Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing the Tax Adjustment Act of 1966.

March 15, 1966

I SIGN into law today the Tax Adjustment Act of 1966--a measure providing some $6 billion in additional revenue over the next 15 months.

The new tax law has three objectives:

--It provides additional funds needed to support our troops in Vietnam.

--It provides a careful measure of fiscal restraint to balance our economic expansion with reasonable price stability.

--It carries out desirable and timely improvements in tax collection procedures.

The committees of Congress, headed by Representative Mills and Senator Long, assisted by Representative Byrnes and Senator John Williams, are to be complimented for their skill in framing and steering this vital measure through Congress in such a short period of time and delivering it on the day requested. By signing this bill tonight, rather than tomorrow, we are saving the Government a million dollars in revenues. That more than makes up for the lights we are using.

By acting swiftly--and responsibly--the Congress has demonstrated once again that we have the determination to meet our commitments abroad--and the capacity to rise to changing economic circumstances at home.

This act also provides for the payment of social security benefits to some 370,000 persons, age 72 and over, who are not now insured under the social security program.

This amendment and the 1965 amendments to the social security program are important steps toward bringing economic security to older citizens. But there is much yet to be done.

I have already asked the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to complete a study of ways and means of making social security benefits more adequate, while keeping the program financially sound.

I want these proposals to be ready to present to the next Congress.

You'll be hearing more from me on this subject in the months ahead.

We are living in very hopeful and challenging times. Our economy--the real engine of our Nation--is now operating very close to full capacity. We are in the 61st month of the longest peacetime prosperity in the history of the Nation. Profits, wages, sales, incomes are all at all-time highs. Unemployment last month reached a 12-year low of 3.7 percent of the labor force. Not another nation on earth--regardless of its system of government--can match that total economic record.

But we are not satisfied with this achievement. An unemployment rate of 3.7 percent does not sound good to the more than 3 million Americans who are still out of work. We must continue to grow, continue to train, continue to educate, until all Americans have job opportunities.

We know we can achieve that goal. We know we have the will and the skill to make our economy an instrument of happiness and progress for every American.

But we must exert that will--and apply that skill. If, through carelessness, or selfishness, or shortsightedness, we allow our economy to run too far, too fast, we can expect demands for additional fiscal, price, wage, tax, and expenditure restraints.

The choice is before us. We can be prudent and restrained and continue to enjoy this great era of prosperity. Or we can be foolish and flee to mischief we know not of.

The tax bill which I will shortly sign is, I believe, a force for prudence and restraint. Based on the best thinking available in the Government, and the best information available in the Nation, it is the right measure at the right moment.

Every great nation must be disciplined so that its greatness endures. The Greeks admonished mankind with the simple rule: Nothing in excess. This is good advice today.

I can make no prediction here today on the need for additional taxes later this year. No one can make that prediction, because no one knows what the future holds. But you may be assured that this administration stands ready to act when action is needed-if it is needed. I am certain that the Congress stands ready to respond in the same manner.

In the meantime, there is work and duty ahead for all of us--to discipline ourselves and our actions, to be prudent, to be as wise as we can--so that what we have worked so hard to build will last and prosper.

Note: As enacted, the Tax Adjustment Act of 1966 is Public Law 89-368 (80 Stat. 38).

In his statement the President referred to Representative Wilbur D. Mills of Arkansas, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Senator Russell B. Long of Louisiana, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Representative John W. Byrnes of Wisconsin and Senator John J. Williams of Delaware, ranking Republican members of the committees, and John W. Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Secretary Gardner's proposals for increasing social security benefits are summarized in the President's remarks at Social Security Administration headquarters in Baltimore on October 12, 1966 (see Item 509).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing the Tax Adjustment Act of 1966. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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