Public Papers of Jimmy Carter, 1980-1981

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Author: Jimmy Carter  | Date: September 29, 1980

New York, New York
Remarks to the New York Business/Labor Committee for Carter/Mondale.
September 29, 1980

As I listened to the emotionalism and the objectivity and the cold economic analysis and the political judgment of the speakers that came before me, I couldn’t help reminding myself that all the members of the union who look to Victor Gottbaum and Chick Chaikin are my constituents. And all the New Yorkers who were there with Abe Beame and now with Ed Koch are my constituents. And all those who live in the State of New York and are constituents of Hugh Carey are also mine. And all the customers of the business men and women assembled here are my constituents. I consider New York City to be my responsibility.

It’s not as though there’s an alien President who lives in the White House and who works in the Oval Office who deals from afar with leaders who are responsible for the future of this great city-I’m part of it. It’s my city, and I’m determined that it will not suffer. I’m determined that it will be economically viable. And to summarize these feelings in four words—I love New York.

I came here first to campaign when the city was filled with discouragement and despair, when there was a sense of alienationbetween New York City and the White House, when Congress was responsive to a President who did not believe that this true partnership should exist, and I’ve seen that change in the eyes and in the hearts and minds of people on the streets. I’ve been here for two momentous occasions in my own life—when the Democratic National Committee and Convention nominated me for President. I’ve been here, probably, 15 times to ride down the street with Ed Koch as mayor and with Hugh Carey as Governor and with other leaders and looked in the faces of people alongside who gave me a friendly greeting, because I believe they honestly knew that I had their best interests at heart.

I know how much has been accomplished, but I also realize what great things we still have to do. Every New Yorker can take pride in what we have done, but every New Yorker must share the responsibility for the future—economic development, public transit, the allotment of funds for human services to meet the legitimate needs of people who are hungry, who are unemployed, who want a better chance in life, who are interested in equality of opportunity, who want a better education.

I’m very proud that in this city we have added in the last 3 1/2 years, up through August, including the recession time, 248,000 jobs, and I remember that when I was inaugurated President the unemployment rate throughout New York State was 11 percent. It has decreased, as of last month, by 30 percent. Good progress, yes; not yet enough. But this was because we did the most necessary things as a top priority. We acted when we had to act, and we worked together. I don’t think there’s ever been an absence of the fullest kind of communication and cooperation and a sense of partnership although, as almost everyone has said, we haven’t always agreed on everything.

The $1.6 billion loan guarantee program is now the cornerstone of New York City’s recovery program, and it’s important that it be assessed constantly and kept alive. We won that monumental fight, but there’s going to be more to fight for in the future. Right now, as you know, in the Senate an attack is being mounted which seriously threatens the $300 million in additional loan guarantees for which the city has recently applied. I’m determined, you and I together, to defeat that measure and to protect our hard-won gains.

Last night between 9 o’clock and 11 o’clock from my own study in the White House, I was calling members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, including the Senate Majority Leader, to ask them that when that conference committee comes out with the continuing resolution that there is congressional expression in the conference report that it’s the sense of Congress that the Federal Government shall honor its obligation to continue the guarantee of loans for New York City. And I can tell you that as soon as that legislation is passed, protected as I’ve described, the Treasury will issue your guarantees without delay.

All the work’s been done. There is no obstacle except that particular item, and I hope that all of you will help me with the members of the conference committee to protect what we’ve done.

Soon my opponent will be coming to New York, and we can predict that he’ll try to make us forget what has been done in the past, his record, that he’s the candidate with aspirations for the Presidency in the time of New York’s greatest need who said, and I quote, "I have included in my morning and evening prayers every day the prayer that the Federal Governmentwill not bail out New York City." Fortunately, it seems that the Lord does not always hear such prayers. [Laughter]

And I don’t think that the people of New York or the other major cities of this country are going to pay much attention to candidates who make positive statements just during the few weeks immediately before a campaign is concluded. I hope that when my opponent comes to New York that you could do me a favor. I have been hoping that in a man-to-man debate, I could ask him some questions. Since he refuses to debate with me, there’s one question that perhaps you can put to him, and I’ll have to depend on the people of New York to ask it.

He proposes that we put the entire cost of the welfare program on State and local governments. The question is, how much would this proposal cost the taxpayers of New York? How much would State and local taxes have to be raised to pay for this one proposal? That’s the question that he needs to answer in every city and town across this country, and I think tomorrow in New York is a good place for him to start.

