Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1977

Author: Jimmy Carter  | Date: August 26, 1977

Interview With the President
Remarks and a Question-and-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors.
August 26, 1977

THE PRESIDENT. I always hate to interrupt Jody when he’s in the midst of answering a question, because I know that if he doesn’t give an answer, that I might have to answer it later on.

These sessions have been very valuable to us because they’ve brought to me as President, I think to our whole White House staff, a different perspective about nationwide interests from what we ordinarily get at a Presidential news conference, or even a daily briefing by Jody Powell to the White House press corps.

There’s a much more personal interest in specific issues that affect our country in domestic and foreign affairs, and some things that we take for granted here in Washington are quite often of intense interest to you or to the individuals that read your newspapers or listen to your broadcasts.


We have now completed the first half year of our term, much more than a half year as far as relationships with congress go, and I’ve been very pleased at the results. Most of the action so far has been in the House of Representatives. But now the emphasis is going to shift very strongly to the Senate—one of the major reasons, of course, is because of the discussion on the comprehensive energy package.

Hearings will commence in the House and Senate on the comprehensive welfare reform package. And before the Congress adjourns, hopefully in October, we’ll have available to them our proposal on tax reform.

Of the original priority items that we enumerated at the beginning of my administration, the Congress has taken care of all of them so far in a very expeditious way—the creation of a new Department of Energy, which will be put together and ready to go by the 1st of October, the economic stimulus package, which consists of about $21 billion, which is just beginning to ’be implemented. We figure that this quarter only about $3 billion of the $21 billion will be felt throughout the country. We are now letting public works contracts at the rate of about a thousand per week. We are putting public service jobs into effect at a rate even beyond what we had hoped to do.

We have also, of course, seen the Congress pass a very strong ethics legislation. We’ve been able to get authority for reorganization of the executive branch of Government. And we are embarked ona very determined effort, which will last all of 3 years, to reorganize the structure of our Government and to put into effect more efficient and economical ways to operate it.

In the field of foreign policy we have very carefully delineated a set of goals that will take us through a 4-year period, obviously recognizing that unforeseen challenges and opportunities can present themselves at any moment.

But some of those major goals that are obvious to all of you are the SALT talks. They will be recommenced next week when Cy Vance, after a short rest period, will go on over to Vienna. We are negotiating with the Soviets every day on that item.

The comprehensive test ban, for which we have good hopes at this moment, has been joined in by Great Britain. This may or may not materialize as we envision it.

We’ve been quite active in the Middle Eastern negotiations, and I think that it’s completely accurate and a very cautious thing to say that Cy Vance’s last trip to the Middle East was very successful, certainly compared to the news reports from it.

We’ve found a much more compatible relationship among the Arab leaders, a much more flexible attitude on their part. And I think we still have a chance for progress there. Obviously, the chances are directly determined by the attitudes of the parties involved, although we have a very major interest in the Middle East. We’re not just idle bystanders. We don’t play a narrowly defined negotiating or intermediary role. But we are not trying to impose an American or United States settlement upon the other nations involved. We will be aggressive. But I have to say that there’s going to be a great deal of disillusionment on our part in the Middle East and around the world if some progress is not demonstrated within this year.

I doubt that our Government could continue to spend as much time and effort on my part, the State Department’s, and all the other agencies involved, on a continuing basis, unless it’s obvious to us that all the parties involved genuinely want a comprehensive peace settlement.

In southern Africa we have three major and simultaneous and interrelated goals. Again, we can’t order people around. We can’t impose a settlement on others. One is concerning Namibia, where we have taken the initiative and have recruited Germany, England, France, and Canada to join in with us to encourage South Africa to comply with the United Nations demands and international law concerning what was formerly Southwest Africa, now known as Namibia.

We have had encouragement from the South Africans. I think they want a settlement. We’re now working with the so called SWAPO group to get them to accept free and democratic elections. This is still conjectural, but we are encouraged now compared to what we were 3 months ago.

In Rhodesia, or Zimbabwe, we have the same problem. We and the British are working jointly on this project. The British have a tangible and a legal and historical responsibility in Rhodesia. Andy Young and David Owen, who is the Foreign Minister of Great Britain, will be meeting tomorrow with the five frontline presidents. We’ve evolved what I think is a rational and fair approach, which, if adopted, would be very beneficial.

And of course, the other problem is the continuing one with South Africa—their apartheid policy. We would like to encourage them to, at the most rapid possible rate, eliminate the grossly discriminatorypractices that have been extant there for a number of years.

We’re not trying to cause a revolution or to destroy their government. But this is a sensitive issue. There again, we have a limited role that we can play.

As you know, we’ve begun negotiations again with the People’s Republic of China. Cy Vance will be returning now. He’s just left Japan. He will be coming back home, and I’ll be meeting with him Sunday afternoon to get a more detailed report from him.

This visit was exploratory in nature. No one in our Government had met Premier Hua before, certainly not since he’s been in an ascendant position. Tens Hsiao-ping had been known by more of our people. But Cy had extensive talks with both those men, along with Huang Hua, who is their Foreign Minister. I think they understand our position better; we understand theirs.

I won’t go into any detail on the Panama situation, except to point out that this treaty is one that I consider to be vital to our country. It’s been negotiated now for 13 years.

I had serious concerns about it a couple of years ago, and I think that my concerns-to a very minor degree—but the concerns expressed by many Members of the Senate then have been taken into account.

I think that the present set of principles which are being drafted into treaty terms or language this week are completely compatible with our own Nation’s best interests and our security needs.

We retain complete control over the operation of the Panama Canal for the rest of this century, with the right to defend it. There will be a nine-person board of directors, five of whom will always be from the United States. We will appoint all nine. Until 1990, the executive director, who does not set policy, but carries out policy, will be an American citizen. Following 1990 that person will be a Panamanian citizen. Following the year 2000, the Panamanians will take operating control of the canal. We will retain the right, unilaterally, to decide what is necessary on our part to guarantee the neutrality of the canal, that it’s open to all international shipping. In case of an emergency, we and the Panamanians have so-called rights of expeditious passage, which means that we get priority use of the canal for our warships and for strategic cargo to be passed through the canal.

I think in balance the treaty is fair to both sides, and for that purpose alone, I would favor it. But the additional major advantage is that it would enhance tremendously our own relationships with other countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

I think Mexico all the way down the southern part of South America, our neighbors would know that we were trying to deal in good faith, that we were no longer attempting to act as a colonial power. And for that reason, again, there will be, I think, a great benefit to our business community, to our Nation’s stature in the world, and I think in balance, the Panama Canal is much more likely now to be open, free, uninterrupted in its service to all nations of the world than it would be if we continued the constant altercations with Panama about the means by which it should be operated.

I could go on and on with other issues, but I think at this point I would prefer to let you ask questions, and I’ll try to answer them as completely as I can.


Q. Mr. President, I was wondering—I believe the postal bill or postal act appropriationswall come up this fall. I believe you will present your—or Bert Lance will present the administration’s views on it in about 2 weeks. Since newspapers are quite concerned with the Postal Service in several ways, both in rates and also in the lack of service that we are receiving, I was wondering what position the administration would take on that.

THE PRESIDENT. We have not yet decided on an administration position, and I have to say that I haven’t put much time in on that yet. I have met with the director of the Postal Service. I’ve met with the representatives of both mail carriers and the postmasters. I’ve had some preliminary papers presented to me for study. But as far as our position on the actual organizational framework or the role to be played by the President in the future operation of the Postal Service, I haven’t decided yet, but this will be done before our testimony is required on Capitol Hill.

It’s not that we’ve ignored the subject, but I generally start becoming personally involved after all my department heads and other staff members have done their work, and then before the testimony is given, I do it myself.

