Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address at Meeting of District Chairmen, National Citizens for Eisenhower Congressional Committee.

June 10, 1954

[Broadcast over radio and television at 9:00 p.m.]

GOOD EVENING TO YOU, my very dear friends, and good evening to each American across this broad land who has allowed me into their living room on their television or their radio receiver.

I prize this opportunity to meet with citizens, dedicated to the policies and objectives of this administration. These policies and objectives have been placed before the Congress in a legislative program to build a better and a stronger America. I am delighted that you have come to Washington to pledge your support to those members of the present Congress who are working for this program. Happily these are both numerous and able--and to be found not only among the leaders and the seniors who helped design the program, but among our younger friends most recently elected to that august body.

Naturally, I am equally pleased that you are pledged to do your individual and collective best to see that there will be many more such men and women in the next Congress. It would seem redundant for me to say: the more the better.

Now, what we mean by a stronger America is a nation whose every citizen has reason for bold hope, where effort is rewarded and prosperity is shared, where freedom expands and peace is secure.

The legislative program that you and I support is a broad, straight legislative highway to that kind of America.

Tonight, I propose that we talk frankly, even if somewhat sketchily, about that program--now in the Congress.

It was laid before the Congress last January, and was designed to protect our freedoms; to foster a growing, prosperous, peacetime economy; and to fulfill the Government's obligations in helping solve the human problems of our citizenry.

Now, basic to the protection of our freedom is a strong, forthright foreign policy. This we have been developing. Our foreign policy is vigorously opposed to imperialistic ambition, but devoted to harmonious cooperation with all nations and peoples who share our will to live in peace with their neighbors. It demands, this policy, unremitting effort to create and hold friends and to encourage them in staunchness of friendship with us. It requires us to be vigilant against those who would destroy us; to be calm and confident in the face of their threats.

Present world conditions require a national defense program, streamlined, effective, and economical, that takes into full account our air and nuclear might. But in the longer range, our foreign and defense policies must be directed toward world disarmament. We must seek for all mankind a release from the deadening burden of armaments. We must continue to seek sensible solutions for the fateful problems posed by the atom and hydrogen bombs. Pursuing these purposes, we have persistently made appropriate proposals to the world--and more particularly to the Soviets--which if honestly accepted would go far toward attainment of these goals.

With our friends, we must strive constantly for a freer system of world trade and investment, for strengthened trade agreement legislation, for simpler rules and regulations under which trade can be carried on. In the meantime, we must continue to render military and economic assistance abroad where our national interest is thereby served.

In this way we not only build up our material and military strength so that we may oppose successfully any rash aggression by the Communists, but we help eliminate those conditions of poverty, disease, and ignorance which provide fertile breeding ground for the exploiters of discontent.

Foreign policy is a complicated and comprehensive subject. It cannot be effectively described in a mere section of a general talk such as this. But because foreign affairs and foreign policy do so vitally affect the lives of each of us and all that we are attempting to do abroad, and here at home, the Secretary of State is at this moment on a trip to the West where he is delivering major addresses that will help clarify for all our citizens the position of America in world affairs.

At home we have sought to preserve the sanctity of our freedoms by denying official posts of trust to the untrustworthy; by intensifying legal action against the members and leaders of the Communist conspiracy; by sharpening our weapons for dealing with sabotage.

Scarcely need I assure such an audience as this that I--and my every associate in Government--will keep everlastingly at the job of uprooting subversion wherever it may be found. My friends, I do not believe that I am egotistical when I say that I believe that every American believes, at least, that about me.

Now the second part of this program is a strong and a growing economy, shared in, equitably, by all our citizens!

Now, we began this part of the program by uncovering and eliminating needless expenditures within the Federal Government. We proposed a reduction in taxes and reform of the tax system. Other measures involve a new farm program adjusted to current domestic and world conditions; an improved and expanded national highway system; a sound and comprehensive development of water and other natural resources; a broad housing program.

We hope, also, to uproot the ingrained habit of operating the vast Post Office Department in an extravagantly wasteful and unbusinesslike manner. We cannot permit the deliberate operation of our postal department at a gigantic loss because a few are opposed to adequate postal rates. Of course, we must have classification and promotional procedures for postal personnel that will serve the best interests of the Government, the public, and the postal workers themselves.

Now the third great purpose outlined 5 months ago was sympathetic consideration of the human problems of our citizens, and practical assistance in solving them.

Our goal for every American is better schooling; better housing; better health; and a reasonable assurance against the hardships of unemployment, against the impact of accident and illness, against poverty, against insecurity in old age.

