Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference

September 21, 1966

THE PRESIDENT. I am glad to see you here.

POSSIBILITY OF TAX INCREASE

[1.] Q. Mr. President, you have said that when all of the bills are in from Congress you will know what the fiscal situation will be. You seem to be indicating that this may involve a tax increase. Is that so?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't indicated that. I have said that when the authorization bills are passed and the appropriations are made, we will then see how much we can adjust those measures--and we will carefully review them and arrive at the total that will be spent. Then we will calculate our revenues and we will do our best to bring them in line with our expenditures.

VIETNAM COSTS

[2.] Q. Mr. President, one of the factors that has been mentioned in trying to arrive at these final figures is how much more the war in Vietnam is going to cost. Could you tell us how you are going to arrive at that, and at what time you expect to be able to make that decision?

THE PRESIDENT. We have appropriated enough funds to run us through June of 1967, assuming that the war would be over at that time. We are carefully reviewing this each day. We are determining what our expenditures are there in the way of materiel, planes, helicopters, and men.

We will be making constant reviews of this every week and every month. I have been discussing it this morning with Admiral Sharp, who is commander in that area. I will be asking Secretary McNamara and his people for figures through the fall.

We can't tell now how much we are going to get from the Congress, because the Defense Department bill, in the nature of some $60 billion, has not been sent to us yet. After we get it we will see how much is for what purposes and make any adjustments we can. And then we hope to make the best estimates we can as to what additional moneys we will need, and so inform the Congress.

AUTOMOBILE PRICES

[3.] Q. Sir, when you signed the auto safety bill recently,1 you expressed the hope that the companies would absorb the cost of new safety devices. Ford came out yesterday with price increases and said that the new safety equipment was a substantial part of it. Could we get your comment on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I am having the Council of Economic Advisers study the statement that Ford released. They have not made a report to me yet. Naturally, I regret that it was necessary to have any increase in prices. I had hoped that these businessmen could have foregone the necessity of increasing prices.

1 See Item 449.

I asked that they do that. But they are free to make their own prices; and they did. We are now analyzing what effect it will have on the economy.

REPUBLICAN HOUSE LEADERSHIP DOCUMENT

ON VIETNAM

[4.] Q. Mr. President, the Republican House leadership issued a lengthy document which, in effect, says the Vietnam war is Johnson's war and that you are not leveling with the American people on how far you intend to go. Could you comment on that report?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I have made a comment on that report, and others like it, at one of my recent press conferences. You are going to hear a good many political partisan statements from some of the House Members between now and November. I don't think that you serve the Nation or the world by debating statements of that kind with these particular individuals.

PEACE PROPOSALS

[5.] Q. Mr. President, there are reports now that the North Vietnamese may be interested in pursuing U Thant's proposals for peace. Would you tell us, sir, your reaction today to U Thant's proposals?

THE PRESIDENT. We are very anxious to pursue any proposal that would interest the North Vietnamese. We have no indication that they are interested in sitting down and talking. But we welcome any opportunity to do that as we have all along.

Q. Mr. President, in that connection, Pope Paul VI has proclaimed October as a month of prayer for peace. You have reiterated again your desire for unconditional peace talks.

Do you see any chance of these two proclamations coming together and leading to a bombing pause in October?

THE PRESIDENT. I am very happy to see the Pope take the interest that he has. I want to do anything I can to encourage that interest and to support him in any moves that he may make.

So far as the United States is concerned, and our allies are concerned, we are very anxious to participate in any negotiations that the aggressors are willing to participate in.

And I think that is the general feeling of all the nations of the world with the possible exception of two. We will do anything we can to encourage the Pope, to cooperate with him, to support negotiations.

THE PRESIDENT'S PRE-ELECTION TRAVEL PLANS

[6.] Q. Mr. President, do you still hope to visit most of the 50 States before the November election?

THE PRESIDENT. I would, of course, like to be in all of the States, all of the time. The implication of your question is that I have stated that I plan to.

