Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference

November 13, 1966

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

THE PRESIDENT'S PLANS TO UNDERGO

SURGERY

[1.] I told Mr. Christian 1 that I would be available to answer any problems you had or any questions that may have arisen since I last saw you, and that we would try to have our plans more definite today than they had been in the recent week.

1 George Christian, an assistant press secretary.

We will leave San Antonio tomorrow morning, midmorning, 9 or 10 o'clock. Mrs. Johnson has an engagement in Washington at 3 o'clock. We will be there ahead of that time.

We plan to go into Bethesda Naval Hospital Tuesday afternoon, will spend the afternoon and evening there and will undergo surgery early Wednesday morning.

It is anticipated that we will have an anesthetic and the operations will take perhaps less than an hour. Within an hour we will be out from under the influence of the anesthetic.

I have talked to the Vice President. As you know from last October, the agreement that was in existence between President Kennedy and myself, and President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon, will be in effect during that period.

We expect that we will be in the hospital for a very few days and then we will be returning to Texas. I am hopeful that I can spend a good portion of my time on the Budget between now and the first of the year, and the State of the Union Message. Except for some time in December when we have some previous engagements in Washington, we will spend a good deal of our time here.

So you and your families may make plans, if you care to.

ACTION ON CONGRESSIONAL BILLS

[2.] I have some veto messages and signature messages. I will ask--so it won't take time from the questions--I will ask Mr. Christian to give them to you at the end of the meeting.

We are vetoing the D.C. crime bill.

We are signing the police and teachers' increase bill.

We are signing the investment tax bill. There are other bills that I now have under consideration that we will act on between now and tomorrow night.

That is one reason for our uncertainty about just the moment we would leave here and go into the hospital, because we are very anxious to get these things out of the way.

We do have a deadline on them--most of them are Sunday and Monday.

APPOINTMENTS

[3.] I have some appointments to announce; Mr. Christian will give them to you, such as the Deputy for the Small Business Administration."2

I will be glad for any questions now.

2 See Item 613.

QUESTIONS

TRANSITION IN THE WEST GERMAN

GOVERNMENT

[4.] Q. Mr. President, perhaps it is too early to ask you this, but do you have any opinions at the moment on the forthcoming transition in the West German Government and how relations with the United States will be involved?

THE PRESIDENT. I would anticipate that we will continue to have very excellent relations with the German Government and with the German people.

They do have decisions to make, as do all countries, about the leadership and their government. We just finished making some decisions ourselves in the last few weeks. I trust that we will be patient and let them make their decisions.

I am sure whatever their decisions are, we will be able to maintain very good relations with the people of Germany.

INVESTORS' TAX CREDIT BILL

[5.] Q. Mr. President, on the investors' tax credit bill, what do you think, personally, sir, about the political provisions in that measure, the presidential campaign provision?

THE PRESIDENT. I have a statement in some detail on that matter. I will be glad to record it for you if you like at the conclusion of the conference.3

3 See Item 612.

I agree with it. I made a statement on it. I think there is much work to be done in that field yet. I submitted my recommendations in the last session of Congress.4

4 See Item 241.

But I think this is a step forward. I have approved the bill with that in mind.

EFFECT OF ELECTIONS ON GREAT SOCIETY

PROGRAMS

[6.] Q. Mr. President, the other day you were asked whether you thought the outcome of the elections would have any deterrent effect on your plans for the Great Society. At that time, you said you weren't sure or you did not exactly know how it would go. Have you had any further chance to think that through?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think we are ever positive on any measure as to what is going to happen to it, but I have the feeling that the majority that the Democrats have in the House and Senate, together with the election of a good many moderate Republicans, would indicate that the program that we recommend will receive very fair and sympathetic consideration.

I have reviewed in the last few days the votes taken upon some of the substance of the Great Society programs since 1963, and our majority in the next Congress will not be unlike that one in 1963 and 1964.

We have about the same number in both the House and the Senate. I believe they had 256 and we will have 247 or 248.

In the Senate, it is 67 and 64.

So I would anticipate that we will be very careful in our preparation of our recommendations and we will try to enlist the support of both parties.

I think they will be generally supported by both parties.

Of course, there will be members of both parties that will oppose them. I don't anticipate any great trouble.

