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Remarks at the Swearing-in Ceremony for Susan M. Phillips Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission

November 17, 1983

Secretary Block. Mr. President, Senator Jepsen, ladies and gentlemen, it's a privilege and an honor for me to have the opportunity to swear in the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Susan Phillips was born in Virginia, but spent more time in Iowa, I guess, than anyplace else—out in the "tall corn State." It's second to Illinois, Roger, but it's a good corn State. The responsibility that she assumes-she's been managing that as Acting Chairman since last May. And it's a very important responsibility, especially from the standpoint of agriculture.

Farmers use the commodity markets for hedging commodities and hedging grains, to lock in prices. The grain companies and the industry use it very effectively. And it's vitally important. Very early on, we spent a lot of time in Illinois—the Illinois Farm Bureau—working with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to ensure that those who were on the Commission had a very firm grasp of agriculture and how it related to the responsibilities of the Commission.

So, we're just delighted to have her here. And I'm delighted to have the opportunity to manage this swearing in.

So, if you'd come forward and—with her mother, Mrs. Phillips—, please.

[At this point, the Secretary of Agriculture administered the oath of office. ]


The President. Well, I'm very pleased to have all of you here in this home that belongs to all Americans. And I'm delighted to see Dr. Susan M. Phillips sworn in as Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Susan's career represents a long record of high achievement. In 1967 she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Agnes Scott College in Georgia. And in 1971 Susan earned her master's in finance and economics from Louisiana State, and in 1973 she received her doctorate in finance from the same university. Susan then went on to the University of Iowa, where she served as an associate professor and then as vice president of finance. In the course of her career, Susan has done important research, published many articles, contributed to four books, and been a Brookings Institution economic policy fellow at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Two years ago I promoted her to—or nominated her, I should say—to become the first woman Commissioner of the CFTC. She's discharged her duties in that post with distinction. And, in a few moments—well, as a matter of fact, when I wrote that note down there I thought that I was going to go on first. [Laughter] So, I'll back up and start over again. [Laughter] So, as of a few moments ago, Susan became the first woman Chairman of a Federal financial regulatory agency in American history.

And, Susan, as you take your new place in the public eye, I just have to say I can't think of anyone who could better reflect the skill and experience of the women in our administration. From Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick to Secretary of Health and Human Services Margaret Heckler, from Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole to Susan and others, more than a thousand women in this administration hold policy-making positions. And they hold those positions because of their superb qualifications and not because of some quota.

You know, that brings me to a story-almost everything does. [Laughter] Maybe I've told this story to you before, but then you'll just have to hear it again, because life not only begins at 40 but so does lumbago and the tendency to tell the same story over and over again. [Laughter]

But it was an accident scene. An injured individual lying there on the pavement, a crowd had begun to gather, a woman was bending down over him. And a man rushed up, shoved her aside, and said, "Let me at him, I've studied first aid." And she meekly stepped back, and he went down and went to work with his first aid knowledge. And at one point she finally tapped him on the shoulder and she says, "When you come to that part about calling the doctor, I'm right here." [Laughter]

So, today Susan becomes head doctor at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. This Commission is one of my favorites, because it proves that government can do a good job without soaking up taxpayers' money or overregulating the marketplace. In a town where so many agencies have billion-dollar budgets, the CFTC budget is only about $26 million. You see, you don't have to be here long to start saying "only" $26 million. [Laughter] Yet, the Commission successfully oversees a vast and crucial sector of our economy. And by working in partnership with the industry's own regulatory organizations, the Commission does its job without hindering industry growth and innovation.

And, Susan, I know that you'll give the same intelligence and energy to this new job that you've given to all your endeavors. And I'm confident you'll keep the Commodity Futures Trading Commission efficient, ensure the integrity of our futures markets, promote industry growth, and protect the public good.

And now, good luck, God bless you, and get to work. [Laughter]

Dr. Phillips. Mr. President, Secretary Block, Senator Jepsen, friends and colleagues, thank you for sharing with me one of the most thrilling moments of my life.

Mr. President, in late 1981 when you lured me away from the sheltered life at the University of Iowa—and away from Big Ten Football, also might I add.—

Secretary Block. Just in time. [Laughter]

Dr. Phillips. —you gave me the privilege of participating in the exciting and important field of futures trading as a Commissioner at the CFTC. I will always be grateful to you for that opportunity.

During my years of teaching and financial research, then working at the Securities and Exchange Commission on options, deregulatory and market structure issues, I was even then fascinated with the potential for pricing and risk management offered by futures trading. In the trading pits of New York, Chicago, and the Midwest, agricultural products, energy supplies, financial instruments, and other materials essential to the world economy are bought and sold in open, competitive bidding. These markets exemplify the American concept of free and open trade. They set the pricing standards for commodities throughout the world.

Even representatives from countries with more tightly controlled economies than ours have expressed to me the importance of the integrity of U.S. futures markets. Nothing should ever be allowed to harm these markets or interfere in the vital services they offer.

For the opportunity you've now given me to chair the CFTC, I can only say a simple thank you. Out of my gratitude for this opportunity flows a sense of responsibility to you, to the Congress, and to the American people, who are influenced by what happens in these markets.

Under my Chairmanship, I hope the CFTC will continue its commitment to efficient oversight and enforcement, the encouragement of industry self-regulation. Ours is a small agency, staffed with expert and enthusiastic people who have a big job to do and who, I believe, do it well. I look forward to my continued association with them.

I'm especially happy that my mother is able to be here today. When I was growing up, she tried to teach me not to swear. But now she's come to Washington twice to hear me swear. [Laughter] But I don't think she minds.

Mr. President, once again, thank you for your confidence in me. I will do my best to justify that confidence.

Note: The ceremony began at 1:48 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Swearing-in Ceremony for Susan M. Phillips Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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