Jimmy Carter photo

The President's News Conference

March 25, 1979

Held in Dallas, Texas

THE PRESIDENT. Thank you, President Wasilewski. Dr. Stevens, Mayor Folsom, officers and members of the National Association of Broadcasters, friends:

This afternoon, instead of giving a long speech, I thought I would make just a few brief remarks and then turn the rest of the time over to you for questions.

I think it's only fair for a change that an elected official offer the broadcasting industry equal time. [Laughter]

It's hard for me to believe that less than 60 years ago, our country was served by only three full-time radio stations, or that only 30 years ago, television was a fledgling pioneer which most people expected to fail.

Today, you bind America together with instant communications. You shape our culture, our language, our perception of ourselves, and our understanding of the entire world.

What you see and say and show is reality for millions of Americans. They may never visit Jerusalem in Israel, or Cairo in Egypt, never set foot on the Moon, never even go to Washington, D.C., or come here to Texas. But the people of our country know what these places look like, and they participate in important events because of the communications you provide.

When I grew up, we had no electricity on our farm or in our home. And I remember vividly sitting outdoors at night with my family gathered around a battery-powered radio, hooked to the battery in my father's car, listening to the news or Glenn Miller or a political convention

in some distant city. Broadcasting in those days opened up new worlds to us, just as it has done for millions of other people.

All over the world, broadcasting is helping to break down barriers of time and distance, of misunderstanding and mistrust, of hatred, that have separated and divided the world's people one from another. I wonder whether the people of Israel and Egypt would have taken that final step towards peace and reconciliation had they not been able to see the faces of each other on television or heard the voices of each other on radio, when there was a prospect for peace and they saw within their own hearts, through the broadcast medium, that others in a country that was completely distant and alien also were willing to take a chance on peace and an end to war.

And tomorrow, broadcasting will bring to the entire world a truly historic sight: Prime Minister Menahem Begin and President Anwar Sadat signing a treaty of peace.


I believe the public interest can best be served by a broadcasting industry which is healthy, independent, and diverse. And I will also continue to support vigorously opportunities for minority ownership and a strong public broadcasting system free from political control.

I applaud the hard work and the leadership of your chairman, Don Thurston, on behalf of the NAB minority ownership fund. My administration will continue to work with the FCC and the Congress to encourage diversity and independence in your industry, instead of Government paperwork and controls.

As broadcasters, you have a special sensitivity both to the benefits and to the burdens of Government regulation.

Tomorrow, I'm submitting to the Congress a comprehensive proposal to reduce, to rationalize, and to streamline the regulatory burden throughout American life. And I want to speak to you very briefly about that legislation today.

The call for regulatory reform is not a demand that all regulation be abolished; it's a call for common sense. And I believe that most Americans do support responsible regulation to provide equal opportunity for employment, a clean environment, safe drugs and food, a healthy workplace, and a competitive marketplace.

Because of responsible regulation, the air we breathe is cleaner today; our automobiles are safer and they burn less gasoline; millions of American workers have won new protections against injury and cancer. And I understand that for the first time in 20 years, fish are now swimming in places like the Connecticut River and the Houston Ship Channel. Both the American people and I, as President, are determined to continue the progress that we've made toward these social goals.

Our challenge is to pursue the legitimate goals of regulation in ways that are rational, predictable, and effective. For far too long, we have acted as if we could throw another law or another rule at every problem in our society without thinking seriously about the consequences of it.

When I came to Washington a little more than 2 years ago, I found a regulatory assembly line which churned out new rules, paperwork, regulations, and forms without plan, without direction and, seemingly, without supervision or control.

With the best of intentions, 90 separate regulatory agencies were issuing 7,000 new rules every single year. These rules affect teachers, truckdrivers, broadcasters, farmers, small business, and local government. But no one had stopped to say, "Does each of these rules make sense? Does it do the job? How much does it cost, and is there a cheaper way to achieve goals just as effectively?"

The FCC now requires 18 million man-hours each year from broadcasters to fill out the paperwork imposed by its rules and regulations. Perhaps you've noticed this already. [Laughter] But Chairman Charlie Ferris is working to reduce that load through a zero-based review of every FCC rule and regulation.

I know that he will succeed in this effort to reduce paperwork. He has my full support. And he also, of course, needs your support.

