Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference

September 30, 1966



THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Those present at the luncheon were Governor Rockefeller of New York, Governor Tawes of Maryland, Governor Johnson of Mississippi, Governor Chafee of Rhode Island, Governor Philip Hoff of Vermont, Governor Goddard of Arizona, Governor Boe of South Dakota, Governor Clement of Tennessee, Governor Avery of Kansas, Governor Burns of Florida, and Governor Egan of Alaska.

We followed the same procedure today as we did in the other two meetings, generally. I won't go into any great detail.

I will take any questions you may want on it. I will try to summarize the highpoints.

We reviewed a summary of my statement to the other Governors on crime,1 a copy of which you were given yesterday and which each Governor will be given today, in which I reiterated the desire for the President to have each Governor have representatives come to our meeting in Washington for a major conference in October.2

1See Item 491.

2For the President's remarks to the delegates to the Conference of State Committees on Criminal Administration, delivered on October 15, 1966, see Item 526.

I went over with them the work of our National Crime Commission and the fact that 20 Governors have already acted in creating State crime commissions.

The cost of crime in the country and the increase in crime among young people under 18 is up 50 percent since 1960. There are certain highlights which are available in the statement and in the brief summary of it.

Second, we reviewed the economic situation. Mr. Ackley 3 took some questions. Mr. Schultze 4 took some questions. I took some questions.

3Gardner Ackley, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers.

4Charles L. Schultze, Director, Bureau of the Budget.

Generally we talked about the need for restraint. We pointed out the strength and health of our economy. We have 10 million more jobs than in 1961. We have had 67 months of expansion. We have the problems of strength. We had inflationary pressures.

We had a gross national product growing at 5.5 percent a year for the last 5 ½years.

We have the problem of consumer prices being up 3 1/2 percent and wholesale prices up 3.9 percent. Much of the rise has gone to lift incomes of farmers and low-paid workers. Even so, with less price increase, there has been much more income increase in the past 5 years than in the previous 5 1/2 years.

We reviewed the budget for this year of $112 billion. Revenue for this year, as we estimated, would show us a deficit of $1.9 billion if those figures held up.

But we pointed up the possibility that Congress would increase our budget in the domestic field by some billions of dollars. We didn't know how.

The House this morning, I am sure, did not feel it would be substantial. The Budget Director thinks it could be up as high as $7 billion or $8 billion in authorizations and appropriations.

In addition to that, we will very likely have increased expenditures in Vietnam. We will make estimates on those. They are now being reviewed. At the end of the quarter, we will have a quarterly revenue estimate and we project it for the end of the year.

When we get our appropriations bills we will try to reduce those by at least a minimum of $3 billion. Of course, that will largely be over what the regular budget has been increased.

We do not expect it to be under the $112 billion. We expect it to be over. We will take at least $3 billion withholding and postponement out of it, and then we will look at our revenue and see what our expenditures will be and see what we need to do.

We will make adjustments and recommendations accordingly. When we make these reductions of $3 billion, or when we propose them, we will send to each of the Governors our thoughts in that field, as I stated to the Governors yesterday and in the previous meetings. There is a limited field in which you can reduce, but we will have each Cabinet officer try to pick out the low priority items.

We reviewed the Vietnam situation with the Governors. We talked about the diplomatic conversations taking place; the possibility of the meeting of the Manila Conference in late October, whenever the dates can be agreed upon; the desire to coordinate our efforts in Vietnam, and the meeting with the representatives of the allied powers associated with us there.

I reviewed with them off the record some conversations I had had with General Westmoreland and made brief reference to them, and with Admiral Sharp when he was here last week.

I didn't tell them anything new that you don't know, except that I thought our situation had improved there from a military standpoint as well as from the pacification standpoint. I believe it is getting better each day.

We are giving General Westmoreland's requests careful consideration and acting on them promptly, and we will give him whatever men he needs. He was unable to project the amount at this time. He will ask for them as he needs them. He stated in an open press conference 10 days ago that he couldn't state at this time just how many he would need.