Of course, what I want to see done is to have a maximum service to all people, and I would always put a heavy emphasis on the need for the Postal Service to provide to our readers of periodicals of all kinds that information without unnecessary financial burden. So, I favor the encouragement of a dissemination of news with beneficial postal rates, as we’ve always had as part of our Postal Service since I’ve known it.

Q. Are you familiar with H.R. 7700, the bill to provide appropriations for the Postal Service, for public service within the Postal Service?

THE PRESIDENT. Not in detail.


Q. Mr. President, to get back to Panama for a moment, would you hazard your assessment of what would be the immediate impact and the future impact of the rejection of the treaty, if it is rejected—the impact in Panama and Latin America generally?

THE PRESIDENT. I think if the treaty was rejected that our Nation would have the military capability to defend it in spite of a threat of sabotage or other similar threats. I believe that the cooperative arrangement that has been spelled out in the treaty between ourselves and Panama would greatly lessen the chance of violence and the need to defend the Panama Canal with force.

We have made an agreement with Panama that we would have access to the lands and waters, the military defense establishments in the Canal Zone as necessary to guarantee its safety and defense. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have been a party to the negotiations since I’ve been in office. They unanimously think that this is in the best interest of our country. And on their own initiative, without any orders or encouragement from me, they have said this publicly, even to the VFW and the American Legion.

We will have a signing ceremony in Washington the 7th of September. We have invited each of the Latin American countries who are supportive to send a. high government official to represent their country. In some instances, the Presidents or the Prime Ministers themselves will come. In others, they might send the foreign minister, or some might choose not to support the treaty.

In all my travels in Latin America-and I’ve met with representatives, I think,of almost all the Latin American countries since I’ve been in office—I believe they’re unanimously supportive of the treaty itself.

Had we never started the negotiations 13 years ago, the consequences of not having a treaty would be much more manageable. Now the expectation of Latin American people that we are going to have a resolution of this question has built up hopes of new friendship, new trade opportunities, and a new sense of commonality and equality of stature between their governments and our government that never existed before. I think if those hopes were dashed, if we signed the treaty, which we will do, if the other nations of Latin America signed the neutrality treaty which will take effect after the year 2000, and then our Senate rejects the treaty, I think that the consequences would be very severe. I hope to avoid that consequence.

I might add that several of the Senators who are strongly opposed to the treaty recognize this threat and this danger and this very difficult position in which we find ourselves.

I have received a report from the Joint Chiefs to corroborate the first statement I made that we can defend the treaty. Senator Goldwater has taken a very interesting position with which I do not agree—that if the American people are committed to fight in Panama against the Panamanians some time in the future, then, he says, he would favor our retention of present rights and the exclusion of Panama. If we are not willing to go to war with the Panamanians to retain the open canal, then the treaty is advisable. And this is basically the position that others have taken. Very conservative news columnists like Bill Buckley, to some degree James Kilpatrick, agree with that position.

I don’t want to have to go to war with Panama about the treaty, about the canal operation. The ownership of the canal is not nearly so important to me as the openness of the canal and its free access to all countries, as has been the case in the past with our having the right to defend it under any circumstances, to operate it to the end of this century, and to have our own warships, in case of an emergency, have priority.

Q. Mr. President, Governor Busbee made the statement that he did not believe you were receiving enough input from the American people on foreign policy. Before I left town, I asked the viewers of our newscast to call in on the questions of Panama and Cuba. And on the Panama treaty, in an hour’s time, 822 said no to the treaty and 128 yes. Normalization of relations with Cuba: 589 said no and 357 said yes. So there’s some input. But I’d like to know what you feel about Governor Busbee’s statement.

THE PRESIDENT. I wish you’d ask Jody this if you see him again, but I think Governor Busbee called Jody to say that the text of the speech to which you refer, that was issued, was not the speech that he delivered, and I don’t think he made those comments when he delivered the speech. But that was in the preliminary text that was prepared.

