The failure of the Republican Party to protect and preserve America's vast national forests - and, even more serious, Republican failure to encourage and stimulate the construction of badly needed homes - has not only harmed the timber industry - it has impaired the growth of the American economy and kept us from achieving the goal of a decent home for all Americans.
It is time for a fresh and imaginative program to resolve the problems of our Nation's timber industry - and to meet the desperate housing needs of millions of Americans. It is time for a program which views this Nation's abundant forests as a challenge and an opportunity - not as an unwanted burden. It is time for a program which encourages the construction of decent homes for all Americans - rather than a program which retreats from growth and progress. It is time, in short, for a Democratic program - and we have such a program - and in 1961 we are going to put it into action.
First, we will expand our programs of forest management and access - road construction. This administration has spent less than half of the amount its own Secretary of Agriculture has said was absolutely necessary to preserve our forests. As a result reforestation has been virtually halted - access roads have gone unbuilt - and millions of acres of valuable timber have been neglected or allowed to decay. In 1961 we will reverse these policies which waste and destroy our abundant wealth of timber - and return to an imaginative and adequate program of forest management.
Second, we will reverse the disastrous high interest rate - tight money policies of the Republican Party. These policies have made it impossible for millions of Americans to buy their own homes - and they have caused a recession in the housing industry. By lowering artificially high interest rates we will stimulate the home construction which a growing America requires.
Third, we will step up the effort to clear our slums, renew our cities, and expand other housing programs. At our present rate of urban renewal it will take over 50 years to wipe out the substandard dwellings already in existence - and at the end of that time we will have even more substandard dwellings than we have now.
Fourth, we will reform the mortgage insurance program of the Federal Housing Administration so that it will stimulate the construction of housing at all income levels.
Fifth, we will encourage the economical production of timber for the Nation's homes and industry by giving the small forest owner and small logger an even break-through providing forest products price reporting by the Department of Agriculture, crop fire insurance on young timber stands, technical advice on forest management, Federal standards of quality for the grading and marketing of timber products - and by offering public timber for competitive bidding in small lots.
Sixth and finally, we will greatly expand our current efforts to apply modern science and technology to both the discovery of new uses for wood and the development of more efficient methods of timber production and cultivation.