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OUR THIRD CENTURY: DIRECTIONS
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1976
U. S. SENATE
Washington, D.C. The symposium met, pursuant to notice, at 10:20 a.m. in 3302, the Dirksent Senate Office Building, Hon. John Glenn (ad hoc chairman) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR GLENN
Chairman Glexx. The meeting will be in order. It is a great honor today to convene this symposium entitled, "Our Third Century: Directions." Peering into the future is an inexact science, but one that we in Government and the citizens we serve increasingly realize cannot be ignored.
This morning's participants, the Vice President of the United States and a former Vice President, Hubert Humphrey, are particularly well suited to launch discussions on how to develop and evaluate options facing our land. I want to take this opportunity to thank them very much for accepting the committee's invitation to testify. Their presence and participation reflects the fact that where our country is headed, 5 or 10 or even 50 years down the road is truly a bipartisan concern and one that transcends the give and take between the executive and legislative branches. It will indeed be inexcusable if, from our inaction today, the next generation faces a national (risis that could have been averted by exploring the options available to us now in 1976.
What if the Nation had heeded those enlightened voices that warned nearly two decades ago that energy could no longer just be taken for granted, that this building block of industrial power was not infinite?
Their caution, of course, was greeted by apathetic silence. Then, in the 1970's, as fuel prices soared and availability tightened, Americans were rocked by the reality behind those predictions and the resultant crisis undermined the public's confidence in Government's ability to lead. The question was properly asked. Why can't our national leaders anticipate a crisis? Why hadn't they moved on it? And energy, of course, is just one of a multitude of examples.
As individuals, we try to chart our lives, seeking out the options Iving ahead, keeping some control over our destiny. Similarly, business and labor actively study the future in setting their goals.
But the biggest business of all, the U.S. Government, too often drifts like a rudderless vessel with at best ill-defined long-term goals or objectives in mind.
But nipping incipient problems is not our sole concern. In government, as in our private lives, there are opportunities for enhancing our future that are lost if not defined and made the focal point of some effort.
There is legitimate concern that our Nation's vast talents and brainpower are not effectively utilized in solving national problems. Too often, private studies and recommendations, generated after years of exhaustive work and considerable expense do little but gather dust. At best, this is an erratic process which hardly guarantees that our best thinking in and out of Government will be brought to bear on any particular policy issue.
A key matter to be discussed at these sessions then is the procedural process whereby the United States determines its priorities. sets its objectives, and allocates its resources to meet its future goals. How is the Government utilizing the enormous resources of the private sector in reaching its long-term decisions ?
Do we have the ability and the will, and can we organize, to meet the future rather than be overwhelmed by it!
Senator Percy, we are glad to have you with us here this morning. I know of your long interest in this area and would be glad to hear any statement that you care to make.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR PERCY Senator Percy. Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend you on two points: One, the concept of these conferences, and second your putting us in a framework where we can have a discussion. Rather than sitting up here like the Great Dictator, looking down on the witnesses, I think this is a format that will be more conducive to a free flow of ideas and discussions.
I have always been impressed with the fact that in almost any other segment of American life, one would be derelict in his responsibility if he didn't plan ahead. No business would dare not think in terms of 5 or 10 years of growth; no educational institution could exist if it didn't think in terms of the future.
But when we associate planning and thinking ahead with government, our reaction is, oh, that's socialistic or something. Maybe we ought to shake up our thinking a little bit. Certainly having the Vice President as our first witness is the best way to begin, because for so many years, he has already been thinking in terms of the future.
I remember a telephone call I had from him two decades ago in 1958 asking me if I would serve on a commission for 6 months.
I asked, what is the purpose of it?
He replied, to think ahead to where this Nation should be by 1976.
Three years after the beginning of this Rockefeller brothers studies project, “Decisions for a better America,” we hadn't quite finished our work. The 6 months had long since been up, but all
ants i amb ed af
I tol term concerns. Tacire" and dedication. As a first-term Senator, he has all the qualities to soft" an eraluation of what programs he wants to eliminate.
no oth of us were very deeply involved-men like John Gardner, Dean
Rusk, and members of labor and business. This led to my suggesting i to President Eisenhower that we establish a Commission for Na
tional Goals. This became a part of his 1959 state of the Union ente message, and led to the Republican Committee on Programs and al mit Progress
. They asked me to chair it. We aimed to thinking ahead, consider where a political party wants to see this Nation go, and how we should get there. Then the Democrats set one up.
And now that the Commission on Critical Choices is privately enittle be dowed by Vice President Rockefeller, we have an invaluable relr source to draw upon. So many times things are done in the private iril sector that can be of great help to the government.
I think we are honored and privileged to have the Vice President the
here as our first witness. No one in America is better qualified than him to think in terms of the future. He has been doing it all his life. Chairman Glexx. That you, Senator Percy.
Senator Ribicoff is chairman of the Government Operations Committee, and he and I have had numerous conversations over the past pear on this subject. I know of his personal and continuing interest
in this and he is the one who was really instrumental in setting up mom this whole concept of having the various groups in to speak of longSenator Ribicoff, do you have anything you would like to say ?
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR RIBICOFF rolle. Senator RIBICOFF. I have a statement' to go into the record as
I am very pleased that Senator Glenn is chairing these hearings. I have the highest commendation for Senator Glenn's imagination continue a long service, and I commend him. All of us are pleased to have him chair these ad hoc hearings.