I think there is a misconception in the country that all the bills that we have passed have been the sole product of just the President and the Democratic Party. That is not true.

Most of the key measures have received some support from progressive and moderate Republicans, and all Republicans in some instances.

I think, beginning with the Appalachia bill that we passed in the first session of the 89th, one of the early measures, we had 25 Republicans on that bill in the House.

On the water pollution bill we got 135 Republicans.

On the Medicare bill we got 65 Republicans.

On the Department of Housing and Urban Development we only got 9. That would give us a problem if our own people did not unite.

On the elementary and secondary education bill we got 35.

On the housing bill we got 26.

On higher education we got 113.

On the voting rights--the civil rights-bill we got 115.

On the poverty bill we got 24.

On regional development we got 31.

On manpower development we got 129.

On highway beauty we got 26.

On the Department of Transportation we got 101.

On truth-in-packaging, 103 Republicans.

On funds for rent supplements, 45 Republicans.

On water pollution, 81.

On minimum wage, 89; urban transit, 36; demonstration cities, 16; auto safety, 121 (I think I gave you urban mass transportation); allied health professions training, 120; the education funds, 47.

Those are some of the key measures. It shows you that, generally speaking, from 15 to maybe 115 Republicans in the House voted for our measures. We hope that there will not be any substantial defections.

Since 1890 the average President has had about 54 percent of the House and 55 percent of the Senate. Next year we will have 57 and 64. Compared to 54, 64 is a pretty good number and 55 compared to 57.

So we are not overly optimistic. We will have difficulty in preparing the new programs we have. I anticipate that our big problem is to get good administration, get the programs we have already passed funded, and try to get them organized and executed in the proper manner.

Any new program brings a lot of problems: personnel, funding, appropriations, and so forth. The bulk of our platform, as you know, has already been enacted. That is not to say that we will not have other measures. But it is to say that our principal effort will have to be in that field.

THE PRESIDENT'S HEALTH

[7.] Q. Mr. President, on the inevitable health question, how are you feeling and what are your thoughts today about facing surgery this week?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wish I did not have to do it. I feel fine. I think that the operations are relatively minor. I think you never want to go to a hospital for any reason, but under the circumstances I can be very pleased that they are such as they are--have good doctors, good hospital, good staff, good people around me.

So I think if you have to be in the hospital, the circumstances are about as well as they could be.

The Congress is out of session and now is a good time for it.

I feel very good. I have had some rest and relaxation here this week. We have turned out a lot of work. We think by Monday morning we will be practically caught up.

THE INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC

SITUATIONS

[8.] We are very happy and encouraged by our trip to Asia. I think it is a signal to the regional unity in that part of the world and of increased attention to that area which is populated by two-thirds of human life.

I have reviewed a report on Latin America and the Alliance for Progress and I think we are moving forward. There is increased growth taking place in that area and in our own hemisphere, which pleases us very much.

With the uncertainties that we faced in Europe, 14 of the NATO countries have come together in agreement. We are moving forward.

Mr. McCloy 5 is now meeting with the British and the Germans. Those talks are going very well.

5 John J. McCloy, U.S. Representative to the trilateral meetings held by the United States, the Federal Republic of Germany, and the United Kingdom.

We are increasingly interested in the the African Continent and the Middle East. Our reports give us a reason to believe that things are going as well as could be expected.

The economic conditions in our own country are always a matter of concern to the individual. We have more people working today than we have ever had in our history.

They are making more money. They are living better. They are eating better food, wearing more clothes and better clothes. They have better housing.

So as we approach the Thanksgiving period, I think domestically we have a great deal to be thankful for.

From the international standpoint, I think that we have very serious problems, but we are facing up to them. Our people are reasonably united in connection with them. A great deal of our thought and attention goes to our men in Vietnam and the success of their efforts there.

We have been heartened by their achievements of the last year. We hope, work, and pray for peace every day. We will continue to seek it and search for it in every possible way.

Ambassador Harriman's report 6 is not anything to be jubilant about, but I don't think we should be discouraged. We were encouraged by what he had to say.

6 For Ambassador Harriman's review of his trip to 11 Asian countries, see Item 607.

From what we hear from Mr. Bundy 7 we are pleased, and we think that the people of the world understand what we are working toward.

