Jimmy Carter photo

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Town Meeting.

October 29, 1980

THE PRESIDENT. Mayor Caliguiri, Bishop Appleyard:

I want to thank also Dean Werner for allowing us to use this beautiful place for a public discussion of issues that are important to the people of this country. It's historic; it's popular. It's been used, I know, for many fora. It's a meeting place where ideas are exchanged that have been beneficial not only to this community and to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania but to the entire Nation. You've made this a vital concourse for the exchange of ideas and hopes and dreams and expression of concern and commitment about years to come, building upon the history of the past.


Pennsylvania was founded, as you know, almost 300 years ago, more than a century before the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. This Commonwealth was the forerunner in protecting many of the individual rights which all Americans now hold dear, sometimes even take for granted—freedom of religion, trial by jury, the right to petition, rule by law, democracy itself.

Today Pittsburgh in a special way, I think, carries on the tradition of tolerance and respect for individuals, no matter how different a particular individual might be from the majority of the population. You've even named one of your thoroughfares "Value of the Person Street." You're a city proud of its neighborhoods and its ethnic variety. You're a city of champions in more ways than one. I'm confident that you will always reject those who try to incite division and who do not understand what America stands for.

Next Tuesday our Nation honors its most precious freedom, the right for the people of this country to chart the future of this country. I'm confident about that future. We can keep the peace. We can keep our Nation secure. We can keep our Nation on the road to social justice, to equal economic opportunity for all Americans, women as well as men.

Last night, as you may have heard, we had a debate between myself and Governor Reagan, which I thought was a very fine opportunity for us to draw as sharply as we could, under the format provided, the differences between us as men, as candidates, as representatives of the Republican and the Democratic Party, and our sharply contrasting vision of the future. I thought it was a constructive debate.

The time limit constrained us from getting into some of the areas of life that I would like to have discussed—steel, agriculture, some of the domestic issues. But I think the panelists decided that in this particular time the discussion of nuclear arms, nonproliferation, peace, war, the proper use of America's strength—those kinds of issues were preeminent in the minds of the questioners, and of course, they were mirrored in the responses that we gave.

Obviously, we had a chance to discuss the values of human beings, minimum wage, Medicare, social security, equality of opportunity, whether any citizens should be paid a lower wage because they happened to be black. That kind of issue is still, unfortunately, a part of the political dialog of today. But the thrust of America has always been to eliminate those discrepancies and to remove discrimination and to move to the future in a spirit of harmony and equality of opportunity.

Got a great nation—part of its greatness will be demonstrated here this morning when you ask me, the President of our country, questions and I give you the best answers I can. And now I'd like to have the first question.




Q. I have a question. What I would like to know—I'm speaking for the senior citizens. Now, in the social security we'll get a raise, and after you get a raise, your rent goes up, the food goes up, Medicare goes up. Is it possible that when you get this raise, that the senior citizens wouldn't have to pay more rent, more for food, and more for living quarters? Why is it that when we get this raise, that everything else should go up? Now, I'm not speaking for myself. I'm one of the senior citizens quite fortunate that I have lived better since I've been a senior citizen than I was. But there is so many that's suffering.

Is it possible that the Government or the State can do anything that the older folks won't have to suffer when they go to the store to buy something, or when their check goes up, that the rent won't go up or the Medicare? Can't it be on the level that when they get their raise that they won't have to go up?

Now, this question you don't have to answer if you don't want to. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. I'll try. [Laughter]

Q. The next part that I was going to say—please keep our boys out of war. Can't we have peace without sending our boys to the war?

THE PRESIDENT. I'll try to answer both questions. [Laughter]

I think you've noticed that in recent days in the Wall Street Journal, which is hardly a Democratic newspaper, they quoted Governor Reagan's task force of advisers, about whom he brags quite frequently, as advocating some basic changes in social security. One change that he proposed, at least his advisers have announced that they would propose, is to do away with the indexing of social security.

As you know, a few weeks ago we had a 14.2-percent increase in social security checks, to try to compensate people like you for the increase in the cost of living-food, housing, and other goods. We'll continue this, I guarantee you, as long as we have a Democrat in the White House, because the social security system has been a product of the Democratic Party.

I remember during the Depression years when Franklin Roosevelt put forward the idea of social security. You may remember that the Republicans were against it, but it was put into effect. And since then, the social security system has constantly been improved for the benefit of those who retire and also—something that Governor Reagan forgot last night—for the benefit of young couples who might die and leave a widow and children or who might become disabled.

He made a very serious statement last night which was an error, and that is that the amount of money that young people pay into social security is more than the benefits they ever get out. This is exactly contrary to the facts, because no matter what kind of income you might have, even the highest paid executive officer in a major corporation, a recent analysis has shown, gets more benefits back in insurance coverage, for only's family if one becomes disabled, or retirement benefits if you do reach retirement age, than you ever put into it.

So, this threat to the social security system still exists. As you know, it's now sound; it will not go into bankruptcy. And I guarantee you that in the future we'll continue to increase social security payments to make up for the increase in cost of things that a senior citizen has to buy.

I don't want to mislead you, because it may be that in a particular community, housing goes up a lot more than, say, on a national average, and the social security payments are figured out for the national average. So, there will be an occasion, at times, when you might not get exactly enough increase to pay for those increased in cost. But perhaps if housing goes up, you might have your own home or that may not be an extra cost, and you get that extra pay.