We asked the Governors to review any projects that they had in the offing at home of any proposed security sales. We told them what we were doing on the Federal level to try to reduce our security sales. We realized it would involve a tightening up on some of our loan programs that we have, but we don't want to put any more pressures on the securities market or on the economy than was absolutely necessary.

We asked them for no commitments and we received none. We had a free exchange of viewpoints. Each Governor talked about the work that was desirable in their State and the problem that they faced in their State.

I think it was generally agreed that these meetings that we hold two or three times a year are very useful meetings. There was no partisanship in evidence. There was nothing spectacular, I think, to report, or sensational.

You will have a chance to talk to each Governor and get his own viewpoint. If any of them have anything to say, I will be glad to have them say it. If you want to ask them any questions, I will be glad to have you ask them. If you have any you want to ask me, I will be glad to answer them.

Governor, have you anything to say?


[2.] GOVERNOR ROCKEFELLER. As in previous occasions, Mr. President, it has been a very informative and helpful meeting to us as Governors. I know that all of us want to cooperate with you in your objectives to the fullest along the lines of the action being taken by the Federal Government.

THE PRESIDENT. Governor Hoff?

GOVERNOR HOFF. I would simply like to say that I think the inflationary pressures at work in our society affect all of us. I don't see how any American can avoid them. I admire the President in terms of his stand on them to date. I understand better now why certain measures cannot be taken until the actual appropriations have been made by this session of Congress.

I have admired the forthright way in which he approached it and the honesty with which he approached it. I came away happier about it, and certainly much better informed.

THE PRESIDENT. I pointed up today something that I don't want any of us to overlook. We have taken about $12 billion in taxes or administrative actions out of our economic bloodstream already this year.

On March 15th we signed a tax bill and in our Medicare program we took about $4 billion. So we have somewhere around $12 to $14 billion. It is $12 billion, anyway, that has been taken out in the form of revenues already this year.

The investment credit we expect to pass the House this week, maybe today. We hope to get action on it very soon up there.

The appropriations bills are coming along. I believe the House has acted already on several of the eight that we had. So we will be making our review shortly.

I impressed the Governors that we would forward to them from the Budget and from the White House, the Executive Office, at least, indications of the areas where reductions could be made.

Governor Clement?

GOVERNOR CLEMENT. I found the meeting most informative. The President and his staff were most gracious in answering our questions and furnishing us some very valuable information.

I was particularly interested in discussions about Vietnam. I found it, generally speaking, a very helpful session.

THE PRESIDENT. I wrote a letter the other day to a family up in New Jersey that had five sons in the Marine Corps. This week I got several letters, at least five, from over the country, of other families where they said they also had five sons in the various services. One of those letters came from Tennessee. I related it to the Governor.

Another one came from Rhode Island.


THE PRESIDENT. I will have Bill Moyers 5 give you those, any of you who are interested in those areas.

Governor Goddard?

5Bill D. Moyers, Special Assistant to the President.

GOVERNOR GODDARD. Mr. President, I would like to say on behalf of the people of Arizona we appreciate very much your communication with the States. It gives us a great deal of help in bringing us together with national policy.

I have a new finance commissioner in Arizona, the first budget executive that we have ever had. I intend to call him in and ask that our departments cooperate with your plan for helping to pull some of this consumer price hike increase off.

THE PRESIDENT. Governor Boe?

GOVERNOR BOE. Mr. President, I might say that so far as the State of South Dakota is concerned we certainly share with you and the other Governors the concern with respect to the matter of inflation. This is not to any extent a partisan matter whatsoever.

I think it was noted in this conference that there is a concern on the part of some Governors that when we take a good, hard look at the holdbacks that might be necessary in order to combat this inflation, that we should and we would hope that the Federal Government and the administration would take a good, hard look at the economic conditions of each respective State, inasmuch as they all vary so much.

South Dakota is an agricultural State, and We depend greatly on that. Therefore, a cutback in highway construction, in public construction, such as college buildings and so on, would seriously affect our economy and the ability to put our workmen to work and to take care of them, particularly over the winter months.