This threefold program--national security, economic, human--is the product of intensive effort by a multitude of technical experts and specialists, Government employees and executives, legislative leaders and committee chairmen. They labored diligently for months to evolve measures sound both in concept and in detail. These measures were-and are--badly needed to build the kind of America all of us ardently desire. There is nothing partisan, nothing sectional, nothing partial about them; they are for the security, prosperity, and happiness of all Americans.

Now, my friends, in spite of highly publicized distractions, Congress has been hard at work. Not only have the difficult and time-consuming appropriation bills been acted upon much faster than usual, but the Congress has supported the administration in its efforts to reduce expenditures. Through legislation recently enacted, our people will have better highways. Stifling taxes on consumers have been eased. After more than 40 years of heated debate, the historic St. Lawrence Seaway project is now authorized by law. A mutual security treaty with the Republic of Korea has been approved. Now, these are but a few of a number of major pieces of legislation that have been enacted.

But much still remains that is of vital significance to every American citizen. Tonight I am addressing myself primarily to a few of the important parts of the program that are now under discussion in the Congress and in different stages of the legislative process.

First--the tax revision bill.

I remind you of the $7 billion tax reduction already provided to our citizens. You know, this administration goes on the theory that the private citizen knows better how to spend his money than the Government. This program is designed to accomplish a fairer distribution of the tax burden. It will give more liberal tax treatment for dependent children who work, for widows or widowers with dependent children, and for medical expenses. It will help to expand business activity and so create jobs throughout the country and will also give real encouragement to small businesses.

I cannot overemphasize the importance I attach to the general policies and proposals comprehended in the tax bill, and the need for its early passage.

I am sure you will agree that the Congress should enact this tax legislation, already passed by the House of Representatives. And the point I want to make is this: some of its benefits will begin to accrue to. the people of our country as soon as enacted, because then, with tax uncertainties removed, investors, manufacturers, and businessmen will all accelerate their activities thus creating new jobs and increasing the national income. This is an added reason for speed.

Now, another pending measure, vitally necessary to every citizen, is the new farm program. Its purpose is to promote stability and prosperity in agriculture and help assure our farmers a fair share of the national income.

The Nation's present farm law encourages production of great surpluses of a few commodities, and theft it prices those commodities out of their traditional markets. As a result, the Government must now spend $30,000 an hour--every hour--just to store these surpluses. That is $700,000 a day. In the last 12 months the Government increased its investment in price supported commodities by $2,800 million. During the next 12 months, the present law would force another increase.

Now, one aspect of this amazing process appears to be little understood. Minority clamor has concealed from the majority the fact that a change from rigid price supports to flexible supports would affect less than one-fourth of the income our farmers receive. Rigid supports do not in any way affect crops that produce 77 percent of our farmers' income.

Five months ago, on the advice of farm organizations, heads of agricultural colleges, a host of individual farmers, and many other experts and businessmen, I recommended that a new farm program be enacted by the Congress. This program proposes price supports with enough flexibility to encourage the production of needed supplies, and to stimulate the consumption of those commodities that are flooding and depressing the American markets. It also proposed gradualism in the adoption and application of certain phases of the new program, so that there could not possibly be an abrupt downward change in the level of price supports on basic commodities.

The plan will increase markets for farm products, protect the consumers' food supply, and move food into consumption instead of into governmental storage. My friends, I remember in 1952, during the political campaign, again and again I pledged one thing: I would always do everything within my power to see that the products of food produced by the sweat and toil of our farmers would never have to be thrown away or allowed to spoil when there were hungry people in the world. Now these surpluses are already getting to the point where only decisive and prompt action on our part is going to keep something of that kind from threatening us seriously, if not happening. Now this program will gradually dispose of the gigantic farm surpluses and promises our farmers a higher and steadier return over the years.

This badly needed, new program has a bipartisan origin. The proposal is, in concept, the same as the law passed 5 years ago by a vast majority of the Members of each of the two parties in the Congress.

And yet--despite the vast accumulation of surpluses in the hands of the Government--despite the declining markets at home and abroad, and increasing regimentation of the individual farmer--despite the fact that only a minority of American farmers are affected by price supports-despite the fact that even among this farmer minority, many are opposed to a program so obviously unsuited to the needs of our country--despite all of these painfully evident weaknesses, a vote, described to me as tentative, which was taken 2 days ago in a committee of the House of Representatives, called for continuance of the present farm program for an additional year. In my opinion, the circumstances are too critical to permit such a delay.

