Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference at the LBJ Ranch

September 30, 1967

THE PRESIDENT. I have some announcements that may be of interest to you.



[1.] Mr. Stephen Pollak, who has been my Special Assistant for District of Columbia matters, will be returning to the Department of Justice shortly, as soon as he can effect a transition with Mayor Washington, to be Special Assistant to the Attorney General, with a wide variety of duties involving urban affairs, civil rights matters, and a good many special functions.

Mr. Pollak has done an unusually creative and very excellent job in his present post. He will work very closely with Mayor Washington and the Deputy Mayor, Mr. Fletcher, in the next few days before going over to the Department of Justice.

I will not have a successor to Mr. Pollak in the assignment formerly held by Mr. Horsky 1 and then Mr. Pollak, but will deal directly with Mayor Washington in connection with District matters.

Mr. Christian 2 will have a brief biographical sketch of Mr. Pollak and answer any further inquiries you may have on the subject.

1 Mr. Charles A. Horsky preceded Mr. Pollak as the Presidents Advisor for National Capital Affairs.

2 George E. Christian, Special Assistant to the President.


[2.] I have asked Mr. Edwin L. Weisl, Jr., presently Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Lands Division, to come here today. I have tendered and he has accepted assignment as Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Civil Division, which is one of the most responsible legal jobs in the Department of Justice.

Mr. Weisl is a graduate of Yale and Columbia. His distinguished father is a senior member of the firm of Simpson, Thacher and Bartlett, in New York, and a Democratic committeeman in New York. Mr. Weisl has been in the Department of Justice since 1965.

He will succeed to the job formerly held by Mr. Sanders,3 who is here with us today and now a member of our staff, and before that by Mr. John Douglas.

3 Harold Barefoot Sanders, Jr., Legislative Counsel to the President.


[3.] We are very anxious to make the Department of Justice a department of excellence, where we have the best trained and best equipped, and most meritorious appointments. For that reason we have spent some time searching the country to try to find a replacement for the Solicitor General who has recently been appointed to the Supreme Court. He has been confirmed to that position and will take over his duties next week.

I am delighted to tell you that Dean Griswold, Dean of the Harvard Law School since 1946, who formerly served in the Solicitor's department for some 5 years, has, at the request of the President, agreed to accept appointment as Solicitor General. I shall send his name to the Senate shortly.

I believe that covers all the announcements.

If you have any questions relating to them that I need to answer, I will be glad to do it. If not, I will turn them over to Mr. Christian. If you have any questions of the Attorney General or any of the appointees, they will be glad to try to answer those.


[4.] Q. Mr. President, would you care to go into questioning on other subjects?

THE PRESIDENT. I hadn't scheduled a press conference, but I don't want to refuse it if you have some compelling need that Mr. Christian can't satisfy, I will be glad to take it.

Q. I haven't tried this one on Mr. Christian.

THE PRESIDENT. I would just try it and if you don't get results, well then let me know.


[5.] Q. I wondered if you have any knowledge of the communication between the Pope and Mr. U Thant yesterday in which His Holiness referred to certain current peace moves and those coming up in the future. Do you know whether he was referring in a generalized way or to anything specific?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think I have anything to say about that. I think His Holiness would be the proper authority to determine what he had in mind. And I wouldn't want to presume to speak for him.


[6.] Q. Mr. President, in the past you have mentioned a reciprocal move by North Vietnam as a condition for our either halting or decreasing the bombing. Last night in your San Antonio speech, you did not mention this reciprocity. Was this not mentioning it any change in our policy or any softening of our position?

THE PRESIDENT. I will let that speech stand for itself. I don't agree, necessarily, with the first part of your statement, that in the past when I only referred to it I referred to it in a certain way. That is your statement and not mine.

The statement last night has been made before. It was made, as I said, time and time again. It was made in recent press conferences.

I think you were present when I made substantially the same statement. It represents official Government policy, namely, that we are trying every way we can to find any way to sit down at any time, any place, with these people and talk about the possibilities of peace.

We, a number of times, have specified the different ways we thought that could be done.

Last night I may have indicated that we would be very specific about stopping the bombing. And I developed that some by speaking about the timing, the promptness of the discussions, the productivity of the discussions, and the situation that we would expect to exist.

I don't think I would want to elaborate on it any more than I did last night, or any more than I did in previous references by the President and by various other public officials.

I did not intend last night--I did not feel that I had any requirement to submit only new material. I tried to discuss the general Government policy and to explain to all the people some of the things that I felt had not gotten through to them. And that was one of them.

But I did not mean that I felt the criteria of the speech had to be something new in it.

Q. Thank you, sir.


[7.] Q. Mr. President, have you had any message from anyone in the Far East since your speech last night?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't understand the full import of your question.

Q. Well, I wondered had there been any diplomatic response from Southeast Asia as a result of what you said last night?

THE PRESIDENT. Are you asking if I have heard from the North Vietnamese?

Q. Among other people, yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I haven't read everything that has come in. To my knowledge, we haven't heard from them.

But if some rancher from Australia had wired me congratulations, I wouldn't want to be caught in a credibility gap by saying I hadn't heard from that part of the world.

If you are asking about North Vietnam, the answer is, to my knowledge, no.

Q. Mr. President, since you have seen some of the responses, can you tell us how it is running and whether you are gratified by it?

