Thursday, April 15, 1971 - 7:49pm - 7:53pm
Richard Nixon, George Shultz
White House Telephone


President Nixon: Yeah.

Operator: Mr. [George] Shultz returning your call.1 There you are.

President Nixon: Hello, George?

George P. Shultz: Yes, sir.

President Nixon: Hope you noticed the headline in the Star.

Shultz: [laughs] Yeah, that bounced right.

President Nixon: We finally got one good headline, I don't know what the Post and the Times do with it, they'll probably knock it down, but it's just good to have one good one right now.

Shultz: Mmm-hmm, yes.

President Nixon: But, uh, the twenty-eight and a half is a pretty good figure, isn't it?

Shultz: Well, a word that I used—Ron2 asked me to come in and brief on it -

President Nixon: I know.

Shultz: —was “solid,” that it was a good solid gain.

President Nixon: Mmm-hmm.

Shultz: And I think it is.

President Nixon: Mm-hmm.

Shultz: The, um, to make it really strong, I think, you need to combine it with the March retail sales that we talked about the other day.

President Nixon: Right, right, I'm going to hit that with the editors tomorrow night.

Shultz: Because the, um, actually when you break that GNP3 down -

President Nixon: Yeah.

Shultz:—the auto increase accounts for a very heavy proportion of the real increase.

President Nixon: And so they'll say that's because of the strike.

Shultz: Right. And the answer to that is that retail sales as we came towards the last month of the quarter were strong and that retail sales figure goes across the board, it isn't just autos.

President Nixon: Mmm-hmm.

Shultz: So while autos are strong, and you'd expect them to be -

President Nixon: Right, good.

Shultz:—and that's fine, it's broader than that, so we tried to bring that out. And of course the stock thing went up again today -

President Nixon: Yeah, nine thirty-eight.

Shultz:—way above the date of your inaugural.

President Nixon: Yeah, well.

Shultz: Or not way above, but eight or nine points above anyway.

President Nixon: Well just—yeah, it's, it's, it's up, the main thing it's above [laughs]. Well, we ride the good news when we got it.

Shultz: Sure.

President Nixon: Right.

Shultz: I'm a believer in that and the, uh -

President Nixon: Sure.

Shultz: And, uh, put it out in a way that we don't try to overstate it and -

President Nixon: No, no.

Shultz: But I think at least I have the impression that Ron felt that we gave it a good strong -

President Nixon: Oh, yes, he felt very good about it, very good, very good.

Shultz: I'm a little reluctant, as I told Ron, to, uh, do that because of McCracken's4 sensitivity particularly right now but, ah -

President Nixon: Uh, that's all right, I reassured McCracken and now and then we've got to put a new voice in, you know, everybody's got to play this game, and, uh, he would not have played it as strongly as you did and we've got to play it strong.

Shultz: I'm over here working on this talk I have to give next week.

President Nixon: Oh, yeah.

Shultz: And the theme that I'm using is, uh, the old Navy command, “steady as you go.”

President Nixon: Good, good, good.

Shultz: And that's going to be the way I'm doing that up -

President Nixon: Mmm-hmm, mmm-hmm.

Shultz:—I hope you'll, I can try out a little bit of it on you.

President Nixon: Sure, you betcha.

Shultz: Make sure that you're in accord with it.

President: [Unclear] I think that's exactly the right theme, that we're not going to be panicked, uh, we weren't panicked earlier and we're not going to be panicked now to go for a tax reduction or this or that or the other thing. We're just going to stay right where we are and we're not going to worry about whether it's, uh, two billion below what we had hoped, or a billion and a half, or anything else. We're just saying that, uh, you can't, uh, we can't fix these numbers exactly -

Shultz: Sure.

President Nixon: And, uh, on the retail sales thing I think this is terribly important.

Shultz: Yes, well one of the reporters asked me the question, they said well what, how does the president interpret the consumer attitudes and their reluctance to spend?

President Nixon: Hmm.

Shultz: And I said, well, the president focuses, uh, and has been very much impressed with the actual performance of the consumers in March.

President Nixon: Yeah.

Shultz: And the, the strong retail sales figure [unclear].

President Nixon: Well, and also you've got to say that, the consumers also are reflected in the stock market, aren't they?

Shultz: And in the stock market.

President Nixon: That's consumers.

Shultz: Sure, yeah. Although I think really the stock market kind of -

President Nixon: Institution.

Shultz:—reacts the other way, when it's going well, people tend to go ahead and -

President Nixon: Yeah.

Shultz:—spend the money.

President Nixon: Like they've got it. Yeah, I see your point. OK, well, it got a good bounce anyway. OK.

Shultz: Yes, sir. Will you have some time tomorrow or are you going to preoccupied and, uh -

President Nixon: I'll be pretty . . . but Saturday I'll have some time.

Shultz: All right.

President Nixon: Saturday would be a better time [unclear].

Shultz: Saturday, right, I'd just like about ten minutes -

President Nixon: Oh.

Shultz:—to, ah, check out this fellow Ken Dam5 with you and to talk about him.

President Nixon: Sure, well, let's talk about it Saturday morning.

Shultz: All right.

President Nixon: Good, I have plenty of time then.

Shultz: Thank you, yeah.

President Nixon: OK.


1 George P. Shultz was director of the office of management and budget. (↑)

2 Ronald L. Ziegler was White House press secretary. (↑)

3 GNP stands for Gross National Product. (↑)

4 Paul W. McCracken was chairman of the council of economic advisers. (↑)

5 Kenneth W. Dam was a University of Chicago law professor who became assistant director of the Office of Management and Budget. (↑)

Original tape courtesy of the Nixon Library. This transcript is a working draft. Please let us know if you find important errors.