THE PRESIDENT. Or farm payments, agricultural payments.

Governor Tawes?

GOVERNOR TAWES. Mr. President, this has been a very informative session this morning, as our previous sessions with you have been.

I think it is a very excellent way to get the communications from the Capital of the Nation into the respective capitals of the States of the Nation.

We, of course, want to follow your pattern here that you have laid down this morning for combating the inflationary spiral that seems to be taking place. We in Maryland certainly will be using our best efforts to cooperate with you in every way we can.

I think the policy of cutting down on spending before the tax program is invoked is certainly my philosophy of meeting these problems.

THE PRESIDENT. Governor Chafee?

GOVERNOR CHAFEE. Mr. President, I think you pointed out to us the necessity that all of us should do everything we could to cooperate in this effort, to stop heaping fuel on the fires of inflation, and we certainly will try.

Furthermore, I would like to thank you for inviting us down here--this is the fourth time I have been down as Governor--and I do think it is wonderful the way you keep in touch with the States.

Frankly, I am making every effort to make it possible for me to be back after the first of the year for further meetings.

THE PRESIDENT. Governor Egan?

GOVERNOR EGAN. I can just echo what has already been said, Mr. President. I am very appreciative of having this opportunity to come here and have you and your people give us this rundown, a full-scale story of the steps you have already taken, the steps contemplated to combat the inflationary pressures.

I am also very happy that I had this opportunity to have been brought up to date on the measures taken in Vietnam, and the plans and hopes there.

THE PRESIDENT. Governor Johnson?

GOVERNOR JOHNSON. I don't have any statement.

THE PRESIDENT. Governor Burns?

GOVERNOR BURNS. Mr. President, I am very much impressed with the grasp that the executive branch has with the economic picture. I am saying this for myself now: that I am afraid that we are dealing with an overgenerous Congress. I think the people of the United States are going to appreciate a voluntary cutback on the part of the executive branch, both at the Federal level and the State level.

I certainly pledge to you the cooperation of the officials of the State of Florida to your program.

THE PRESIDENT. Does any other Governor have a statement they wish to make or raise any question with me?

If not, we are open for questions.



[3.] Q. Mr. President, did you indicate in any way how much of this $3 billion reduction you are aiming at would come from grants to the States?

THE PRESIDENT. We don't know until we get the bills, Ray.6 I wish I could tell you.

6Raymond L. Scherer, NBC News.

What we will do is get each bill and we will have the totals. Let us assume it is

$3 billion above my budget. We don't know what it will be, but we will pick a hypothetical bill. We will send those to the various Cabinet officers and give them some indication of the amount in their bill that is reducible. They can't reduce salaries and can't reduce interest on the debt in the Treasury bill, things of that nature.

Then we will ask them to pick the low priority items and report back to us. We hope that they .will add up to more than $3 billion when they come back. If they don't we will have to go back.

We know those won't come from salaries. We know they won't come from interests on the public debt. We know they won't come from veterans' pensions. We know they won't come from social security. We know they won't come from Defense contracts. We know they won't come from insurance obligations that we have to our retirement plan.

We know a good many things won't come from projects that are being completed-that we can't halt. But each Cabinet officer will review them and just as soon as he can we will add them up, because we are anxious to see how we come out ourselves.


[4.] Q. Mr. President, some of the Governors indicated that they felt that there should have been steps taken before now to deal with this problem of inflation.

Have they indicated to you or given any advice as to what they think should have been done?

THE PRESIDENT. No, no Governor has.

Q. That is, in the last three meetings you had.

THE PRESIDENT. I understand a Governor advised you all in front of television yesterday, but he didn't advise me in the meeting where he was about the necessity of a tax plan some time ago.

We will make our recommendations. We did on taxes last year and we passed a bill on March 15th and signed it.

We took a total of $12 billion in various legislative and administrative actions out of the economy. What will happen next year will have to wait until the appropriations come.

But the Governors did not make any specific recommendations. The answer to your question, sir, is no.