For too many Americans, today's contact with government at every level means a bewildering mass of paperwork, bureaucracy, and delay. And the costs of compliance with government regulations has been steadily on the rise. It eats up productivity and capital for new investment. It adds to inflation, and the burdens often fall most heavily on those who are least able to bear those burdens—small businesses, local government, nonprofit organizations.

Our society's resources in this country are vast, but they are certainly not infinite. Americans are willing to spend a fair share of those resources to achieve social goals through regulation, but they want their money's worth. They will not support—and I will not permit—needless rules, excessive costs, duplication, overlap, and waste.

It's time that we take control of Federal regulations in America, instead of regulations continuing to control us. As President, I take the management of the regulatory .process as seriously as I do the goals it's intended to achieve.

The legislation which I will submit to Congress tomorrow will continue and streamline our own reform efforts and expand them to every independent regulatory agency. It will accomplish five major goals, which I will list very briefly in closing.

First, this legislation will make sure that the costs and benefits of all major regulations and rules are weighed before they are issued. From now on, regulators will have to get the job done at the least possible cost, and they will have to justify the bill to the American people.

Secondly, this legislation will help us to clean up the enormous backlog of rules and regulations that have accumulated over the years, but have long since outlived their usefulness.

By deregulating airlines last year, we saved consumers $2 1/2 billion in reduced fares. We have brought record profits to the airline industry, and we have begun, for the first time in my memory, to dismantle a Federal bureaucracy.

Third, it'll put a brake on the regulatory assembly line. It will make sure that Government plans ahead, that the American people know what new rules are going to be proposed, and that regulations are developed not in the secret inner sanctums of the bureaucracy, but under the supervision of senior officials who are accountable to the people, to me as President, and to the Congress.

Fourth, this legislation will end needless delays and endless procedural nightmares which have plagued too many Americans for too long. It should not have taken 12 years and a hearing record of over 100,000 pages for the FDA to decide what percentage of peanuts there ought to be in peanut butter. [Laughter] I would have used that example even if I had grown soybeans and wheat, by the way. [Laughter]

And finally, this legislation will open up the rulemaking process. It will ensure that all Americans have a voice—consumers and small business, local officials, State governments, certainly, you—not just the best financed and the best organized interest groups.

In regaining control of the regulations that govern our lives, we can also regain our faith in self-government. Together, we will reaffirm that our future depends not on fate or accident or impersonal forces beyond our control, but on our own decisions as a free people in the freest democracy on Earth, which I am determined to see become even more free.

Thank you very much. I'd now like to answer some questions.



Q. Mr. President, George Allen of KLGA, Algona, Iowa. Iowa is corn country, and Iowans are concerned about the lack of appropriations to test and develop gasohol as an energy source. Are you planning any actions from the White House?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. The testing and the use of gasohol and other energy sources derived from replenishable materials is a very high priority for us. We are increasing every year the allocation of funds for that purpose. The Congress is now considering, as you know, some mandatory, step-by-step increment increase in the amount of gasohol that has to be mixed with gasoline. We are considering this proposal. It's being sponsored by, I think, Senator Church and others. The final decision is yet to be made.

Within the next week, I will make a decision about the regulatory process for the Government in energy prices, as you know. And by September of 1981, the present authority for regulation of oil prices expires. Any additional income that is derived from possible taxes in the future on which I've not yet decided would certainly be channeled into new energy sources, as well as conservation and the enhancement of our American domestic production. Gasohol and other similar replenishable sources of fuel will certainly be near the top of the list.


Q. I'm Katherine Broman, president of Springfield Television in Springfield, Massachusetts. And you were up visiting us a few years ago.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, and my wife was there last week.

Q. That's right. You have taken my question and practically answered it before, because I was going to ask you about deregulation of the broadcast industry. But let me ask you, can you give us a timetable as to when we are going to be free of some of the paperwork that you have discussed?

THE PRESIDENT. I think Charlie Ferris, who is here with me today and will stay until Wednesday to answer your questions specifically, can give you a better time frame.

This legislation that will be proposed to the Congress tomorrow covers not only the FCC but all other independent regulatory agencies, and I've already covered the regulatory agencies under my control or influence already.

As you know, most of these agencies have to be under the control of laws themselves, because the President, of necessity, has no control over them.

We've already made a great deal of progress. In the health field, for instance, HEW has already eliminated more than 300 specific reports that have to be brought in in health. In 1 day last year, OSHA eliminated 1,000 regulations as a wonderful gift to the American public and to the President.