7 William P. Bundy, Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs.

I expect to ask Secretary Rusk to go back through Asia on his way to NATO, to follow up on Mr. Harriman's and Mr. Bundy's discussions, to meet with some of the leaders there again, so we can be sure we haven't lost interest in any part of the world.

He will be spending some time with the NATO representatives in early December. Before that, he will bring them a fresh report from Asia.

I know there are some who feel that maybe we are concentrating too much attention on Vietnam, or on the Pacific, or on the Asian area.

We don't think so. We have deep and genuine interest in the peoples of the world, wherever they may live.

Just as Mr. McCloy is working on our European problem now very diligently and effectively, I have spent some time in the Pacific-Asia theater. Secretary Rusk is now going to the NATO meeting, as Mr. Harriman has just returned from briefing all those countries.

I expect to be going to Europe in the spring, myself.

This is not going to be unbalanced. We are going to continue our concern with human beings wherever they are.

Most of our ancestors came from the European area and we feel very attached to them. We will never lose interest there. But that is not to say that that will be our sole interest.

THE PRESIDENT'S TRIP TO EUROPE

[9.] Q. Mr. President, could you tell us a little bit more about this European trip, such as what countries you might have in mind at the moment?

THE PRESIDENT. I announced some weeks ago that I would be going to Germany in the spring. I wouldn't go beyond that at this date.

That is not new. That is an old announcement.

ALLIANCE FOR PROGRESS CONFERENCE

[10.] Q. Mr. President, at one time the White House said you might be going to Latin America before the end of this year. Is that still in the cards?

THE PRESIDENT. We expect to have a conference of the Presidents of the Alliance for Progress countries.

We are preparing the necessary work for that conference. I would anticipate it would be some time in the early part of the year.8

8 The American Chiefs of State met in Punta del Este, Uruguay, April 11-14, 1967.

Of course, I will be going if that is agreed upon and if all the nations are able to arrange their affairs so the conference can come off.

Q. The thinking is Latin America rather than Washington, is it not, for the site of the conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes.

NEED FOR TAX INCREASE

[11.] Q. Mr. President, what are your current thoughts about whether or not a tax increase may be necessary next year?

THE PRESIDENT. Just what they have been. We are trying to carefully evaluate the picture, study it, see what is required. Whatever is required we will recommend.

But until we have our Defense figures in better shape than they are now, until we get a little better look at the economy, at the revenues that we can expect for the next 6 months, we don't want to fire in the dark or jump in the dark.

I don't think there is any decision that can be reached that would be prudent right now. We do expect one before the first of the year. That is, we expect a decision.

NORTH VIETNAMESE AND CHINESE VIEWS OF

THE ELECTION

[12.] Q. Mr. President, have you had any reading, sir, on how the North Vietnamese and Chinese may have interpreted our election results?

THE PRESIDENT. None other than what you have seen.

THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY AT THE STATE LEVEL

[13.] Q. Mr. President, the Republicans, particularly Mr. Bliss,9 seem as happy with how the Republicans did on the State level and in the State legislatures, the gubernatorial contests, as they were with their gains in the Congress.

9Ray Bliss, Chairman of the Republican National Committee.

I wonder if you could address yourself to the strength of the Democratic Party on the State level and to the fact that there is now an even split among the Governors of the States, Democrats and Republicans.

THE PRESIDENT. I think that will be a healthy situation and will bring out the best that is in both parties.

I think we all believe in the two-party system.

I always think that after an election our mettle is tested. We have to look at our weaknesses and try to patch them up, try to develop our strengths.

I think the Democratic Party in the period ahead will be more united. I think the Republican Party has received encouragement that will be good for it.

It ought to produce for the American people the best government of which we are capable. At least I hope it does.

I have generally believed throughout my political lifetime that the Democrats were a little better for the country than the Republicans. Most of the Republicans don't agree with that most of the time.

Some of these changes will bring into office new men. We will have to see how they perform under the circumstances confronting them.

But I am an optimist. I don't think the country is going to the dogs. I think each year we become more mature and more experienced, perhaps more progressive.

We will move forward regardless of a change here or there.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Johnson's eighty-seventh news conference was held in the Municipal Building at Fredericksburg, Texas, at 10:15 a.m. on Sunday,
November 13, 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/238380

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