July 27, 1984
Ms. Stanley. Mr. President, this is Rose Stanley from KAKE - TV in Wichita, Kansas. For our first question -- comes from the Breadbasket. Since the Department of Agriculture was formed in 1862, one of the perceived objectives was to preserve the family farm. The number of family farms has dwindled because their economic viability has declined. Realistically, is it still a realistic goal of government to preserve the family farm?
The President. Yes. As a matter of fact, I can understand what the problems have been, because agriculture was probably hurt worse in the cost-price squeeze of the recent recession and the inflation than probably any other segment of our society. The land values went up. The interest rates also went up.
They borrowed excessive amounts of money based on the artificial land value that had been created by inflation. And then, when we managed to bring inflation back down, and, hopefully, that we're going to eliminate it entirely, they were left with the depressed land values. But the cost of production rose 45 percent for the American farmer in just the brief period of a couple of years. And at the same time, the production was such, and the booming crops, that the prices were depressed.
Now, we know that they're going through hardships. We have done a number of things to be of help and are trying to help all that we can. The PIK Program was part of that, that I think did save a number of farmers. But we are -- Secretary Block, our Secretary of Agriculture, is out on a listening expedition throughout the country, hearing the problems of the farmers and their recommendations so that we can come up with a new farm bill in 1985.
Ms. Stanley. On the subject of women, inasmuch as Geraldine Ferraro is on the Democratic ticket, do you think that a GOP victory in November would set back the women's movement?
The President. Not at all. I think this was just a natural thing that could have happened to either party and should have happened. And I am one who has said for some time that I think we are in the near future going to see a woman President in this country. Now, I happen to hope she'll be a Republican woman.
And I think that our record would indicate that's very possible. After all, we took the lead in appointing a woman to the United States Supreme Court for the first time. It is the first time there have been three women as members of our Cabinet. And we have some 1,600 women in very top positions throughout our government here. Those of the -- some 4,000 that a President can appoint -- in our administration 1,600 of those are women already and doing fantastic and wonderful jobs.
So, I don't think a setback of this kind -- it -- in fact, the other day a Democratic Senator said the contest now is not whether a woman should be a candidate; it's whether is this the right woman for that particular job?
Ms. Stanley. You have appointed Elizabeth Dole, Margaret Heckler, Sandra Day O'Connor, Jeane Kirkpatrick. Yet there is still a charge of perception by some that you are antiwomen. How -- --
The President. I know -- --
Ms. Stanley. How do you respond to that?
The President. -- -- and it is very frustrating, because as Governor of California, I was the first one among the 50 Governors to start a survey and a search of State statutes and regulations to eliminate any that in their language discriminated against women. And we were most successful with that. When I came here to Washington, I instituted the same kind of search at the Federal level and then set out to encourage the rest of the Governors to do this at a State level. And about half of them right now are changing laws -- or State statutes and regulations to eliminate this.
We have changed a number of them here at the Federal level and have more to go. Many of them require legislation to change. We've changed what we can by Executive order. And so, I don't understand why there should be this attitude, except that sometimes I suspect that maybe some of the organized groups out there have a political bias also and are partial to one party over the other.
U.S. Supreme Court
Ms. Stanley. Finally, during the next 4 years it's anticipated that the next President will have to fill up to five vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court. What philosophical criteria will you be basing your decisions on?
The President. I want judges who will interpret the law and not legislate and think that their job is to make the law. And I think in recent years we've had some examples of the Court actually taking the job of the Legislature and legislating rather than interpreting.
Ms. Stanley. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
The President. Well, thank you.
Note: The interview began at 3:12 p.m. in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House. It was recorded for later broadcast.
The interview was released by the Office of the Press Secretary on August 1.