There are times in the life of any public official and in any news official when a position must be taken that’s not completely compatible with the public view. There’s been a great deal of legitimate concern about the Panama Canal expressed in the past, based on proposals that were put forward 5, 10, 13 years ago, that in the present treaty draft have beenalleviated. The concerns are no longer there because the treaty terms are better than we had anticipated.

I have talked to 50 or 60 Members of the Senate myself since the treaty was completed, the terms of it. Many of the Senators who signed the so-called Thurmond resolution a year or so ago—I think there were 40 of them, urging that no treaty be signed—have now changed their minds, and they will vote for the treaty because they have been pleasantly surprised at the terms.

I have a responsibility to be sure that not only the Members of the Senate but the American people know the facts about the current terms of the treaty. My belief is that when those facts are known, the opinion of the American people will change.

I think it will have a beneficial effect when 8 or 10 or more leaders of foreign countries come here in September to ratify the treaty and express their support for it. I intend to go to the Nation with .a fireside chat presentation some time in the not too distant future to explain the exact terms of the treaty.

We are also, at the request of individual Senators, inviting key opinion shapers from individual States to come here for a briefing by myself, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the negotiators in the State Department. We’ve already had two States, Kentucky and Mississippi. And I think it’s accurate to say that the people in Mississippi who came here were pleasantly surprised at the terms of the treaty.

So, I think a current assessment of the feeling of the American people about the Panama Canal, that can’t yet be based on the actual terms, is not of overwhelming concern to me. It obviously is of some concern. But that’s my responsibility, Dick [Dick McMichael, WRBL-TV, Columbus, Fla.], and if I can’t sell the American people on the fact that the terms of the treaty are beneficial, then I’ll have a very difficult time selling it to the Senate. But I’d predict that the treaty will be ratified.


Q. With most of the energy legislation still pending, I wonder what you foresee for this winter in terms of fuel shortages? Already in Louisiana they’re talking about cutting off 300 to 400 businesses from natural gas as of November 1.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as you know, we’ve made good progress already on shaping an energy policy backed up by strong legislation. And I hope the Senate will even strengthen what the House has done.

It is obvious to me, as one who has analyzed it as thoroughly as I can, that the energy shortages are going to be more and more severe each year. The shortage is not going to be alleviated. We now use about 60 million barrels of oil per day in the world. That is increasing at a rate of about 5 percent, most of the increase—a lot of the increase outside our own country. This means that the amount of oil that we will ever get out of Alaska would only meet about 9 months of that increase. In other words, we need a new Alaska North Slope every 9 months; we need a new Saudi Arabia every 3 years just to meet the increasing demands for oil. So, unless we cut back on the use of oil and natural gas we are going to have increasing demonstrations of crisis. We have had a few warnings already with which you’re thoroughly familiar—one in 1973 with the embargo, and again, I think more recently, as you refer, this winter with the natural gas shortage.

We have increased our imports this year, I believe, 22 percent above last year so far. Part of that has been because of stockpiling. But we’ve now reached thepoint where about half the oil we use in this country is being imported. A lot of that is caused ’by waste. I think no matter how hard we try for new exploration, and there’s a great incentive in the new energy bill for increased exploration, the production of oil in the continental United States is going to go down. It has been going down in spite of heavy exploratory efforts in the last 6 or 7 years about 6 percent a year.

We are heavily vulnerable to embargoes. We are trying to put a million barrels in the ground in salt dome storage to tide us over if there is such an embargo.

I think we have a need to recognize that we use about twice as much oil per person as other nations that have an equivalent standard of living, like Germany or Sweden or Japan. We’ve got an inclination on the part of the American people to do something about the energy problem until you get down to specifics. By an overwhelming majority, they want the Nation’s Government to take a strong position on a new energy policy, but then when you ask specific questions—are you willing to sacrifice here or there—the answer quite often is no.

So, I think that the only approach to it is twofold: One is to have a department in the Federal Government, one entity, within which comprehensive decisions can be made and to which the American people can commit their questions or suggestions or criticisms. That’s the Department of Energy that’s already been done. The other one is to have a comprehensive policy on energy that will have to be improved year by year. It is weaker than I would have hoped for already, but I think it’s going to take repetitive demonstrations of shortage that can be proven to the American people—and this is unfortunate—to arouse enough support to give us a strong enough energy policy in the future.

So, conservation of oil and natural gas, a shift toward other sources, including Obviously coal—these kinds of things must be encouraged ’by legislation.

Q. Things don’t look too good for this winter, though, in your estimation?

THE PRESIDENT. It depends on the weather. I think if we have a winter as severe as we did this past winter, we are going to have another shortage as severe as this past winter.


Q. You said there’ll be great disillusionment if progress toward the Middle East peace settlement isn’t achieved by the end of the year. What will the United States do next—

THE PRESIDENT. Do next or—

Q. —if there isn’t progress and if talks between Vance and the Middle East foreign ministers next month do not accomplish anything?

THE PRESIDENT. Let me say that our determination to bring about progress in the Middle East is as fervent as it has ever been. We’re not going to slacken our effort. I’m convinced that the Congress and the American people can have their commitment to a peaceful settlement aroused even more than has been the case in the past.

We have found a growing impatience among the other nations of the world, in the European Community for instance, with a lack of progress. So, I think that any nation in the Middle East that proved to be intransigent or an obstacle to progress would suffer at least to some degree the condemnation of the rest of the world. That’s a persuasive thing in itself.

The three basic problems have been obvious for decades. They are being addressed in detail now in a much more constructive way than 7 or 8 months ago when I came into office—territorial boundaries, defensible borders combined, the Palestinian refugee question, and a recognition by the Arab countries that Israel is there, that it has a right to exist, to exist in peace, and to be accepted as an equal.

I think we’ve made progress on all three of those basic areas. My hope is that we can bring the parties to Geneva for discussions under the aegis of ourselves and the Soviet Union and then let the world and the participating negotiators themselves realize that it’s going to be a long, tedious process.

There is no instant solution. Disagreements that have existed in some cases 2,000 years can’t be resolved overnight. But I think as long as each country proves that they are acting in good faith, which will require some flexibility, a moving away from adamant stands that have been expressed in the past, I think with that sort of demonstration on their part, then our commitment will continue to be very dedicated and very constant.


Q. Mr. President, with the temporary suspension of the 8(a) program that’s havoc among the special minority businesses, what, if any—and what can you state to that minority businessman who still desires equitable treatment, which you espoused during your time seeking election, movement having occurred, but there is still dilemma there? What can we expect to occur?

THE PRESIDENT. The 8(a) program will be reinstituted very quickly. I think it will be put back into effect, eliminating the political prostitution of it that did occur during the last administration. We’ve seen, since my own early business experience with the Small Business Administration, a deterioration in its quality became it was injected into the political arena, as you know.

We got to the point where we were lending minority business men and women and others, as well, quite often enough money to go into bankruptcy. We’d make an original loan, there would be no followup, no constancy about it, no advice, no counsel, no support, and quite often the entrepreneur that was a newcomer—and that’s the kind that the Small Business Administration quite often is designed to help—just couldn’t stand alone.

I think all of those proven defects in the 8(a) portion of the Small Business Administration’s effort will be corrected.

I think it’s accurate to say that they will be corrected very quickly and the program in its reinvigorated form initiated very quickly. I can’t give you a time schedule.

I’ve got to answer one more question, because I promised him.


Q. You characterized the Vance talks as exploratory.


Q. Precisely what was being explored? Did we talk, for example, about the use of nuclear weapons, did we talk about Taiwan? What were the areas that you were exploring?

THE PRESIDENT. There was a long agenda prepared before Mr. Vance went to China that was of great interest to me for months. He covered a wide range of interests, different areas of the world-the Mideast, Africa, obviously, the Western Pacific, peace in Korea, the SALT talks, comprehensive test ban, the relationshipbetween ourselves and the People’s Republic of China if recognition is not initiated, the terms under which we could normalize relationships with the People’s Republic of China on the mainland and also honor our longstanding commitment that the people on Taiwan could live in freedom—these kinds of questions were all explored at great length.

I had myself met with the Ambassador from the People’s Republic of China-he’s actually a trade representative, since we don’t have an embassy here—and gone into these questions to some degree.

We’ve got at least 850 million people in China whose government we don’t recognize diplomatically. We’re one of the few governments who don’t.

It’s our hope that we can find some basis on which to have diplomatic exchange, an enhancement of trade, constructive cooperation—not against the Soviet Union or against anyone else, but for our mutual advantage to stabilize peaceful relationships in the far Pacific and also in the rest of the world—with Hua, Teng, and others—and at the same time honor our longstanding commitment to Taiwan—to continue trade with them, to make sure that any resolution of the China question is done peaceably.

I think that Secretary Vance spent an extended period of time talking to Premier Hua. He spent several hours talking to the Vice Premier and the Vice Chairman of the Party, Teng Hsiao-ping. And he spent a couple of days talking to Huang Hua, his equal as Foreign Minister or Secretary of State.

The only thing that I know about the discussion so far is what I received from dispatches that come in over the teletype. But I will meet with Cy Vance this weekend for an extended briefing. I don’t feel under any constraint in this instance to act precipitously just to get an agreement. Nor do I feel any constraint to act hastily to get a SALT agreement with the Soviets, or a comprehensive test ban with the Soviets, or to jump into something in Cuba or southern Africa that might get massive approval for me and my success in foreign policy that might in the long run not be in the best interest of our country.

I feel like I’ve got time. I feel at this moment, at least, that I’ve got overwhelming support and trust from the American people, and I believe that we ought to act from a position of strength and soundness. But it is very important for us to understand the attitude of the Chinese leaders. It’s very important for them to understand us. And because of the new leadership that has come there since either Nixon or Kissinger were there, I thought it was valuable to us to get acquainted with them, not just on a social basis but discussing the issues that are vital to world peace.

So, the agenda was very extensive and very long. But we try to be very frank with the Chinese and with others that we talk to or negotiate with. We don’t violate confidences. We never tell one national leader one thing about a subject and tell a different country’s leader a different thing about the same subject. Sometimes it takes longer to negotiate a settlement using that technique. But I think in the long run the trust in our negotiators, certainly Cy Vance, is enhanced.

Although I can’t give you an accurate assessment of the progress made, Cy Vance’s reports to me were very encouraging.

Q. They are encouraging, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, the reports are very encouraging. But we don’t intend to act hastily. When we do make a decisionabout China which, if we make one of recognition, it’s undoubtedly going to be well into the future and it’ll be based on what I consider to be in the best interests of our country and one which I think the American people will support.

I want to say again how much I thank you for coming here. I’m sure that all of you on occasion watch the press conferences that I have with the national White House press corps. There’s a different tone and a different kind of interest and a different kind of question. I personally favor strongly the attitude and the interests that are exhibited in these exchanges. Every one of these questions was substantive and of importance to your listeners and your viewers and your readers. And quite often in the national press conferences here, the major emphasis, almost exclusive interest, is on a transient question. But I want to express my thanks to you for coming to Washington. I hope you get a chance to be acquainted with not only Jody Powell and his staff but my other leaders.

I hope that you’ll use this day’s visit as a conviction that we need your constant input and that we are always eager to have you call us directly for the answer to a question that comes up about your own region of the country.
Yes. I don’t want to see you.


