The House bill is within the guidelines that I established for the costs to the Treasury. I think it would not be excessively inflationary. The Senate is still deliberating on the tax bill so far as I know, unless they just recently finished it, and what they are considering would not be satisfactory in its present form. If the House and Senate conferees the rest of this week can get together and take the best elements of both the House bill on the one hand and the Senate bill on the other, and combine them, we can have an acceptable tax bill to present to me and which I will sign.
The bill must be simple, fair, equitable, progressive in nature-that is, putting the tax burden where people can most afford it, and a substantial tax reduction on our people. If it meets those requirements, then I will sign it. But at present, the issue is still in doubt . . . I would not hesitate to veto it if it does not meet those criteria . . .
In general, I believe that the Senate-passed bill has a much greater tax reduction than I can accept and has some features in it which I cannot accept.
My hope is, as I expressed originally, that the house and the Senate conferees over the next two or three days can reach an agreement, extracting the most acceptable elements of the Senate bill so that I can sign the final bill as passed.
If not, then there will be no tax bill this year because I will veto it. The only option would be for the Senate and the House to come back in a special session, after the election, which I would not favor personally. Middle East
I don't believe that your opinion accurately express what President Sadat has told me. I don't think he would let any single element of the West Bank-Gaza Srtip settlement prevent a conclusion of a treaty between Egypt and Israel.
And I think the Israelis have been very forth-coming, in my experience with them at Camp David over long days of negotiations, concerning the West Bank and Gaza Strip. I think they are acting in good faith to set up an autonomous governing entity in the West Bank-Gaza Strip to withdraw their military government very expeditiously and I think the settlements issue still remains open. But it is subject to a negotiation.
The last time I had a press conference, I read the statement that Foreign Minister Dayan made in Israel, which I think is adequate, altogether between now and the time the self-government is set up.
The role of our government, our position has always been that settlements in occupied territory are illegal and are an obstacle to peace. I have not changed my opinion, but to summarize, I don't believe this one issue, if unresolved expeditiously, would prevent the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Rhodesia
I do not intended to see Mr. Smith. He has had a meeting with the members of the Congress who invited him over and also, I think, a two-hour meeting with Secretary Vance. There is no reason for me to meet with him.
I think that the essence of it is what we are trying to do is to end the bloodshed in Rhodesia. We have not caused the bloodshed. We have not caused the war. We have put forward publicly, without any secrecy about it, along with the British, to the front line, to the patriotic front, the Smith regime, our proposals, that there will be all-parties conferences where people that are in dispute can get together and talk and try to work out a means by which free and democratic elections can be held in Rhodesia, so that anyone who is qualified can run for office, and let the people of Rhodesia decide what kind of government they want.
This is a proposal that Mr. Smith and his regime have not been willing to accept. But this is what we propose.
If the parties in dispute prefer a different proposal and agree upon it, we would have no objection to that. Public Opinion Polls
Obviously, public opinion polls go up and down. They want up substantially at the end of the Camp Daved agreement. I think it is inevitable that they will go down somewhat, but I can't modify my own positions on issues or my basic commitments to the American people on the basis of public opinions polls.
If I happen to be unpopular with a particular governor or a group of people, I will just have to accept that and do the best I can. Balanced Budget
I still have a balanced budget as a goal, an important goal. You have to judge very carefully how much you can reduce taxes which takes money away from the federal government that it could use to balance a budget on the one hand and how much that tax reduction would stimulate the economy to bring in additional revenues at a lower tax rate.
I have been trying to bring the federal deficit down. As I have said many times, when I was running for president in 1976 the deficit was $66 billion. The Congress is very likely to pass a budget this year of about $38 billion deficit. So we have cut down the deficit $28 billion already in just two years. And I would hope that this trend would continue downward. The 1980 budget deficit, I hope, would be even less. You can't predict what the economic forces will be.
And then the following year, I hope to get it down further. I would certainly like to have a balanced budget but it depends to a great degree on the strength of the economy and what tax reductions we give.
By the end of this year, if things go well on the tax bill, we will have reduced taxes on the American people $25 billion. Had we not given a tax reductions, of course that would be additional revenue to help balance the budget. So you have to balance the budget itself on one hand, how much deficit you have, against tax reductions to the people to keep jobs available and the economy growing.
That is a very difficult thing to do. We are just doing the best we can. It is unpredictable what will occur.