158. Memorandum From Secretary of the Treasury Shultz to President Nixon1

Bill Rogers and I had two lengthy sessions with George Meany2 and his key aides,3 discussing trade legislation. We went over your ideas in some detail, and left them with an outline of possible proposals. The discussions went well.

Meany’s reaction to your trade proposals was good. “Tell the President I like the way he is approaching this. I like the idea of giving him negotiating levers he can use to get a better deal.” Of course, he wants to consider the matter further and in more detail before any decision or statement is made by him.

He is worried about Congressional attitudes right now, especially their willingness to put more power into the hands of the President. He thinks it will be a tough fight.

On the other hand, he says that trade problems are now the number one concern of union membership and there will, therefore, be strong pressure to take action, perhaps stronger than we would like.

I believe we have better than a 50–50 chance of getting implicit agreement by Meany to our approach.

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During our golf game, he raised quietly, but strongly, with me the importance of doing something to improve equity in the tax system. “Saying it won’t raise much money misses the point. The point is that everyone pays a fair share.”

Meany hopes and expects that you will come to the Executive Council meeting,4 and suggests you talk about trade.

George P. Shultz
  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Staff Member & Office Files, President’s Office Files, President’s Handwriting, Box 20, Feb 1–15, 1973. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.
  2. George Meany became President of the newly merged AFL–CIO in 1955, a position he held until 1979.
  3. Lane Kirkland, Secretary-Treasurer; Andy Biemiller, Legislative Liaison; Nat Goldfinger, Economist. [Footnote is in the original.]
  4. On February 19, President Nixon met with the AFL–CIO Executive Council in Bal Harbour, Florida. For his remarks after the meeting, see Public Papers: Nixon, 1973, pp. 105, 106–107.