And Charlie Ferris flew from Washington to Oklahoma, now down here with me yesterday and this morning, and he is absolutely determined that the FCC will equal the achievements that I have just described. He's got my support and my help.

So, in a generic sense, because of legislation and in the FCC itself—which has an equal determination administratively-we will make that progress that I've described to you.

I might point out that many of the regulations that presently are burdensome have been proposed and supported and are still supported by the broadcasting industry itself. So, we've got to be very careful as we remove regulations not to interfere in the orderly processes of your industry. But I can assure you that my own direct Presidential influence and interest is in it for political benefits to myself, if I succeed, as well as what I detect to be in the best interests of our country.


Q. Mr. President, I'm Dick Chapin with KFOR in Lincoln, Nebraska, and I'd like to ask the question if you believe that broadcasters are entitled to the same first amendment privileges as are the newspapers?

THE PRESIDENT. That's a hard question for me to answer, because it has so many ramifications. [Laughter]

Q. It surely is.

THE PRESIDENT. As you know, the Federal Government doesn't license newspapers and assign a certain spectrum to them within which they can operate. And for me to say that I would want to remove all regulation of the Federal Government in assigning frequencies or issuing licenses to the broadcasting industry would not be—I mean, I would have to say no. But as far as interference in the content of news programs, as far as honoring the principles of the first amendment, obviously I would say yes. I can't answer your question any better than that, because it has such far-reaching ramifications.

But there are so many wide differences between the newspaper industry and the broadcasting industry—spectrum is just one example—that I can't say that I would give the same identical freedom to the broadcasting industry as newspapers. But I think we'll have less restraints on your industry when I go out of office by far than existed when I came into office.


Q. Mr. President, my name is Wade Hargrove. I'm general counsel for the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters. Despite your commendable efforts to control inflation and not unduly burden the country with wage and price controls, none of these efforts, or in fact the efforts of your recent predecessors, really seemed to have worked. Where do we go from here?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's too early to say that the efforts have not worked. I think it's going to take 3 months or so, still, before the full impact of what we have tried to do with voluntary wage and price guidelines can be accurately assessed.

I can tell you without any fear of contradiction, for instance, that in the last 2 or 3 months, wage settlements throughout this country have averaged well within the guidelines that we've established. Also, we have monitored very closely the Fortune 500 businesses, the 500 largest businesses in our country. As far as we know, there have been none of those large companies that have violated the price standards.

Now we're expanding the coverage to the medium-sized and smaller companies, many of whom have not even felt that the voluntary guidelines apply to them. We will identify in the very near future four or five companies which have indeed violated the guidelines. They have a 10-day appeal period during which they can prove that they have complied. If they don't prove that, then we'll identify them. Any company so identified will have their names made public, so that the general populace, the consumers, can take action accordingly.

In addition, because of prudent purchasing practices, we will terminate or sharply reduce any Federal purchases from those companies involved. In addition, we will greatly beef up, within the next few weeks, the number of personnel who are monitoring these companies to make sure we have a broader base on which to predicate our future decisions.

I might say that some of those larger companies, within the guidelines which were deliberately somewhat flexible, have utilized the guidelines to their own advantage. That was predictable. We were not surprised at that. They took advantage of every loophole in the guidelines themselves. Now, with 2 or 3 months' experience which we have, we will tighten up those original issued guidelines to make them conform more stringently.

I'd like to add one other thing: Many of the inflationary pressures that are now becoming obvious in our country exist worldwide. Neither I, as President, nor any other head of state nor any government has control over the price, for instance, that exists worldwide for things like copper, aluminum, oil.

Beef is in short supply throughout the world. Our present import quota, for instance—we are having a difficult time even meeting the quota, whereas, 8 or 9 months ago, every time I talked to anyone from Costa Rica or New Zealand or Australia, what they wanted was a higher beef quota. Now they can't even meet the quota that they have for us.

So, many food items, many commodity items, energy, are at a high price all over the world.

Domestically, it's very difficult to lay the blame on anyone for an increase in lumber prices. No single company arbitrarily says, "I'm going to increase my price for lumber or other building materials—wallboard, for instance, or insulation materials."

We have sustained in the last couple of years a very high level of home construction, about 2.2 million homes per year. And because of the demand for houses, we're just short on supply. I'm not particularly concerned about the high profit margins that were revealed last quarter, because we need to have a reinvestment of those profits back in higher productivity, increased jobs, to meet some of the short supply demands.

