Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at a President Ford Committee Reception in Concord, New Hampshire.

February 08, 1976

LET ME make a comment or two to this wonderful group in this particular room where Betty and I have both had the opportunity of shaking hands with many of you.

I want to look each and every one of you right square in the eye and thank you from the bottom of my heart for the tremendous effort and the great things you are doing to help Betty and me and Susan and the others to go back to Washington and do a job for you, for New Hampshire, and for the country. And for that, both of us here, as well as Susan, are most grateful.

I have heard from the people that are working with you here in New Hampshire, and they have assured me day after day after day that we not only had outstanding people but we had a lot of first-class people working on my behalf.

And when we can see firsthand this many people on a Sunday noon, on a day when I know you would prefer to be skiing or watching the Olympics or doing a million other things, to come here to show the support for what we are trying to do and to indicate that you are willing to go down to the line to make certain and to make positive that the things we stand for will be preserved and expanded for the next 4 years, it makes me very, very grateful and most appreciative. And I can't thank you enough.

Now, if you will excuse me, I will go to the other room, where they have been listening, and the PA will come back here and you can listen to what I say over there. And we will try to change it just a little bit.

[At this point the President left the cafeteria and proceeded to the gymnasium, where he spoke to the overflow crowd as follows:]

Thank you very, very much, all of you in this room and that same wonderful group in the other room for being here this morning.

We have had a superb day yesterday. It looks like everything is turning up rosy with a fine, fine turnout like this on a Sunday noon.

I know you have got a million other things you would rather do, and I, therefore, am most grateful for the fact that you are here, that you are interested, and that you are going out there to help us win February 24.

Susan went up late yesterday afternoon to Conway and skied. This morning she told me that the racing was great and she had a wonderful time. I said, "Susan, don't tell that to me, tell it to Ron Nessen." [Laughter ] But let me, if I might, kick off from that point. Competition--whether it is on the ski slopes or on the athletic field or in business or in labor or in government-it is good for America.

We ought to link competition today as our forefathers did, across the spectrum. Competition in the political arena is good--ideas, differences of opinion. I happen to believe there are some very, very important differences that ought to be discussed, discussed rationally.

There is an old saying in the House of Representatives that you can disagree without being disagreeable. We are on the right side on the issues. We know something about running the Federal Government, and we have an opportunity to get out there and sell what we are trying to do.

I was thinking this morning back about 18 or 19 months ago when I became President, and that first night I said a long, long prayer, because I knew there were a great many problems that had to be solved.

What were those? Well, we were then in the throes of double-digit inflation-12, 13, 14 percent--we were approximating the brink of recession, and bad signs of unemployment were beginning to emerge. I knew that there were many in Western Europe and some in the Pacific who questioned whether the United States Government with a new President would meet the challenge that had to be met if we were to carry out our international responsibility.

But in the last 18 months, with the help of millions and millions of fine people like you, we have turned this all around. We have reassured our allies in Western Europe. They know we are as strong, if not stronger, today than we were before.

We have broadened and strengthened our relations with the Japanese so that a very important relationship in the Pacific is in the best of shape. We have moved forward in every area to strengthen the American position, to maintain peace worldwide. But because the American people had patience and confidence and were courageous and had restraint and didn't go for some panic button, we have turned the economy around.

We had some great news on Friday. You may have read about it or heard it, but I think it is worthwhile repeating. In the month of January, 800,000 more Americans went to work than worked in the month of December. That was the greatest increase in 1 month since 1960. At the same time, the rate of unemployment went down a half a percentage point which was the largest decrease in the unemployment figure since 1959.

We have regained 96 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, and 2,100,000 more people are working today than worked in March of last year. Eighty-six and a half million people gainfully employed, better than 92 percent of the work force in this country is working today. And all of these improvements were achieved not by some phony quick fix but by saying the place to achieve success in turning around from a recession is in the private sector.

Five out of every six jobs in this country come from the private sector. The other one-sixth comes from government. So, if we are going to solve the problem of unemployment we should do it in the private sector, and that is what we are going to do.

If you try to do it the public sector way, you pile deficit upon deficit upon deficit. And speaking of deficits and Federal financing, let me make this observation. We have a strong program to put a restraint on the increase in Federal spending, and if we do, we can then have a bona fide bigger tax cut in 1976, we will balance the budget in 1978, 1979, and we can have an additional tax cut at that time. That is good, sound government policy.

Now, let me speak for just a minute about the future. We have to have a balance between the Federal Government and the State government. We have to maintain this new federalism that we have tried to promote, where the Federal Government gives the money to the State governments and to local units of government so they can carry out and deliver the services at the local and State level in a better way.

Isn't it far, far better to have those Federal dollars in health, child nutrition, education, and social services? Isn't it better to have the Federal money handled at the local and State level rather than dictated to you by some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C.?

And, of course, the worse alternative would be not to give you the money, and if you wanted the services, to have to raise local taxes to carry out the services.

But let me say one word about the future of the children who are here--and there are some wonderful young boys and girls--and every time I look at them, I wonder if what we are doing is right for that generation.

I think all of us can survive, but we have an honest obligation, all of us, to make sure that we do the right things in government today so that they have a better America tomorrow.

And what can we do? First, we have to get the American people today to have faith in their government. That means that the disillusionment that exists today must be eliminated, eradicated; we shouldn't promise more than we can deliver, and we should deliver everything we promise. That is the way to get the American people to have faith in their government.

But then we have an obligation also in certain fields, research and development, to spend money today so that we can have exotic fuels to solve our energy problem, make America energy independent, solar energy.

Just in passing, I increased the funding for research and development in solar energy by 35 to 40 percent in the next budget. It went from 86 million to 120-some million, as I recollect.

We are going to spend all the money we can for those things that will make a better life and a better America for these young children. The hope they have is that we will do a good job. And I intend to spend as many hours, as many days as I can to make sure that your Federal Government runs right, that you can be proud of your Government, that you and I can be proud of America and proud to be Americans.

Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:17 p.m. at Rundlett Junior High School.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at a President Ford Committee Reception in Concord, New Hampshire. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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