Now, my fellow citizens, many have told me that it would not be good politics to attempt solution of the farm problem during an election year. The sensible thing to do, I have been told, over and over again, was to close my eyes to the damage the present farm program does to our farmers and to the rest of our people--and do this job of correction next year.

Now, I would like to make this one point clear!

In this matter I am completely unmoved by arguments as to what constitutes good or winning politics! And may I remark that, though I have not been in this political business very long, I know that what is right for America is politically right.

In the proposal to correct the deficiencies in our farm program, the administration's concern is for all farmers, regardless of their politics, and for all America.

I earnestly hope that the House of Representatives and the Senate will move promptly on these proposals, so that America may have a sound, stable, and prosperous agriculture.

And I hope you will join me in the determination to see that commonsense, good judgment, and fact will, from now on, guide the formulation of American agricultural policy.

Now, aside from taxes and agricultural programs, other projects occupy legislative attention at this moment!

Some of them are of great personal import to our individual citizens, and some have passed one or the other of the two Houses of the Congress.

Extension of the benefits of unemployment insurance should be authorized, so that these benefits may be made available to more than six million additional workers. When this project becomes law, it will remove inequities and inadequacies which for years have limited the effectiveness of this form of income-insurance. In simple justice to a vast number of American citizens, it demands our enthusiastic support.

Congress is considering increased social security benefits, and the extension of social security protection, to more than ten million additional Americans. Likewise, it has before it strengthened programs to rehabilitate disabled people, and to develop adequate medical facilities for those who suffer the misfortune of chronic illness.

In this same health program are items for the construction of diagnostic centers, for nursing homes, and for rehabilitation facilities. Another measure provides for Government reinsurance to enable private and nonprofit insurance companies to give broader prepaid medical and hospital care, on a voluntary basis, to many more of our people. There is a bill to authorize a new housing program, so that every citizen may aspire to a decent home in a wholesome neighborhood.

We are striving to help assure every willing American a practical opportunity to enjoy good health, a good job, a good education, a good home, a good country. And may I emphasize, we are trying to provide opportunity. We are not trying to be paternalistic with respect to anybody.

Now let us look briefly, once again, at the domestic question of protecting our liberties, because this purpose underlies a number of specific bills now before the Congress. They will, when enacted, powerfully increase the effectiveness of the Government's effort to protect us against subversive activity.

Several of these bills would plug loopholes through which spies and saboteurs can now slip. One would let us bar proven subversives from employment in or admission to any private facility, if the facility is essential to our defense.

Another bill would take citizenship from those hereafter convicted of advocating or attempting violent overthrow of our Government.

Moreover, since Communist conspirators sometimes resort to telephones to plot and pass information, we believe that their own words, as learned by the FBI, should be admitted, under adequate safeguards, as evidence in security cases in Federal courts. Another bill would grant immunity from self-incrimination to selected witnesses, while requiring them to tell the truth about their associates and their fellow conspirators before courts, grand juries, and congressional hearings.

All of this internal security legislation adds up to a potent package of protection against communism, without in any degree damaging or lessening the rights of the individual citizen as guaranteed by our laws and the Constitution. It will greatly assist the FBI and the Justice Department, our best weapons against the secret Communist penetration. That program now awaits congressional approval. And I know that all of us, too, await that approval.

Now, I have talked frankly and simply about these matters this evening, because I want you to know why the legislative program in Congress will, when approved, make our country stronger, and help keep our people prosperous with freedoms secure.

As I said earlier, many members of Congress are as deeply anxious as you and I for the passage of these essential measures. They have worked faithfully for their enactment, and I hope that they know of your support. With our appreciation to them goes also, I am sure, this firm assurance from all of us: that we shall unflaggingly pursue the enactment of the remainder of this program.

We live today in an age of ceaseless trouble and danger. For all of us the challenge is clear. For all of us the future is shadowed by mushroom clouds and menaced by godless men addicted to force and violence and the continuance of anarchy among nations.

Here, in our time, in our hands, and in our own courage, in our own endurance and vision, rests the future of civilization and of all moral and spiritual values of enduring meaning to mankind.

Part--but only part--of our responsibility for preserving these values can be discharged through the legislative structure we propose to enact this year.

Let us, therefore, not rest until these laws are passed.

May I suggest that we have less political fission and more political fusion.

Let us have, in this session of the Congress, approval of this program essential to a stronger, a better, a safer America.

Note: The President spoke at the Statler Hotel in Washington.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address at Meeting of District Chairmen, National Citizens for Eisenhower Congressional Committee. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232139

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