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1412We can and we will make the year 1974 a year of unprecedented progress

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  • Ram Lau
    Jan 31, 2006
      President Nixon
      1974 State of the Union Address

      We meet here tonight at a time of great challenge and great
      opportunities for America. We meet at a time when we face great
      problems at home and abroad that will test the strength of our fiber
      as a nation. But we also meet at a time when that fiber has been
      tested, and it has proved strong.

      America is a great and good land, and we are a great and good land
      because we are a strong, free, creative people and because America is
      the single greatest force for peace anywhere in the world. Today, as
      always in our history, we can base our confidence in what the
      American people will achieve in the future on the record of what the
      American people have achieved in the past.

      Tonight, for the first time in 12 years, a President of the United
      States can report to the Congress on the state of a Union at peace
      with every nation of the world. Because of this, in the 22,000-word
      message on the state of the Union that I have just handed to the
      Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, I have been
      able to deal primarily with the problems of peace--with what we can
      do here at home in America for the American people--rather than with
      the problems of war.

      The measures I have outlined in this message set an agenda for truly
      significant progress for this Nation and the world in 1974. Before we
      chart where we are going, let us see how far we have come.

      It was 5 years ago on the steps of this Capitol that I took the oath
      of office as your President. In those 5 years, because of the
      initiatives undertaken by this Administration, the world has changed.
      America has changed. As a result of those changes, America is safer
      today, more prosperous today, with greater opportunity for more of
      its people than ever before in our history.

      Five years ago, America was at war in Southeast Asia. We were locked
      in confrontation with the Soviet Union. We were in hostile isolation
      from a quarter of the world's people who lived in Mainland China.

      Five years ago, our cities were burning and besieged.

      Five years ago, our college campuses were a battleground.

      Five years ago, crime was increasing at a rate that struck fear
      across the Nation.

      Five years ago, the spiraling rise in drug addiction was threatening
      human and social tragedy of massive proportion, and there was no
      program to deal with it.

      Five years ago--as young Americans had done for a generation before
      that- America's youth still lived under the shadow of the military

      Five years ago, there was no national program to preserve our
      environment. Day by day, our air was getting dirtier, our water was
      getting more foul.

      And 5 years ago, American agriculture was practically a depressed
      industry with 100,000 farm families abandoning the farm every year.

      As we look at America today, we find ourselves challenged by new
      problems. But we also find a record of progress to confound the
      professional criers of doom and prophets of despair. We met the
      challenges we faced 5 years ago, and we will be equally confident of
      meeting those that we face today.

      Let us see for a moment how we have met them.

      After more than 10 years of military involvement, all of our troops
      have returned from Southeast Asia, and they have returned with honor.
      And we can be proud of the fact that our courageous prisoners of war,
      for whom a dinner was held in Washington tonight, that they came home
      with their heads high, on their feet and not on their knees.

      In our relations with the Soviet Union, we have turned away from a
      policy of confrontation to one of negotiation. For the first time
      since World War II, the world's two strongest powers are working
      together toward peace in the world. With the People's Republic of
      China after a generation of hostile isolation, we have begun a period
      of peaceful exchange and expanding trade.

      Peace has returned to our cities, to our campuses. The 17-year rise
      in crime has been stopped. We can confidently say today that we are
      finally beginning to win the war against crime. Right here in this
      Nation's Capital--which a few years ago was threatening to become the
      crime capital of the world--the rate in crime has been cut in half. A
      massive campaign against drug abuse has been organized. And the rate
      of new heroin addiction, the most vicious threat of all, is
      decreasing rather than increasing.

      For the first time in a generation, no young Americans are being
      drafted into the armed services of the United States. And for the
      first time ever, we have organized a massive national effort to
      protect the environment. Our air is getting cleaner, our water is
      getting purer, and our agriculture, which was depressed, is
      prospering. Farm income is up 70 percent, farm production is setting
      alltime records, and the billions of dollars the taxpayers were
      paying in subsidies has been cut to nearly zero.

      Overall, Americans are living more abundantly than ever before,
      today. More than 2 1/2 million new jobs were created in the past year
      alone. That is the biggest percentage increase in nearly 20 years.
      People are earning more. What they earn buys more, more than ever
      before in history. In the past 5 years, the average American's real
      spendable income--that is, what you really can buy with your income,
      even after allowing for taxes and inflation--has increased by 16

      Despite this record of achievement, as we turn to the year ahead we
      hear once again the familiar voice of the perennial prophets of gloom
      telling us now that because of the need to fight inflation, because
      of the energy shortage, America may be headed for a recession.