I think I stated that at the rate we had visited other States and the time left for us, it was possible to go into all of those States. We have no plans to.

We want to visit every State that we can, whenever we can. But until we have the schedule clear here and I can be away from Washington, I am not going to firm up any engagements. When I do I will announce those engagements and go every place I can.

THE CIVIL RIGHTS BILL

[7.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Dirksen said yesterday that you hadn't really tried very hard to persuade him to drop his opposition to the civil rights bill.

Will you comment on that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't read Senator Dirksen's statement. I think the President's position in connection with that measure is abundantly clear. I have tried to persuade the Congress to embrace my viewpoint.

I am very happy that a majority of both Houses, in a democracy where majority rule should prevail, have supported the measure that we recommended.

And I believe in due time that measure will be again considered, favorably acted upon, and will become the law of the land. Justice to all of our citizens will not only be guaranteed but will prevail.

A BALANCED BUDGET?

[8.] Q. Mr. President, several times recently you talked about bringing expenditures in line with revenue. Are you planning on a balanced budget for 1967?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that we will have to see what the Congress appropriates, what our review indicates. Of course, I can't tell at this time because I don't know whether there will be any add-ons to that budget or not. I don't know what the needs of Vietnam will be. It would be just sheer speculation that I think would have little value.

CHANCELLOR ERHARD'S VISIT

[9.] Q. Mr. President, a long list of petitioners, including some fairly prominent people, have expressed the fear that West Germany might get a finger on the nuclear trigger, as a result of your upcoming talks with Chancellor Erhard.

What is your response to that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't have any such fear. I will have a full discussion with Chancellor Erhard on the problems of our respective countries. But I don't anticipate any agreement of the nature they fear being consummated.

VIETNAM WAR OUTLOOK

[10.] Q. Mr. President, could you please give us your assessment of the war in Vietnam, how it compares with the situation a year ago? And are there any chances of having it finished by June of 1967?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that I can add much to what you already know. And whatever I said I think would probably be held against me if I didn't just hit it on the nose.

I think you can observe from the papers each day what is happening. Admiral Sharp and General Westmoreland think that we are going about as they had expected. They are very pleased with the successes that our men have achieved out there.

They feel very good about the results they have been able to obtain. We have definite plans that we believe will be achieved. But just to say precisely what day these plans will be achieved is a very difficult thing in war.

I don't think any Commander in Chief has ever been able to do that. We seek peace. We would like to see the shooting stop tomorrow. We would like to talk this thing out instead of fight it out. But as I have said so many times: Unless the aggressor is willing to give up his aggression, and sit down and talk, we have no choice except to try to defend and to protect these libertyloving, free people. We are going to do that. And how long the aggressor will maintain his aggression will depend on his decision more than ours.

THE LATIN AMERICAN SUMMIT CONFERENCE

[11.] Q. Mr. President, the Latin American nations which originated the idea seem to be getting together on plans for the summit conference which you expect to attend, I understand. I wonder if you could give us your idea of what accomplishments of such a meeting might be?

THE PRESIDENT. I think we are now working on the plans and proposals that are being formulated. They are not concrete yet. I think that when the heads of the nations come together it is always necessary to have an agenda and to have the matter pretty well planned out in advance. Our people are doing that now.

We think that there are a good many subjects that are deserving of consideration by the heads of state. They will, of course, be explored by the foreign ministers in their meeting, and later, if we think it desirable, by the heads of state. But we haven't reached the point yet where we could announce an agenda, or could even outline for you what proposals will be made by individual countries. This is being worked upon by the staffs and the foreign ministers and the state departments of the various nations.

THE VICE PRESIDENCY IN 1968

[12.] Q. Mr. President, there is a little debate here about what you meant the other evening when you said you wanted--

THE PRESIDENT. Who is debating? Now let me see--I want to know which side to get on.

Q. I will work up to that. The Vice President reported out there that you had mentioned to the labor leaders the other evening that as long as you were President you wanted him by your side. There has been some debate in the newspapers about whether that meant

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think that I would get into that. I would just let you all go on and debate.