We're now very near maximum capacity in some of our industries. So, I think it's too early to say that we ought to abandon this program because we do have bad CPI index figures this week.

I am not considering—no one in my administration dares to propose to me and never has proposed that we have mandatory price and wage controls. But I am determined to do the best I can, within the broad guidelines established, to get industry and labor to comply with controlling wage and prices. And I'm going to do my part as President.

I'm working toward a balanced budget. We've already cut down the deficit that existed when I ran for President, which was $66 billion, to considerably less than $30 billion next year.

I'm working on a balanced budget. So, I'm going to do all I can to bring in the kind of demonstrated achievement that would inspire the American consumer, business, and labor to cooperate with me. And I'd like to remind all of you here that as you established your own prices for advertisement or for other things that you market, that you help to join in a partnership to bring control of inflation.

But I'm not about to abandon a very tough posture on controlling wages and prices on a voluntary basis, and I believe that we can and will succeed.


Q. Mr. President, Bill Sims, Wycom Corporation, Laramie, Wyoming. First of all, forgive me, sir, before my question, if you could leave a little piece of paper with your name on it at the podium, a big fan of yours would love to have it. [Laughter]

My question, sir: With sometimes conflicting reports coming from the Middle East almost daily, how can the American public be sure that the agreement you will sign this week is not just window dressing? Sir, does this agreement really have meaningful significance to the world?

THE PRESIDENT. I think perhaps a hundred years from now, 50 years from now, what occurs tomorrow may be the most significant occurrence during my own term of office as President. We are a nation at peace. It's a notable achievement for a country as large as ours to be at peace.

In the Mideast, war there not only afflicts the lives of everyone involved, but it's a constant constraint on the quality of life when the people in Egypt, people in Israel—who deeply desire to live in harmony with their neighbors—have never been able to do it since Israel was founded.

When I go back 8 or 9 months to assess what did exist then and see where we stand now, it's almost unbelievable. Sadat said when I was in Egypt recently that what we achieved at Camp David was a miracle, that he never expected either Egypt or Israel to reach an agreement when he went there.

I think that we now have a posture where our excellent friends, the Israelis, and our excellent friends, the Egyptians, can be friends with one another. We're going to have a short period of time—I believe it will be short—with threats and posturing and possibly some acts of terrorism mounted against [by] 1 those who oppose peace in the Middle East.

1 Printed in the transcript.

But my belief is that if we can open those borders and have thousands of students going back and forth between Cairo and Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv and Alexandria, and tourists going to visit the Pyramids and coming to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, and open trade and commerce, that the people themselves will so deeply appreciate the difference in their quality of life and their attitude toward life, that no matter who the leaders might be in the future, this peace will be permanent.

We're going to not stop here. We've got to address the very difficult question of the Palestinian problem.

The Israelis are committed to this proposition, the Egyptians are committed to this proposition, and so are we. But I think as we let the other Arab entities-the PLO, Jordanians, Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis—see the tremendous benefits of the peace between Israel and Egypt, it's going to be much easier to bring them in the process and therefore achieve what I dream about—which may not come during my own term of office, but I'll continue to work for—and that is a comprehensive peace throughout the Middle East.

So, I think it is very significant, it is permanent, it's a first step. But as Sadat says, it's a foundation for what we all dream for—that comprehensive peace in the Middle East. I think it's a very good step.


Q. Mr. President, I'm Forrest Amsden, King Broadcasting Company, Seattle, Washington. There are a number of proposals in Congress and emanating from sortie members of the regulatory commissions for a high spectrum tax on commercial television and radio stations, as high as perhaps half or three-quarters of a million dollars a year for a television station in, let's say, Dallas. These funds would be used for a number of social purposes not really affecting broadcasting, and also for public broadcasting. Have you a position on this?

THE PRESIDENT. My administration has no intention of introducing legislation like that. As you know, Senator Fritz Hollings and Barry Goldwater and others in the Senate, Congressman Van Deerlin in the House, have introduced legislation similar to what you've described. I have not interpreted that legislation to want to channel those funds into social programs, however.

We've not yet taken a position on it. I've not seen a detailed analysis of what they have proposed. So, I really can't answer your question any better than that. We will monitor it. I'll listen to my advisers. I'll certainly hear from you, I'm sure, and we want to make certain that the legislation is not onerous on you.