Q. Mr. President, I have a double-barreled question. The first part—

THE, PRESIDENT. Well, I don’t know if I have a chance for another question. I’ve got to go. [Laughter]

Q. The first part is: There is a restaurant right across the road from where the B-l’s might have been built. It has a great big sign up that says, "Peanut butter sandwiches no longer for sale here." And down the street about two blocks is one which said, "We sell big peanut butter sandwiches cut on the bias." Now, is this the way it is being done in Georgia, on the bias? [Laughter]

A serious question, please. I know you’re intent on balancing the budget at the earliest possible date, with inflation and unemployment, and so forth, and I know what your target date is. How do you expect to do this, through a combination of reduced expenditures and income from revenues, and about when do you think you might actually get started toward some reductions on the deficit? How much importance do you place on that?

THE PRESIDENT. We spend a great deal of time on the concept of the balanced budget every day of my life. We’ll prepare my first budget for fiscal year ’79. I’ll probably spend about 25 more actual hours in this room going over the budget figures in detail on all the Federal agencies with Bert Lance and others from the Office of Management and Budget. Any head of a department who disagrees with those decisions can appeal directly to me and I’ll sit down and talk to him. But we hope the budget itself will be very tight, and the zero-base budgeting technique has been pleasantly a surprise to those who were not familiar with it before. I happened to have been familiar; so was Bert Lance.

The second thing is that we are trying through the reorganization effort to eliminate waste and inefficiency, unnecessary agencies. This will help in the long run.

Another thing is that we’ve put a lid on Federal employees. Our goal is that at the beginning of October, a year from now, that the total Federal employment will be at the same level, no higher than it was last October. In other words, for a 2-year period, because of efficiency and better assignment of responsibility, we won’t have any further growth in personnel in the Federal Government.

We also are trying to eliminate various agencies and programs that have been in the past splintered and divided among administrators and consolidate them so that they can be administered better. The Department of Energy is the most obvious example.

Another thing that we hope to do is to have an economy with a reasonable rate of growth. As we put together the tax reform package, part of it will obviously be a substantial tax reduction, which will give more purchasing power to consumers, let them spend more, hopefully let employers hire more people, let the economy grow more, which will bring more money into the Federal Treasury to bring about a balanced budget.

So, in all those areas we are contributing to a balanced budget. Another one is to be very cautious about the future cost of new initiatives in programs. In other words, as you well know, quite often in the past the Congress has passed a law perhaps at the request of the President, with an estimated budget impact and 5 years later have found that the budget impact is 500 percent more than had been predicted.

But we’re trying to make sure this doesn’t happen in the future. So, through all those means and others that I don’t have time to go into now—those are the major ones—but we are struggling every day to bring about a balanced budget, without reduction in services, through more efficiency, more economy, better organization and a much more careful husbanding of limited tax revenues and a stimulated economy with an average growth maintained at at least a 5-percent level.

We’ve had good success so far in reducing the unemployment rate. We hope to wind up this year with maybe 6.3 percent unemployment. It was about 8 percent when I came into office. But we’re still quite concerned about the inflation rate which is on a worldwide basis, of growing concern to me and other leaders.

Again, let me thank you for the chance to meet with you.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

NOTE: The interview began at 1:03 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

The transcript of the interview was released on August 27.


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Chicago: Jimmy Carter, "Interview With the President Remarks and a Question-And-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors.," Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1977 in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1977 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2223 1510–1518. Original Sources, accessed May 30, 2024,

MLA: Carter, Jimmy. "Interview With the President Remarks and a Question-And-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors." Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1977, in Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1977 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2223, pp. 1510–1518. Original Sources. 30 May. 2024.

Harvard: Carter, J, 'Interview With the President Remarks and a Question-And-Answer Session With a Group of Editors and News Directors.' in Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1977. cited in , Federal Register Division. National Archives and Records Service, Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Jimmy Carter, 1977 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956-), P.2223, pp.1510–1518. Original Sources, retrieved 30 May 2024, from