Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Bill Increasing the Limitation on TVA Revenue Bonds

August 12, 1966

My friends in the Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

We have come here to the Cabinet Room this morning to attend a very important event in the lives of many of the people of the Tennessee Valley.

When I first came to Washington, we were told that TVA was doomed to failure. We were told that electricity could not be marketed in low-income areas. Before they would make an allotment of any kind and before they would declare a measure "by the budget," they always had to go into these long, drawn-out power surveys.

But notwithstanding what we were told, fortunately better minds held sway. There were a great many men like the great George Norris who knew something that our critics did not know. They knew that electricity was not dependent on prosperity--but just the other way around. "If you give people cheap electricity," they said, "they'll pull themselves up by their own bootstraps."

And now today, because of TVA, a region which had only 855,000 kilowatts capacity in 1933 has 17.1 million kilowatts today. Where there were only 275,000 consumers of electricity when TVA was allowed to begin, now there are more than 2 million.

In 1933, the per capita income in this great Valley area was only 45 percent of our national average. That gap has not yet been closed, but it is certainly being narrowed. It is being narrowed because of the leadership of the men in the Congress-in the House and the Senate--who have come here today to participate in these ceremonies. The per capita income there today is no longer 45 percent--it is 70 percent of the national average.

But TVA has done much more than just provide cheap electricity for the homes and the farms and industries.

It has done more than breathe new life into the economy:

--It has reclaimed 80,000 square miles from the devastations of man and nature.

--Erosion has been halted.

--Farm methods have been modernized.

--Whole forests have been planted from seedlings.

--Flooding rivers have been tamed.

--And a new recreation area has been created for millions of people. The Tennessee Valley now boasts 600,000 acres of water surface and more than 10,000 miles of shoreline where our American families and their children can go and visit and play, and enjoy the fresh, pure air and sun of that great area.

--An area just a few years ago that was a cradle of poverty is now a growing and prospering American oasis.

So we have come here this morning to do more than salute the past. We have come here to try to ensure the future.

The measure that I am about to sign will raise by $1 billion the limit on the amount of revenue bonds which TVA may have outstanding.

The provisions of this law have been carefully scrutinized by all the experts in the Government, by the leaders in the Congress. The 1959 act set the limit at $750 million. But today we are raising it to $1 billion 750 million, because the original limit is almost exhausted--and the demand is still great.

We estimate that the power requirements of the Tennessee Valley region are going to double in the next 10 years alone. The new bonds will allow the TVA to build the facilities to meet those requirements.

So this morning we are helping to guarantee the future of nearly 6 million of our fellow citizens. And we are doing it without spending a cent of appropriated taxpayers' money.

That may come as a surprise to some people, too. But it comes because of good management, because of the frugality and the thrift and the good practices of the people of that area, and because a good idea that has been embraced by our Government is working well.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:45 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. During his remarks he referred to George W. Norris, Representative from Nebraska 1903-1913, and Senator from Nebraska 1913-1943.
As enacted, the bill (H.R. 15225) is Public Law 89-537 (80 Stat. 346).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Bill Increasing the Limitation on TVA Revenue Bonds Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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