THE. PRESIDENT. No, I haven't gone over the responses.


[8.] Q. Mr. President, Dean Griswold has been a very distinguished member of the academic community in law, but from time to time he has been something of a critic of the Supreme Court, particularly in some areas of its activism. I recall precisely his criticism of one of the prayer decisions, I think it was an implied criticism. Does his appointment imply any criticism on the part of the administration about its activism in the fields of social and economic areas in which it has not traditionally operated?

THE PRESIDENT. I think you know the answer to that question. Anyone as well informed on the Dean's views should know it.

The answer, of course, is of course not. He was selected because of his ability as a lawyer and his stature as a citizen, and not because of any individual views or political views he might have.

As a matter of fact, I think he is a Republican, a registered Republican.


[9.] Q. Mr. President, speaking of Republicans, there are some Democrats around the country who are organizing rival slates for the convention to oppose your renomination for the Presidency. Do they know something that we don't, namely, that you are running?

THE PRESIDENT. You have better contacts with those various groups through your medium than I do. I am not fully aware of who they are or what they are.

Q. When do you anticipate that you might make known your decision on whether you will run?

THE PRESIDENT. When I have made a decision, I will make it known. I will cross that bridge when I get to it.


[10.] Q. Mr. President, are you sending to Chairman Mills a list of specific cuts in programs?

THE PRESIDENT. I have not. No.

I think it must be clear to all of you that the President, in response to the request made by the Ways and Means Committee, said we would review the appropriation bills when they reached us.

Now, I will illustrate what I mean by that this way: There are 15 appropriation bills. Ten of those bills are still pending in the Congress.

On the HEW bill, for instance--Health, Education, and Welfare--the House passed one bill. The Senate passed another bill, adding funds to the House bill.

The views of the House and Senate are now attempting to be reconciled in conference.

The President does not know whether he will get the House bill or whether he will get the Senate bill; whether he will get the lower bill; whether he will get the higher bill; or what kind of bill he will get.

It is pretty difficult to determine what you can do in the way of impounding funds or reducing them until you know what version you are going to get.

For instance, if there are substantial amounts that are added to the budget, it would be very easy to conserve those.

If there are substantial amounts reduced from the budget, it would be much more difficult.

This is a responsibility of the Congress. The President's view is the view presented in his budget. That is the President's recommendation. That is the Cabinet's recommendation. That is the Budget's recommendation.

Now, if the Congress feels that something should be increased, as it has felt in some areas such as the veterans bill we signed the other day, such as the insurance bill we vetoed the other day, such as the pay bill that has been reported out of the House committee--that is a function, and an appropriate one, a proper one for the Congress.

The President has great reluctance to go further than he has recommended in his budget. And he would do so only in consultation with the Congress.

On the other hand, I am very anxious to be cooperative with them and to attempt to find an area of agreement with them.

When they act on these matters and give me their decision on the matter, I want to really stretch myself to try to accept it, if possible.

Now, what their decision is going to be, I don't know. The President's decision was made in his budget.

He has stated to them, because they have asked him to in connection with the tax message-and I refer you to that message,4 that being the administration's position--that we would review the bills.

4 For the President's message to Congress on the budget and the economy, and for his news conference following the message, see Items 329 and 330.

For instance, if they had added substantial amounts to them, we would try to withhold some of those additions.

If they had reduced them, then that would be more difficult to do. But we would carefully review and evaluate each one of them after they come to us.


[ 11.] Q. Mr. President, we are approaching the final quarter of the year now. Is there anything in the business or economic outlook that you see ahead that would alter your view on a tax increase?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think the very small 1 percent average tax that we suggested on income is very desirable.5

5 The Revenue and Expenditure Control Act of 1968 was approved by the President on June 28, 1968 (Public Law 90-364, 82 Stat. 251).

I believe firmly, now even more than I did when I recommended a tax last January and when I added to it last August, that if we don't follow the recommendations that we have made to increase our revenues, we won't be avoiding a tax. We will get a tax either way. You either get the tax recommended by the best economists and by the Cabinet officials, by the Federal Reserve Board and others, or you will get an inaction inflationary tax.

It is our view that the inflationary tax will be more burdensome, more costly, more dangerous, and more undesirable than the tax that we have indicated.

Now, most people like to vote for appropriations and be against tax measures. That is traditional. That is historic. You don't see any pickets going up and down the streets saying, "We want more taxes." That just doesn't happen. But most people also are responsible and they want to be fiscally responsible.

When you realize that we have had two tax reductions--and if we had not had those reductions we would take in almost $24 billion more this year than we will take in-I think if they study it carefully they will find that the $7 billion plus we are asking for is not an unreasonable request when we would have taken in $24 billion except for the reductions we have made.

We think that that small request we have made of just 1 percent of the income of the average person is very necessary if we are to avoid the evil effects of a more burdensome tax, namely, an inflationary tax, a weakening of the dollar, increased interest rates--high and ruinous interest rates--with a big blow to our homebuilding program.

We think that every day the delay that takes place not only costs us many millions of dollars each day, but also increases the danger each day of the inflation tax.

Merriman Smith, United Press International: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Johnson's one hundred and eleventh news conference was held at the LBJ Ranch, Johnson City, Texas, at 12:23 p.m. on Saturday, September 30, 1967.

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

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