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Radio Address About a Special Message to the Congress on National Legislative Goals.

September 09, 1973

Good afternoon:

Now that the Congress has returned from its August recess, it is important that we focus our attention on what the Congress and the Administration can do together to improve the well-being of all the American people.

Tomorrow, I shall send to the Congress an extensive special message highlighting more than 50 major legislative proposals which this Administration has urged and which still await final Congressional action. Each of these messages is a measure in which you have a stake, because the needs it addresses are your needs.

Today, I want to share with you some thoughts about these proposals and about the way in which together we can best advance 'the business of the people.

In these few minutes, I shall not run through all the details, or even all the proposals. Those will be spelled out in tomorrow's message. What I do want to do is to focus on some of the highlights, to explain why I believe action is needed promptly, and to indicate how you can help get that action.

Together, the Congress and the Administration have a heavy legislative workload in these remaining months of 1973. We were elected less as Republicans or Democrats than as public officials charged with a public responsibility. The work 'to be done is your work, and every week's delay is a week of your time lost.

In considering the work before us here at home, there is a lesson in our achievements internationally.

We have ended America's longest and most difficult war. By working together, we now can build America's longest and best peace.

This year, for the first time in 12 years, Americans are not at war anywhere in the world, and our courageous prisoners of war have returned to their homes.

This year, for the first time in a generation, no American is being drafted into the Armed Forces.

In these past 4 1/2 years, we have set the Nation on a new course internationally, and we have laid the foundation for a structure of peace that can last far into the future.

The particular lesson I would stress today is this: We were able to achieve this because we sought to turn the world away from those things that divide it and to build a new pattern of relationships on the basis of those things that can unite nations and peoples whatever their differences.

By the same token, the time has come to focus here at home on those great goals that can unite all Americans, that affect all Americans, and in which all Americans have a direct and personal stake.

Today, for example, we face urgent needs in six major areas that affect all of the people and in which the Congress has an opportunity to take actions that will help all the people.

We all share a common interest in establishing a stable prosperity without inflation.

We all share a common interest in ensuring that the Nation's energy needs are met.

We all share a common interest in building better and more livable communities.

We all share a common interest in making full use of our Nation's human resources and ensuring greater opportunity for all.

We all share a common interest in combating the scourge of crime and drugs.

We all share a common interest in maintaining a level of national defense that will enable us to maintain the peace.

In all of these six areas, as well as in the other areas of important common interest which I shall also stress in tomorrow's message, legislative proposals now before the Congress can have a significant impact on the life of each of you.

Of these six major areas, the one that affects all of us most urgently and most directly is the Nation's economy.

Our goal is to achieve what America has not enjoyed since the days of President Eisenhower--full prosperity, without inflation and without war.

We have already made substantial progress toward this goal, and because of this progress, the average American family today--despite inflation--has a higher level of real spendable income than ever before. For the first time in 16 years, unemployment in peacetime is below 5 percent.

However, we still face a major challenge. We must check the rise in prices.

We must move on four fronts at once if we are to win the battle against inflation. We must expand production. We must exercise monetary restraint. For as long as controls are necessary, we must make sure they are effective.

We are doing all these things. The tough new Phase IV controls come into full force this month. The Federal Reserve is checking the growth in the Nation's money supply. We have moved vigorously to expand production, especially food production, and so to reduce the pressure on food prices.

But we could succeed on these three fronts that I have mentioned and we still would lose the battle against inflation, unless we prevail also on the fourth front, and that is--we must hold the line on Federal spending.

We still face the prospect of strong new inflationary pressures as a result of overspending by the Federal Government.

Programs which the Congress either has already passed or is now considering would produce an additional deficit of $6 billion, and in addition, the Congress has not yet made nearly $1 1/2 billion of cuts that I have recommended. If these actions by the Congress stand, the result will be higher prices for every American family.

The Federal budget is your budget. It is your budget because you pay for it with your taxes; it is also your budget because it determines whether the prices of what you buy allow you to stay within your family budget.

The most important contribution the Congress can make toward holding down the cost of living is to hold down the cost of Government. But we cannot expect the Congress to do this without your help, without your support in those difficult decisions every Member of Congress faces when confronted with a vote on a bill that would help some of the people, but that would raise the cost of living for all of the people.

The stable prosperity we seek depends also on our full participation in an increasingly prosperous world. A unique and historic opportunity now exists to negotiate an open and equitable world of trade. Most nations have declared their readiness to join in this endeavor. To give us the tools we need for this full participation in this effort, I urge the Congress to act promptly on the Trade Reform Act of 1973, which I proposed in April. This legislation will enable us, in the difficult negotiations which lie ahead, to assure jobs for American workers, markets for American products, opportunities for American investors, and lower prices for American consumers.

Assuring sufficient energy supplies, now and in the future, is another area of urgent national concern. We had a gasoline scare this summer. We could have serious shortages of heating oil this winter. Unless we take prompt and effective action, we can expect little relief from fuel scarcity in the years ahead.

We have taken important administrative actions already to relieve the situation, and we will take additional steps in the next few weeks. But the solution to the energy problem in the long run requires action by the Congress and action now.

There are seven important proposals now before the Congress, designed to help meet our energy needs, on which I am awaiting action. To avoid a major energy crisis in the years ahead, it is vitally important that the Congress act on these seven proposals before it recesses this year. These proposals include, among others, measures to expand the supply of natural gas by deregulating prices; to open the way for creation of the deepwater ports needed for modern oil tankers; to improve our organization to meet energy needs; and of particular importance, to give the go-ahead for building the Alaska pipeline, which already has been delayed too long and which is vital for making the enormous oil reserves of Alaska available to all of the American people.