But anyhow, we don't want social security to be changed, we don't want social security benefits to be taxed, and we do not want social security to be voluntary. We do not want young people who are contributing to the social security system now to be able to withdraw, which would bring social security into bankruptcy. Those things must be guarded against, and that is a crucial issue which was discussed last night in the debate.

The other part is about war. My fondest hope and my most fervent prayer is that I can go out of office, hopefully at the end of 4 more years, having kept our Nation at peace. I think it's been 50 years since we've had an administration serve in the White House without our Nation being at war.

We've got enormous power in this country. Our military forces are second to none. Our influence around the world is very great. And I have to make a judgment, literally several times a week, when a troubled spot develops in the world: What are American interests, and what should the degree of American involvement be; how deeply should we become involved?

I have always tried to use America's strength with great caution and care and tolerance and thoughtfulness and prayer, because once we inject our military forces into combat, as happened in Vietnam, it's hard to control it from then on, because your country loses prestige if you don't ultimately go ahead and win. I think all the Presidents in the Oval Office before me have had that sense of moderation. Some have not been successful in keeping our Nation at peace. But I will continue to work and to pray that neither your boys nor my boys nor my future grandchildren will have to go to war.

So, social security and war—two good points.



Q. Mr. President, my name is James Disantis, and I'm a born-again Christian who's supporting you for the second time, although I've seen many evangelical leaders endorse Ronald Reagan rather than your candidacy. Could you comment on this and tell me why you think this has happened, considering your exemplary public witness on domestic issues involving the poor and on international issues as a peacemaker in the Middle East, an area of great sensitivity for most evangelical Christians.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it would be a mistake, James, to assume that evangelical Christians would be any more homogenous in their political preferences than would other groups in our Nation. I would hope that all Americans would support me unanimously, but I know that that's asking for too much.

There has been a high degree of publicity given in recent months to the so-called Moral Majority. As a matter of fact, Reverend Jerry Falwell, the leader of the Moral Majority, habitually and weekly, even more often, during the 1976 campaign castigated me severely and was one of my most difficult opponents or critics. He hasn't changed.

There are some issues on which I disagree strongly with his basic philosophy or approach to government or religion. I don't think there ought to be any religious test for political acceptability, and I don't think there ought to be any political test for religious fellowship. I believe that the people will make a sound judgment, recognizing the necessity for the separation of church and state.

I have never found any incompatibility between my religious convictions and my duties as a President. Every night I read a chapter in the Bible, with my wife when we're together; we read the same chapter. when we're separated. It's part of my existence. I've done it for years.

And I have never found anything in the Bible, in the Old or New Testament, that specifies whether or not we should have a Department of Education in the Federal Government or whether you should have a 13-1 bomber or the airlaunched cruise missiles— [laughter] —or whether we should share with Panama, the rest of this century, operation of the Panama Canal or whether we should be able to guard it in the next century as has been worked out. Those kinds of measuring rods to define what is an acceptable Christian are contrary to my own beliefs.

So, I'm willing to keep my faith in God, of course, and I'm willing to put my faith in an election year, in the hands of the people of this country. And I believe most Americans want to preserve that proper separation of church and state.

I ought to close by saying that I respect the right even of Reverend Falwell to express his views, even from the pulpit. But when you start putting a measuring stick on a political figure and saying he is or is not an acceptable person in the eyes of God, I remember the admonition in the New Testament: "Judge not that ye be judged" and "God is love." So, it's not a big problem for me.

Thank you very much. That's a good question.

Yes, ma'am.


Q. Mr. President, I have a question about last night's discussion about nuclear arms control. Governor Reagan seemed to be saying that we should renegotiate the SALT II treaty after first obtaining nuclear superiority. My question is, doesn't this position effectively rule out an arms agreement? First of all, it would be very difficult to determine an actual point of nuclear superiority. And number two, would this not accelerate the arms race as never before?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, there's no doubt about that.

What's your name?

Q. Jane Kuczynski.

THE PRESIDENT. Jane Kuczynski.

Jane, of all the issues we discussed last night, I consider this to be by far the most important, and I tried to express myself in the limited time. I only had two minutes and then a minute followup on most of the rebuttal times.

Governor Reagan's position on nuclear arms control is a radical departure from what all Presidents have done, including President Eisenhower, Johnson, Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, and myself.

The concept has been to negotiate with the Soviet Union a balance and then tight controls and then an assured way to monitor whether or not those controls or those agreements were honored and then, with the firm commitment by ourselves and the Soviet Union, as circumstances warrant, to reduce the level of the nuclear arsenals.

The treaty that I have negotiated was begun by President Nixon, and it was continued by President Ford and finally concluded by me. It was a continuum there. Governor Reagan says, "Let's throw that treaty away. Let's do not consider it. Let's don't let the Senate debate it. Let's don't let the American people become familiar with its issues. Let's don't see whether it is a fair and balanced treaty worthy of Senate ratification."

As I mentioned last night, you can have individual Members of the Senate who take a very radical approach or an illadvised approach or a new approach or propose some relatively insignificant amendment which is important to them. Their view, which is a departure from the best interests of our country, in my judgment, can be moderated or changed by the other 99 Senators. But when a President or a Presidential candidate says, "We will not even consider this treaty," that short circuits the whole process.