      Let me speak to that issue head on. There will be no recession in the
      United States of America. Primarily due to our energy crisis, our
      economy is passing through a difficult period. But I pledge to you
      tonight that the full powers of this Government will be used to keep
      America's economy producing and to protect the jobs of America's

      We are engaged in a long and hard fight against inflation. There have
      been, and there will be in the future, ups and downs in that fight.
      But if this Congress cooperates in our efforts to hold down the cost
      of Government, we shall win our fight to hold down the cost of living
      for the American people.

      As we look back over our history, the years that stand out as the
      ones of signal achievement are those in which the Administration and
      the Congress, whether one party or the other, working together, had
      the wisdom and the foresight to select those particular initiatives
      for which the Nation was ready and the moment was right--and in which
      they seized the moment and acted.

      Looking at the year 1974 which lies before us, there are 10 key areas
      in which landmark accomplishments are possible this year in America.
      If we make these our national agenda, this is what we will achieve in

      We will break the back of the energy crisis; we will lay the
      foundation for our future capacity to meet America's energy needs
      from America's own resources.

      And we will take another giant stride toward lasting peace in the
      world--not only by continuing our policy of negotiation rather than
      confrontation where the great powers are concerned but also by
      helping toward the achievement of a just and lasting settlement in
      the Middle East.

      We will check the rise in prices without administering the harsh
      medicine of recession, and we will move the economy into a steady
      period of growth at a sustainable level.

      We will establish a new system that makes high-quality health care
      available to every American in a dignified manner and at a price he
      can afford.

      We will make our States and localities more responsive to the needs
      of their own citizens.

      We will make a crucial breakthrough toward better transportation in
      our towns and in our cities across America.

      We will reform our system of Federal aid to education, to provide it
      when it is needed, where it is needed, so that it will do the most
      for those who need it the most.

      We will make an historic beginning on the task of defining and
      protecting the right of personal privacy for every American.

      And we will start on a new road toward reform of a welfare system
      that bleeds the taxpayer, corrodes the community, and demeans those
      it is intended to assist.

      And together with the other nations of the world, we will establish
      the economic framework within which Americans will share more fully
      in an expanding worldwide trade and prosperity in the years ahead,
      with more open access to both markets and supplies.

      In all of the 186 State of the Union messages delivered from this
      place, in our history this is the first in which the one priority,
      the first priority, is energy. Let me begin by reporting a new
      development which I know will be welcome news to every American. As
      you know, we have committed ourselves to an active role in helping to
      achieve a just and durable peace in the Middle East, on the basis of
      full implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The
      first step in the process is the disengagement of Egyptian and
      Israeli forces which is now taking place.

      Because of this hopeful development, I can announce tonight that I
      have been assured, through my personal contacts with friendly leaders
      in the Middle Eastern area, that an urgent meeting will be called in
      the immediate future to discuss the lifting of the oil embargo.

      This is an encouraging sign. However, it should be clearly understood
      by our friends in the Middle East that the United States will not be
      coerced on this issue.

      Regardless of the outcome of this meeting, the cooperation of the
      American people in our energy conservation program has already gone a
      long way towards achieving a goal to which I am deeply dedicated. Let
      us do everything we can to avoid gasoline rationing in the United
      States of America.

      Last week, I sent to the Congress a comprehensive special message
      setting forth our energy situation, recommending the legislative
      measures which are necessary to a program for meeting our needs. If
      the embargo is lifted, this will ease the crisis, but it will not
      mean an end to the energy shortage in America. Voluntary conservation
      will continue to be necessary. And let me take this occasion to pay
      tribute once again to the splendid spirit of cooperation the American
      people have shown which has made possible our success in meeting this
      emergency up to this time.

      The new legislation I have requested will also remain necessary.
      Therefore, I urge again that the energy measures that I have proposed
      be made the first priority of this session of the Congress. These
      measures will require the oil companies and other energy producers to
      provide the public with the necessary information on their supplies.
      They will prevent the injustice of windfall profits for a few as a
      result of the sacrifices of the millions of Americans. And they will
      give us the organization, the incentives, the authorities needed to
      deal with the short-term emergency and to move toward meeting our
      long-term needs.

      Just as 1970 was the year in which we began a full-scale effort to
      protect the environment, 1974 must be the year in which we organize a
      full-scale effort to provide for our energy needs, not only in this
      decade but through the 21st century.