[5.] Q. At the Southern Governors' conference not long ago in Kentucky, one of the main issues was desegregation guidelines. We have several Southern Governors here today.

I wonder if that, as an active Federal-State issue, came up at all?

THE PRESIDENT. No, we didn't go into the guidelines at all.

Sorry to disappoint you, Pat.7 I wish I could have given you some details. We didn't discuss that today. We went into the four subjects that I outlined generally.

7Ernest B. (Pat) Furgurson of the Baltimore Sun.


[6.] Q. Mr. President, one of the areas where apparently expenses may exceed the original predictions is that of medical aid to the needy in the individual States under title 19 of last year's law.8

8Social Security Amendments of 1965 (Public Law 89-97, 79 Stat. 286).

Is this a touchable or untouchable subject?

THE PRESIDENT. That was brought up today. The Ways and Means Committee now

has under consideration certain modifications of legislation. We don't know what action they will take.

Governor Rockefeller brought that to our attention and expressed his viewpoints today. We will follow on the legislature carefully and see what comes out on it.

I am unable to predict right now because I have had no report other than what Governor Rockefeller gave me.


[7.] Q. Mr. President, is it possible to get a half billion of this $3 billion out of public works?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no idea. I wouldn't want to speculate. I am sure if I speculated it would be, then it wouldn't be when you started getting it, Ray, because we don't know what the appropriations are going to be.

I think if we started making reductions down here before we get the appropriations, it would be very ill-advised. We might have a bunch of amendments on the floor that would be changing those things. We might be cutting something that really didn't exist.

I think if you can just wait a few more days until we get those bills, we will give you much more enlightenment.



[8.] Q. Mr. President, Congressman Mahon of Texas, Appropriations Committee Chairman, recently estimated that you might have to ask for as much as $10 billion more in supplementals this year for Vietnam. Is Mr. Mahon pretty well informed on that?

THE PRESIDENT. I am not familiar with the basis of his statement. Mr. Mahon is a very able man.

Q. He is a pretty accurate man, would you say?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know what the basis of it is. If your purpose is to get me to criticize Mr. Mahon--

Q. No, I just wondered if you would confirm his viewpoints.

THE PRESIDENT. I can't confirm it. I don't know myself, as I told you at some length, until we get the new estimates and see them--and it will be at best a guess then.

But we don't have it now and we don't know what we are going to get this year in the appropriations bills. It is still in conference. Mr. Mahon is a member of the conference committee.


[9.] Q. Mr. President, in comparison with the $3 billion reduction you are seeking at the Federal level, have you mentioned any goal that you would like to see the Governors meet in terms of dollars?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think it would be a great variance between the State of New York and the State of New Mexico or Arizona. This is not the purpose of getting the Governors to come in, to make a commitment to the President or the President to make a commitment to the Governors.

This is a regular meeting that we have once or twice or three times a year to go over with the Governors the principal problems that confront us all. One of them is Vietnam. One of them is inflation. One of them is restraints on our economy. One of them is crime. One of them is total employment and unemployment. Some of it is education.

We discussed all those things generally today as we usually do. The Governor of New York may be able to make an adjustment that the Governor of New Mexico can't, and vice versa. They would be in different fields.

If they have a general picture of our thinking, though, they will better understand our acts when we make our own reductions.

I am not sure that they are all aware of the progress made in the Congress. I pointed out today that there had been substantial additions to the budget, and even though we are. cutting $3 billion, it is not $3 billion from the $112 billion I recommended. It will be $3 billion from the considerable increase that is added to the $112 billion.

As a matter of fact, I have already received between $2 billion and $3 billion in increases to the budget in the bills that have already come here. I am just pointing out to them in the days ahead we will indicate to them specific areas.



[10.] Q. In reference to Pat's question, Mr. President, I wonder if you could give us your views in light of the congressional discussions of the school guidelines and hospital desegregation, if you can give us your views on the adequacies of the existing guidelines,9 whether your policies will be modified?