That treaty has now come out of the Armed Services Committee. It was considered by the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee, and now it's ready for a decision on the Senate floor.

Governor Reagan last night said another thing that's of great concern concerning nuclear weapons. The arms limitation treaties are negotiated only between ourselves and the Soviet Union. When the limited test ban treaty was negotiated by President Johnson, Governor Reagan at that time did not support it. When President Nixon negotiated the antiballistic missile treaty and SALT I treaty, Governor Reagan did not support it. When President Ford negotiated an agreement at Vladivostok, which was the basis for the current treaty, Governor Reagan did not support that agreement. And now the final agreement on this particular SALT treaty, he still does not support it.

Perhaps even more interesting from last night, it was the first time a major issue had been presented to the American public. I've been discussing it, but I'm glad that 80 or 100 million Americans last night could see that Governor Reagan has another extremely dangerous approach, and that is not concerning the Soviet Union but concerning radical or terrorist nations who don't yet have atomic bombs.

His position has been that if Libya, a terrorist nation, or Iraq or other countries like Pakistan, South Africa want to have an atomic bomb, it's none of our business. He last night insinuated that he had not said this. But I had my people look it up again this morning. And the New York Times of February 1st, this year, said: "Ronald Reagan indicated today he believed the United States should not stand in the way of countries developing their own nuclear weapons," saying, and I quote, "I just don't think it's any of our business."

For people who care about controlling terrorism, that is the ultimate terrorist threat. Just imagine what would happen if the PLO or Qadhafi in Libya had an atomic bomb. They could threaten the ultimate terrorist act. Also, in the Middle East in particular, some of those countries are extremely rich in dollars, because they have massive amounts of oil to sell. There's no doubt that they could buy the services of qualified scientists and engineers, machinery, equipment in order to build atomic weapons.

So, I think the combination of rejecting not just this particular treaty, but all the previous treaties negotiated by four different Presidents and rejecting the influence of the United States to prevent radical or terrorist nations from having atomic bombs, those two things combined are the single, most important issue in the 1980 election.

And every American ought to stop and think what will happen to this world if we have no control over nuclear weapons between ourselves and the Soviet Union, if we launch, as Governor Reagan has proposed, an arms race, and if we take the position it's none of our business if terrorist nations have atomic weapons. That is the single, most important issue in this campaign, and I'm glad last night it had a chance to come out.

Thank you.


Q. First of all, Mr. Carter, my name is Cathy Faloon, and I'd like to welcome you to Pittsburgh. We're really proud to have you here in our city of champs.


Q. I was wondering if you really feel in your heart that the hostages know that you're trying to do your best to have their release?

THE PRESIDENT. I'm not sure. There's no way for me to know what the hostages know.

When Richard Queen came home after he was released because he was ill, I had a private conversation with him and his mother and father and his brother in the Oval Office. And I didn't cross-examine him, but it was obvious to me that he had been misled by his captors and was convinced in a way that the American people had forgotten the hostages.

Obviously, by the time he had a few days of rest in Germany and got here, we had sent State Department officials over to show him some newsreels and newspapers and thousands of letters and the heartbreak that existed among the American people of all kinds since the hostages were taken.

But my guess is that the hostages have no idea how many prayers have gone up for them, how many yellow ribbons have been tied on trees, how many times the American news stories have been about them, and how our hearts have gone out to their families. I don't believe they know it.

I don't have any way to predict when the hostages will come home. This has been a very difficult issue for me and for the American people; more difficult, obviously, for the hostages and their families.

But we've had two basic principles that have guided me in everything I've done, and they haven't ever changed. One is that I as President should protect the honor and the integrity and the interest of my Nation, and secondly, and tied in with it, is that I should never do anything as a President that would endanger the lives or safety of the hostages or interfere with their earliest possible return to freedom and to their families. We've never deviated from those policies. The understanding that we now have with Iranian officials, with the United Nations, has been put forward to the public since last January or February. We've not changed.

And my hope and prayer is that the Government which Iran finally has—a President, a Prime Minister, a parliament, a speaker of the parliament, a Cabinet-that they are approaching a time of making a decision about the hostages.

I found out early this morning, 7 o'clock our time, that they had completed about a 4-hour closed debate this morning, and tomorrow they'll have their first open debate on the hostage issue. What that indicates I do not know. But all we can do is to continue to protect the interest of the hostages, protect the interest of our Nation, and pray that they'll be released.

My guess is that when they are released, they would have a few days of rest and physical examination and proper diet, in Germany or some acceptable place, and then come home to the welcome that I hope they'll be prepared to receive. And at that time I have no doubt that they will know how much we love them.

Q. Thank you.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Anthony Calura. I'm an elected constable in the second ward in the city of Pittsburgh and also vice chairman. My question is, what's been running through my mind, why Ronald Reagan, a candidate for President of the United States, at the age of 70 would be allowed to run. If my memory serves me right, I read some time ago in, I believe it was one of the New York newspapers, that he was 72 years old. I don't believe that a man that old should be running my country and your country.

THE PRESIDENT. Anthony, I'm thankful that you didn't ask a question. [Laughter]

That's an issue that hasn't been raised in the campaign, one that I would not want to raise. I think the American people know the age of myself and Governor Reagan. And I've seen in the polls, in the public opinion polls, a fairly good indication that the American people are not particularly concerned about Governor Reagan's age.

