Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks to Members of the Budget Bureau Staff at the Signing of the 1965 Budget.

January 20, 1964

I THINK I should say and I want you to remember that I have been in the Government 32 years and am in my 33d year and I don't think I have ever seen more diligence or dedication in any single endeavor than the work that went into the budget that goes to the Congress tomorrow. I spent many hours, many days, with the men that you folks here sent over as messengers, who did the real work, and it is a tribute to you and it is a tribute to our country that we can have people like you.

I have had a slight association with private industry in my years and the quality of the work and the caliber of your staff is something that any industrial concern in this country would be proud of. And you have not only served your country well, your President well, your Congress well, but I think you have served yourself and your families. You have demonstrated that you could find waste and where you could find it eliminate it. You have demonstrated that you could arrest the growing increase in Federal expenditures and turn it downward.

You have turned in a first-class performance and although I expect and anticipate that the Congress will make even further reductions, I want to charge each of you with the job of supervising this budget as it goes through the many steps that it will go through before the money is spent. We have asked the departments for quarterly reports on their personnel. I want the most thorough and capable analysts among you to ride herd on specific departments and see that we have the best management practices in the country in the Government.

We need take second place to no private concern. While we must have a Government that is strong, we need not have a Government that is wasteful. In addition to strength and security, we must also have solvency, because unless we are solvent we will have neither strength nor security. I hope that all of you will remember that in addition to strength and solvency we must have compassion. We are a very fortunate group of people.

We are a relatively small number as the makeup of the whole world goes. We are outnumbered 17 to 1. But fate has smiled upon us, and our forefathers left us with a great system. There are only six nations in the world that have a per capita income of more than $80 a month and we lead all of the rest. That doesn't mean, because we are compassionate, we have to be wasteful. We can take the money we save on waste and spend it on compassion and doing things for people that need it.

That is what you have done. You have done it in the military, you have done it in the atomic energy field, you have done it in every agency of Government. You have improved management 'practices, you have brought reforms and they are indicated in the final result. But we are just beginning to start. We have to follow this through every step and I want to ask you to ride herd on each Cabinet officer, on each independent agency, on each commission, even on the White House itself, to see where we can eliminate any unnecessary expense.

Someone told me that the light bill in the White House ran several thousand dollars a month. I challenged Mr. Valenti over there and my maid this morning when I left to turn out all those lights on those chandeliers when there is no one in the house. Mrs. Johnson had gone to New York and I was the only one there and I didn't require that much light.

I don't know how much we saved today. I want a bill for the last 3 months to see if we are making any headway. And see that that goes down to every Government building. A stitch in time saves nine. You don't accumulate anything unless you save the small amounts.

So I am very proud to sign my first budget, but I am prouder of the people that made it possible for me to sign such a budget. When you go home, you tell Molly and the babies that your President specifically decorated you today for a job well done.

Thank you, gentlemen.

Note: The signing ceremony, held in the Cabinet Room at the White House, was attended by the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, Kermit Gordon, and other Bureau officials.

During his remarks the President referred to lack Valenti, Special Consultant to the President.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks to Members of the Budget Bureau Staff at the Signing of the 1965 Budget. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/240274

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