TIMING OF NEW RECOMMENDATIONS ON THIS

ECONOMY

[13.] Q. Mr. President, in speaking today and yesterday about new recommendations in terms of the economy to Congress, did you have in mind the hope that you would get something together before they go home for election, call them back after, or next year?

THE PRESIDENT. I didn't have any timetable. I have in mind that as soon as we can get the authorization bills and as soon as the appropriations bills are available, they will be carefully reviewed. Then we will make our judgment and we will immediately submit it to the Congress.

Now, if you can tell me when those bills will be received and when the departments will be able to conclude their study of them, I can tell you it won't take me very long.

CIVIL RIGHTS LEGISLATION

[14.] Q. Mr. President, are you going to submit a new civil rights bill to the next session of Congress, sir, and if so, will it contain an open housing provision?

THE PRESIDENT. I will tell you in my State of the Union Message our program for the next session of Congress. I think you can be reasonably sure if no action is concluded between now and the State of the Union Message that I will have recommendations in that field.

But I don't really know that we ought to try to spell them out this morning, because we will be working on that from now until January. We will spell out all of our recommendations for the 90th Congress in the January message.

Q. Mr. President, will the administration seek to salvage any of the other titles like Federal juries, or antiterrorism sections in this session of Congress?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know. I don't know what the action of the Congress will be. I haven't reviewed that with the Attorney General or the leadership on the Hill. All I know is the vote that took place on cloture. And whether the Congress would be disposed to again consider civil rights, I don't know. You can get the answer to your question about the possibility of further moves in that direction more from the Congress.

VIETNAM WAR COSTS

[15.] Q. Mr. President, sir, we really have not been told how much the war in Vietnam is costing and how much it has been costing from day to day. This question has been put to Mr. McNamara 2 early in the year and he said it is almost impossible to tell, and lately U.S. officials again said that they couldn't quite tell us. Don't you think the American people ought to be told? And I am sure you know.

THE PRESIDENT. I think that the Congress, through the Appropriations Committee and Authorizations Committee, have had very full details on our expenditures, in men, money, and materiel in Vietnam. I would commend to you some homework. Go read the hearings.

2 Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara.

ATTITUDE OF SOVIET UNION ON PEACE

DISCUSSIONS

[16.] Q. Mr. President, you mentioned that there seemed to be an indication among all nations of a desire to seek a negotiated settlement or talk peace, except for two. Have you noticed any change of attitude on the part of the Soviet Union's willingness to aid in this process?

THE PRESIDENT. I haven't noticed any change in attitude. I have felt all along that they would like to see negotiations and discussions rather than what is happening.

NOMINATIONS TO STATE DEPARTMENT

VACANCIES

[17.] Q. Mr. President, there are a number of vacancies in the State Department. Can you give any indication of when those will be filled?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, one became vacant yesterday, the Under Secretary, Mr. Ball. And that will be filled as of right now with the Attorney General. Mr. Nicholas Katzenbach will resign and become the new Under Secretary, when confirmed by the Senate.

Q. Can you tell us who you are going to appoint Attorney General?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I haven't reached a decision on that yet. I am talking about the number of vacancies that Mr. Childs 3 referred to. Mr. Ball wrote me on the 17th, and I promptly responded and accepted his resignation. He has had a very outstanding career, and he will be available to work with us from time to time. We have known for some time that he wanted to leave in the fall. He established the date in his letter.

3 Marquis Childs of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

I have asked the Attorney General to accept this post. He has agreed to do so. I have asked Mr. Eugene Rostow to also become Under Secretary of State in the position formerly occupied in this administration by Secretary Harriman and Secretary

Mann.

As you know, Mr. Eugene Rostow was a former dean of Yale Law School. He and Mr. Katzenbach are both very interested in the international field.