I did notice last night, when I faced him across the stage, that he's a very strong and very capable campaigner, very sure of himself, very vigorous, and I would not want to insinuate in any way that he was not qualified because of age to be President. I hope the American people will make a judgment on other issues.

But I thank you for your comment.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Rachel Hobson, and I'm from McKeesport, Pennsylvania. And I wondered, what words of hope and benefit can you offer to the Vietnam veterans who were sprayed with Agent Orange?


Rachel, as you probably know, until I became President and until Max Cleland became the director [Administrator] of the Veterans Administration, very little had been done about investigating the impact on individual persons of the use of Agent Orange and also the recruitment of people who think they may have been injured to come forward and let their case be examined.

When I was elected President, I was deeply concerned and said many times during 1975 and '76 that the most unappreciated group in this Nation were the young men who went to Vietnam to fight in an unpopular war. Even the veterans organizations, at that time, had not felt the impact of leadership that was available from the Vietnam veterans. That was a 15-year war, but they were not appreciated adequately by the American people.

We've changed that, the main way that we have changed it is by my recruiting Max Cleland to head up the Veterans Administration. He's a young man of great dynamism and personal integrity and sensitivity. I happen to have known him as a Georgia State senator when I was Governor of Georgia. He left Georgia after I was no longer Governor and took a position as one of the leading staff members of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee under Alan Cranston. And as you know, he's a triple amputee, injured in Vietnam, who has to spend his life in a wheelchair, but who has retained in his own personal commitments the finest aspect toward deprivation because of injury.

He has a special interest in the Agent Orange question and personally monitors not only the inventory or the listing of all our servicemen who may have been injured by Agent Orange but the medical examination of every person involved and also the research that's going into the physical characteristics of someone who has been exposed to this defoliant spray.

So, I can't tell you any more than that. I don't know what the ultimate outcome will be for an individual case. But it's a matter that's very close to me. It's one that is a burning issue with Max Cleland. And you can .be assured that it will not be ignored and that those who have been injured by Agent Orange, when their case is confirmed, will be adequately cared for.

Q. Thank you.



Q. Mr. President, thank you for coming to Pittsburgh. We appreciate it.


Q. My name is Charlie Datz, and I'm from Westmoreland County, which is just a little way away from here.


Q. My question today is about the controversy which has emerged regarding the Government regulation of private industry, particularly as it impacts upon environmental protection standards. If reelected, could you kind of share with us the joint strategies which you would employ to bolster employment on one hand, while making significant progress on the other hand in protecting the environment that we need to protect and in preventing Government overregulation of business in the meantime?


Q. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. The essence of a successful Presidency or other management leader is to be able to balance conflicting forces or conflicting ideas or conflicting circumstances or facts.

I guess one of the most difficult jobs in the world is the Presidency, because you're in the Oval Office, you receive issues on your desk that can't be resolved anywhere else. If an issue can be resolved easily, it's probably done in your own private life or within the confines of your home or in a city hall or a Governor's office or a State legislature. If none of those places can solve a difficult problem, it comes to me, and I work with the Congress or with my administration to try to resolve it.

There are some basic differences. You've put your finger on a very important one. How do you balance the quality of Americans' lives on the one hand versus economic progress, which involves jobs, which is a part of the quality of a person's life? I think we've done a good job in this respect.

Coal is important to me and to our Nation, to Pennsylvania and the other States near you. In my judgment, the worst thing we could do for the future job opportunities for coal miners or for the production of American coal is to lower air and water pollution standards so that we can use more coal right now. I'll tell you why.

You know better than any other people in this country, those of you who live in Pennsylvania, the impact of the Three Mile Island incident on the consciousness of people. It caused a shock wave to go around the world, of concern about nuclear power. If people who presently are turning to coal as a fuel believe that the only way they can burn coal as a fuel is to have dirty air and destroy our streams and to make our land less productive, they will turn away from coal, and the opportunities for increased production of coal would be gone.

Now, without lowering the standards on air pollution, working with President Sam Church of the United Mine Workers, who's with me today, and with Governor Jay Rockefeller and others from Pennsylvania, we have kept our standards high on air pollution quality. At the same time, we have increased coal production so that this year we'll produce more American coal than has ever been produced in history.

We now have an opportunity to triple the present production of coal in the next 15 years without lowering environmental standards. That's an important consideration to be made.

Last night I noticed that Governor Reagan said that we would have much better production of coal—it's what he used as an example—if we didn't have all those so-called regulations. The regulations not only apply to air and water quality, but they also apply to mine safety and health. In the past when someone has said we ought to abolish the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, Governor Reagan's response was, "Amen."

This is a law designed to protect mineworkers, and it does increase the cost of coal a little bit per ton for the miners to be free of the constant threat of black lung disease and death. Sam Church told me this morning, only yesterday three miners lost their lives in Kentucky. So, you can't eliminate Government regulation that protects the quality of our life, the safety and health of workers just to have a little bit of an increase in productivity.

We have tried to work with the steel industry in Pennsylvania, in Ohio, and other places to improve the relationship between EPA, or Environmental Protection Agency, and the production of steel. We've come up now and just worked out with Armco Steel a so-called bubble concept, where you in effect have a theoretical bubble over the entire plant. This lets the steel industry control air quality at a much lower cost. We've also had a 30-day averaging period for coal utility plant emissions, which will increase the amount of coal that will be burned in the future in the production of electricity.

