Caspar W. Weinberger∇, the Reagan∇-era defense secretary who died March 28, 2006, got his start in the executive branch from President Richard M. Nixon. Nixon appointed him deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1970. Weinberger became known as "Cap the Knife" for resisting requests for budget increases. During this June 8, 1971, Oval Office conversation, however, Nixon made it perfectly clear that Weinberger was to spend money on creating jobs and bringing down the unemployment rate from around 6.2 percent, regardless of the impact on inflation or the budget.
In this call to Walker Stone, editor in chief of Scripps-Howard newspapers, Johnson was still bubbling over positive coverage of German Chancellor Ludwig Erhard's visit to the LBJ ranch in December and was inspired by a letter received from J. Frank Dobie, a renowned Texas folklorist, University of Texas faculty member, and guest at the ranch during the visit of Chancellor Erhard. According to his secretaries, President Johnson would carry Dobie's letter "around in his pocket" for another week. Dobie's letter praised Johnson's "start" as one that combined "nobility with effectiveness" and recommended that Johnson seek the counsel of Walker Stone because "no other newspaper man I know knows as much and thinks as soundly." Here, Johnson asked Stone to spread another glowing report.
After exploring that issue, Stone asked Johnson to take things more slowly and not take health risks, to which the President complained about having his personal life restricted by the presidency. Then Johnson took the opportunity to prepare his old acquaintance for the upcoming State of the Union address. In a pithy section, Johnson defended his proposed poverty plans to this Oklahoma native by emphasizing that the programs would encourage work and improve productivity among poor African Americans, Mexicans, and Appalachians. After this call, Johnson followed up his concerns about Black Americans by taking a call from Whitney Young of the National Urban League.
The segment below is divided into two parts. The first covers the talk about Johnson's work pace. The second explores the state of the union address and the War on Poverty.
Walter Heller, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers whom Johnson had inherited from President Kennedy, was in the middle of an extended public relations effort that encompassed televised interviews and frequent meetings with print journalists who covered the nation's economic policies. Designed to tout the new administration's progressive but frugal fiscal policy, Heller's effort-along with accompanying face-to-face diplomacy undertaken by the President-were also expected to help Johnson pass the pending tax cut legislation, then bottled up in Harry Byrd's senate Finance Committee. Preparing to meet at the LBJ ranch after Christmas to begin laying out plans for what would become the War on Poverty, Heller and Johnson also discuss that proposal.
President Johnson complains to Jack Brooks, a Democratic congressman from Texas, about Representative Otto Passman's (Democrat, Louisiana) ability to shape the Foreign Aid budget, by appropriating 25 percent less for President Johnson than for President Kennedy.
Having just launched an "economy drive," undertaken partly to redirect spending and to trim wasteful spending-particularly in the Department of Defense-and partly to convince senate conservatives to drop their opposition to the administration's pending tax cut proposal-introduced by President Kennedy in 1962-President Johnson underscores for Council of Economic Advisers chairman Walter Heller the philosophy behind his approach to that year's fiscal policy.