Mr. Katzenbach was a professor of international history for a period of years. He has written in that field. He and Mr. Rostow will work very closely together as the Under Secretaries of the Department. Mr. Rostow only concluded his arrangements with Yale University last evening.

I am asking Mr. Foy Kohler to return from Moscow to succeed Mr. Alexis Johnson in the Deputy Under Secretary's place.

These nominations will go to the Senate very shortly.

Q. Mr. President, do you regard this as a promotion for Mr. Katzenbach?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't spent much time on what it was. It is a great opportunity to serve the country and the world.

Mr. Katzenbach is one of the most competent and selfless men I know. He said to me shortly after I became President that he would serve the President in any capacity where the President thought he could be useful.

And he's not concerned with title or with promotions or demotions. He is concerned with serving the interests of the Nation.

Q. Mr. President, do you have a replacement for Mr. Kohler in mind yet, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I'll have to talk to Mr. Childs and get this little State Department matter straightened out, and then we'll go into the Ambassadors later on. [Laughter]

Q. Mr. President, does the fact that Ramsey Clark's 4 father is on the Supreme Court rule him out as Attorney General?

THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't get into that, I haven't made any decision on that, as I have said to you before.

4 Acting Attorney General.

PROSPECTS FOR A TREATY ON OUTER SPACE

[18.] Q. Sir, the prospects for a treaty on outer space, which appeared fairly bright a month ago, seem to be a little clouded by some recent Soviet-U.S. exchanges on particular provisions that remain to be negotiated.

Do you still feel hopeful that the treaty can be signed this fall?

THE PRESIDENT. I do.5

5 For the President's statement announcing agreement on the draft of an outer space treaty, see Item 643.

THE PROPOSED DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

[19.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us what happened to your hopes announced last year for a new maritime policy. What recommendation can we expect, and when?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, they kind of went astray in the House of Representatives in connection with the new Transportation Department.

We hope we will be able to get the Senate to act next week on the new Transportation Department.6 When we do, we will reconcile the differences between the Senate bill and the House bill. And I hope to be able to name a new Secretary of Transportation whose job it will be to develop such a policy.

6 The bill creating a Department of Transportation was approved by the President on October 15, 1966 (see Item 523).

THE WAGE-PRICE GUIDEPOSTS

[20.] Q. Mr. President, do you expect to get any more recommendations from your Labor-Management Advisory Committee on guideposts,7 and do you plan to expand its work in any way?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I think that we will be conferring with labor-management people frequently from time to time.

7On August 18, 1966, the White House had made public a report on the wage-price guideposts by the President's Advisory Committee on Labor-Management Policy, together with the names of the 21 Committee members (2 Weekly Comp. Pres. Docs., p. 1087).

This is a very difficult problem when we have full employment. We know that when most people have jobs at good wages, we have problems with pricing.

The labor-management people are studying it. They are working on it. Individuals are making suggestions to me from time to time, and they have made some collectively.

We will look to them for their cooperation and I have no doubt but what we will get it.

I just hope that all the leaders of industry in this country and the leaders of labor in this country will not increase prices or increase wages beyond the increased productivity. Because when they do this it makes problems for the rest of the Nation.

We are trying to do our best to practice restraint.

Q. Will that, sir, be part of your discussions with Mr. Meany 8 later today?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. We will discuss that along with a number of other matters.

8 George Meany, president of AFL-CIO.

FOCUSING ON "WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE"

[21.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Kennedy of New York has suggested it is a mistake for you to dwell so much on the accomplishments of your administration and the prosperity of the country, and instead ought

to focus more on the things that need to be done. Would you comment, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. We are trying to do that every day. We have submitted a program on things that need to be done-and we are doing them.

We have passed about 70 measures this year on things that need to be done. We have some 10 yet to be acted upon.

I agree we ought to have a program and that we ought to try to get it passed, if possible. I am rather pleased at the success that we have achieved so far. I am very grateful for the cooperation of all of the Members of the Congress.

Frank Cormier, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Johnson's seventy-fourth news conference was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, September 21, 1966.

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/238588

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