The American Presidency Project
John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters • Santa Barbara, California return to original document
• John F. Kennedy
Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy, Sharon, PA - (Advance Release Text)
October 15, 1960

The Republican candidate for President says he is going to spend the next 3 weeks talking about Quemoy and Matsu.

That is all right with me. I am willing to debate the wisdom of challenging the Red Chinese to a nuclear war over a couple of islands that every military authority says are strategically worthless and which cannot be defended except by nuclear war.

If Mr. Nixon makes that the issue, I am sure the American people will vote for caution and not recklessness, for peace instead of war.

But I hope the people of western Pennsylvania will insist, when Mr. Nixon comes here, that he also tell you just what Republican policies have done for this region and this State, over the past 8 years.

I can tell you the answer. Republican policies have done nothing for you. But they have done a great deal to you. You can sum it up in five words: The Republicans have vetoed Pennsylvania.

The Democratic Congress passed two area development bills to help create jobs in areas of heavy and persistent unemployment. All of western Pennsylvania, including this county, would have been eligible. They would have helped you create new and diversified industry. They would have helped your families ease their hardship. But both those bills were vetoed.

We passed two bills for housing and urban renewal, which would have meant more homes and more jobs. They were vetoed.

We passed a bill providing loans for expanding our colleges. It was vetoed.

We passed a bill to speed up the cleaning of our streams and rivers, to provide more recreational resources. It was vetoed.

The Republican administration even vetoed a bill to help the coal industry through research for new uses of coal. We had to pass it over again.

But let's come closer to home, right here in Sharon.

In the public works bill last year, the Democratic Congress added 67 new starts. Among them was the Sharpsville dam, just above Sharon.

We knew how much damage floods have cost this city. The Army Engineers told us a $28 million dam would bring us flood protection and other benefits worth $48 million. When one dollar invested will get you $1.70 in return, any smart businessman will say, invest. That is what the Democratic Congress said.

But the Republican administration screamed, "pork barrel." They shouted "spending." And they vetoed the bill with a demand we take out the Sharpsville dam and the other new starts.

We passed it again. They vetoed it a second time. But that time the Democratic Congress overrode the Republican veto, and that is why the Sharpsville dam is going forward now, and the floods that have plagued Sharon for so long are going to be stopped forever.

That is how the Republican administration has vetoed Pennsylvania.

This Republican administration, and Mr. Nixon, say the country can't afford to build dams, and schools, and clean up our streams, and renew our cities.

But we can afford these things, if we do one thing - and that is get this country back to full employment.

When our steel mills operate at half capacity, or less, when individuals and businesses don't make money, then they don't pay as much taxes. Then of course we don't have the money for necessary public services.

The 1958 recession cost us a $12 billion deficit in a single year. As far as this part of the country is concerned, we never have recovered from that recession. The present business decline has already cost us $2 billion this year in lost revenue.

That lost money would build a lot of schools and college classrooms and Sharpsville dams.

To get the country back to full employment and keep it there, we must create 15 million new jobs in the next 10 years. That is 4,000 jobs every day, day in and day out, year after year.

Our economy has not been growing at that rate. And that is the trouble. There are today 1 million fewer jobs in manufacturing than the year this Republican administration took office. Jobs outside of manufacturing have not taken up that slack. That is why unemployment has risen from 2 million in 1953 to 3 million to 4 million this summer, and at the current rate will exceed 4.5 million this winter.

I pledge that a new administration will move at once to put our people back to work. The policy of full employment - which the Democratic Party wrote into law in 1946 - will be taken out of the ashcan where the Republicans have thrown it and made once more a primary objective of national economic policy.

If our people are working, if individuals and businesses are prospering, then we will have enough public revenue to be able to afford those things - dams and schools and colleges and housing and urban renewal and poUution control - which the country needs for its economic development aud the welfare of our people.

Citation: John F. Kennedy: "Remarks by Senator John F. Kennedy, Sharon, PA - (Advance Release Text)", October 15, 1960. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
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