CLIP: 8343 Robert Byrd 07/15/1965 2:50P

CLIP: 8343 Robert Byrd 07/15/1965 2:50P

Tape: WH6507.04

Conversation: 8343

Date: July 15, 1965 2:50PM


This is a clip (0:00 to 3:18.68). The original full audio can be found here.


Robert Byrd: You personally support my amendment for the Medicare bill, I assume that you’re familiar with that. If you could personally convey this to Wilbur Mills [unclear].

President Johnson: Bob, I haven’t looked at it. I don’t…I’ve tried to keep away from getting into these conference committees if I can. I don’t know what does the . . . Wilbur Cohen and the boys that are handling it: are they for it or against it?

Byrd: I’ve talked to Wilbur Cohen. He has not indicated that he is against it. He has raised a question, to whit, 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 was one which you helped me to get the Senate 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, an actuarial reduction would not result in any increase to the tax to the employer or to the employee, and Robert Myers, the chief actuary of H.E.W., tells me that the fund is sufficient [unclear] $19 billion in the fund. And that all those that would be in the original outgo 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 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 haven’t 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 would just quit rewriting all the laws, and sit down, and kind of whittle, and love your friends. But every time I pick up the paper, you had some other victory of some kind. I’m going to have to draft you and let you help me win some of these votes. What about my housing? Is it going to pass all right?

Byrd: It’s…they’re having the rent supplement out, and 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 to do this, now, Mr. President: I’m against that rent supplement, and I’ve talked to Mike Mansfield, and we have an 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 something and you tell Larry about it.

Byrd: Larry O’Brien?

President Johnson: Larry O’Brien.

Byrd: All right, one more thing, Mr. President. If this amendment is adopted, Mr. Myers down at H.E.W., tells me that approximately 900,000 persons will apply by the end of the year. So this will help the unemployment some.

President Johnson: Well, [unclear] I don’t know anything about the merits, but I love you. Tell Larry to talk to Wilbur Cohen, get Wilbur to get me the facts on it and let me look at it.

Byrd: All right. Thank you. Bye.