Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of Elmer Staats as Comptroller General of the United States.

March 08, 1966

Mr. Staats, Mr. Justice, Mr. Rich, Mrs. Staats, members of the Cabinet, Members of the Congress, my friends:

I was informed that Elmer Staats hoped that any complimentary remarks which might be made at his swearing-in ceremony this morning be directed to the staff of the Bureau of the Budget rather than to him personally.

Perhaps, when Mr. Staats hears some of the things that will be said about him in the next 15 years, it could just be that he may want to remember some of the nice things that I'm going to say about him today.

Of course, I am always delighted to compliment the staff of the Bureau of the Budget. The energy, the dedication, the imagination, and the uncomplaining hard work of these loyal American men and women who work in the Budget are a never-ending source of pride to me.

Because I remember in the first hours of my Presidency, the largest problem that I had to face was the construction of a budget during the month of December. Through long days (and seemed like much longer nights) the Budget people were my prime allies in getting that job done. And in those beginning days, the man always by my side was Elmer Staats.

He has served this government faithfully and well for 26 years. He has been Deputy Director of the Bureau of the Budget under four different Presidents.

Whether they were Democrat or Republican, he served them all with equal fidelity and equal wisdom.

And that is why I chose him for this new assignment.

From the first, I was determined to put forward the best Comptroller General in America that I could find. Mr. Staats holds a unique and a very vital position in our government. While he has been appointed by the President, his ultimate responsibility is to the Congress and to the President, but most important of all, to the country.

There are 2 1/2 million men and women in the Federal Government who work each day to advance the progress of this uncommon land. But in any group that large there are always a few who are doubters and who are faint-hearted. There are always some who lack the vision to anticipate our strength as a nation--or the courage to give that strength purpose. There are some who do not have the faith to lead, and who find fault with either our system of government or the men who try faithfully to serve it, or with some of their colleagues in the other branches such as the courts, the services, the legislative, the Executive, and so on.

We know that doubters or the fearful cannot build governments or create strength. It is easy to declare why failure is certain and success is dim.

But what really lasts and endures and prospers is the work of the builders. And this is the hard way, and this is the long journey, and this is sometimes the most difficult path. But nothing very valuable is very easily won.

Whenever there is a collision with fate, when history stops for a moment of crisis-it is the doubter who runs from the test of courage--and it is the builder who is firm in the face of fear.

And we who know him, know that Elmer Staats has always been a builder, a believer-not a doubter.

He believes in our system of government. He has confidence in the wisdom of the Congress. He doesn't dwell on the minor imperfections that are always the part of any human system. He declares his faith in the hopes of this nation, and in the people who try to faithfully serve it.

So, General Staats, this morning in the presence of your wonderful family, and particularly your distinguished father-in-law, my old friend Bob Rich of Pennsylvania-whom I am so happy could be here with us-you launch a new career. We have full confidence that the entire Nation will reap the profits from your achievements--as you continue in the next 15 years of this term, as you have for the last 26, the work of the builder always serving faithfully and diligently all branches without fear, without favor, or without fuss.

Note: The President spoke shortly after noon in the East Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Elmer B. Staats, former Deputy Director of the Bureau of the Budget, Judge E. Barrett Prettyman, Senior Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, who administered the oath of office, Robert F. Rich, Representative from Pennsylvania 1930-1943 and 1945-1951, and Mrs. Elmer B. Staats.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Swearing In of Elmer Staats as Comptroller General of the United States. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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