These kinds of changes have been worked out very carefully with mine operators, steelplant owners, mineworkers, steelworkers, and the Environmental Protection Agency so that we can have continued progress on economic growth and new jobs without destroying the quality of the earth and air and water God gave us.

Finally, let me say this: We'll continue this process. Now that we have an energy policy in place in this country, we've got a base on which to revitalize the entire system of industry in our country. We had good news this week on productivity; that is, how much can an average American worker produce in a week's work or a day's work. But in general other countries' productivity has been going up faster than ours.

We rebuilt German industry after the Second World War. We rebuilt Japanese industry after the Second World War. Now that we've got an energy policy in place, it's time, in my judgment, to rebuild American industry, and that's what we're going to do.

Q. Thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you. I might add a personal note, Charlie.

Q. Mr. President, my name is—

THE PRESIDENT. Just a minute. Let me add a personal note. You all may not be interested, but I'm going to add it anyway. [Laughter]

Every time I get a chance to go to Camp David, I do so. And we're right across the line from Pennsylvania and only 16 miles from Gettysburg. And not too far from Camp David, there's a nice, beautiful trout stream on a dairy farm, and the dairy farmer happens to be a very close friend of mine. And nothing would grieve me more than to see that beautiful stream some day destroyed by acid rain and be sterile and have no life and no beauty.

And I have a deep sense that our country is strong enough and technologically advanced enough and wise enough to have both good jobs, good progress, good industry, good worldwide leadership, and also have a good environment. I don't think the two are incompatible.

Yes, sir.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Gene Salvadore. And I'd like to ask a question on behalf of the specialty steel industry, which I'm sure you're aware is primarily centered in western Pennsylvania. With currently thousands of specialty steel. workers unemployed, why will you not now commit to support specialty steel products being included in the trigger price system?

THE PRESIDENT. All right. As you know, early in my administration we established the trigger price mechanism, which had not been in existence before, working with the steel industry leaders, both management and labor, under the auspices of the Treasury Department of my administration. It worked out very well. Earlier this year United States Steel filed a law suit claiming that Japanese and mostly European steel manufacturers had dumped their products on our market. So now, after careful negotiations which took several months, we have reimposed the trigger price mechanism as it was before and as the steel industry had requested.

I'm very much aware of the threat to the specialty steel industry. In this neighborhood there are about 30,000 steelworkers who are involved in the production of specialty steel. We're now investigating the situation to see if there is a need for the trigger price mechanism to apply to specialty steel. Obviously, if we've stopped dumping on basic steel products and if the Europeans or Japanese being blocked there try to make up the difference by concentrating on specialty steel items and dump those products on our market, obviously we would have to extend the trigger price mechanism to protect specialty steel.

We're now investigating the situation as rapidly as we possibly can, working with the steelworkers, the steel industry leaders, Treasury Department, investigating foreign marketing, production costs, and the sales policies. So, all I can tell you is that I believe November 10th is when they will make their report to me. Is that the right date, Stu?1 November the 10th. When I get that report, if I determine that there is a threat to the specialty steel industry of our country from unwarranted dumping, then I would impose the trigger price mechanism to protect that threatened elements of the specialty steel industry.

1 Stuart E. Eizenstat, Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs and Policy.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Guy Bubb. I'm from Turner Heights, Pennsylvania. And all of us in Pittsburgh are interested in the steel industry because it's such a vital part of our economy. On trigger pricing, again, one of the things we've heard just this week is that there's a very serious problem with a loophole in the trigger pricing mechanism having to do with offshore incorporation. If you're familiar with that, sir, would you comment on that subject?

THE PRESIDENT. I'm not familiar with it. Just a minute. Stu, are you familiar with it?

Q. This was reported this week by one of our economists in Pittsburgh, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Does that mean that if there should be a steelplant, say, in the Caribbean or somewhere other than in Europe and Japan, they might be able to dump steel here?

Q. Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. I've never heard about that before. Guy, if you would go over and see Mr. Eizenstat, who's standing just on my left, and give him your name and your telephone number, I'll check that out, and he can call you back

later on today or perhaps tomorrow.

Q. Thank you very much, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you. It's something that I need to know about. Stu, you might want to come over and get his address.

Yes, ma'am.


Q. President Carter, I'm concerned as a housewife and mother about the rate of inflation. What do you plan to do about stabilizing it?

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you. What's your name?

Q. I'm Betty Deceder from Ambridge.


Betty, this is probably the most persistent and difficult issue that I have to face, along with the Prime Minister of Israel, where the inflation rate is about 200 percent, many Latin American countries, where it's 75 to 100 percent, Japan and Germany, where the inflation rate has doubled in the last 12 months. It's a worldwide problem of inflation, and the primary root of it, not the only cause, has been the unprecedented increase in the price of oil imposed on the world by the OPEC nations.

We had a larger increase in 1979 in oil prices than the total increase in oil prices since it was first discovered in Pennsylvania in the 1800's. This shock wave of increased energy costs rocked the whole world economy. We've tried to deal with it as best we could.

