The Presidential Transition and Domestic and Foreign Policy Issues Remarks in a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters.
Q. What did we do wrong?
THE PRESIDENT. Nothing. It's Jody that's been doing it wrong. [Laughter] I thought since Jody hadn't done so well with his job, I'd come down and see if I could do it any better. [Laughter] I don't have any announcement to make, I'll just answer your questions.
AMERICAN HOSTAGES IN IRAN
Q. Mr. President, we want to know about the Christopher mission. What can you tell us about the discussions with the—[inaudible]?
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Christopher reported a successful mission to me. He went there to relate to the Algerians our basic response to the Iranian proposals. The Algerians accepted the outline of response and have already relayed to the Iranians the response. So Christopher believes it was a successful mission.
Q. Have you heard anything back from the Iranians?
THE PRESIDENT. No.
Q. Do you think after the Christopher mission you're any closer to a resolution of the hostage crisis?
THE PRESIDENT. It's up to the Iranians. I think it would certainly be to their advantage and to ours to resolve this issue without any further delay. I think our answers are adequate, and I believe that the Iranian proposal was a basis for resolution of the differences.
Q. Mr. President, are you able to describe the United States answer to the—
THE PRESIDENT. No. No, I think it's better not to get into any sort of specificity at all about our response.
NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION AND ARMS
Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on the wisdom and the likely success of President-elect Reagan's strategy of dealing with the Soviet Union based on linkage?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, as I said, I think the day after the election to a group of reporters, I'll be very constructive and very helpful to Governor Reagan in his new effort or different effort to control nuclear weapons. If his tactic has any chance of success, although it's different from mine—and I hope it will have every success—then he will have my full support.
Q. Mr. President, will you be meeting with Mr. Reagan soon?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I intend to meet with him maybe sometime next week, whenever is convenient for him. I have not quite so heavy a schedule these days as I have have had in the past.
Q. Have you spoken to him recently? Have you been—
THE PRESIDENT. No, I've not spoken to him personally since the night of the election, but I have sent word to him through Mr. Meese, his liaison designee, that I would be glad to meet with Governor Reagan whenever it's convenient. And I have heard from Jack Watson that next week might be appropriate, but that's a judgment for Governor Reagan to make. Whenever it's convenient.
Q. Mr. President, after all you said on the campaign trail about Governor Reagan's views on arms control, the possibility of an arms race, the likelihood-his advocacy of an arms race, how can you in good conscience now say that you would support that?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think my approach is best. And I would much prefer that SALT II be ratified or at least amended minimally by the United States Senate and then ratified, and then let the Soviets reject or accept the minimal amendments. But Governor Reagan will be President next January. And after he is President and assumes the responsibility for negotiating arms control limitations on behalf of our Nation, I will abandon my own approach—which I still believe is preferable—but I will abandon my own approach and support his, as long as I can do it in good conscience.
The fact is that we need to limit and control, control and limit nuclear arms between ourselves and the Soviet Union. We need to keep adequate flexibility for our own country, reduce substantially the Soviet arsenals, have a system of monitoring, using our own technical means, the compliance with the treaty. All those things are built into SALT II, and if Governor Reagan can find an alternative means to reach the same goals, I will be supportive.
Q. The other?
THE PRESIDENT. The other part is on nonproliferation. I think our Nation must continue to be the world leader in preventing the proliferation of nuclear explosives among nations that don't presently have them. And I will give every support to that proposition, hopefully supporting Governor Reagan's commitment to the same goal.
MIDDLE EAST PEACE NEGOTIATIONS
Q. Can you make progress on Palestinian autonomy tomorrow in your talks to Mr. Begin. What do you hope to accomplish?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't really know until I talk to him. The basic responsibility is now and has been and will be in the future on the shoulders of the parties directly involved. The two national leaders, President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin, obviously must continue their efforts. My independent report from both of them is that they are determined to do so. There is another negotiating session scheduled later this year between Sol Linowitz, representing me, and the representatives of President Sadat and Prime Minister Begin. I presume that will go forward. I'll urge them to do so. That was supposed to be a pre-summit conference.
If that session is constructive, there would be a possibility—unlikely possibility that a summit would take place prior to inauguration. I doubt that that would be the case. But if I inform Governor Reagan before he becomes President that this is the situation so far and that Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat both would like to have a meeting with him subsequently, it would be his judgment about whether he thought it was advisable. But I hope that the Camp David process will be kept intact to a major degree and don't know precisely what Governor Reagan's position will be on that.
Q. So there could be a summit.
POSSIBILITY OF A TAX CUT
Q. Mr. President, could you go along with a tax cut this year—
THE PRESIDENT. No.
Q. —if the Congress passed it?
THE PRESIDENT. No.
Q. You would veto those bills?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that'll be necessary. The Senate Democratic Caucus today decided that they didn't think it would be advisable. I've talked to the Speaker and to Majority Leader Wright and to Danny Rostenkowski and others in the House. They agree that it would not be advisable.
The Congress has all it can handle with the present, very heavily loaded agenda. I think for them to take on the new task of trying to hammer out a major tax cut would be inappropriate, and I would do everything I could to discourage it.
THE PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION
Q. Mr. President, Mr. Meese apparently gave you—or presented your administration with a list of things that Governor Reagan does not want done between now and inauguration. Could you tell us in your own words what it is that you want to see accomplished between now and inauguration and what you're willing to pass on right now and leave to his administration?
THE PRESIDENT. That will have to be a judgment made by me. Obviously, we'll try to accommodate Governor Reagan as much as we can, but the ultimate judgment about what I do and what I don't do will have to be made by me unilaterally. We'll have a meeting tomorrow morning with the Democratic congressional leadership—a routine meeting that's been scheduled for a long time-to go down the list of agenda items to see which are the ones that have a chance for adequate support to pass and which ones are a high enough priority to pass. I don't want to start making a list, because I'm afraid that if I fail to name something, people might think I deliberately excluded it. But obviously the Alaska lands bill, the appropriations bills, the reconciliation legislation, the second budget resolution-those kind of things are highly valuable to the Nation and also have a good chance to pass and, I think, have an adequate .degree of bipartisan support.
The youth employment bill, to me, is very important. The superfund is another item on which there might be a bipartisan agreement. That still has to be explored. But obviously, executive decisions would have to be made by me until the day I go out of office, and then the next day would be made by Governor Reagan.
On long-term things—national health insurance, welfare reform—these are obviously matters that would have to wait for the subsequent administration. So I'll just have to make a judgment on individual items—what to pursue and what not to pursue.
Q. Mr. President, the Reagan transition people say they've identified 6 percent of the Federal budget that they say amounts to waste and fillout and so forth that could conceivably be eliminated. Does that surprise you that they've been able to identify such a large percentage of—
THE PRESIDENT. You ask—you made one predication that they said they had identified that, and your second predication was that they had identified that. They're not necessarily the same. It's easy— [laughter] —it's easy to say that you can eliminate 6 percent, but you can't eliminate 6 percent of veterans' benefits, retirement benefits, disability benefits; you can't eliminate 6 percent of social security payments; you can't eliminate 6 percent of the commitment of our Nation to defense capability. It's easier to say 6 percent, but there are some parts in there that can't be cut. So if you talk about 6 percent of the total, you're talking about 35 or 40 percent of things that can be cut, and that's an extraordinary reduction in items like Headstart or food stamps or special programs for the elderly like Meals on Wheels. You know, when you leave out defense and entitlement programs, you've really got only about 25 or 30 percent left. So I would doubt the accuracy of that figure.
I notice that the second budget resolution from the House committee does encompass a 2-percent reduction. I think that's within the realm of feasibility. Whether it's practical, I don't know. But I think a 6-percent across-the-board cut would be very, very excessive.
PRESIDENT'S FUTURE PLANS
Q. Mr. President, could you be any more specific about your own plans for the future?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I'd be glad to. I'm going to go out of office on Inauguration Day. I intend to go to Plains that day, and I'll be living in Plains for the foreseeable future, certainly a number of months, maybe longer. I'll set up a transition office in Georgia, likely in Atlanta. And as you know, the transition time runs either for 6 months, or some of the transition funds can be expended up to the end of the fiscal year, which is the 30th of September.
And then following that, I'll be living the life of a former President under routine budgetary funding. I'll be responsible for my documents and records, which belong to a President, and I'll transfer those around Inauguration Day—some ahead of time, some afterwards—down to an appropriate place in Georgia. They'll have to be catalogued, filed. I guess over the period of months ahead, I'll probably do some writing. I intend to play a fairly low profile role during the foreseeable months ahead, and we'll probably go back and forth between Plains and Atlanta during that period. That's basically what I have in mind.
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Q. Would you like to play a role, Mr. President, would you like to play any kind of a serious role in sort of the rebuilding of the Democratic Party after—
THE PRESIDENT. Well, eventually. I think it's obvious that the Democratic Party needs to be strengthened. I don't think it matters who the identity of the chairman might be, as far as any candidates are concerned. I've seen a lot of speculation about Vice President Mondale and Senator Kennedy and John Glenn and others. I think the identity of the next chairman should be decided, hopefully, on a consensus basis. There will be two major roles to play. One is to raise funds, to get the Democratic Party on a sound financial base—we've made a lot of progress on that since I've been in office-and secondly, to organize the party with identifying candidates to support for Congress, Governor, and so forth, and repairing the damage that's been caused by this recent defeat.
My own role would be not a minority party critic. I'd like to play a constructive role. I'll reserve the right to speak out on issues that are important to me that I've espoused so far, but I intend to be very helpful to the new President when he's in office.
Q. Do you see yourself as the leader of the Democratic Party?
THE PRESIDENT. No, not necessarily.
Q. Well, then, as the titular head?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, it depends.
THE PRESIDENT'S FUTURE PLANS
Q. Some people say that you might run for Governor of Georgia again.
THE PRESIDENT. No way. [Laughter]
Q. You say it depends, sir. Could you expand on that?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'm interested in environment. I'm interested in consumers. I'm interested in the rights of minorities, human rights. I'm interested in problems concerning employment, working families. I'm interested in matters that relate to women's rights and control of nuclear weapons. On matters of that kind, I reserve the right to speak out as forcefully as I consider it to be appropriate.
But as far as being the leader of the Democratic Party or trying to organize the party structure or trying to decide who is or who is not the chairman of the party and mounting a nationwide campaign, I don't intend to do that.
Q. Would you like to run for President again?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't have any desire to do that, along that line at all.
Q. Mr. President, looking back, now, do you see any obvious mistakes of the last 2 months which have led to the events of now?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I obviously didn't get enough votes. [Laughter]
No, I don't think I want to comment on the reasons for the election defeat. That's a counterproductive effort, when you lost like I did, to try to justify it. I think that it's good now for the press to engage itself in an analysis of the election results and the reasons for them and the result of them. I think that we'll go through a phase of analyzing what the next administration will bring to the country, which is appropriate. I'll try to be constructive in my role with the transition and also with the new administration's goals when I do share them. And most of the goals, obviously, I do share—peace and prosperity and controlling inflation, that sort of thing.
And then eventually, I think history will judge me and my own administration. There are obviously a lot of very difficult issues which we addressed. One of the, I guess anomalies, is that the things on which I worked hardest were the ones that were politically counterproductive. My most serious political challenge ever was the ratification of the Panama Canal treaty. I think it was necessary, it was important, it was a chore, a job that other Presidents had passed on to their successors. I decided to address it. We did it successfully by the narrowest of margins. It was obviously a very costly political thing to do.
And I think some of our policies on the Third World nations, opening up Africa or maybe the China decision, even the Mideast thing caused me very serious political problems with certain constituency groups. But dealing with the energy problem, there's no way to make friends or get votes that way. I'm not saying this in a complaining sense, but I think the issues that we addressed finally, most of them that were most difficult were not politically advantageous. So I believe that it will just have to be a long historical analysis of what we did well and didn't do well.
VICE PRESIDENT MONDALE
Q. [Inaudible]—to encourage Fritz Mondale to start laying the groundwork for a race in '84?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't want to encourage or discourage him. I could not possibly think higher of Fritz Mondale than I do. No President has ever been blessed, as I have, with a better Vice President. Fritz and I are actually almost as close as brothers. We share the intimacies of the responsibilities officially, politically. Our families are close. We've never had a serious disagreement, although Fritz has been absolutely free to disagree with me on policy and to put his views forward strongly. As far as I know, our staffs have never had a disagreement that was serious. So, I have the highest regard for Fritz, but as far as trying to influence what he does in the future, I will not do that.
He's coming back from vacation Thursday night. I'll be meeting with him Friday morning, but the purpose of the meeting will not be for me to determine his political future.
TIMING OF PRESIDENT'S CONCESSION
Q. Mr. President, in light of some of the criticism after your concession statement coming before the polls closed, do you have any other feelings today as to whether or not you should have delayed your concession until after all the polls were closed?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we discussed that—Jody and I and others—I think it was all right. I don't think anybody who observed the political scene at 9:30 or whenever it was, at 9, 10 o'clock when I conceded, was in doubt about the outcome of the election and.—
Q. There have been some reports of people leaving the polling lines as soon as they heard that you were going to concede.
THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe it was because I conceded. They may have left the polls because they didn't want to vote in the congressional race or the Senate race or the Governor's race and did want to vote for or against me. But obviously, to me, it was obvious that I had lost the election. I certainly would not have conceded otherwise. I don't think it was a mistake.
THE PRESIDENT'S PAPERS
Q. What will happen to your papers, Mr. President, after you finish?
THE PRESIDENT. They'll be transferred to Georgia, and they'll be placed in a library. I will help organize the building of a library to store both mementos of my term in office and also—
Q. Where would they likely be?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know for sure. At this time, I would say the more likely place would be Atlanta, but I'll have to consult with other people. But it will be in Georgia for sure. And I'd say—Atlanta has 25 or 30 colleges, and I'd like for it to be so that the papers—the papers are unbelievably voluminous. And under the present law and even the new law that'll go into effect with the next term, those papers are the property of the President.
My desire is to deed a substantial portion of the papers, at least, to the United States Government, so that I don't derive any financial benefit from that part of it. But then I will retain custody of them, depending on the sensitivity of the individual paper, for a certain period of time.
I've really not gone through that, although my lawyers and other advisers are now preparing briefings for me so I'll understand it. But the papers will be moved down in trailer trucks to Georgia, deposited in a library, and be available under restrictions that I described for scholars and others to peruse.
THE PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION
Q. Mr. President, through meetings next week with Governor Reagan, do you plan to consult with him on approaches to such things as the hostage issue, the Palestinian autonomy talks, so that it can be somewhat of a joint approach?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I'm not trying to put any responsibility on him. I will inform him; I think that's a better word than consult.
We have kept Governor Reagan informed to the limit of what he desired up till now. Sometimes he designates someone on his staff to be briefed. Sometimes he gets a briefing in person. Sometimes George Bush gets a briefing. But we have made every attempt, I think successfully, to accommodate him on that. But he and I had a clear understanding that—on election night—that until the oath of office was taken by him, that I would have the full responsibility and authority of the Presidency, and that any information given to him would be for that purpose only and not to involve him in the decisionmaking process itself.
I have sent word to him and told him that if he had any ideas or thoughts or advice, that I would be glad to receive those, but that I'd have to retain full control of the Government and its authority. Q. Have you received any?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, indirectly. I think Mr. Meese and Watson have a good working relationship, and I think they have, for instance, consulted on some items in the Congress that might be pursued aggressively or let die for this term. There will be consultations concerning some appointments that I have made that have not yet been confirmed. I think, for instance, that Congress, the Senate has probably confirmed 250 judges that I've appointed since I've been in office. I think there are probably less than 20 still up there. Whether the Senate leadership will go ahead with those, I don't know. But that's kind of out of my hands and out of Governor Reagan's hands.
So far as I know, so far the relationship has been very good and constructive, with my keeping the authority and responsibility and his being informed. But I will certainly keep him informed, as we do daily, on the hostage question. And after I meet with Prime Minister Begin, I'll probably communicate in some way with President Sadat, and then give Governor Reagan a report on the status of their desires to proceed with any negotiations.
DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE
Q. Mr. President, should John White step down as DNC chairman?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I think John ought to be considered along with others. I would like to talk to him about his desires first. My understanding is that John wants to have an orderly transition and wants to avoid any breach or divisiveness in the party, because of the selection of the next chairman. That's my desire. I don't have any candidates, but I'll add my voice and influence, if necessary, just to create harmony and get a chairman that can do the role that I described earlier.
AMERICAN HOSTAGES IN IRAN
Q. Mr. President, how hopeful are you on the Iranian situation?
THE PRESIDENT. It's hard to say.
Q. Do you have any timetable in mind?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I've had a timetable in mind for more than a year now, and it never has been reached. I can't predict.
THE PRESIDENTIAL TRANSITION
Q. Mr. President, as an outgoing—in the interest of the Nation, I'm wondering, as an outgoing President to an incoming President, can you share with us a thought, a measure of guidance, a measure of advice that you would offer your successor?
THE PRESIDENT. I had a lot more advice when I came in than I do going out. [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. No, I think I won't answer that. When I meet with him privately, I'll have some things to talk with him about—not advice on his conduct, but things that I learned the hard way. I know that when I first met with President Ford, he said the most difficult task he had was the foreign aid bills in the Congress—getting them passed in an acceptable form. It's obviously of great advantage to our country to have an adequate foreign aid program, and that's one of the items on which I might comment to Governor Reagan. That's one of the remaining items on the agenda, but, no, I think I'll avoid your question of what kind of advice I'd give him.
LIBERALISM AND CONSERVATISM
Q. Mr. President, what do you think about this rising tide of conservatism in the country? Where do you think the country is going to be 4 years from now?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. It's hard to—it's hard for me to answer that question, because you have to define the issue. There's a duality of responsibility, at least a duality of responsibility that a President has. One is a fiscal responsibility and that's one aspect of liberalism and conservatism. I've considered myself to be conservative or cautious or responsible fiscally. I noticed in a governmental report that was covered in the paper this morning, newspaper, that for the first time in 50 years, under my administration, the Government expenditures per capita have turned downward. We've had a very restrained Government expenditure since I've been in office, in real dollars. We now have 55,000 fewer full-time employees in Government than we did when I came in office. We have had a hiring freeze on constantly since last March. We'll continue it on until the end of this term. And that is a very tight restraint.
We've tried to deal with inflation as best we could, which is a part of the other aspect of a President's responsibility, and that's to be concerned or compassionate about those who do need special consideration, to have a chance to have a constructive and productive life, and to overcome handicaps of different kinds—the elderly, women, the poor, the afflicted, the minority groups. Those kinds of people who just want to be self-supportive and want to have an element of human decency and self-respect sometimes need special consideration from the Government. So there, I guess you could encompass that under the word "concern" or "compassion."
So, fiscal responsibility on the one hand and concern or compassion on the other is something that is a duality. In many cases they meld; sometimes they're in conflict. In my own highly biased judgment, we have managed those two reasonably well. And I hope in the wave of conservatism, to use your word, that the concern or compassionate element is not lost in the future. There are obviously some ancillary questions concerning consumers' rights and concerning the quality of the environment and concerning arms control and concerning human rights. Is that liberal or conservative? Who knows? I don't know how to characterize it, but those are the kinds of issues that can't be blanketed under a single word or a single simplistic phrase or a single simplistic philosophy.
I've been a very strong proponent of civil rights, of human rights, of arms control, of environmental quality, of the protection of the afflicted. At the same time, I think my record is almost unmatched in fiscal restraint or responsibility.
Q. Can you see the country getting away from that? This new Republican administration coming in and maybe not being as sensitive about civil rights, about human rights, about the poor, about the elderly, and about other social programs that may affect a lot of people in this country? That seems to be the platform they ran on.
THE PRESIDENT. I hope that's not going to be the case. But I think that was the clear indication during the campaign, that there was a distinction drawn there, obviously. You know some of the issues that were so cutting during the campaign. The grain embargo against the Soviet Union—I felt that it was a necessary action for me to take in order to exert maximum economic pressure on the Soviet Union after they invaded Afghanistan. I had to take the action just a few days before the Iowa caucus, when I genuinely believed it would cost me the election in Iowa. And I still believe it would be a serious mistake for us to lift the grain embargo, which would be a reward to the Soviet Union above and beyond what the public generally knows.
It's been a very serious restraint on them. Also, there's a worldwide, a relative worldwide shortage of grain now, and to open up that additional market demand from the Soviet Union, of limited grain stocks, would be doubly inflationary. That's the kind of issue that we had to address during the campaign.
I felt that we needed a Department of Education, a Department of Energy. I think we ought to be very cautious about an inflationary tax cut. Those are issues—I'm not trying to resurrect them, but those were the kind of things that we had to deal with, and I think it would be difficult to characterize those individual items as conservative or liberal. Is it conservative to have a grain embargo against the Soviet Union, or liberal?
Q. Mr. President, do you agree with Senator McGovern that the so-called rightwing group had a disproportionate influence on the election results and that a group should be formed to combat their influence?
THE PRESIDENT. I think—that's not my approach to politics.
Q. One of the hallmarks of your administration that you liked to boast about most was the 3-percent increase in NATO spending that you managed to push through for some time. You thought it was vital and important. But now it appears that our chief European ally, the West Germans, are not going to come anywhere near that. You're going to meet Mr. Schmidt next week. Do you think Americans should be asked to pay the 3 percent if the Europeans won't pay the 3 percent themselves?
THE PRESIDENT. The Americans are the leaders in the free world. I don't say that minimizing the importance of our allies, but sometimes we have to take action more than or ahead of others. This was the case with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It was the case with revitalizing NATO.
My hope is that the Germans, including Chancellor Schmidt, will keep their commitment to the 3-percent growth. It's the same with the other NATO Allies. All of them have not complied up until now. The Germans have. Harold Brown is pursuing this commitment with the NATO military leaders; I'll be pursuing it with Chancellor Schmidt. If our allies don't comply with their commitment, then I think we should go ahead and do our part independently, to maintain an adequate defense for ourselves and to be sure that we can meet our obligations to our allies.
We've got a special role to play in Southwest Asia in the Persian Gulf region. It's above and beyond what the European allies will join on an equal basis. And as you know, the Germans are restricted by their Constitution from activities outside Western Europe. But we've got our own responsibilities to bear, and this has been a constant problem for me. I'm not bemoaning that, but we've had to take action. If we move more forcefully, sometimes our European allies say we don't consult adequately or we don't act adequately in harmony. If we are more cautious in our actions, sometimes the Western allies say we're too timid. But in my judgment we've done what was right. We've consulted more than has been the case in the past in peacetime, and I've had a very good relationship, I think, with the Western European leaders.
In my judgment, those countries are blessed with outstanding leaders, and we've had a good and constructive progress made already. If we have problems now with their placement of the theater nuclear force weapons or with their meeting the 3-percent growth, that's a temporary setback. But I believe their public opinion will bring them along to comply.
GRAIN EMBARGO AGAINST THE
Q. Mr. President on the grain embargo: There are stories that Governor Reagan's advisers say that he may reconsider his position on that, and that a person ought not to be held to campaign promises when real time situations develop. You do agree with that?
THE PRESIDENT. I think the policy that I've maintained is a proper one. And if Governor Reagan, because of changing circumstances or changing awareness on his part, should comply with what I think is best for our country, I would be pleased.
Q. Should he keep his campaign promises or—
THE PRESIDENT. That's a judgment for him to make, Sam [Sam Donaldson, ABC News].
THE PRESIDENT'S MEMOIRS
Q. You said during the campaign that there were crises that nobody knew about because you handled them properly, and I'm wondering whether there are going to be any big surprises in your memoirs—
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I hope so. [Laughter]
Q. Buy the book. [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, buy the book. [Laughter]
Q. If you send us all free copies. [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. A lot of big surprises.
GRAIN EMBARGO AGAINST THE
Q. Do you think the grain embargo has really hurt the Russians?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, ma'am. Yes, it certainly has. It would be good for Jody to get from the Secretary of Agriculture or from the CIA, an analysis of what has been caused in the Soviet economy by the American grain embargo. And you can analyze it yourself, take it or leave it, if you believe it to be accurate.
There's no doubt in my mind that it has hurt them severely. The Soviets have the lowest meat consumption of any of their satellite countries, lower than any of their satellite countries. They have had a sharply reduced ability to produce milk or meats of all kinds. They've cut back on their herd sizes. They have a very low grain harvest this year—20 or 30 million tons lower than they had anticipated. And the grain that they have bought from some sources, not us, in recent months, has been at a high price and in relatively small ships, which increases their difficulty of loading. I think this has been a very severe element in the Soviet economy, and I think they deserve it, because their invasion of Afghanistan was unforgivable, unacceptable in international circles. And I think that they have to be shown that that kind of aggression is not profitable for them.
Maybe one more question.
THE PRESIDENT'S FUTURE PLANS
Q. Mr. President, can you tell us what your personal hopes are for this last 2 months in the office? Whether you have a couple of points that you want to get across either to the American people or even a wider audience? Whether you're going to do any traveling? I wonder, the human rights conference in Madrid, is that anything?
THE PRESIDENT. No. I don't intend to do any major traveling. I've got a lot of things to do to get ready to change my life and to transfer authority to Governor Reagan, and I'm responsible for an orderly transition, along with him.
That's going to be very time-consuming. I've already discovered that. In addition, we've got the Congress, to conclude the preparation of the 1982 budget, which is my responsibility and is a major undertaking at best. I'll try to put forward a budget on which I would be glad to govern if I were to be in office. I'm not going to try to embarrass Governor Reagan. It'll be a practical budget and a responsible budget. In addition to that, I have a lot of just routine expressions of thanks and appreciation to people that I'd like to pursue, including the press. And you're all invited to a Christmas party at the White House, and I'll be looking forward to seeing you there. So, I think the time will be very full.
Q. Mr. President, could you say just a word or two more about your future?
Will you indeed write your memoirs?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Would you ever get back into business again?
THE PRESIDENT. You mean commercial business?
Q. In the commercial business—
THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think so. I don't want to be bound on my oath, you know, because if my family is starving, I'll have to make some money for them. But I don't intend—I think it's inappropriate for an ex-President to be involved in the Commercial world.
There may be some kinds of benevolent or nonprofit corporations in which I Would let my influence and my ability be Used, but not in a profit-making way. But I intend to do some teaching, maybe, some lecturing. I'll make some speeches. I'll write my—I intend to write more than one book, as a matter of fact. And I'll try to husband, carefully, for future use, my documents and library materials, the mementos that would go into a museumtype presentation, hopefully in the same location. There's plenty to be done, but that would be about the limit of it.
Q. At one point—
THE PRESIDENT. I intend to become a good fly-fisherman— [laughter] .
Q. No celebrity golf tournaments?
Q. Mr. President, at one point you told people in your church here in Washington that one of the things that you might do as a former President was to be a missionary abroad.
THE PRESIDENT. I never did tell anybody that. That was a misquote.
Q. That is not something that you—
THE PRESIDENT. I don't want to foreclose anything like that. It's a matter of-I might do some work for my church, or I might do some work for the Lion's Club in Plains, or I might work for other nonprofit groups or Boy Scouts or something like that. But no, I'm not trying to foreclose anything.
I think I've told you about all I know right now.
Q. Thank you very much.
Q. Does this count as a news conference? [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. I won't count it.
Q. There are no cameras, you see.
Q. Come back soon.
THE PRESIDENT. No cameras.
Q. Come back soon.
Q. Yes, every day.
THE PRESIDENT. Oh, really? I'll come back maybe again soon.
Q. You're much better than Jody.
THE PRESIDENT. I enjoyed it. You all are much nicer to Jody than you are to me in a news conference. [Laughter]
Q. Oh, you read the transcript. You know better than that.
Note: The question-and-answer session began at 3:52 p.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House. The transcript released by the White House includes Press Secretary Jody Powell's briefing for reporters which followed the President's departure.
Jimmy Carter, The Presidential Transition and Domestic and Foreign Policy Issues Remarks in a Question-and-Answer Session With Reporters. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250836