I have always been impressed with the inability of government to think ahead. Usually government acts on facts and theories that are already out of existence. So in 1976, we are really trying to solvo problems of 1971 instead of solving the problems of 1981. I was intrigued by President Ford's suggestion that a lot of substituting of categorical grants for the bloc grants should be done.
I think that the President made one basic error. He is on the right turning track, but he failed to give the Congress and the American people
l'ice President Rockefeller, you have been in government for many, many years, your assistant here, who was the Under Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare during the time of President Nixon, proposed his welfare reform, and it had a tough time. The President couldn't get any Republican or Democrat to carry the ball for him, and as you know, I was isolated with no support
But I remember at HEW--what did we have! About 146 poverty programs, 146, 164-an inverse ratio of their order of importance. And I think we came up with the idea if we eliminated all of the poverty programs, all of them, and paid everybody under the poverty level $1,000 more than they would receive under the programs that we would save, for the national budget, some $14 billion.
And I have often wondered whether we shouldn't start over with a zero budget and look at every program we have.
The programs that are worthwhile, let's keep. The programs that aren't worthwhile, that aren't producing, let's get rid of them, instead of fighting every year for the programs that might have outlived their usefulness. What Senator Glenn is trying to achieve here, I believe, is to look forward, to the future and by the process of looking forward to the future determine which programs have outlived their usefulness and no longer have any meaning to the people.
We have a budget problem at the local, State, and the Federal level. The question is how can we best use our limited resources? I do not think that there is anyone more suitable to start this off than the Vice President.
I have been reading in the newspapers that the Vice President had certain tasks given to him by the administration—welfare reform, domestic programs for tomorrow and the future. I have never seen them surface. Maybe it is another study that is gathering dust in the archives of the White House, but I am sure that there are things in there that could surface, or maybe somebody could "leak" them, and we would have some constructive action that this Congress could undertake.
[The prepared statement of Senator Ribicoff follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF HON. ABRAHAM RIBICOFF, A U.S. SENATOR FROM THE
STATE OF CONNECTICUT
The Committee is honored to have with us today Vice President Rockefeller to inaugurate a three day symposium on the general subject of policy assessment and planning in the Government. We are also honored to have with us our distinguished colleague, Senator Humphrey, who has been a national leader in an effort to determine our national priorities. These two distinguished men have spent a lifetime in public service and have given a great deal of thought to the questions we are considering over the next three days.
For the purposes of these discussions, I have appointed Senator Glenn Ad Iloc Chairman because of his long standing interest in how the Nation charts its priorities and directions.
I share Senator Glenn's concern that for too long our government has responded to problems on a stop gap, catch-as-catch-can basis. Too often, only a crisis generates a strong response by the Government. But national problems often simmer slowly and by the time they boil, it is far too late to chart a course of action to remedy the problem without tremendous economic and social costs. I am hopeful that under the able leadership of Senator Glenn. this symposium will generate proposals which will help insure that the Federal government will chart its future course with a clearer awareness of the long term implications of its policies. I am not committed to any particular legislation at this point, but I believe the problem is one which must be dealt with adequately if our Government is to continue to be a positive force in our Nation's future.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Javits. Mr. Chairman, I would like to say a word, if I may
Chairman GLENN. Senator Javits?
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR JAVITS Senator JAVITS. Mr. Chairman, I will not detail the Vice President from his talk with us very long. I did want to note the significance of his willingness to appear and discuss this today.
It is most unusual. It is a hallmark of his own enterprise, which has been one of our great prides in New York where he served for so many years. I hope it is a precedent which will be followed.
Presidents often worry about what to give their Vice Presidents to do. I can't think of a better thing to do than to substitute-the C.S. substitute for interpolations in the parliamentary system, which is represented by this kind of a dialog.
I think the President should have a feeling, and I certainly do, that he is participating in a historymaking precedent, which we won't hold him to, but which I think will open the door to a very much more enlightened dialog between the executive and legislative branches.
And second, I think he is an unusual witness not only for all of the reasons Senators Percy, Ribicoff, and Glenn have mentioned, but also because our former Governor and our present Vice President has a mind equal to the size of our country in the world. He wants to know what do you do with our resources, and that is what the world wants to know. And in addition, he is not intimidated by our $1,300 billion gross national product. Again, how are we going to use it? Is it going to be moral as well as practical, or is it just going to be practical?
Finally, Mr. Chairman, Senator Humphrey and I, joined by other Senators, to wit, Senators Eagleton, Bayh, McGovern, McGee, and Nelson, have tried our hand at a definitive bill for indicative planning, called the Balanced Growth and Economic Planning Act of 1975.
While I thoroughly agree with Senator Glenn that we should not be considering in this way any specific bill, it is a fact that here is a practical diagram of what might be done in a planning effort, and I think that it meets our chairman's own statement, which I like very much, Senator Glenn.
A key matter to be discussed in these sessions, as he says in his opening statement, is the procedural process whereby the United State determines its priorities, sets objectives, and allocates its resources to meet future goals.
We have missed out on this very basic idea, both with President Eisenhower's proposed Commission on National Goals, which unhappily for all of us with the energy crisis, never got anywhere, and with Bill Paley's Commission on Raw Materials necessities that came up in the mid-1950's.
As has been said, those who do not profit from experience will live to repeat the mistakes which experience represents.
So I am very grateful to the Vice President. I take great parochial pride in the fact that he is ours from New York, and I believe that,