The first quarter of this year, the first 3 months, the inflation rate was up to 18 percent. The second 3 months, it had dropped down to 13 percent. The last 3 months, it's averaged 7 percent. One month it got down to zero, that was in July; but this last month, up around 12 percent. The average has been 7 percent—still too high.

I would say the underlying inflation rate now was within the neighborhood of 9 percent. What can be done about it? That's a good question. There are several reasons that we have high inflation, and let me list them all very quickly. I may forget a few.

One is, how much does the American worker produce per hour worked? We need modern tools and modern plants, and that's the main thrust of our revitalization program that will be put into effect next year if I'm reelected. We'll have a substantial tax reduction. The thrust of it will be, though, to encourage industry to build new plants and to remodel existing plants in the steel industry, the automobile industry, the basic industries that are so important to our people. That's one thing—to increase the productivity of American workers.

Another is to reduce unwarranted growth in Federal spending and the collection of taxes. We've been pretty successful since 1976. The rate of growth of Federal spending is only half what it was when I took office as President, and our deficit, the Federal deficit, compared to the gross national product—how much our Nation produces—is only half what it was, or less than half, when I came in office. We'll continue to be restrained on how much the Federal Government collects and spends, and we'll have a substantial tax reduction next year to carry this out.

Another thing, of course, is to have good relationships between management and labor. You probably remember, 3 years ago you hardly ever picked up a newspaper in Ohio or Kentucky or Pennsylvania or West Virginia that wildcat coal strikes hadn't shut down the mines. You haven't seen those headlines in the last couple of years. This is a very good and constructive new relationship, be. cause in the past, in the steel industry, the automobile industry, the coal industry, and others, about the only time that management and labor faced each other was when they were negotiating a new contract and they were bargaining to see who could get the best advantage against one another.

Now we've changed that. A part of the credit is mine, but most of it is in the industries themselves. Now management and labor say, "What can we do to have workers safer, better paid, more constantly employed, better product, more competition against foreign imports or other competition that might be based elsewhere?" That's a very good thing to bring down inflationary pressures.

Another one is to export as much as we can, because when American workers produce a good product and sell it overseas, it really contributes to a much better market for us and it makes the products that we buy in our country cost less. If you can build two things and then sell one of them overseas, you can sell the one at home cheaper than you could if you only built one thing. Right? So, this is what we've tried to do. We've had world records set in 1977, '78, '79, and the beginning of '80 in agricultural exports, and we're much better off than we were before in the export of manufactured goods as well.

The last point I want to make is this. I could go on; it's a long list. But this is an important one, and that is to get the Government's nose out of the unwarranted regulation of the free enterprise system, because when regulatory agencies were first set up they were designed to protect consumers. But over a period of years, in almost every instance the industry regulated became so influential in Washington, because the consumers weren't organized and didn't much know what was going on, didn't have high-paid lawyers, those regulatory agencies began to protect not the consumers but the industry they were supposed to regulate.

So, we have deregulated the airlines; we've deregulated the trucking industry; we've deregulated the rail industry; we've deregulated the financial institutions, the banks and so forth; we're working now to deregulate the communications industry. And we have also been able to get Government regulation and paperwork reduced by 15 percent.

So, the inflation question is so complicated that you can't just deal with one part of it to the exclusion of all the others. I've just mentioned to you four or five of the elements in reducing inflation. There's something that all of you can do, and this is the final point I'll make.

In Germany and Japan when people earn a paycheck, they generally save about 15 or 20 percent of what they earn. They save their money; they put it in a bank. It's invested in new homes, new industry, new jobs, new tools. In the United States when we earn a dollar, we only save about 4 cents, the lowest saving rate of any nation, I think, on Earth.

So Americans can think about how much obligation you have to save money, which helps your own security, and to invest it back in the future of your country. It's contrary to international agreements for me to urge Americans just to buy American products. But as you go to the store to purchase products or to the automobile showroom to purchase a new car, you ought to think about the consequences of your decision.

When the OPEC oil prices hit us, American manufacturers were still building big, inefficient automobiles, because that's what you wanted. When the price of gasoline jumped up to above a dollar, all of a sudden the American people wanted the smaller, more efficient automobiles. The Germans and Japanese, that have always been paying $2 a gallon for gasoline, they've been making the small cars.

The American manufacturers are now changing to produce exactly those kinds of cars that the American buyers want. They're more durable. You've seen the test on television; they're more safe. And they're just as efficient. So, now Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, American Motors, Volkswagen in America, they're producing the cars that Americans want.

So, you might think about the advantage in holding down inflation to buying American products when the competitive relationship between two cameras or two automobiles is about the same, to give the advantage to your neighbors who work and manufacture those products in our own country. Those are a few things that I think are important.

Good question. I might point out that one of the advantages of a town meeting like this is that it's impossible for me to answer a question like that in a debate, when you've got 2 minutes. But I think it's good for the American news media and for audiences like you to understand some of the elements involved in the inflationary picture. And there are some things we can do. It's not a hopeless case, if we all work together, if we understand it, and if we're persistent and don't give up.



Q. President Carter, my name is Frankie Mae Getu. I'm executive director of the Welfare Rights Organization of Allegheny County and committeewoman in the 16th ward, the 15th district. And I'd like to congratulate you on your debate last night. You were great.


Q. I have a request I'd like to ask you before I go on to my questioning. I see every time there's a problem or a crisis in the country that you invite men from across the country, black, white, indifferent, but you never invite any women.

