Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of Warren Smith as a Member of the Council of Economic Advisers.

July 01, 1968

Mr. Smith and family, Members of the Cabinet and Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

We are very proud this morning to welcome Mr. Warren Smith, a distinguished professor of economics, from the University of Michigan, to the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

Today, the chief executives of the major corporations of this country all have very high-level economists as their personal advisers. That is also true of the labor unions and the farm groups who must rely on the leadership of economists; and the press of this country is inclined to give all of these advisers regular prominence, sometimes by direct attribution and frequently by background.

The President of the United States, though, is even more fortunate than any of these groups. The Congress, in its wisdom, has already provided the President with a council of three economic advisers. Over the years that I have been in this office, I have observed that their wisdom has contributed mightily to the very proud record of almost 90 months of continued economic prosperity. During the 4½ years that I have occupied the Presidency,

--we have witnessed an increase of more than 7 million jobs; --we have seen a reduction of more than 9 million in the number of our poor;

--we have seen the end of an era when periodic recessions and depressions were generally regarded as inevitable;

--we have seen a demonstration that fiscal policy can provide either the stimulus or restraint that is needed to promote prosperity.

To some that is just "You never had it so good." But to most of the 200 million people-they are glad to see the stability, to see this earning power and to see the jobs and the prosperity that exists in most of the homes of this country.

Now that we have been able to get the passage of the tax bill that we fought for, for so many months, we think we have an opportunity and an obligation to meet our economic problems. The budgetary engine of inflation has finally been turned off. We believe that is a very big step forward.

A few months ago many people predicted that the tax bill was dead. It was buried by a good many of our friends, I think, prematurely. But today it is a fact. We have many turns in the road ahead and many difficulties. We must not underestimate them. We have a long way to go in improving our price and balance-of-payments record.

But now that the Government's house is in order, business and labor must begin to shoulder their share of responsibility for stopping the wage-price spiral. The Council is helping to promote the necessary cooperation, a partnership of responsibility to serve the best interests of a free economy and a free society.

I think we need to look ahead with vision and imagination. I think we need to ask how we can insure procedures to give us the prompt and the flexible fiscal actions we will need in the future; how we can perfect economic planning for the transition to a prosperous peacetime economy, when that glad day of peace arrives. We think that we have made progress on that road.

We think the final signing of the nonproliferation treaty this morning, we think the call for the reduction of arms in the world, and we think that the agreement to sit down in the nearest future to start talking about offensive and defensive weapon reduction-all of these things are hopeful signs. They are bits and straws.

While we do live in a dangerous world, we are making great progress. It is going to require economic planning for that peaceful day that we hope and that we pray and that we long for so much.

How can we meet and beat foreign competition in the world's markets--a question on everyone's tongue--without retreating one inch from our objectives of freer international trade?

Dr. Smith, I am going to be expecting you to help me find a great many of these answers. You are one of the Nation's most distinguished monetary specialists. I know your expertise will help to strengthen and stimulate the close cooperation that has generally existed between this administration and the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Department, and the leaders of finance in this country, as well as the economists in our great institutions of higher learning.

I also know that you will join a very brilliant and devoted team. Your talents will enlarge the abilities--the very great abilities-of Art Okun and Joe Peck--and the Council of which your President and your Nation are so justly proud.

In the first hours after I came into the Presidency, the greatest strength that I received was from the Chairman and the members of the Council of Economic Advisers and the then Director of the Budget.

We spent days and weeks and months in formulating what has now become known as the Great Society. We look back upon that record in education, in conservation--I said in Tennessee on Saturday we passed 138 bills and have 42 still to go--the measures we have taken in health--the measures we have taken to promote prosperity--it is a great tribute not only to these three leaders on the Council, but to the brilliant and dedicated staff that has worked many times all night in order to help prepare the President better.

So we say welcome. We are grateful that you are aboard.

Note: The President spoke at 1:15 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. During his remarks he referred to Arthur M. Okun, Chairman, and Merton J. Peck, member, of the Council of Economic Advisers.

The tax bill recommended by the President was enacted as the Revenue and Expenditure Control Act of 1968, approved on June 28, 1968 (see Item 343).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the Swearing In of Warren Smith as a Member of the Council of Economic Advisers. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives