The President's News Conference
REVIEW OF CABINET MEETING
THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Bill1 thought that an efficient and effective way for handling your problem of coverage would be for me to review what transpired in our Cabinet meeting and to ask those who made the presentations to stay here and make a brief report to you, or at least to be available for any questions that you might have.
1 Bill D. Moyers, Special Assistant to the President.
First, Secretary Gardner2 presented the medical care picture, 15 or 20 minutes for the presentation of the number of sign-ups, the progress that had been made in that field, the hospital and medical needs and problems, and so forth. Secretary Gardner is here and will be available to you.
2 John W. Gardner, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.
We reviewed the foreign aid program-what has been done in various parts of the world, our development loans, technical assistance, the Alliance for Progress, our international education and heath proposals. Mr. Bell 3 reviewed the status of the legislation in the House committee and the Senate committee. He is here and will take any questions.
3David E. Bell, Administrator, Agency for International Development.
We had a legislative forecast of various measures the administration has sent up. We had the chart over there. Larry O'Brien and Joe Califano4 will review that with you.
4 Lawrence F. O'Brien, Postmaster General, and Joseph A. Califano, Jr., Special Assistant to the President.
We went over the economic situation. Mr. Ackley5 spent about 15 minutes reporting on the economic situation.
5Gardner Ackley, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers.
The civil rights conference was reviewed by the Vice President and Mr. Katzenbach,6 both of whom were in attendance this morning.
6 Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, Attorney General.
We went into our savings bonds report from the departments and Mr. O'Brien talked on that for about 5 minutes.
I reviewed the meetings I have had with some 20 to 30 staff members of Mr. Rostow's7 office, and the meetings I have had with the Under Secretaries of various departments, I went over with the Secretaries our exchange of ideas.
7Walt W. Rostow, Special Assistant to the President.
I also reviewed with them the meeting I had yesterday with the Assistant Secretaries.
We discussed earlier in my office with Mr. Ball 8 and others the agenda in Brussels this week. We reviewed our policies in Africa and Latin America. I am encouraged because the growth rate there for the last 3 years has been 2½ percent as compared to 1 percent in the preceding years.
8 George W. Ball, Under Secretary of State.
We also mentioned the Southeast Asia situation, with particular reference to India and Pakistan and developments there following our meetings with the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India.
[2.] We talked with the Cabinet about certain personnel vacancies in certain departments. We have very few vacancies. Mr. Macy 9 is here. He can give you a report on it if you wish.
We have some six or eight ambassadorial vacancies, fewer than we have had any time in 5 years. We will have a vacancy in the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Mr. Mann's10 place.
9John W. Macy, Jr., Chairman, Civil Service Commission.
10Thomas C. Mann, Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs.
We have a couple of General Counsel vacancies, one in Defense and one in HUD. We have an Assistant Secretary vacancy over at Health, Education, and Welfare, and a Republican vacancy on one of the boards. The number of vacancies is very low, but we did review those.
SAVINGS BOND SALES
[3.] Mr. O'Brien reported that the first 3 weeks of the current bond campaign showed an increase from 60 percent to 64 percent.
Bond sales are up from $206 million to $330 million. The outstanding increases were in the Executive Offices, 59 percent to 67 percent; Department of State, 60 percent to 69 percent; Department of Labor, 46 percent to 55 percent; Civil Aeronautics Board, 70 percent to 77 percent; and General Accounting Office, 66 percent to 80 percent.
The May drive will be extended through June in order to achieve our goal of 75 percent participation. I am hopeful that the results obtained during our Federal Government campaign will set an example for the rest of the Nation.
If any of you have any specific questions on any of these subjects--Medicare, foreign aid legislation, personnel, civil rights, foreign policy--we will be glad to try to answer them.
QUESTIONS APPRAISAL OF THE ECONOMY
[4.] Q. Mr. President, on the economy, about 6 weeks ago you were trying to slow down. Now there seems to be a feeling that you have been, perhaps, too successful and you have slowed it down more than you would like. What would your current appraisal be?
THE PRESIDENT. No, we haven't reached that conclusion. We are studying all the indicators. The gross national product is exceeding our expectations, and we are trying to give careful attention to that and every other indicator.
We will have a rather detailed meeting on that this afternoon, and look at our revenues and our expenditures, among other things.
There is some indication that the estimates for this year will show that so far as our cash budget is concerned--and that includes all of our trust funds--we will probably take in more than we will spend.
It appears that we will actually have a cash surplus this year. But there is many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip between now and January.
DISCUSSION ON VIETNAM
[5.] Q. Mr. President, did the Cabinet meeting include any kind of a general discussion or a report from Secretary McNamara n on the political situation in Vietnam?
THE PRESIDENT. No. 11 Robert F. McNamara, Secretary of Defense.
CASH BUDGET ESTIMATE
[6.] Q. Mr. President, were you talking about this fiscal year when you said--
THE PRESIDENT. This calendar year.
INDIA AND PAKISTAN
[7.] Q. Mr. President, can you be any more specific about your discussion about India and Pakistan?
THE PRESIDENT. No. We reviewed the legislation on the billion dollar food program area, and the conferences we had with the Prime Minister when she was here.12
12 See Items 148, 149, 152-154, 180, 311.
We were pleased with the progress that had been made at Tashkent 13 and the subsequent conferences with the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India. We have a new American Ambassador going to Pakistan shortly,14 and we have had new reports from India.
13Capital of the Soviet Republic of Uzbek in Central Asia and site of a conference between India and Pakistan in January 1966 which resulted in partial withdrawal of troops from the disputed Kashmir territory.
14Eugene M. Locke of Dallas, Texas.
Our programs are proceeding according to plan, and we think that we have had very fruitful results from our meetings with the leaders of those two countries.
[8.] Q. Mr. President, did you develop any new policy lines on NATO at your meeting today?
THE PRESIDENT. We had an extended meeting earlier this morning. The full Cabinet did not participate in that. We will be having those meetings from time to time.
Secretary Rusk15 will return in a few days from the Brussels meeting and will participate in further discussions with us. In his absence, Secretary Acheson,16 Secretary Ball, Mr. Rostow, and Mr. Moyers will be working with their staffs in the NATO area.
15 Secretary of State Dean Rusk, U.S. representative at the Brussels meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
16 Dean Acheson, former Secretary of State (1949-1953) and Special Adviser to the Secretary of State on France and NATO March 15--June 17, 1966.
Our policies are moving forward according to schedule. It is consuming a good deal of our time, but it is worthy of it. We have a deep interest in that area of the world--in Europe. We are appropriately devoting a good deal of our energies to them.
EAST-WEST TRADE BILL
[9.] Q. Mr. President, did you discuss your East-West trade bill at all this morning, and what might be done to get it through Congress?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes, we did at our earlier meeting. That is an important part of our program for that area of the world. We are very hopeful that the Congress will agree with us on the wisdom of our proposals and in due time will act upon them.17
17 The East-West trade bill was not adopted by the 89th Congress.
OPEN HOUSING PROVISION
[10.] Q. Mr. President, did the open housing provision come up at the Cabinet meeting, particularly Senator Dirksen's stand on it?18
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. The Attorney General discussed the hearings that have been held in the House. He felt that the hearings brought out some very excellent testimony. He is hopeful in due time action would be taken in the subcommittee and in the full committee, and we could get action in the House in a reasonable time.
18See message on civil rights, Item 196. Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, minority leader of the Senate, was opposed to open housing legislation.
WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON CIVIL RIGHTS
[11.] Q. Mr. President, there seems to be some dissension among the civil rights leaders at the White House conference on civil rights.19 Are you optimistic that they will come out with something productive from the conference?
THE PRESIDENT. We always have differences. I think maybe you are inclined not to overlook any of them. Of these differences, we hammer out a course that will result in making progress in this field--a field that we think desperately needs continuing attention.
19 See Item 248.
We are very hopeful that under the leadership of this council, the 2,500 delegates can discuss the pros and cons of various proposals and give their judgments about the wisdom of undertaking them. All of them will be fully and thoroughly considered. We will do everything we can to continue to make rapid advances in the field of civil rights and justice.
I believe there are many more areas of agreement for us than there are disagreement. There are many more constructive things likely to come out of this conference than the little dissension and different viewpoints suggest.
Most of the delegates, I think, realize that there are many problems that must be faced; they have views on how to deal with them. They won't all be in agreement, but I wouldn't get upset about that, or excited.
BRIEFING OF REPUBLICANS ON VIETNAM
[12.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Dirksen seems to feel that the Republicans ought to be briefed on Vietnam. Do you agree with him?
THE PRESIDENT. I think I am pretty well aware of Senator Dirksen's feelings. He and I are pretty much in agreement. They are being fully informed.
Q. Does that mean you have had a briefing for them, or are planning one?
THE PRESIDENT. That means I had a rather extended talk with him in the hospital. As he told them up there the other day, I have had another since then with him. We spend a good deal--I would say a substantial portion of our time--either briefing them or you.
Q. Mr. President, in view of the situation now in Vietnam, is it your feeling--
THE PRESIDENT. We didn't really go into Vietnam here today in the Cabinet. But if you want to spend a little time on Vietnam, if you have a particular interest in it, I will answer your questions.
I am keeping the Cabinet here to answer your questions on the subjects they discussed. If you want to spend time on Vietnam, I will go into it.
[13.] Q. I just wondered, in view of the internal turmoil now, do you foresee that elections can go ahead on September 11?
THE PRESIDENT. We are concerned about the problems they are having out there, but, as I have said in the last two or three statements I have made, we realize the difficulties a nation has in proceeding to constitutional government. We are working with them to bring that kind of government about.
We are hopeful that it can be done as early as possible. We solicit the support, the counsel, and assistance of everybody concerned in helping us attain it.
That kind of representative government is a much desired objective, and we believe that in time it is attainable. We are working very much to that end.
PROGRESS OF LEGISLATIVE PROGRAM IN U.S. AND
OF ELECTORAL COMMITTEE IN VIETNAM
[14.] Q. Mr. President, regarding the legislative forecast here, because Congress may want to go home a little earlier this year than last, are you submitting any priority list to them on administration programs you have?
THE PRESIDENT. NO. We try to avoid that old trap. When you list priority bills, a fellow's bill that is not included might cause him to get upset.
We make our recommendations and express the hope that all of them will be duly considered and acted upon. Of course, a good many of them will be modified and amended, and some of them will be postponed and delayed.
But I think we are making very good progress. We are very pleased with what the Congress is doing.
The last 3 weeks--I was reviewing this with some of them last night--we passed the assets participation bill, which was very important to us.
We passed the minimum wage bill in the House.
We have some other major pieces of legislation during that period--a substantial step in each direction.
We have our truth-in-packaging in the Senate now. It's very important.
We have our military construction up in the House today, and our narcotics bill.
So we are making solid progress right on down the road.
We are very concerned about our foreign aid in both the House and the Senate. We have completed our hearings.
I have asked each Cabinet officer to review all of their measures: Agriculture--the food for freedom bill and the REA financing; Interior--the various conservation bills; HUD--the rent supplement and the cities legislation; HEW--the Teacher Corps.
We are doing all of that. Most of these hearings are out of the way now. In a good many instances, one House or the other has already acted upon them. Now we will try to move as many of them as we can down the stretch. There is not anything that is a critical emergency, or anything that is in great difficulty that should cause us to panic.
I feel about our legislative program very much like I feel about the question on Vietnam. I don't think we should panic because we have some problems.
Politics is never easy in our country-even with all of our experience--and it certainly isn't easy in the midst of aggression like that being waged against South Vietnam. But with reasonable unity and proper diligence--and by constantly keeping in mind our national interest--we will achieve our objectives here and there.
I am encouraged by the progress we are making in Congress, and I am encouraged by the progress the electoral committee is making out there--although I don't get to follow its progress in the press as fully and in depth as I would like to. I have to go back and dig up some of the cables from day to day, because the progress that the committee is making in the electoral developments is not as headline-grabbing as some of the other distressing incidents.
Nevertheless, they are moving forward step by step. While there will be missteps, the direction is sound.
That is about the same way here at home. There will be some missteps, but we are going in the right direction. I think that you will find that the historians will record that you lived in a period when we made greater progress in health, education, conservation, and development throughout the world than in any similar period in history.
It is a very exciting time to live in. There are many constructive things that we can all do. I know we all want to.
Q. I assume from what you say that Mr. O'Brien delivered a fairly optimistic report.
THE PRESIDENT. I don't believe in these "optimistic" or "pessimistic" terms. I would say it is a constructive report, one that shows progress. Probably 35 or 40 percent of our bills are already signed, and that many or more are already out of the committee and passed in one House.
If you had that kind of batting average when the session was over with, you wouldn't consider it a disaster. We want to make as much progress as we can, and we are doing that. You have to make allowance for certain criticisms.
I picked up the ticker the other day and read, I believe over a period of an hour, where there had been seven real denunciations. When it was added up, it didn't amount to much. At the end of the day, they passed the bill they were denouncing by a rather substantial vote.
There is nothing as dead as yesterday's newspaper, and the criticism. What we want to do is get that legislation passed.
What we want to do out in Vietnam is to have this electoral committee make progress. It may not make many headlines, but if it can bring about constitutional government, we will be very pleased.
REVIEW OF AID PROGRAMS
[15.] In our developments in NATO, Africa, Latin America, in this hemisphere, and India and Pakistan, the Philippines and Korea, and all of those areas of the world, we are encouraged and are proud of the progress that has been made. Mr. Bell reviewed that in some depth today. He pointed out that in a number of countries we have been able to reduce our assistance. He talked of what the future held for us in a rather comprehensive and successful program. It is working.
As I pointed out, in Latin America the growth rate is 2½ percent, up considerably in the last 3 years.
We just returned from a visit to Mexico.20 I had a chance a few weekends ago to spend an entire weekend with the Foreign Minister.21 He told me never in the history of the two countries did we have a better relationship. All of the things that divided us, our differences, most of them had been solved--the water salinity, the Chamizal, the various things we had controversy about.
20See Items 174-177.
21Antonio Carrillo Flores, Mexican Foreign Secretary.
We didn't go into great depth country by country today. We discussed these general areas.
The answers are good. The economy is good. The employment is good. The wages are good. The profits are good. The farm income is good. So, as a people, we are doing well. We all have ambitions. We have higher goals and we want to do better, but the reports today were constructive and encouraging.
POSSIBILITY Or TAX INCREASE
[16.] Q. Sir, can you say from your review of the economy whether you feel we are moving any further away or closer to a tax increase?
THE PRESIDENT. I think we just have to study this thing from day to day and take into account everything that is happening. We have to see how much Congress appropriates. We have to see what our revenue is. We have to discuss our expenditures and get good readings on that.
I don't want to make any prediction or do any speculating. You can see the inadvisability of doing that. If I even give the alternatives available to me, someone not really experienced is likely to predict that I intimated something that might affect the market 10 points, up or down. I know you don't want to be a party to anything like that.
Frank Cormier, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Johnson's sixty-fourth news conference was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House at 12:55 p.m. on June 1, 1966, following his meeting with the Cabinet. Members of the Cabinet were present at the news conference.
Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/238907