Remarks at the Swearing In of Charles Zwick as Director, Bureau of the Budget.
Thank you, Mr. Schultze, Mr. Zwick, members of the family, staff of the Bureau, ladies and gentlemen, members of the press:
I am told that in some circles of this Government the outgoing and the incoming Directors of the Budget have been referred to by some of their associates as Charles the First and Charles the Second.
From what they tell me of English history, Charles the First had a lot of tax trouble with the Parliament and ended by losing his head. Our Charles the First--Mr. Schultze-is only going to Brookings and the University of Maryland. And if there is an analogy, I would not want to be the one to suggest it.
Charles the Second was a somewhat different type--something of a high-liver, I believe. Mr. Schultze has assured me that that is not true of Charles Zwick. At least, it had better not be true.
I have, I think, as President, been blessed with the finest Directors of the Budget that any President has ever had. First Kermit Gordon, who served the Kennedy administration with distinction and who served me until he left in 1965 for the repository of Budget Directors, Brookings Institute; then Charlie Schultze.
I am confident that Charlie Zwick is in the same class with those outstanding public servants, although I anticipate that in due time he will be available to Brookings. I issued a very fair warning to Brookings this morning--hands off at least for a while.
One of the first things you must do, Mr. Zwick, is to learn the basic vocabulary of the Budget Director. Your predecessors were masters at it. As they can tell you, the first word you have to learn to speak is like a child says "da da," a Budget Director has to say, "no, no."
And a Budget Director to serve his President and the American people, must learn not to say "no, no" to everything.
Today, we are sending up a budget for fiscal 1969.
We will read and we will hear a lot about this budget. I have been listening to it since 6 o'clock this morning. They tell me it is a record budget--all of them are. This is a record country. Each year we grow and as we grow our budgets grow. The newspapers will, no doubt, compare it to the telephone book, some to a mail-order catalogue, some will count its pages and weigh it and tell us just how many pounds it contains.
But no newspaper story or political rhetoric will tell the full story of the budget.
Behind these figures, hidden in these tables, lie the dreams and the hopes of the American people--200 million of them.
Just for example, take a line that says the "Teacher Corps," or the "Peace Corps," or "VISTA," and then think of all the gallant, eager young people whose dream of service to their country will be fulfilled by these cold numbers.
Think of the millions of people they serve. Think, if you will, of the millions of dollars that they save, the lives they redeem, and the doors of opportunity they open, and the freedom and liberty that they protect and advance.
The budget is a nation's strategy to solve the problems that confront the nation. It looks ahead--not until November or until July of 1969, but beyond--3 years many times and 5 years a great deal of the time. It looks as far as sensible men can see, and as far as the most expert in the Government can plan.
Their job is to measure the aspirations of Americans against the stern rule of how much these people are willing to pay to carry out their aspirations. We sometimes misestimate that for a few months.
Their job is to judge and to say: "This is worth the price; or this is not worth the price and should wait. This is a price America can afford. But this one, this is a price America cannot afford to pay now."
The budget provides a shape for some dreams, and limits for all--limits fixed by tough-minded men who worked, and argued, and compromised, and decided through months of tedious days and nights. And some who made proposals and were disappointed and came back and leaked them to pressure groups to exercise that influence at the last moment.
All of it is a very difficult job.
But there are some tasks that we ask no man to do. We ask no man to put a price on freedom. We ask no man to skimp 1 dollar on the support of our fighting men or to withhold 1 penny that will help achieve the peace that we seek in Vietnam.
We never know just how much we spend there because we don't know how much we would spend if it ended tomorrow. Some say it costs us $25 billion; some say $23 billion. I asked the most expert man, I thought, the other day in that field and he said: "Well, we are spending about $50 billion. When you take the price increases and put that on, and you take our total budget this year and you subtract it, I would guess that we are in the neighborhood of about 10 percent of our total budget or 18 percent or 20 percent that we would save if we could get out of Vietnam tomorrow."
So, here at home these decisions are very difficult ones in that light, because some people think if we did not have Vietnam we would have money to solve all of our problems, because we do have plenty. We see the need for extra law enforcement efforts. We see the need for additional poverty efforts, better health, better housing, and more jobs, and better education.
Among the programs that are meant to answer those needs we must pick and choose--and we must say yes and no--and perhaps we must delay for another year a dam or an irrigation project or a public building or some kind of investment that we think is needed now.
Sometimes this budget says no, but not for all time. Our people want prudence in spending. They want strong hands controlling expenditures to the extent that they can be controlled. But they do not want to stand still. They know that the country is challenged here and abroad, and that the level of our taxing and spending should reflect our intention to meet those challenges.
The pace of our progress will be set, not by our abundance--for that is very great-but how much our people are willing to spend of it, and how much we are willing to tax ourselves to get the things that we think we need.
With this budget, I will renew my recommendation for a tax surcharge. As simply as I can, I want to speak of this budget in relation to the proposed tax measures.
First, virtually all of its additional spending--some $10.4 billion--virtually all of it is made mandatory by law or required for our national defense.
The social security and related items like Medicare, Medicaid, veterans, et cetera, runs about $4.7 billion. Defense is about $3.2 billion. That is roughly $8 billion.
Interest is $ 1 billion and that is mandatory. The pay bills are $1.6 billion and that is $10 billion-plus.
Now, there are the items. We cannot do much about the defense. We had requests for over $100 billion. We reduced them to under $80 billion.
We may have to put some of it back. We couldn't reduce it much more. We cannot reduce the interest at all or the pay, at all, or the Medicare or Medicaid or Social Security. They are all passed and we are collecting taxes to bring them in.
So that is where the $10 billion-plus will go in this new budget. We have some new items in the budget. But before we would give them to any Cabinet officer, we said, "Find an old one that you can postpone or eliminate."
Every major decision in building this budget was examined--most of it personally examine--and it was based on every bit of information that I could lay my hands on.
That is the only way I know to make a budget that is fair to the people. We no doubt made some mistakes. We no doubt made some misjudgments. We no doubt put in some items that the Congress will want to share different judgment on. They will want to put in some things we didn't put in. They will want to take out some.
But that is the system of checks and balances.
I believe it is a sound budget and a realistic one. I believe it is the best budget that the judgment of dedicated men and women could devise. For this, I want to publicly acknowledge and thank Director Schultze and wish him and his family all the rewards of faithful service to our country; and to thank all the legion of loyal, most competent employees for their cooperation.
There is no agency in the Government that is closer to the President, more effective for the President, or that I have found more loyal or more competent, than the Budget Bureau, from the Director to the lowest-paid employee.
With that statement, I want to say goodby officially to Mr. Schultze, who unofficially I hope will be coming in and out from time to time to help me with the problems, and I want to welcome our new Director, Mr. Charlie Zwick, who I think knows full well already from his contacts here and there what he is in for.
Note: The president spoke at 11:38 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he also referred to Charles L. Schultze, outgoing Director of the Bureau of the Budget.
For Mr. Schultze's remarks which preceded the president's, see the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 4, p. 146). The announcement of Mr. Schultze's resignation and the appointment of Charles J. Zwick is printed in the Weekly Compilation of presidential Documents (vol. 4, p. 55).
For the Budget Message, see Item 39.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Swearing In of Charles Zwick as Director, Bureau of the Budget. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/238054