Gerald Ford on Government Reform

President of the U.S., 1974-1977; Republican Rep. (MI)


A government that gives everything can also take everything

Economic freedom disperses political power and distributes it among the people. With a free market system we separate economic power from political power, so that each may offset the other.

Economic independence is what allows people to protect their political rights and freedoms. Once the powerful hand of government subsumes our economic independence, it immediately becomes more difficult to stand up that government. The natural logic of capitalism requires democracy. Synchronously, if we over-restrict capitalism, our democratic logic is disrupted. Economic freedom and political freedom are indivisible. As President Gerald Ford said, "A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have."

Too many people in Washington believe they can restrict our economic freedom without limiting our political liberties. They see the private sector as a threat, dangerous unless controlled.

Source: Leadership and Crisis, by Bobby Jindal, p.165-166 , Nov 15, 2010

Cutting defense negatively impacts economy and jobs

CARTER: We can only be strong overseas if we're strong at home. We've lost in our foreign policy, the character of the American people. It's been one of secrecy and exclusion. In addition to that we've became, contrary to long-standing beliefs and principles, the arms merchant of the whole world. We've tried to buy success from our enemies, and we've excluded friendship of our allies.

FORD: Governor Carter indicated that he wanted to cut the defense budget by $15 billion. Mr. Schlesinger said if we cut defense by $5 billion, we will have to cut military personnel by 250,000, civilian personnel by 100,000, jobs in America by 100,000, jobs in America by a hundred thousand. We would have to reduce our naval construction program, and the research and development for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and Marines by 8 percent. We would have to close twenty military bases.

Source: The Second Carter-Ford Presidential Debate , Oct 6, 1976

Untangle the petty tyranny of massive government regulation

In the past decade, I said the federal budget had been growing at an average rate of more than 10% per year. The budget that I would submit, $394.2 billion, would slice that annual rate of growth in half. That would enable us to reduce taxes by $10 billion more than lawmakers had agreed to cut in December. Government, I went on, could not create jobs for all Americans who wanted to work. I told Congress that I would soon be submitting legislation detailing incentives to help private industry expand. I urged lawmakers to untangle the "petty tyranny" of massive government regulation, and I predicted that we could have neither sustained economic nor an adequate number of jobs unless we had an assured supply of energy.
Source: A Time To Heal, by Gerald Ford, p.351 , Jan 19, 1976

More local initiative; even if not "visionary"

By mid-1975 [the early crises had been resolved], and I could begin to shape my own agenda and define the goals I wanted my fellow citizens to endorse as follows: less government intervention in the affairs of citizens and corporations, greater reliance on individual initiative and free market economy, and increased local responsibility for overcoming adversities.

None of these goals sounded particularly dramatic. Political pundits in the nation's capital said that my ideas were stale and that I lacked "vision" as a President.

As President, it was my job to identify the trends that were emerging in American society-trends that were not immediately apparent to everyone and generated no headlines-and then to determine what decisions could affect those trends and put the country in better shape 10 to 20 years from now.

Conservatism has always meant more to me than simply sticking up for private property & free enterprise. It has also meant defending our heritage & preserving our values.

Source: A Time To Heal, by Gerald Ford, p.262-264 , Apr 15, 1975

Congress is too fragmented & too involved in foreign policy

When I was in the Congress myself, I thought it fulfilled its constitutional obligations in a very responsible way, but after I became President, my perspective changed. It seemed to me that Congress was beginning to disintegrate as an organized legislative body. It wasn't answering the nation's challenges domestically because it was too fragmented. It responded too often to single-issue special interest groups and it therefore wound up dealing with minutiae instead of attacking serious problems in a coherent way. Moreover, Congress was determined to get its oar deeply into the conduct of foreign affairs. This not only undermined the Chief Executive's ability to act, but also eroded the separation of powers concept in the Constitution.
Source: A Time To Heal, by Gerald Ford, p.150 , Aug 25, 1974

Truth is the glue that holds our government together

I believe that the truth is the glue that holds government together, not only our government but civilization itself. That bond, though strained, is unbroken at home and abroad.

In all my public and private acts as your president, I expect to follow my instincts of openness and candor with full confidence that honesty is always the best policy in the end. My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.

Our Constitution works; our great Republic is a government of laws and not of men. Here the people rule. But here is a higher power, by whatever name we honor him, who ordains not only righteousness but love, not only justice but mercy.

As we bind up the internal wounds of Watergate, more painful and more poisonous than those of foreign wars, let us restore the golden rule to our political process, and let brotherly love purge our hearts of suspicion and of hate.

Source: A Patriot's Handbook, by Caroline Kennedy, p.182 , Aug 9, 1974

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Other past presidents on Government Reform: Gerald Ford on other issues:
Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Joseph Biden
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022