      As we move toward the celebration 2 years from now of the 200th
      anniversary of this Nation's independence, let us press vigorously on
      toward the goal I announced last November for Project Independence.
      Let this be our national goal: At the end of this decade, in the year
      1980, the United States will not be dependent on any other country
      for the energy we need to provide our jobs, to heat our homes, and to
      keep our transportation moving.

      To indicate the size of the Government commitment, to spur energy
      research and development, we plan to spend $10 billion in Federal
      funds over the next 5 years. That is an enormous amount. But during
      the same 5 years, private enterprise will be investing as much as
      $200 billion-- and in 10 years, $500 billion--to develop the new
      resources, the new technology, the new capacity America will require
      for its energy needs in the 1980's. That is just a measure of the
      magnitude of the project we are undertaking.

      But America performs best when called to its biggest tasks. It can
      truly be said that only in America could a task so tremendous be
      achieved so quickly, and achieved not by regimentation, but through
      the effort and ingenuity of a free people, working in a free system.

      Turning now to the rest of the agenda for 1974, the time is at hand
      this year to bring comprehensive, high quality health care within the
      reach of every American. I shall propose a sweeping new program that
      will assure comprehensive health insurance protection to millions of
      Americans who cannot now obtain it or afford it, with vastly improved
      protection against catastrophic illnesses. This will be a plan that
      maintains the high standards of quality in America's health care. And
      it will not require additional taxes.

      Now, I recognize that other plans have been put forward that would
      cost $80 billion or even $100 billion and that would put our whole
      health care system under the heavy hand of the Federal Government.
      This is the wrong approach. This has been tried abroad, and it has
      failed. It is not the way we do things here in America. This kind of
      plan would threaten the quality of care provided by our whole health
      care system. The right way is one that builds on the strengths of the
      present system and one that does not destroy those strengths, one
      based on partnership, not paternalism. Most important of all, let us
      keep this as the guiding principle of our health programs. Government
      has a great role to play, but we must always make sure that our
      doctors will be working for their patients and not for the Federal

      Many of you will recall that in my State of the Union Address 3 years
      ago, I commented that "Most Americans today are simply fed up with
      government at all levels," and I recommended a sweeping set of
      proposals to revitalize State and local governments, to make them
      more responsive to the people they serve. I can report to you today
      that as a result of revenue sharing passed by the Congress, and other
      measures, we have made progress toward that goal. After 40 years of
      moving power from the States and the communities to Washington, D.C.,
      we have begun moving power back from Washington to the States and
      communities and, most important, to the people of America.

      In this session of the Congress, I believe we are near the
      breakthrough point on efforts which I have suggested, proposals to
      let people themselves make their own decisions for their own
      communities and, in particular, on those to provide broad new
      flexibility in Federal aid for community development, for economic
      development, for education. And I look forward to working with the
      Congress, with members of both parties in resolving whatever
      remaining differences we have in this legislation so that we can make
      available nearly $5 1/2 billion to our States and localities to use
      not for what a Federal bureaucrat may want, but for what their own
      people in those communities want. The decision should be theirs.

      I think all of us recognize that the energy crisis has given new
      urgency to the need to improve public transportation, not only in our
      cities but in rural areas as well. The program I have proposed this
      year will give communities not only more money but also more freedom
      to balance their own transportation needs. It will mark the strongest
      Federal commitment ever to the improvement of mass transit as an
      essential element of the improvement of life in our towns and cities.

      One goal on which all Americans agree is that our children should
      have the very best education this great Nation can provide.

      In a special message last week, I recommended a number of important
      new measures that can make 1974 a year of truly significant advances
      for our schools and for the children they serve. If the Congress will
      act on these proposals, more flexible funding will enable each
      Federal dollar to meet better the particular need of each particular
      school district. Advance funding will give school authorities a
      chance to make each year's plans, knowing ahead of time what Federal
      funds they are going to receive. Special targeting will give special
      help to the truly disadvantaged among our people. College students
      faced with rising costs for their education will be able to draw on
      an expanded program of loans and grants. These advances are a needed
      investment in America's most precious resource, our next generation.
      And I urge the Congress to act on this legislation in 1974.

      One measure of a truly free society is the vigor with which it
      protects the liberties of its individual citizens. As technology has
      advanced in America, it has increasingly encroached on one of those
      liberties--what I term the right of personal privacy. Modern
      information systems, data banks, credit records, mailing list abuses,
      electronic snooping, the collection of personal data for one purpose
      that may be used for another--all these have left millions of
      Americans deeply concerned by the privacy they cherish.

      And the time has come, therefore, for a major initiative to define
      the nature and extent of the basic rights of privacy and to erect new
      safeguards to ensure that those rights are respected.

