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Statement by the President After Signing Joint Resolution Providing for Continuing Appropriations, Fiscal Year 1968.

December 19, 1967

I HAVE SIGNED H.J. Res. 888--serving notice to the Nation that we intend to maintain the health of our economy; serving notice to the world that we intend to preserve the strength of our dollar.

This resolution carries out my request to the Congress that I be authorized and directed to cut Government spending this year by some $4.3 billion--$2.5 billion over and above the expenditure reductions already made by the Congress.

It requires every civilian agency to reduce its budgeted obligations by an amount equal to a percent of payroll, plus 10 percent of other controllable obligations.

It provides for a reduction in the obligations of the Defense Department by an amount equal to 10 percent of non-Vietnam programs.

Although many speeches are made about the desirability of cutting expenditures, they are too frequently couched in generalities and not specifics. They too often fail to face the real problem of what, where, and how to cut. This resolution supplies an essential bridge between the generalities and the specifics.

After all the talk about economizing--by Democrats and Republicans alike--after all the rhetoric and all the actions by the appropriations committees and all the votes on the appropriation bills, the Congress after 11 months in session cut only $1.8 billion in expenditures from the budget.

This was clearly not enough. It was not enough in the light of sharp changes in our fiscal situation. It was not enough in the absence of a tax bill that I had recommended.

On the advice of my own fiscal advisers, and after conferences with the House and Senate committee chairmen, we agreed that a $4.3 billion total expenditure reduction was required.

The administration decided, moreover, that these reductions should be made in partnership with the Congress. While the President has the authority to reduce spending as he deems necessary, I had no desire to undo the work the Congress had already done on the appropriation bills. This resolution represents our determination to work together to reduce Federal spending in a fair, effective, and efficient way.

These reductions will not be easy to make. Those who call for budget cutting find it easy to talk in terms of dollars and cents. But a President must act--and act in terms of people. Some important public services will have to be cut below the level our citizens would prefer.

Yet, it is vital to the health of our economy that we act.

"Less desirable" spending is a difficult term to define--especially in a budget that was tight when I submitted it. And what is less desirable" to one citizen--or his Congressman-is "vital" to another. Nevertheless, I pledge that my Cabinet and I will enforce these cuts with fairness and compassion.

But let us be clear about this: This resolution I have signed today represents only half of the job that is before us. The Congress has still not acted on the temporary tax measures I have recommended to the Congress. Every day's delay increases the cruel tax that inflation and rising interest rates impose on every American family.

In cutting expenditures by some $4.3 billion, we have faced up to our responsibility. I hope the Congress will complete the job by making its first order of business next January the enactment of a tax bill that will fairly and equitably apportion the costs of government in a strong, growing nation and a troubled world.

Note: As enacted, H.I. Res. 888, approved December 18, 1967, is Public Law 90--218. (81 Stat. 662).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President After Signing Joint Resolution Providing for Continuing Appropriations, Fiscal Year 1968. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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