ustxtxb_obs_1981_10_23_50_00006-00000_000.pdf

Page 24

by

disinclines them to go and ask for charity or for what they would regard as a handout, welfare, and I think many of them would go in want rather than doing it. In fact, predicated on that very assumption is the idea that you’re gonna save money by doing it. If nobody’s going to lose any money, the government’s not going to save any money. Now the further argument is made against the minimum benefit that they didn’t earn it. Now let’s see who these people are. We don’t know who all of ’em are, but I know who some of ’em are. Some of them are people who were domestics for a very long time, weren’t covered, and maybe they reached the point of physical incapacity before they were able to accumulate the requisite 40 quarters of covered earnings. But they worked all their lives, at the most menial of drudgery in some cases. As far as I’m concerned they’re entitled to receive it they’ve earned it, in my book whether they’ve got those ten years, 40 quarters, of covered payments or not.* Some others who they use as a sort of a scapegoat to justify doing away with this benefit are federal retirees, people who have other pensions. They call it double-dipping. Well, what do they mean, double-dipping. I know a great many situations, people I know personally, mail-carriers and other federal employees, trying to bring up families and send kids through school, who just simply weren’t paid enough in the government employment and moonlighted. . . . But they are entitled to whatever they earned. . . . My position is that if a person has qualified for both through his or her efforts, then we have little justification in denying it. . . . Can we talk about the defense spending issue now. Mr. Reagan sent up his in his second wave of cuts. . . . Pretty severe cuts now in social services, maybe more to come. . . . This would be $2 billion in outlays during the coming fiscal year. I think that could be achieved. I don’t regard it as necessarily excessive. Do you think it’s enough? Well, it isn’t going to get him to the goal of a balanced budget … by 1984. I think you can just make an axiom of the fact that you simply cannot indulge the biggest peacetime military buildup in America’s history and the biggest tax cut in America’s history and have a balanced budget, all three. . . . the inexorable laws of mathematics are against it. . . . I don’t think you can take out of Social Security what he intends to take out of it. *President Reagan has since given up the fight to kill the minimum benefit. 6 OCTOBER 23, 1981 figures it’s $190 billion pending requests by 1990. That’s correct, I think that’s about right. . . . In the next five years it would be something like $70 billion that they would hope to squeeze out of the Social Security recipients to help them balance their budget. Well Congress isn’t going to stand still for that. That means that a person who has made plans for early rewould fmd 35% of his expected retirement income taken away from him. No way. . . . No way we’re going to tolerate that. . . . So those things are illusory. Those savings aren’t going to occur. . . . The reason for these deficits which the president so grandly denounces is his insistence upon this excessive tax cut. The tax cut is gonna take $280 billion away from the public treasury in these next three years. . . . Now how can you keep a straight face and tell the public that you’re going to reduce government income by $280 billion in these three years and at the same time you’re going to achieve a balanced budget in the last of those years. I think Mr. Reagan probably believes this because he has been sold a bill of goods. I think he has bought off on this dogmatic ideology that the way to great riches for America is simply to shrink the federal government. But so few people actually believe that among the economists and other knowledgeable people in government that I can’t but wonder why his secular, mystical faith in the thing hasn’t been shaken already. . . . Some of us kept saying, those are radical prunings, this isn’t trimming away fat, this is amputating arms and legs. . . . When people fall through those gaping holes in the so-called safety net, absent these cushions they’re gonna fall on bare concrete. This is what we were tryin’ to say, and this is what we had to say, Ronnie, because here comes this guy running right down our throats, and three times he rallied at least what passed for substantial public clamor for his programs. . . . The reconciliation bill was probably the most devastating one of all. . . . the members didn’t even get to see it until the day of the vote, and yet so great was the appeal that this man Reagan had generated behind it on the premise that it was essential to his economic recovery plan which I think is an economic retrenchment plan, I think it’s a misnomer that members of Congress who knew better supinely lay down and let them run over us. It was a new experience to me. Four votes changed would have won the crucial battle. . . . Members of Congress knew better than that. They knew that . . . a good, responsible legislative craftsmanship was not employed, they didn’t know how many drafting errors it contained, they knew it contained too many, they knew that it eliminated entire programs, it repeals at least 20 public laws en toto and parts of 60 or 70 other public laws. Never in my recollection, and I dare say seldom in American history has an Administration succeeded in dictating the last dotting of the last “i” and the crossing of the last “t” as they did in this Gramm-Latta II. I just don’t think it’s ever happened. . . . Now other people told me when we considered the tax bill . . . guys from our delegation from Texas, I would have ’em in here and say, “Gee, fellas, you guys campaigned against this Kemp-Roth thing, and you won. I can show you what I think are very reliable polls that will prove to you that the people in our area don’t want a tax cut that’s paid for on borrowed money. Given a choice between a balanced budget or getting a big tax cut they’d choose the former. These fellas are running absolutely contrary to what your people believe.” They’d say, “Jim, I know that, I know that it isn’t responsible, I know that my people if they knew what was in it wouldn’t like what was in it, but they don’t know what’s in it, and they won’t sit still long enough for me to tell ’em what’s in it, they just know that the President oughta be given a chance, and they’re looking to me to give the President a chance.” I say, “Hey, they’re lookin’ to you to use your judgment. They didn’t elect you to come up here as a flunky, for cryin’ out loud, they elected you to be a man responsible in your judgments.” “Jim, I know that, but if they elect me again I’m gonna come back again and if they don’t I’m not.” I mean I’ve never in all my years here witnessed such really craven fear of the public, and I don’t know what it betokens. You can sit here and pontificate and try to philosophize about it. Why are people more Are they more cowardly than they were? If so, why? Do they have less sense of responsibility? If so, when did it start? Where did it begin?”What do you do to change it? I don’t know the answer to those questions. But I know that those questions loom very large in my mind. Mr. Rayburn had these difficulties, but never quite to this degree. Mr. Rayburn was disappointed on numerous occabers who voted contrary to what he wanted and what they really thought was best were few, and when it occurred they were somewhat apologetic about it to their colleagues. . . . 0