Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks Upon Arrival at Van Nuys, California

May 24, 1976

Thank you very, very much Congressman Barry Goldwater, Attorney General Ev Younger, my good friend Paul Priolo, Bob Wilkinson, Johnnie Grant, and then, of course, Rosemary, Alice, Ted, Sue, Dick--well, all of you from the San Fernando Valley:

I love you, and it's great to be here. My message to the wonderful people of the San Fernando Valley can be summed up--it's been a long day folks, but I can be very frank and very honest in saying to you in a few words, as much as I believe in a strong and prosperous American automobile industry, and I do, I've come here to say this year there's absolutely no reason to trade in a reliable Ford for a flashier model. [Laughter]

But let me say, I am here asking you for one favor, my fellow Americans-for your support--because I think I have done a first-class job for all Americans in 22 months. I have done it under tough circumstances, but we have maintained peace, moved America on the road to prosperity, restored trust and confidence in the Presidency. And I am here in California to say I am staying in the race. And I want a mandate from you and all over America so I can finish the job that we started 22 months ago.

Peace, prosperity, and trust are the record of my performance since I became your President. It's a record achieved against what seemed like insurmountable obstacles. Consider for a few moments, if you will, where we were when I became President in August of 1974. You were, I am sure, told by some well-known economists, some labor and political leaders--they were predicting that we were heading into a deep depression; that unemployment would soon exceed 10 percent; that only massive Federal spending could avert a catastrophe.

Inflation had soared to an annual 'rate of over 12 percent. About a year ago, we hit the bottom of our worst recession in 40 years. Many were urging that we push the panic button. In Congress, the economic downturn set off a clamor for more and more, bigger and bigger deficit spending and all kinds of phony programs that wouldn't have solved the problem.

You and I know, standing here today in the San Fernando Valley, that the prophets of doom were wrong. We didn't panic. I never lost one bit of confidence in the American people. I retained what I think is a basic philosophy-that a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take from us everything we have.

In those tough days, we resisted big spending schemes that would have caused larger Federal deficits and even more destructive inflation. We rejected the discredited techniques of all politics--tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect. Instead, we pursued a calm, steady, constructive policy to ensure America's economic health not just for an election year, but for the long pull. We had faith in America. I had faith in you here in this great valley, faith in the older people, the younger people, and faith that we could do the right thing for these young people I see in blue uniforms, brown uniforms--that's what it's all about.

Yes, the faith that we had had resulted not in a depression, not in a recession, but in contrast, the full surge of economic recovery. Eighty-seven million, four hundred thousand Americans are on the job today. That's an all-time record, and I'm darned proud of it.

In the last 12 months, we have added 3,300,000 more people working in America. In the last month, we added 710,000 more people on the job in this great country. There is real evidence of a new prosperity, but I will not be satisfied until every American who wants a job can find a job. That is my criteria.

Inflation has been cut from the 12 percent of 2 years ago down to 3 percent, or under, for the first 4 months of 1976. That's progress--a 75-percent cut in the rate of inflation. I'm proud of it. We will do better in the months ahead.

In dealing with this irresponsible Congress--not good people like Barry Goldwater--[laughter]--I vetoed 49 bills; 42 of them have been sustained, saving the American taxpayer $13 billion. And you know, if the Congress sends any more of these budget-busting bills down to the Oval Office in the White House, I will use my veto again and again and again.

You know, it's about time that you got to spend your money the way you want to spend it instead of letting the Congress spend it for you. I'm totally determined that your tax dollars work for you as hard as you work for them.

I want the government to spend less, to tax less. Last year, we reduced Federal incomes taxes. This year, I proposed a $10 billion tax reduction to begin July 1, which would raise the personal exemption--listen very closely--would raise the personal exemption from $750 per person to $1,000 per person. I know Barry Goldwater will vote for it, and we can do this if you get the pressure on the Congress to act between now and July 1 of 1976.

Let me assure you, I love this fight with the Congress, this irresponsible Congress that wants to spend your money, doesn't want to give you the kind of a tax relief that you ought to get.

Now, in addition to the kind of economic security and progress that we need in America, we have to be certain and positive that the national security of this great country continues.

Today, America is at peace. There are no American boys fighting anywhere in the world, and I intend to keep it that way. To make sure that our military strength remains unsurpassed in the future, I proposed the two largest military budgets in the history of the United States. But between 1964 and 1974, the Congress cut $50 billion out of military budgets submitted by two previous Presidents and reduced the share of national security funds to the lowest in the history of the United States since the end of World War II.

During my administration, we are reversing the trend. We're going to make sure that we do the right thing for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and Marines, because you and I depend upon them for our security, for the maintenance of peace and the deterrence of aggression. We are proud of these young men, these leaders in our military forces, and I look around here and see them-gee, America owes them a great deal, and I thank each and every one of you for it.

I'm delighted to see Paul Priolo here, a great leader in your State legislature, and Bob Wilkinson, a great representative of local government. Believe me, it is a pleasure to work with them and to have their help and support.

But I am here primarily to ask for a solid mandate from you so that I can finish the job and make America truly secure for future generations. I will maintain the peace. I will secure the peace through strength and perseverance and leave the legacy of peace for our children and their children. I will continue my policies of cutting your taxes, expanding the private economy, reducing bureaucracy and useless regulation, restraining Federal spending.

These policies have brought us from the. depth of a recession to a sustained recovery and will ensure that runaway inflation never robs you or our loved ones of the rewards of honest work and lifetime savings.

Finally, I will finish the job in the 4 years--the restoration of trust and confidence in the Presidency itself. As your President, I will promise no more than I can deliver, and I will deliver everything that I promise.

Americans have always wanted a life better for our children than it was for each of us, because life has always been better for us than it was for our parents.

I will tell you what I see ahead for the great country that we live in. I see a strong and confident America, secure in a strength that cannot alone be counted in megatons, a nation rejoicing in its blessings that cannot be eroded by inflation or by taxation. I see an America where life is valued for its quality as well as its comfort, where the individual is inviolate in his constitutional rights, where the government serves and the people rule.

Thank you very, very much.

Note: The President spoke at 7:45 p.m. at the Van Nuys Airport. In his opening remarks, he referred to Evelle J. Younger, California State attorney general, Paul Priolo, California State assemblyman, Robert M. Wilkinson, Los Angeles city councilman, Johnnie Grant, master of ceremonies, Rosemary Ferraro and Alice Ogle, cochairmen of the Los Angeles County President Ford Committee, Ted Pierce, regional chairman for the West Los Angeles and San Fernando Valley area President Ford Committees, and Richard Lithgow, president of the Van Nuys Chamber of Commerce.

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks Upon Arrival at Van Nuys, California Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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