I call upon all of you to join me in urging decisive action by the Congress on energy legislation, so that we will have enough heat for our homes, enough fuel for our transportation, enough energy to run the factories that produce our goods and provide our jobs.

Making our towns and cities more livable affects each of us individually and all of us as a nation--and so does the plain fact that the time has passed for the old, paternalistic, Washington-knows-best ways of doing things. We need new and better ways of meeting our social needs, ways that place the power and resources where the problems are, that enlist the energies of the people and the communities themselves, and that recognize that not all wisdom is in Washington.

This Administration has submitted to the Congress a landmark Better Communities Act, which would greatly enhance the ability of all of our communities to make effective use of Federal assistance and to shape their own future. Within the next 10 days, I shall send to the Congress new housing policy recommendations, based on an intensive 6-months study of the strengths and failures of the old legislation and of the changing pattern of the Nation's needs. Vital transportation legislation also awaits action--including a measure to keep the bankrupt railroads serving the Northeast and Midwest in operation without saddling an undue share of the burden on the taxpayer.

America's greatest resource is its people themselves--you, your family, your neighbors. In the area of human resources, among the measures awaiting action is a better schools act which would help concentrate Federal education dollars where the needs are greatest, for example, on education for the disadvantaged, for the handicapped, and on vocational education--education to prepare people for jobs. Most important, what we need is a measure which would have the decisions affecting your child's education made by your State, by your local school board, rather than by social planners in Washington, D.C.

Also pending are important proposals in the areas of pension reform, job training, health, and others that can go far toward expanding opportunity for millions of Americans, and thus make this a better nation for all of us.

After nearly 20 years of continuous and sometimes shockingly dramatic increases in the rate of crime, the figures for 1972-released just last month--show that we have finally turned the tide in our battle for a safer America. For the first time in

17 years, serious crime in 1972 was down from the year before.

Much of the credit goes to the new crime legislation that has been enacted during the past 4 years. Much of the credit goes to local law enforcement officials, and much of the credit goes to a changed public attitude toward crime and criminals-away from the era of permissiveness and toward a renewed respect for law, order, and justice.

We must now step up our efforts to ensure that this will be a decisive turning point and that we can continue to make our communities safer once again for law-abiding citizens. Three of the legislative measures on which I urge swift action are designed to do just that: a heroin trafficking bill to tighten enforcement against heroin pushers, a bill to restore the death penalty for certain of the most serious offenses, and a bill to modernize and reform the entire Federal Criminal Code.

Finally, we come to an area of transcendent importance--that of national defense. In recent years, it has been fashionable to suggest that whatever we want in the way of extra programs at home could be painlessly financed by just lopping $5 or $10 or $20 billion out of the defense budget. This approach is worse than foolhardy, it is suicidal, because we could have the finest array of domestic programs in the world and they would mean nothing if, because of our weakness, we lost our freedom or we were plunged into the abyss of nuclear war.

The world's hope for peace depends on America's strength. It depends absolutely on our never falling into the position of being the second strongest nation in the world.

For years now, we have been engaged in a long, painstaking process of negotiating mutual limits on strategic nuclear arms. Historic agreements have already been reached; others are in prospect. Talks are also going forward this year aimed at a mutual and balanced reduction of forces in Europe. But the point of all these negotiations is that if peace is to be preserved, the limitations and the reductions of arms must be mutual. What one side is willing to give up for free, the other side will not bargain for.

If America's peace and America's freedom are worth preserving, they are worth the cost of whatever level of military strength it takes to preserve them, and we must not yield to the folly of breaching that level and so undermining our hopes and the world's hopes for peace now and in the future.

The questions at issue in achieving these various goals are not ones of partisan. ship--of Republicans versus Democrats. And neither, for the most part, are they ones of the President versus the Congress.

In some cases, there are real philosophical differences over how best to meet the needs that we face. The American tradition has always been that we argue these differences out--we compromise some, we settle others by a test of strength. But it is important that we act, that we decide, that we get on with the business of government-that we not let whatever may be our disagreements over the means of achieving these goals bar us from the achievement.

It is important, on all sides, that we approach this legislative season with a willingness to make those reasonable adjustments that are necessary to reach a common objective.

Within that spirit, there are three basic principles which I feel are essential.

We must maintain a national defense sufficient to safeguard us from attack and to provide an incentive for mutual reductions in the burden of armaments for all the world.

We must hold down the total of our expenditures, so that new programs will not be bought at the cost of losing the war against higher prices and higher taxes.

We must recognize that the American system requires both a strong Congress and a strong Executive, and we, therefore, must not place limits on Presidential powers that would jeopardize the capacity of the President, in this and in future Administrations, to carry out his responsibilities to the American people.

There is still enough time to make 1973 a year in which we not only ended the longest war in America's history but in which we laid the foundation for turning the blessings of peace into a better life for all.

With the Congress, the Administration, and the people working together toward this goal, we can achieve it. It means using to the fullest the days and weeks remaining in this year 1973. It means a willingness on the part of both the Executive and the Congress to cooperate and to seek solutions that are in the common interest.

It also means holding the spotlight of public attention and public debate on those issues that directly and personally affect you and your lives. For it is your attention-your participation in the debate and discussion--that in the final analysis will determine whether and how well these goals are achieved.

It means that the Congress should join the Executive in making up for the precious time lost this year in failing to act on those measures which vitally affect every American--by going into extra session, if necessary, to complete the people's business before the year ends.

It will take all of us together--the Congress, the Administration, and the public--but we can make this a year of achievement of which we can all be proud. I ask for your best efforts, and I pledge you mine.

Thank you and good afternoon.

Note: The President's address was recorded for broadcast at 2 p.m. on nationwide radio.

Richard Nixon, Radio Address About a Special Message to the Congress on National Legislative Goals. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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