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Response to Questions on Key Construction Issues for "The Constructor"

October 01, 1976

Q. Should the federal government become involved in worker's compensation programs, which have so far been run by the states, in mandating standards and payment levels?

Governor Carter. When individuals are injured in the work place, I believe that state boundary lines or location should not be the determining factor in how much a worker is to collect as compensation for an injury. I believe that the federal government should set minimum standards for the states in worker's compensation. I believe the government should have compassionate concern for individuals, no matter where the accident occurs.

Q. Do you favor or oppose legislation to ban nuclear power plant construction pending a five year study of possible adverse safety and environmental side effects? In order to meet our electrical power requirements by 1980, would you favor construction of non-nuclear power plants and what steps would you as President take to expedite construction of these types of power plants?

Governor Carter. I do not favor a flat ban on all nuclear power plant construction at this time. I believe that much greater emphasis must be placed on construction of environmentally sound non-nuclear power plants.

The liquid metal fast breeder reactor, in my opinion, is a substantial waste of money in the way it is being conducted in our own country now. If atomic power does continue in the future to be a major source of energy, then I think the breeder principles must be pursued and understood. I think that the amount of money that we are presently spending for liquid metal fast breeder reactors should be drastically reduced.

We should maximize our own benefit to be derived from observing France and England's progress (they are already at least as far along as we will be when we get the liquid metal fast breeder reactor completed) and atomic power itself should be relegated to the last priority as far as energy sources are concerned. We should have an emphasis on conservation, which we have not yet done and basically shift from oil to coal, which I think we must do.

Q. Do you favor or oppose legislation making violence at construction sites a federal offense?

Governor Carter. Violence is an important concern whether in the work place or in the streets. As President, I will do whatever is necessary to try to reduce our crime rate. It must be noted, however, that under our constitutional system, the primary responsibility for police power is on the local level. I do not believe that we should change this system.

Q. Do you favor preservation of Section 14(b) of the Taft-Hartley Act? If Congress were to pass legislation repealing state right-to-work laws, would you as President sign it?

Governor Carter. As a former governor of a "right-to-work" state, I am very aware of the policies behind Section 14(b). While I do not consider repeal of Section 14(b) a legislative goal of mine, as President, I would sign such a bill if enacted by Congress. A President should not arbitrarily obstruct the will of Congress.

Q. If Congress were to pass a bill making secondary boycotts legal (common situs picketing) would you sign it?

Governor Carter. I agree with the generally recognized need for legislative reform in the pattern of collective bargaining in the construction industry. I support reforms such as the "Dunlop package" to achieve reform and to better rationalize the roles of management and labor at the national level. Certainly, I support all efforts to increase productivity in the construction industry. I believe that better collective baigaining practices and the elimination of unnecessary work rules are partial solutions. Common situs picketing may or may not also be a necessary part of this package. I will, as President, listen to the interests of both management and labor before acting on this subject

Q. What specific activities would you pursue to increase or decrease the amount of government involvement in private enterprise?

Governor Carter. One of my major campaign themes has been the necessity to improve the management and the structure of the federal government. Certainly, we can do better in eliminating unnecessary red tape, improving the competence and performance of federal agencies, and reducing the number of bureaucracies. Better general economic planning is necessary to ensure a stable, sensitive, fair, humane economic policy. Government must plan ahead just like any business. I favor coordinated government planning to attack the problems of structural unemployment, inflation, environmental deterioration, exaggeration of economic inequalities, natural resources and limitations and obstructions to the operation of the free market system.

I believe this type of planning can be carried out without the creation of a new bureaucracy, but rather through well designed extensions of existing bodies and techniques.

Q. What are your views on continuation of dedicated federal trust funds supported by user taxes, specifically the Airport Development Trust Fund and the Highway Trust Fund? Would you favor a similar fund to finance public (mass) transit projects?

Governor Carter. The Highway Trust Fund has served as an outstanding and successful mechanism for constructing an extensive and effective highway network in the United States.

We are now in an era in which the nation's transportation needs are changing. Such problems as energy costs, material shortages, and environmental considerations will continue to have a great and increasing bearing upon future needs and programs. We need to reevaluate the Highway Trust Fund and consider whether its past success might be extended to other modes of transportation. What we need most today is a balanced multi-modal approach to maintaining and improving the nation's transportation system.

While the nation has an extremely well-developed rail, highway, and aviation system, substantial parts of that system have deteriorated to the point where the efficiency and effectiveness of the total system is being affected. Arresting this deterioration and completing needed work on new urban transit systems must become the nation's first transportation priority.

While the private sector should be encouraged to undertake this rehabilitation work directly with privately raised capital, it must be recognized that the task of rebuilding the existing transportation system is so massive, so important and so urgent that private investment will have to be supplemented with substantial direct public investment. In certain program areas, such as highways, this will involve substantially reordering current program priorities to street rehabilitation work. In yet other areas, such as public transportation, this will require reinforcing current program trends with increased investment levels. '

We must substantially increase the amount of money available from the Highway Trust Fund for public mass transportation, study the feasibility of creating a total transportation fund for all modes of transportation, and change the current restrictive limits on the use of mass transit funds by localities so that greater amounts can be used as operating subsidies.

Q. Do you have any specific ideas on ways to solve our national transportation problems?

Governor Carter. Our nation is dependent on its railroads—40 percent of all intercity freight, over 60 percent of the shipments of manufacturers and over 66 percent of the grain from North Central States moves by rail. These figures are larger than the combined percentages of trucks, barges, and air carriers. In addition, railroads enjoy low per unit operating, pollution, and fuel consumption costs.

The reorganization and revitalization of our railroad system remains one of the most important and pressing issues in transportation today. We must deal not only with the immediate problems of the bankrupt railroads of the northeastern and midwestem states, but with longer-range questions focusing on the role of railroads in the future of this country's transportation needs.

We need closer inter-modal coordination at the federal level, along with increased support for research and development. We must also modify the present regulatory structure to encourage better coordination among modes.

Government policies which provide a billion dollars a year for air travel but demand that railroads pay their own track and railbed expenses cannot continue. Our interest must be the public good; the interdependence of all systems must be recognized.

Q. As President, what type of relationship would you wish to have with the managerial level of the construction industry and what actions would you take to foster such a relationship?

Governor Carter. We need a government which is as open, as compassionate, and as decent as the American people. I believe that the President of the United States should consult with all groups in our society, to listen to their concerns, and take their viewpoints into consideration in making federal policy. Certainly, the construction industry would be a group with which I would consult before making decisions which impact on that industry. The construction industry's expertise has been too long neglected by the federal government. I believe that we must listen to the construction industry and learn from its contribution to American society.

NOTE: The APP used October 1 as the date for this document. The original source stated that this appeared in the "October 1976" issue.

Jimmy Carter, Response to Questions on Key Construction Issues for "The Constructor" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/347551

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