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Remarks at the Swearing In of Gardner Ackley as Chairman and Arthur Okun as Member of the Council of Economic Advisers

November 16, 1964

IT IS a little unusual, Walter, for you to be so much in the background this morning. I want to apologize to you and the Secretary of the Treasury, Gardner, and others for detaining you and your distinguished guests. This is the first morning I have been back in town since my extended vacation. I was delayed by the Secretary of Defense and others who had some problems which needed attention for a moment and I couldn't get away.

I want to thank all of you for coming here. I hardly know whether to scowl or to smile. I can't be happy over Walter Heller's departure from Washington, leaving the Council, and at the same time I am very happy and, of course, couldn't be unhappy over the strength that he has left behind on this Council.

For nearly a year Walter has been consulting with me and a subject at all of those conversations either at the beginning or the end was about his desire to leave public service. I did everything I know that I could do to dissuade him. I didn't want him to pass out of here and go back to his work. I thought if we could get the pay bill through that might stop him, and I did something unusual after the House turned me down the first time--I tried, and tried, and tried again and finally got it through. But it was not the pay that he was really interested in; it was Minnesota. His persistence in getting out of here has caused me to reflect a little the past week about the real condition of our economy.

But for every conversation that Walter and I have had about his leaving, we have had two or three about what he is leaving behind and the quality and the caliber and the character of the men who would constitute the Council of Economic Advisers.

So, the chairmanship of the Council passes today to one of the Nation's most respected economists, one of my most trusted counselors, a man in whom I think the Nation will have the fullest confidence and the man for whom I have great respect and affection, Gardner Ackley.

Coming on to the Council after most distinguished service as a senior member of the Council staff is another outstanding member of the profession, Dr. Arthur Okun. If we can do as well by the Nation as I believe we are doing by the Council, the country is in for the best times that we have ever had over the next several years.

What has been the progress these past 4 years toward fulfillment of the meaning of the act of 1964 which created the Council, I think, is quite important. Over these years, economics has come of age in policy-making in this Government. The American people, I think, have begun to appreciate the need for their Government to manage its budget so that it will work to assure balanced and sustained expansion and not retard our progress.

I think nothing has done more for public understanding than the great tax cut of 1964. In that connection I want to pay tribute to the Council, and I particularly want to pay tribute to that man who has sacrificed so much of his private life for public service, the able and beloved Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Dillon, who honors us with his presence this morning.

Today, 8 months later, the benefits are clear, and I think they are clearly enormous. Consumers are earning more and they are spending more. Businesses are receiving record profits. Sights have been raised on investments. Unemployment has declined, yet our price stability is intact and our Federal revenues are rising.

Our gains have been many, but we are not about to become satisfied with ourselves.

Unemployment is still far too high. More young people than ever are looking for their first jobs. We have 3,200,000 18-year-olds who want to go to school or want to find a job this year. Educational opportunities, therefore, must be increased.

Our citizens must be enabled to meet more fully their needs. We can do what America needs done only if we can continue with this prosperous economy, and we just cannot have it continued by wanting it to continue. We have got to work at it.

In that connection, there is no one in this Government who is going to carry any heavier responsibility than Gardner Ackley and the Council that he leads and over which he presides. I am going to continue to expect from him what I got from the Council of which he was a member. So I want to assure you that I look to the Council with confidence, knowing the caliber of the leadership of those who have been serving as the leaders and the members. I am particularly going to rely on the fine qualities and discernment of its new and able chairman and its new and able member.

This is a somewhat sad moment for me to see a man leave the White House and go back to his own backyard, but I guess you have to expect those things. The time is here, and I guess the appropriate way to end this up, Waiter and Gardner, would be:

"Sunset and evening star,

And one clear call for me!

And may there be no moaning of the bar,

When I put out to sea."

Note: The President spoke at 12:25 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening remarks he referred to Walter W. Heller, outgoing Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, who had resigned to return to a professorship at the University of Minnesota, and Douglas Dillon, Secretary of the Treasury.

The text of the remarks of Mr. Ackley, Mr. Heller, and Mr. Okun, each of whom spoke briefly, was also released.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Swearing In of Gardner Ackley as Chairman and Arthur Okun as Member of the Council of Economic Advisers Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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