      I shall launch such an effort this year at the highest levels of the
      Administration, and I look forward again to working with this
      Congress in establishing a new set of standards that respect the
      legitimate needs of society, but that also recognize personal privacy
      as a cardinal principle of American liberty.

      Many of those in this Chamber tonight will recall that it was 3 years
      ago that I termed the Nation's welfare system "a monstrous, consuming
      outrage--an outrage against the community, against the taxpayer, and
      particularly against the children that it is supposed to help."

      That system is still an outrage. By improving its administration, we
      have been able to reduce some of the abuses. As a result, last year,
      for the first time in 18 years, there has been a halt in the growth
      of the welfare caseload. But as a system, our welfare program still
      needs reform as urgently today as it did when I first proposed in
      1969 that we completely replace it with a different system.

      In these final 3 years of my Administration, I urge the Congress to
      join me in mounting a major new effort to replace the discredited
      present welfare system with one that works, one that is fair to those
      who need help or cannot help themselves, fair to the community, and
      fair to the taxpayer. And let us have as our goal that there will be
      no Government program which makes it more profitable to go on welfare
      than to go to work.

      I recognize that from the debates that have taken place within the
      Congress over the past 3 years on this program that we cannot expect
      enactment overnight of a new reform. But I do propose that the
      Congress and the Administration together make this the year in which
      we discuss, debate, and shape such a reform so that it can be enacted
      as quickly as possible.

      America's own prosperity in the years ahead depends on our sharing
      fully and equitably in an expanding world prosperity. Historic
      negotiations will take place this year that will enable us to ensure
      fair treatment in international markets for American workers,
      American farmers, American investors, and American consumers.

      It is vital that the authorities contained in the trade bill I
      submitted to the Congress be enacted so that the United States can
      negotiate flexibly and vigorously on behalf of American interests.
      These negotiations can usher in a new era of international trade that
      not only increases the prosperity of all nations but also strengthens
      the peace among all nations.

      In the past 5 years, we have made more progress toward a lasting
      structure of peace in the world than in any comparable time in the
      Nation's history. We could not have made that progress if we had not
      maintained the military strength of America. Thomas Jefferson once
      observed that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. By the same
      token, and for the same reason, in today's world the price of peace
      is a strong defense as far as the United States is concerned.

      In the past 5 years, we have steadily reduced the burden of national
      defense as a share of the budget, bringing it down from 44 percent in
      1969 to 29 percent in the current year. We have cut our military
      manpower over the past 5 years by more than a third, from 3.5 million
      to 2.2 million.

      In the coming year, however, increased expenditures will be needed.
      They will be needed to assure the continued readiness of our military
      forces, to preserve present force levels in the face of rising costs,
      and to give us the military strength we must have if our security is
      to be maintained and if our initiatives for peace are to succeed.

      The question is not whether we can afford to maintain the necessary
      strength of our defense, the question is whether we can afford not to
      maintain it, and the answer to that question is no. We must never
      allow America to become the second strongest nation in the world.

      I do not say this with any sense of belligerence, because I recognize
      the fact that is recognized around the world. America's military
      strength has always been maintained to keep the peace, never to break
      it. It has always been used to defend freedom, never to destroy it.
      The world's peace, as well as our own, depends on our remaining as
      strong as we need to be as long as we need to be.

      In this year 1974, we will be negotiating with the Soviet Union to
      place further limits on strategic nuclear arms. Together with our
      allies, we will be negotiating with the nations of the Warsaw Pact on
      mutual and balanced reduction of forces in Europe. And we will
      continue our efforts to promote peaceful economic development in
      Latin America, in Africa, in Asia. We will press for full compliance
      with the peace accords that brought an end to American fighting in
      Indo-china, including particularly a provision that promised the
      fullest possible accounting for those Americans who are missing in

      And having in mind the energy crisis to which I have referred to
      earlier, we will be working with the other nations of the world
      toward agreement on means by which oil supplies can be assured at
      reasonable prices on a stable basis in a fair way to the consuming
      and producing nations alike.

      All of these are steps toward a future in which the world's peace and
      prosperity, and ours as well as a result, are made more secure.

      Throughout the 5 years that I have served as your President, I have
      had one overriding aim, and that was to establish a new structure of
      peace in the world that can free future generations of the scourge of
      war. I can understand that others may have different priorities. This
      has been and this will remain my first priority and the chief legacy
      I hope to leave from the 8 years of my Presidency.

