulfillment of that sincere pledge.
This effort really began last January, when I submitted the Federal Budget for fiscal year 1973 to the Congress. As I explained at the time, that budget was carefully prepared so that all justified Federal programs could be provided without any need for higher taxes--and without causing higher prices.
When it became clear that the Congress was exceeding the budget in many bills, I proposed that a spending ceiling of $250 billion be adopted as insurance against a 1973 tax increase.
The Congress rejected that spending ceiling. Instead, it approved spending far in excess of my no-new-taxes budget.
Some of these bills have presented very difficult decisions about whether to sign or to veto. A number of them have attractive features, or would serve very worthwhile purposes--and of course I have received strong advice that to veto them just a few days before the Presidential election would be politically very damaging.
However, in this memorandum are nine measures which I cannot sign without breaking my promise to the American people that I will do all in my power to avoid the necessity of a tax increase next year.
I made that promise in good faith, and I believe in keeping the promises I make-and in making only those promises that I am confident I can keep.
If I were to sign these measures into law, I would, in effect, be making promises that could not be kept--since the funds required to finance the promised services are not available, and would not be available without the higher taxes I have promised to resist.
I believe that political leaders must lay the facts on the line, to talk straight to the people and to deliver on the promises they make to the people.
Although the choices are not easy, I am withholding my approval from 9 Congressional spending programs that would breach the budget by $750 million in fiscal year 1973 and by nearly $2 billion in fiscal year 1974.
Each of these measures by itself might seem justifiable, or even highly desirable. But the hard fact is that they cannot be considered by themselves; each has to be considered in the broader context of the total budget--in terms of how that total weighs on the taxpayers, and how it affects the struggle to curb rising prices.
I am withholding my approval from the following bills:
Labor-HEW and Related Agencies Appropriation Act (H.R. 16654)--
This is the second time I have vetoed inflated appropriations this year for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. This amounts to a textbook example of the seeming inability or unwillingness of the Congress to follow a prudent and responsible spending policy. In my budget for fiscal year 1973, I requested that the Congress provide an increase of $2. 1 billion over fiscal 1972 funds for the HEW programs contained in this bill. On top of that generous increase-- which would have provided substantial expansion while recognizing competing priorities in other program areas--the Congress amassed a budget-breaking additional increase of $1.8 billion. I vetoed this in August because it was clearly excessive and unwarranted.
The bill now before me contains the same face amount as the measure I previously vetoed. In a partial concession to that veto, however, H.R. 16654 contains authority for the over-spending to be held to $535 million--a result that would still amount to pressure for higher taxes.
This Administration is second to none in its demonstrated concern and clear accomplishments in health, education and manpower matters. My budget represented a balanced and rational approach to the funding of many high priority domestic programs in a time of tight budget resources, while continuing this Administration's shift of priorities and funds toward the human resources activities of the Government.
H.R. 16654 is as unwarranted as the version I vetoed last August.
Public Works and Economic Development Act Amendments of 1972 (H.R. 16071)--
This bill would unnecessarily add vast new authorizations f, or Federal programs which have been shown to be ineffective in creating jobs or stimulating timely economic development. Public works projects have notoriously long lead times--so by the time this spending became fully effective, the need for such stimulation would be passed and the stimulation would be inflationary.
The bill would stimulate increased bureaucracy in the regional commissions by using them as a funding rather than a planning and coordinating level of Government.
It would also provide assistance to workers and firms affected by Federal environmental actions. These provisions would be highly inequitable and almost impossible to administer. The unemployment benefits provision would fragment and undermine our basic Federal-State unemployment insurance system and its costs would be essentially uncontrollable. The proposed pollution control facilities loan program has only vague and unspecified objectives.
Amendments to the Mining and Mineral Policy Act (S. 635)--
This bill would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to provide matching categorical grants to establish and support a mineral research and training institute in each of the 50 States and Puerto Rico, as well as grants for related research and demonstration projects. It would fragment our research effort and destroy its priorities. Such an inflexible program would preclude us from taking advantage of the best research talents of the Nation-wherever they may be. The Federal Government's ongoing programs of similar and related kinds of research, currently funded at about $40 million annually, have provided a flexible and efficient means of meeting minerals problems of the highest national priority and can readily be adapted to continue to do so.