THE PRESIDENT. Oh, now, that's not true, Frankie Mae.

Q. Well, you haven't invited any poor women.

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't invited you yet, but I'll invite you next time. Maybe that would help. [Laughter] Go ahead, Frankie Mae.

Q. When I see the cameras, I see all men. So, I'm an advocate of the ERA, and so, I would like to put that in.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, thank you. Maybe it's because too many of the cameramen are men. [Laughter]

Q. Maybe so.

THE PRESIDENT. But go ahead.

Q. My question is—CETA has helped a lot of people get jobs, but in my area over 80 percent of people are on some kind of dole—welfare, SSI, or whatever. When I send young men and young women down to the CETA office, the guidelines, they tell me, are very hard. I would like those guidelines simplified, and I'd like to see Pennsylvania get more PSE jobs for people to go to work.

Another question I have—I have two questions.


Q. One's concerning public housing. We have a great executive director here named Danny Petrogelli, but he can only do so much. And we heard there were cutbacks, you know, for money. Projects have virtually become slums. We would like a little bit more money allocated to Pennsylvania, you know, to clean our projects up.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, Frankie Mae.

It would be helpful to me—I see that you are the kind of person who is concerned about those you serve and, also, you know how well the Government services get delivered in the neighborhood. So, I'll ask one of my staff members to get your name and address. Next time we have a meeting on housing or on CETA, I'll make sure you come and participate. I'm sure you'll be speaking out just like you did this morning.

Q. I'll be waiting.


Q. Also, there's a young lady. I'd like to divide my time. I'm used to trying to do this. Miss Ross, she said no one was here representing the senior citizen. I would like to spare some of my time to her.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think this is the last question we'll have a chance to answer, because our hour is up. But the first question I got, you remember, was about senior citizens, so I think her question may have been covered. But let me respond briefly to those two.

We tried to administer the CETA program in a fair and objective way. At first, when the CETA program was put into effect, there were some abuses. I don't know what happened in Pittsburgh; I don't remember. So far as I know, it was okay. But in some cities around the country, the local officials took advantage of the CETA program and put people on CETA that should not have been there. Also, they used CETA workers to replace regular workers who should have been full-time employed and were supporting a family.

So, because of that we did, in our new CETA legislation, propose a few restrictions that weren't there before, and I have to tell you that over my objection the Congress added some additional restrictions on CETA jobs, because of a reaction against some abuses that had taken place in some highly publicized occasions around the country.

So, even though it takes a little more time, I believe that in general the CETA program is better administered now, and the abuses have been eliminated, and the jobs go where they deserve to go.

Q. No, they're not. That's why I'm here, because you say put welfare recipients to work. I represent welfare recipients in western Pennsylvania. I've sent kids down there; there are four and five applications. Now, if you want us to work, give us the jobs, you know. And that way, we can get skills and go out into the private sector. That is why I brought the question up.

THE PRESIDENT. There's a limit to what you can do with Government jobs.

Q. But we're not getting them to do anything with, President—

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, but let me say this. I'm glad you brought it up, and I'm glad you're persistent. But what we've tried to do, and I maybe look at it different from you, Frankie Mae, as a basic philosophy—I think the best jobs are the permanent jobs that the young people can have for a full-time life's career and not just a temporary job under the CETA program, except as a transition phase. So, we're not putting all our eggs in the CETA basket.

Q. I understand that.

THE PRESIDENT. Now, I believe I can make you and me both happy with this next statement. We've been deeply concerned about job opportunities for young people, the very ones that you mentioned. I noticed that in Pennsylvania, even though we have had serious economic setbacks because of the OPEC price increases and a brief recession, today there are 338,000 more people at work in this State than there were the day I was inaugurated as President. And in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area we've increased employment by almost 74,000. So, more people are in full-time jobs than there were 3¼ years ago—still have a long way to go.

We have now gotten through the House of Representatives in Washington, ready to be voted on in the Senate, a major new program, the only major domestic program I've put forward this year, and that is for youth employment. It will add about a $2-billion commitment for young people at the junior and senior high school years on up. It will provide jobs in the private sector.

It also ties the Labor Department and the Education Department together so that if a young man or woman is offered a job at a local grocery store or a Coca Cola company or an automobile dealership and they don't quite know how to hold a job because they can't read and write quite well enough or they don't know how to add or subtract, then the local school system will work with that employer and say, "These are the things that this young person needs to do to hold a job permanent."

During the first few weeks when that young person is on the job, the Government will pay part of the salary, and as that young person is able to do the fulltime work, then the employer takes over the full-time salary. We're talking about $2 billion, which is a lot of money, and we're talking about 600,000 jobs, just for young people of the kind that you are concerned about. That's part of it.

Additionally, with our revitalization program that I talked about earlier to build new planes and new factories and so forth, we anticipate an increase, just next year alone, of 500,000 more jobs and by the end of the following year a total of a million new jobs. That's above and beyond what we have been discussing before.

So, the chance for us to revitalize American industry and to concentrate on youth employment, particularly disadvantaged youth that have been excluded, because of discrimination, from opportunities in the past, I think are compatible with what you want and what I want. So, we're making some progress.

And I predict to you that after this election is over next Tuesday and the Congress comes back into session that the youth act is one of the bills that they will indeed pass, and we'll have that law on the books and the money appropriated for it this year.