I believe that there are some tradeoffs that might have been proposed in the legislation, which you did not mention. There may be some fees assessed for the use of spectra, but on the other hand, there will be an additional freedom for your own industry to operate in. And I believe, in addition, there were some more extended times for the licenses to be prevailing, that sort of thing.

But I'm not trying to say what my position is. I've just read about it very briefly in preparation for this visit. We've not yet taken an administrative position, and I doubt if I will take one until the hearings have been completed and we see more clearly the attitude of the Congress and the attitude of this organization as well.

Maybe one more question, and then they tell me my time is up.

Q. Len Hensel, WSM in Nashville, Tennessee. Sir, Mr. Amsden stepped on my question. But while considering that same proposal, I would appreciate it, sir, if you would consider what we call the repugnance of commercial broadcasting financing public broadcasting from taxes as opposed to the general fund.

THE PRESIDENT. I will certainly consider that. [Laughter]

Q. Thank you.


Q. Mr. President, I'm Carol Rosenweig, and I'm here with my husband, Saul, who is also a president. He's president of ATO Communications, which owns WILX-TV in Lansing, Michigan. He also was in your Naval ROTC class at Georgia Tech.

My question deals also with inflation. Washington places much of the blame for inflation on business and labor. But since the Government controls the printing press and is by far the biggest spender in the Nation, I'd like to ask you, doesn't the primary responsibility for inflation really lie with the Federal Government and just filter down to the rest of us? [Applause]

THE PRESIDENT. That seems to be the most popular question so far. [Laughter]

Q. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. I would say the answer is no. [Laughter] But let me explain.

One of the causes for continued inflationary pressures, which have existed at an extraordinary level for the last 10 years or more, is a natural inclination on the part of Americans to find a scapegoat.

I felt, when I ran for President in 1975 and 1976, that the Federal deficit was entirely too high. I established then as one of my major goals the balancing of the Federal budget. We've made a great deal of progress. By the 1980 fiscal year budget, if it's adopted the way I presented it-and it may be even better when the Congress and I get through with it—we will have cut the deficit by over 55 percent. This is major progress in times of heavy demand for governmental services.

And, as you know, I have taken the step of strengthening our own Nation's security commitment and defense commitment in NATO and other places.

It's obvious to me that industry, all employers, labor, the government at all levels, and consumers are in this together. And until each one of us does our part, we'll never find a resolution of the problem.

Last night I was in Elk City, Oklahoma. A farmer stood up and asked me if I didn't think that business was responsible for inflation because last quarter profits were 26 percent higher than they had been a year before. And then I asked him what his profession was. He said he was a farmer. I said, "Do you realize that in 1978 net farm income was up 30 percent? Would you say that the farmers were responsible for inflation?" And he very quickly said no.

The point is I'm doing all I can as head of our Government to control inflation. You need to do all you can within the area of your own influence. But if your own prices and charges go up more than our guidelines, you will have directly contributed to inflation and have hurt your own country.

And it's a responsibility that each of us ought to accept. I certainly accept my share of the responsibility as President. I hope you will do the same. I hope all business and labor will also take responsibility, and the consumers as well. Only by assessing it as a partnership and not trying to find a scapegoat can we possibly succeed. But I am absolutely determined and I am absolutely convinced that if we work together we can bring inflation under control.

Let me say in closing that I have thoroughly enjoyed being with you. I hope that you listened very carefully to my opening remarks, because I recognize that perhaps there is no other industry on Earth that has a greater impact on the consciousness of people and, therefore, a greater impact on the evolution of our Nation in a positive direction.

What the rest of the world thinks about America is primarily determined by you. And I think the honesty, the integrity, the accuracy, the freedom of the American broadcasting industry is absolutely crucial to making our Nation, which is the greatest nation on Earth, even freer and greater in the future. In that respect, you and I are also partners.

Thank you very much.

Note: President Carter's forty-sixth news conference began at 3:30 p.m. at the Dallas Convention Center, on the occasion of the opening session of the 57th annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters. Vincent T. Wasilewski is president of NAB, and Paul Stevens is president of radio and television communications of the Southern Baptist Convention, Ft. Worth, Tex.

Prior to the news conference, the President attended a luncheon for members and elected officials of the Democratic Party at the home of Ambassador Robert S. Strauss, Special Representative for Trade Negotiations, in Dallas.

Jimmy Carter, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249337

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