Airport Development Acceleration Act (S. 3755)--
This bill would increase Federal expenditures and raise percentage participation in categorical grant programs with specific and limited purposes. I believe this would be inconsistent with sound fiscal policy. Airport development funds have been almost quadrupled since 1970 under this Administration.
Flood Control Act of 1972 (S. 4018) -This measure would authorize federal projects which would ultimately cost hundreds of millions of dollars. It contains projects never approved or recommended by the executive branch. In addition, it contains a number of objectionable features such as authorizing ill-defined and potentially costly new programs, and limiting my authority to establish criteria and standards to measure the feasibility of water resources projects in determining which ones to recommend for Congressional authorization. However, a number of projects in this bill are in my judgment justified and I will recommend legislation to authorize their construction early in the next Congress.
Upgrading of Deputy U.S. Marshals (H.R. 13895)--
This would raise the pay of some 1,500 deputy marshals by as much as 38 percent, through wholesale across-the-board upgrading. There is no justification for this highly preferential treatment, which discriminates against all other Government employees who perform work of comparable difficulty and responsibility and whose pay is now the same as that of deputy marshals.
National Cemeteries Act of 1972 (H.R. 12674) --
This bill would block the orderly system of surplus land disposal established by general law and Executive order, by requiring an unusual Congressional approval procedure before any VA land holdings larger than 100 acres could be sold.
These property transfer restrictions would undermine the executive branch's Government-wide system of property management and surplus property disposal which is designed to assure the best and fullest use of Federal property. It would impede the Legacy of Parks program and the procedures for disposing of surplus Federal property under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act and Executive Order 11508.
Also, the bill deals inconsistently with the serious problem of burial benefits for the Nation's veterans and war dead. It commissions a study of this problem at the same time it preempts the results of such a study by authorizing new burial benefits which would annually add $55 million to the Federal budget beginning next year. The Administrator of Veterans Affairs already is at work on such a study, which will identify the alternatives for improving burial and cemetery benefits. In the interim, it would be unwise to commit additional Federal resources as proposed by this bill.
Veterans Health Care Expansion Act of 1972 (H.R. 10880)--
The liberalizing features of this bill would unnecessarily add hundreds of millions of dollars to the Federal budget. It would open the VA hospital system to nonveterans and would expand the type of direct medical services available from VA. By providing direct medical services to veterans' dependents, the bill runs counter to this Administration's national health strategy which would provide national financing mechanisms for health care and sharply reduce the Federal Government's role in the direct provision of services.
The bill also purports to set mandatory minimums on the number of patients treated in VA hospitals. In testimony on this bill, the Veterans Administration strongly objected to this provision on the grounds that it was totally unnecessary and could result in inefficient medical treatment and wasteful administrative practices. The tragic result would be a lower quality of medical care to all patients.
While I strongly support the VA health care system and will continue to encourage its improvement in the future, I cannot approve a bad bill.
Rehabilitation Act of 1972 (H.R. 8395)--
This measure would seriously jeopardize the goals of the vocational rehabilitation program and is another example of Congressional fiscal irresponsibility. Its provisions would divert this program from its basic vocational objectives into activities that have no vocational element whatsoever or are essentially medical in character. In addition, it would proliferate a host of narrow categorical programs which duplicate and overlap existing authorities and programs. Such provisions serve only to dilute the resources of the vocational rehabilitation program and impair its continued valuable achievements in restoring deserving American citizens to meaningful employment.
H.R. 8395 also would create organizational rigidities in the vocational rehabilitation program which would undermine the ability of the Secretary of HEW to manage the program effectively. The bill also would establish numerous committees and independent commissions which are unnecessary, would waste the taxpayers' dollars, and would complicate and confuse the direction of this program. Finally, the bill would authorize funding far in excess of the budget request and far beyond what can be made available and used effectively.
THE WHITE HOUSE,
October 27, 1972.
Note: On the same day, the White House released the transcript of a news briefing on the President's pocket vetoes. Participants in the news briefing were John D. Ehrlichman, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs; and William A. Morrill and Paul O'Neill, Assistant Directors, Office of Management and Budget.
Richard Nixon, Memorandum of Disapproval of Nine Bills. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/255394