Thank you.

Q. Thank you, President Carter. I'll see you in the White House in '81.


I can take one more question.



Q. Mr. President, I'm Bob Redman from Dormon, suburban Pittsburgh, and it is my pleasure to welcome you, among the many thousands who could not make it here. The one comment my wife made was, when the phone rang, "Doesn't it pay to live nice?"

A comment and/or question: As a political liaison representative of the blind vendors at the time, I wrote a letter to Joseph Califano opening a law which is now Randolph-Shepherd. All right? My question is this: On Federal properties now, every landlord seems to interpret the law to suit himself. What can you do about that?

THE PRESIDENT. Your name is Mr. Redman, right?

Q. Yes, Bob.

THE PRESIDENT. Right. Well, my hope is that the special programs that we've put into effect for disadvantaged people—I presume you are blind. Correct?

Q. That is correct. Partially.

THE PRESIDENT. Partially blind—have been an improvement. The new disability act has been implemented, and under Joe Califano and Pat Harris, the Department of Health and Human Services is now giving much more attention to the problems of the disadvantaged than before.

If there are specific cases where a landlord is not complying with the new regulations and the new law, if that violation is made known to me or to Secretary Pat Harris, then we will move immediately to enforce the law. But without knowing the specific case, it would be difficult for me to give you an adequate response.


Q. One more short one, if I might.

THE PRESIDENT. All right, sir.

Q. In conjunction with the office that you maintain, executively speaking, as opposite from House and Senate which is elected, what can we do whereby to help yourself and future Presidents forthwith to regain the ability and/or powers that they had in the days of Harry Truman?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it's probably a mistaken idea that the relationship between the Congress and the President has changed very much. The President's powers are limited by the Constitution and haven't been changed appreciably. The President is strengthened in his influence to the extent that citizens participate in making judgments. The President is a person who has to cut through the influence of lobbyists and powerful persons on Capitol Hill in the shaping of legislation.

Q. How well I know.

THE PRESIDENT. The President is the only person that can reach the attention and the comprehension of the public, because, as you say, it's a bully pulpit. So, I think that the degree to which private citizens participate in the shaping of laws, the protection of rights, the progress of our Nation, in that way a President's hand can be strengthened. Also, through this kind of meeting, through press conferences, and, I think, through the electoral process now going on, a President's hands can be strengthened.

The only restraint that I know about-two restraints, that have been a result of Vietnam and Watergate, is more openness in government, and I approve of that very strongly, and a role that Congress can play in the prevention of an unwarranted involvement in war, and I don't disapprove of that either.

So, I think with those two exceptions, the balance between the President and the Congress is roughly the same as it has been down in history. As a completely unprejudiced observer, I think the President needs a little more power. [Laughter] And if you would give me that support and involvement, I think we'll get it.

Q. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, sir.

Let me say one other thing. Let me make one other brief comment in closing. I think you all see from the questions that I received the breadth of interest that the American people have in the job of a President and how beneficial it is for me to come and share these experiences with you.

We had a problem with social security and the benefits of the aged, a hope that we could stay out of war, a question about the Moral Majority and about nuclear arms control, about terrorists having atomic bombs, about the age of candidates, about Agent Orange, about Government regulations as they relate to the environment, about specialty steel and what we could do to eliminate any possible loopholes, about how to control inflation, about jobs for young people, housing programs for the deprived or low income families, and about blind vendors from a blind American who has a special interest in the problem, and the relationship between a President and the Congress. These are the kinds of issues and kinds of questions that are important to me.

We tend, I think, to underestimate what we've got. I don't look on this Presidential election or the debate last night as an onerous chore. It's an opportunity for Americans to stop and to inventory where we are, what God's given us, what have we done with it, what is our future, how severe are our inconveniences, how able are we to deal with challenges and answer questions and overcome obstacles.

If you think back, just in my lifetime, you know, I've seen a Great Depression. I grew up in it on a farm in Georgia. And I've seen the Second World War and the Korean war and the divisiveness of the Vietnam war. And I've seen the shock to the Southland and to the Nation when we changed our whole social pattern and gave blacks and other minorities full citizenship rights. It shook our country. And I've seen the embarrassment of Watergate and other challenges that have confronted the American people. And I might say that all of those I named are worse than anything we face now.

Sure, I agree with you that inflation is too high, unemployment is too high. Sure, I agree with you that there are troubled areas around the world. But our Nation is strong, able, united, at peace, dynamic, aggressive, innovative, free. This country has never had a question that it couldn't answer, and we have never had a problem we couldn't solve, we've never had an obstacle we couldn't overcome, if we were united in our commitment.

We're a nation of diversity, different families, different ethnic backgrounds, different religious beliefs, different commitments, different interests, but we weld ourselves together in a cohesive nation of great strength and great promise and great purpose. And the principles that I outlined that existed among your ancestors 300 years ago haven't changed—religious freedom, proper respect one for another, worth of a human being, no matter how low their income might be or what their status in life might be, socially speaking, opportunities to improve, children a better life than their parents, good stewards over the earth and land and water that God gave us.

Those are the kinds of things that have always been important to Americans. They're still important to us. And I predict to you that the greatest nation on Earth, which God's given us, will be even greater in the future.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 11:02 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral.

Jimmy Carter, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session at a Town Meeting. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251743

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