Remarks Upon Presenting "E" Awards for Significant Contributions to the Export Expansion Program
Ladies and gentlemen, Members of Congress:
I want to welcome you to the White House and the Rose Garden. This is such a proud occasion for me that I asked Luther Hodges to let me fly an "E" flag above the White House today. After some consternation and consideration, he said, "Mr. President, when you have done as much for the economy as these people have, I will consider it."
One of Luther's illustrious predecessors in the field of private enterprise, Benjamin Franklin, holds the record, I think, for the understatement about the value of commerce to a republic. "No nation," he said, "was ever ruined by trade." He might well have said that trade is the health of any nation, for that is exactly the case.
Our economy today is robust, and it is growing more so every day. A large share of the credit for that vitality must go to the businessmen of America, businessmen like you who have gone out to develop new world markets for the products of American ingenuity and American enterprise.
These 10 export flags which we are awarding today bring the total of "E" flag awards in the last 2 years to 500. Since President Kennedy unfurled the first flag in 1962, our exports of goods have risen 10 percent, from $20.9 billion to an all-time record of $22.3 billion in 1963, and I am here to predict today that new records are on the horizon.
In the first 3 months of this year, our exports are running at an annual rate of more than $24 billion. Such heartening advances don't just happen. They are the result of cost-conscious management, hard-selling by business, backed by the most effective Government policies for export promotion and investment incentives this country has ever known.
This cooperation has helped to bring into export trade 3,000 businesses that never before sold abroad--including one firm that created a market overseas for barbecued chicken and is now selling its equipment around the world. I saw it in a world trade fair when I was overseas not long ago.
Through our trade centers, through our trade missions, through increased market research abroad, and through intensive information efforts here at home we intend to keep America's exports moving up and our dollars moving back.
These measures to step up our sales abroad would lose their force if we failed to keep our costs and our prices in check. But, so far, industry and Government, working together, have achieved an enviable record of price and cost stability.
First, through the efforts of companies like yours, productivity has been rising at a very good rate. Our overall productivity gains have averaged 3.2 percent per year in the past 5 years against an historical trend of less than 3 percent. In the economic upswing of the last 3 years, the average has been above 3 ½ percent. With the help of companies like yours, we hope we can consolidate these gains and move them a little higher.
Second, wage increases, on the average, have stayed close to the bounds of productivity gains, keeping our unit labor costs almost stable. While unit labor costs from 1959 to 1962 rose 10 percent in France, 6 percent in Italy, 12 percent in the United Kingdom, and 8 percent in Japan, they rose only 2 percent in the United States.
Third, the United States has enjoyed an unparalleled record of stable wholesale prices for nearly 6 years now. In sharp contrast, just in the 4 years from 1959 to 1963, wholesale prices in France rose 11 percent, in Italy wholesale prices rose to 10 percent, in the United Kingdom wholesale prices rose 8 percent, in Germany 4 percent and in Japan 2 percent.
So, responsible private enterprise and responsible labor unions deserve the main credit for this fine record of cost and price stability. I hope they will maintain it. But responsible Government policy has also played some role.
First, in 1962, we liberalized depreciation rules and introduced a new investment tax credit for tax purposes. And we salute the Congress for their help in helping us do that.
Second, in 1964, we put through the largest tax cut in the United States history, and we thank the Congress for helping us do that. That will give us special provisions for stimulating cost-cutting, modernization, and expansion.
Third, we have kept credit readily available at reasonable rates of interest.
Fourth, we have promoted price and wage restraints with the aid of the price-wage guideposts.
Fifth, we have maintained vigorous antitrust enforcement.
We are again demonstrating that free enterprise and free labor, aided by responsible Government, can outprice, outsell, and outproduce our competitors the world over-and earn record profits and record wages in the process of doing so.
So, I think it is appropriate during World Trade Week that we note your contributions in laying the foundations for a surer peace through increased world trade.
I am proud to present to you today the "E" Award in recognition of those contributions, and I want to add just one sentence.
I have heard all my life that we live in a land where every boy can be proud to grow up and have a chance to be President. Some of you may not like what has happened and some of you may not believe it, but it shows that we do have that opportunity when you look at the President today.
I hope that we can say to every boy that is born in this country that "You have a chance regardless of how humble your origin, how you spell your name, what region you live in, what race you come from, what religion you belong to; you some day have a chance to grow up and take great pride in the fact that you are an American businessman; you can stick your chin up and your chest out and say with great pride, 'I am an American businessman and participate in the American business community.'"
I hope, too, that we can always feel that a child can grow up and be a member of a responsible labor movement in this country and take pride in that fact.
I don't think that we necessarily have to be bitter adversaries--Government, business, and labor--and I don't think you are talking out of both sides of your mouth when you urge these three important segments of our American society to work together in harmony and in unison to develop a stronger and better and more prosperous America.
Thank you very much.
Note: The President spoke at 5:45 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. Early in his remarks he referred to Luther H. Hodges, Secretary of Commerce.
The awards, established by Executive Order 10978 (26 F.R. 11714; 3 CFR 1959-1963 Comp., p. 498), were presented to Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company, Milwaukee, Wis.; Caladino Farm Seeds, Inc., Willows, Calif.; Cessna Aircraft Company, Wichita, Kans.; A. W. Chesterton Company, Everett, Mass.; Eastman Kodak Company, Rochester, N.Y.; Hanson Scale Company, Northbrook, Ill.; Republic Powdered Metals, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio; Union Bag-Camp Paper Corp., Savannah, Ca.; John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, N.Y.; and Wilkerson Corporation, Englewood, Colo.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Presenting "E" Awards for Significant Contributions to the Export Expansion Program Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/239709