      This does not mean that we shall not have other priorities, because
      as we strengthen the peace, we must also continue each year a steady
      strengthening of our society here at home. Our conscience requires
      it, our interests require it, and we must insist upon it.

      As we create more jobs, as we build a better health care system, as
      we improve our education, as we develop new sources of energy, as we
      provide more abundantly for the elderly and the poor, as we
      strengthen the system of private enterprise that produces our
      prosperity--as we do all of this and even more, we solidify those
      essential bonds that hold us together as a nation.

      Even more importantly, we advance what in the final analysis
      government in America is all about.

      What it is all about is more freedom, more security, a better life
      for each one of the 211 million people that live in this land.

      We cannot afford to neglect progress at home while pursuing peace
      abroad. But neither can we afford to neglect peace abroad while
      pursuing progress at home. With a stable peace, all is possible, but
      without peace, nothing is possible.

      In the written message that I have just delivered to the Speaker and
      to the President of the Senate, I commented that one of the
      continuing challenges facing us in the legislative process is that of
      the timing and pacing of our initiatives, selecting each year among
      many worthy projects those that are ripe for action at that time.

      What is true in terms of our domestic initiatives is true also in the
      world. This period we now are in, in the world--and I say this as one
      who has seen so much of the world, not only in these past 5 years but
      going back over many years--we are in a period which presents a
      juncture of historic forces unique in this century. They provide an
      opportunity we may never have again to create a structure of peace
      solid enough to last a lifetime and more, not just peace in our time
      but peace in our children's time as well. It is on the way we respond
      to this opportunity, more than anything else, that history will judge
      whether we in America have met our responsibility. And I am confident
      we will meet that great historic responsibility which is ours today.

      It was 27 years ago that John F. Kennedy and I sat in this Chamber,
      as freshmen Congressmen, hearing our first State of the Union address
      delivered by Harry Truman. I know from my talks with him, as members
      of the Labor Committee on which we both served, that neither of us
      then even dreamed that either one or both might eventually be
      standing in this place that I now stand in now and that he once stood
      in, before me. It may well be that one of the freshmen Members of the
      93rd Congress, one of you out there, will deliver his own State of
      the Union message 27 years from now, in the year 2001.

      Well, whichever one it is, I want you to be able to look back with
      pride and to say that your first years here were great years and
      recall that you were here in this 93rd Congress when America ended
      its longest war and began its longest peace.

      I would like to add a personal word with regard to an issue that has
      been of great concern to all Americans over the past year. I refer,
      of course, to the investigations of the so-called Watergate affair.

      As you know, I have provided to the Special Prosecutor voluntarily a
      great deal of material. I believe that I have provided all the
      material that he needs to conclude his investigations and to proceed
      to prosecute the guilty and to clear the innocent.

      I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other
      investigations of this matter to an end. One year of Watergate is

      And the time has come, my colleagues, for not only the Executive, the
      President, but the Members of Congress, for all of us to join
      together in devoting our full energies to these great issues that I
      have discussed tonight which involve the welfare of all of the
      American people in so many different ways, as well as the peace of
      the world.

      I recognize that the House Judiciary Committee has a special
      responsibility in this area, and I want to indicate on this occasion
      that I will cooperate with the Judiciary Committee in its
      investigation. I will cooperate so that it can conclude its
      investigation, make its decision, and I will cooperate in any way
      that I consider consistent with my responsibilities to the Office of
      the Presidency of the United States.

      There is only one limitation. I will follow the precedent that has
      been followed by and defended by every President from George
      Washington to Lyndon B. Johnson of never doing anything that weakens
      the Office of the President of the United States or impairs the
      ability of the Presidents of the future to make the great decisions
      that are so essential to this Nation and the world.

      Another point I should like to make very briefly: Like every Member
      of the House and Senate assembled here tonight, I was elected to the
      office that I hold. And like every Member of the House and Senate,
      when I was elected to that office, I knew that I was elected for the
      purpose of doing a job and doing it as well as I possibly can. And I
      want you to know that I have no intention whatever of ever walking
      away from the job that the people elected me to do for the people of
      the United States.

      Now, needless to say, it would be understatement if I were not to
      admit that the year 1973 was not a very easy year for me personally
      or for my family. And as I have already indicated, the year 1974
      presents very great and serious problems, as very great and serious
      opportunities are also presented.

      But my colleagues, this I believe: With the help of God, who has
      blessed this land so richly, with the cooperation of the Congress,
      and with the support of the American people, we can and we will make
      the year 1974 a year of unprecedented progress toward our goal of
      building a structure of lasting peace in the world and a new
      prosperity without war in the United States of America.
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