Editor's note: The volume of Byrd's side of the conversation is very low and is difficult to make out at times. This draft transcript should be used with caution.
Robert Byrd∇: --you personally support my amendment to the Medicare bill. I assume that you're [unclear]. If you could personally convey this to [unclear: Wilbur Mills].
President Johnson: Bob, I haven't look at it. I don't--try to keep away from getting into these conference committees if I can. I don't know what is . . . what is the . . . Wilbur Cohen∇ and the boys that are handling it, are they for it or against it?
Byrd: Well, I've talked to Wilbur Cohen. He has not indicated that he is against it. He has raised the question to wit that lowering the voluntary age to 60, with an actuarial reduction, might eventually cause us to come back and try to get the benefits increased. But, you know, this amendment, is one which you help me to get [unclear: Kennedy] to accept five or six years ago, except in that instance it was to lower the age to 62. Of course, we now have in the law a voluntary reduction to 62. This would permit a reduction to 60, voluntarily, with an actuarial reduction that would not result in any increase in the tax to the employer or to the employee. And Robert Myers, an actuary of ETW, tells me that the fund is amply sufficient to sustain this and the $19.50 dollars increase, and that all those would be an original [unclear] increase of something like [$]500 million a year. This would be counterbalanced within a few years so that there would be no long-run impact on the fund.
President Johnson: Bob, you tell Larry [O'Brien∇] that, and tell him to try to get in touch with Wilbur Cohen. And I'll be talking to him later, and see what my experts recommend. I don't know anything about the amendment or the merits. I haven't gone into any of it in this bill. I have not talked to any of them. All I know is I love you, and you're just cooking up so damn much business. I didn't know you were that young and active. I thought when you got your license to practice law that you'd just quit rewriting all the laws, and just sit down and kind of whittle and love your friends. But every time I pick up the paper you've had some other victory of some kind.
President Johnson: I'll--I'm going to have to draft you and get you to come down here and help me win some of these votes. What about my housing? Is is going to pass all right?
Byrd: It's--they're having the rent supplement up. We're going to vote on it in about three minutes.
President Johnson: Don't you let them touch it.
Byrd: Well, I'm going do this, now, Mr. President: I'm against that rent supplement. And I've talked to Mike Mansfield∇. We have agreement that if it takes my vote to save it, you'll get it.
President Johnson: Thank you, Bob. Go on and vote on it. I'll look into this other thing. You tell Larry about it, would you?
Byrd: Larry O'Brien?
President Johnson: Larry O'Brien.
Byrd: All right. One more thing, Mr. President.
President Johnson: Right.
Byrd: If this amendment is [unclear: done], Mr. Myers out at tells me that approximately 900,000 [unclear: persons] will apply by the end of the year. Now, this will help the unemployment some.
President Johnson: Well, it sure will. I don't know anything about the merits. I love you. Tell Larry to talk to Wilbur Cohen. Get Wilbur to get me the facts on it, let me look at it.
Byrd: All right. Thank you. Bye.