THE PRESIDENT. My views are principally the views that have been stated by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and to you on a couple of occasions by Mr. Moyers in your press briefings, that it is our intention to execute and enforce the law as passed by the Congress and carry out the intention of the Congress.

We are doing that as interpreted by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and the Attorney General.

9The school guidelines of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, dated March 1966, are entitled "Revised Statement of Policies for School Desegregation Plans Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964" (Government Printing Office, 10 pp.) and are printed in the Federal Register (31 F.R. 5623) and the Code of Federal Regulations (45 CFR, Part 181). The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare also issued a 2-page list of nondiscrimination guidelines for hospitals in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There will be cases that people believe result in injustice. As they are brought to our attention, the Secretary will carefully review them, bearing in mind all the time that it is his job to execute and enforce the law as passed.

That is what I expect him to do and that is what he is trying his best to do. In other words, our problem is to enforce the law, carry it out as written, as we interpret it and as the Attorney General believes it to be, and to do it as efficiently as possible.

Although we are all humans and make mistakes, if mistakes are made we will try to listen to the complaints that are voiced, as I do every day, and then carry them out.

I do as little as I can to provoke disturbances and to start fights, and to create dissension among the public, generally.


[11.] Q. Mr. President, did you deviate from the areas you mentioned long enough to discuss briefly with Governor Tawes the nomination of George Mahoney of Maryland? 10

THE PRESIDENT. No, we didn't discuss any politics at all.

10George P. Mahoney, running on an anti-open-housing stand, was nominated as the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the Maryland primary election of September 13, 1966.



[12.] Q. Mr. President, you said you asked for and got no commitments so far as spending cuts. Do you go away from the meeting with a feeling or impression of a general confidence that the Governors are prepared to make stretch-outs?

THE PRESIDENT. I would think you could assume from what the Governors had said, if you had heard what they have said, that they are going to be as cooperative as the circumstances will permit in connection with their own responsibilities. That is all we expect them to do.

We are not trying to dictate to them what they must do. We are indicating to them what we think our duty is so they may know, when we do not make some allocation to them, the reasons for it and they won't say it was done in secrecy and they never heard of it, and the press was not informed; that it was done in the back room or something.


[13.] Q. Mr. President, you mentioned a figure awhile ago of an estimate by Mr. Schultze of $7 to $8 billion. Could you explain what that estimate is?

THE PRESIDENT. That is an estimate of the amount of authorizations and the appropriations that there is some indication in his judgment the Congress will act upon and send to the President.

The minimum figure he thinks will be between $2 and $3 billion and the maximum between $7 and $8 billion.

Q. Is that on top of the $113 billion figure?

THE PRESIDENT. $112.8 billion. In addition to my budget. That is over. That is exclusive of Vietnam.

Q. This is new obligational authority?

THE PRESIDENT. This is exclusive of Vietnam. It is both.

Q. Mr. President, occasionally when the Government--

THE PRESIDENT. Whatever the supplemental for Vietnam, it will be added to that.


[14.] Q. Occasionally, when the Government does reduce expenditures there follows a depression in employment to some extent. Is this being taken into consideration?

Have any of the Governors expressed concern about the possible effect of reductions on employment?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, I think we all are concerned with it. We are concerned with employment and unemployment. We talked about some areas where employment was up, and some areas where it was depressed, what the problems would be if it slackened off, how it would be desirable to have some projects available then, to work on that we wouldn't have if we acted on them all now.

We are trying to avoid the dip that might take place.


[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any hope that this defense effort might slack up in the next year?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, we would hope that it would someday.


[16.] Q. Mr. President, if that excess went up as high as $7 or $8 billion, from where you sit now, would you say that a tax increase would be inevitable?

THE PRESIDENT. I would say, let us see what happens and then we can act, if you can just hold back for a few more days.

Max Frankel, New York Times: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Johnson's seventy-seventh news conference was held at 3:03 p.m. on Friday, September 30, 1966, in the Cabinet Room at the White House. As printed above, it follows the text released by the White House Press Office.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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