We are going to continue our fight not only for a better city and a better State of New York but for a better nation; for a country that’s strong and at peace; for a country that stands for the rights of Israel and our other allies to be secure and to live at peace; for energy security without the threat of blackmail from those who could bring us to our knees by the deprivation or overcharge for oil; for the military security of this country; for a vigorous economy and productive jobs, particularly in our cities; for social justice and quality of education; for equal rights for women and human rights around the world; for peace on Earth. And through all of this, of course, no matter how difficult the trials might be, my support for New York City will never wane.

The truth is that the Nation needs a strong and a healthy New York, not only for the obvious reasons of its commercial and cultural and international preeminence but for the example of what it offers to the Nation, of what people and politics can accomplish when we work together. By working hard and without falling victim to simple slogans and implausible promises, we’ll keep on making steady, day-by-day progress. By working together without falling victim to divisions between black and white or Jews and Christians or North and South or urban and rural areas, we’ll reach our goal of renewed greatness for this city and also for our country.

It’s equally true that New York needs the support and the understanding of the rest of this Nation. As you know very well, particularly those of you who have spent time on Capitol Hill and in Washington, keeping the slender support of Congress is not easy. The President doesn’t always have a lot of adequate influence in the Congress. But on closely divided issues, when public support around the Nation is absolutely crucial, the President’s voice can make a difference in the Congress between success and failure. That’s why when the Republicans were in the White House, New York could not succeed, and that’s why when Fritz Mondale and I took over the leadership of this country, we were narrowly able to succeed.

Well, it’s important to have your support. The full breadth of it could make the difference. It’s almost theoretically impossible-practically, I’m sure, it’s impossible-to figure out how I can win reelection without New York State. You can make the difference, not only with your financial contributions but with your voice, because you are the leaders towhom others listen, not only about the past, what has occurred, and the present problems that must be resolved together, but about the future that will extend even beyond the next 4 years.

A few people can make all the difference in the world. In 1960, if just 28,000 Texans had voted differently and just a few thousand in Illinois, John Kennedy would never have been President. And as all of you know, to your great regret and to mine, in 1968 just a few people working a little bit harder would have put Hubert Humphrey in the White House instead of Richard Nixon.

This year we face another crucial test of that same kind—not just a contest between two candidates or two parties, but between two futures for our country. The choice could not be more stark nor more critical. Will America have a secure future with abundant energy from sources that are as old as the Sun and as new as synthetic fuels, or will it face a precarious future, excessively dependent on OPEC and also the oil companies? Will America unite in fighting hard to fight inflation and compete abroad by rebuilding our industrial muscle, which needs a reinvestment to give American workers the tools and factories to keep their productivity high, or will it yield to transient political appeal of a massive inflationary election year Federal tax cut scheme known as Reagan-Kemp-Roth?

There’s a question about whether America will care for its women and its children and its unemployed men or turn its back on traditions of compassion. Will America stand with those who struggle for equal rights and better lives for minorities and for the poor and for women, or will others hide behind code words and evasions? Will America continue to build military power and strong alliances in a steady and responsible way, or will we throw away our wealth and our security and perhaps world respect and perhaps our peace on a doomed nuclear arms race? Will America keep laboring to strengthen the fragile bonds of peace among nations, or will we threaten them and our own safety with ill-considered, unnecessary interventions around the world as have been advocated repeatedly in the past few months? Will America continue to stand up for human rights at home and abroad?

My friends, there is no choice. We are proud that America once again stands for principle. We need not be ashamed of what our country is. We remember our founding commitments and ideals, and that sort of message is sent through every nation on Earth.

Above all, we must keep America standing firm with those—every President since Harry Truman has advocated—who have sought to control nuclear weapons and to lift their clouds of terror from the future of mankind. This could change, and we could be embroiled in a nuclear arms race that would endanger the existence of the world. Right now, in this crucial year of choice, the actions that you take will affect the lives and the futures of human beings everywhere.

You and I know how hard we have fought to put this country on the right road to the right future. I was with you then, and now I’m with you now. I’ll be with you when the time comes to fight again.

I do not promise we can have everything immediately or exactly as you might wish. I do not promise that everything will be better all at once. If we accept the lessons of our past and face the facts of our life and welcome the challenges of the future, then I can promise you that our Nation will continue to prosper. I can promise you that our Nation will continue to grow stronger. I can promise you thatour Nation will continue to use its beneficial impact on people throughout the world. I can promise you that our highest objective will be a secure nation at peace. I can promise you that human suffering will not be ignored, and I can promise you hope.

Together, I have no doubt that you and I will win this election, and together we’ll keep the greatest nation on Earth firmly on course toward a future of security, of justice, of prosperity, of hope, and of peace. That’s my promise to you. If you stay my partners and do your share on November the 4th, we will not lose.
Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 2:10 p.m. in the Georgian Ballroom "A" at the Sheraton Centre Hotel.

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