[Delivered from the Broadcast Room at the White House at 9:30 p.m.]
My fellow Americans:
Tonight, I would like to talk to you as individuals and as American families--deeply concerned with the realities of living. We have had a year of progress and can look ahead with confidence.
Our problems are many. We wonder about our Nation's security-the great standing question of peace in the world--and what this may mean in the lives and careers of our sons and daughters. All of us are concerned with the cost of food and clothing and shelter, with taxes and income and savings and jobs, with the schooling, the health and the future of our children and grandchildren, with all the problems and purposes and great hopes that fill our lives.
Believe me--these realities of living, every one of them, are the deep concern, too, of this administration.
From time to time, as we tackle Government's part in the solution of these problems, members of the administration--myself and others--will report to you about our aims, our actions, our progress, and what is being -accomplished. This kind of reporting, it seems to me, is one of the great responsibilities of a government which, like ours, rests on the consent of the people. We know that an informed and alert people is the backbone of the free system in which this Republic was conceived and under which it has so greatly prospered.
One such report--and a most important one--I shall deliver to the Congress on Thursday of this week: the State of the Union Message. It will present an outline of this administration's legislative program. Many major phases of the national economy and activities of your Government will be discussed in this report.
I believe you will find it, and the projected program it includes, of great personal interest to you. It will affect your lives--we believe for the better--certainly it represents the philosophy of government by and for the people.
In the preparation of the program to be presented in the State of the Union Message I am consulting with many senior members of the Congress and have considered the views of a great many other thoughtful persons.
And I hope that this program, because of its purpose of promoting the welfare of all our people, will enlist the support of all of you, regardless of party. It is my earnest hope that the Congress will take quick and effective steps to enact the measures I will recommend.
This evening, I shall not preview the message to be delivered to the Congress on Thursday. However, it is entirely proper that I should review, briefly, the aims and purposes of this administration--in what direction we are headed and how we propose to get there. And, also briefly, some accomplishments of the past 12 months.
This administration believes that Government--from top to bottom-must be manned by men and women of brains, conscience, heart, and integrity. We believe that these men and women must have an intellectual grasp of the problems before them that is matched by their devotion to what is just and humane. Such people are true public servants; not bureaucrats.
Given such men and women, your Government will be unimpeachable in honesty and decency and dignity. It will be an example in solvency and efficiency for all America to follow; and a shining proof to all the world that freedom and strength and a widely shared prosperity go hand-in-hand.
We believe that with such public servants, and backed by your approval, we can take the forward road to a stronger and better America.
This administration believes that no American--no one group of Americans--can truly prosper unless all Americans prosper. We are one family made up of millions of Americans with the same hopes for a full and happy life. We must not become a nation divided into factions, or special groups and hostile cliques.
We believe that the slum, the out-dated highway, the poor school system, deficiencies in health protection, the loss of a job, and the fear of poverty in old age--in fact, any real injustice in the business of living-penalizes us all. And this administration is committed to help you prevent them.
"Help" is the key word of this administration and of the program it presents to the Congress this Thursday. What do we mean by help? We do not mean monuments to costly and intolerant bureaucracy. We do not mean a timid unwillingness to act. We mean service--service that is effective, service that is prompt, service that is single-mindedly devoted to solving the problem.
You make up the communities of this country, where the everlasting job of building a stronger and better America must have its roots. We will seek to give national effect to your aims and aspirations. To do so, we rely on the good sense and local knowledge of the community and will therefore decentralize administration as much as possible so that the services of Government may be closer to you and thus serve you better.
For we know that you are far more knowledgeable than Washington as to the nature of your local needs. We know also that, as the local partners in any enterprise, you will be incessantly concerned with efficiency and economy--something which we are promoting in all Federal enterprises.
I know that you have unbounded confidence in the future of America. You need only the assurance that Government will neither handcuff your enterprise nor withdraw into a smug bureaucratic indifference to the welfare of American citizens, particularly those who, through no fault of their own, are in a period of adversity.
For this administration, I give you that pledge.
So much for our beliefs and the aims and purposes of this administration. What has been accomplished in the year just past? Let me list a few of these in the briefest possible fashion:
1. The fighting and the casualties in Korea mercifully have come to an end. We can therefore take more satisfaction in other blessings of our daily life.
2. Our own defenses and those of the free world have been strengthened against Communist aggression.
3. The highest security standards are being insisted upon for those employed in Government service.
4. Requests for new appropriations have been reduced by 13 billion dollars.
5. Tax reductions which go into effect this month have been made financially feasible by substantial reductions in expenditures.
6. Strangling controls on our economy have been promptly removed.
7. The fantastic paradox of farm prices, on a toboggan slide while living costs soared skyward, has ceased.
8. The cheapening by inflation of every dollar you earn, every savings account and insurance policy you own, and every pension payment you receive has been halted.
9. The proper working relationship between the executive and legislative branches of the Federal Government has been made effective.
10. Emergency immigration legislation has been enacted.
11. A strong and consistent policy has been developed toward gaining and retaining the initiative in foreign affairs.
12. A plan to harness atomic energy to the peaceful service of mankind, and to help end the climate of suspicion and fear that excites nations to war, has been proposed to the world.
And there is still another accomplishment. Perhaps this one should more properly be called groundwork for an accomplishment.
It is groundwork that has been laid by this administration in the strong belief that the Federal Government should be prepared at all times--ready, at a moment's notice--to use every proper means to sustain the basic prosperity of our people.
I therefore give you this assurance:
Every legitimate means available to the Federal Government that can be used to sustain that prosperity is being used and will continue to be used as necessary.
This administration believes that we must not and need not tolerate a boom-and-bust America. We believe that America's prosperity does not and need not depend upon war or the preparation for war. We know that this great country can make the adjustments necessary to meet changing circumstances without encouraging disaster and without bringing about the economic chaos for which the Communists hope. Our system is the greatest wealth producer in the world--in terms of the life and the well-being of every citizen.
Sound planning and aggressive enterprise must, of course, be accompanied by the indispensable ingredient--a persistent and reasoned faith in the growth and progress of America, a faith which cannot be shaken by self-appointed peddlers of gloom and doom.
Such are a few of the accomplishments of the past year. They promise a new year even more fruitful to the security of the Nation and the welfare of its people.
Now, as all of you know, when you set out to build a house, you first must plan and solidly construct a foundation on which to put it--if you hope to live in that house in comfort and security. Since January 20th of last year we have planned and built the foundation for our forthcoming legislative program, constructed under the aims and purposes I have been discussing with you tonight.
It is my legal duty to present this program, in the State of the Union Message, to your elected representatives, the members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate.
It is their duty, in turn, to give it careful study, before taking action on its various recommendations.
It is your right to give it the same thoughtful consideration.
It is a program that does not deal in pie-in-the-sky promises to all, nor in bribes to a few, nor in threats to any. It is a program inspired by zeal for the common good, dedicated to the welfare of every American family--whatever its means of livelihood may be, or its social position, or its ancestral strain, or its religious affiliation.
I am confident that it will meet with your approval.
When the State of the Union Message is delivered to the Congress on Thursday, I hope you will agree with me that it presents an opportunity which will enable us, as a people--united and strong--to push ever forward and to demonstrate to the world the great and good power of free men and women.
We will build a stronger and better America--of greater security and increasing prosperity for all.