Excerpts from the Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, Auditorium (Coliseum), Indianapolis, IN - (Advance Release Text)
* * * The struggle in which we are engaged requires not only our maximum effort but also the most prudent use of all our resources. In a free society, we cannot compel the same rigid efficiency of which Mr. Khrushchev boasts. But we can inspire an even greater effort by freemen willing to dedicate themselves to preserving that freedom.
With so many national responsibilities pressing upon us - with every tax dollar counting for so much - we need a government that knows how to govern - and history shows that this means a Democratic government.
The Republicans talk of economy. They talk of efficiency. They talk of eliminating waste and deficits and debt increases. But the facts of the matter are that during these years of Republican rule the Government has operated at a deficit exceeding $18 billion. The budget has steadily grown. The number of Federal agencies has grown. The number of Federal employees has grown. The national debt ceiling has been increased five times. The total Federal expenditures far exceed those of the previous administration. And in fiscal year 1959 the Republicans ran up the highest peacetime deficit in our Nation's history.
And what have we achieved with all this money? Most of it has gone for foreign aid, agriculture, and defense. But our foreign aid budget has not been managed in a way that won us friends and increased our prestige, for our prestige has rapidly declined. Our farm budget has not been managed in a way that brought prosperity to the farmer, for his income is the lowest in 20 years. Our defense budget has not been managed in a way that assures us of continued superiority across the board, for the missile gap is widening, our conventional forces are outmoded, and our defenses are in danger of becoming second rate.
I think a new Democratic administration can eradicate waste in the Pentagon - get our dollar's worth out of foreign aid - and restore some sense to our farm program. Mr. Nixon's farm program, on the other hand, would continue Mr. Benson's discredited soil bank program, taking land out of production and substituting Government payments for the income on that land. An independent study by Iowa State University has shown that if such a program is to raise corn prices to $1.30 a bushel and hold wheat prices at $1.50 a bushel, we would have to take 133 million farm acres out of production - one out of every three acres of existing cropland - at a minimum cost of $2 to $3 billion a year for an indefinite period of time.
This Benson-Nixon program has already cost more in 3 years than the entire cost of farm supports under 20 years of Democratic administration - and at the same time it has reduced farm income and raised prices at the supermarket. I think we can do better.
For this is not a record of economy or efficiency. This is not a record of campaign promises kept and carried out. This is a record of poor government by a party which does not believe in governing and has no talent for government.
The Democratic Party believes in government - but it believes that government must be responsible, economical and prudently run. I believe in a balanced budget and an honest dollar in the Federal Government doing only those tasks that cannot otherwise be done. I believe that the taxpayer is entitled to value what he buys with his taxes just as highly as that which he buys with the money left over. But I also believe in action where action is needed, and I am opposed to the costs of waste that are caused by Republican delay.
Mr. Nixon has purported to estimate the cost of the Democratic platform. His figures are wholly fictitious. But how can anyone figure the cost of the Republican platform? How much have they cost the taxpayer for the dams and highways that cost more now than they did when they should have been built? How can you measure the cost of increased juvenile delinquency bred in the slums they refuse to clean up? How can you measure the cost to their families of the medical care aged persons are denied? How can you measure the cost every consumer bears in high interest rates - or the cost of an abandoned farms - or the cost of illness caused by polluted water? How much more are emergency programs in foreign aid costing us because we did not long ago take the steps we should have taken before a crisis was reached in the Middle East, in Latin America or in Africa? And how do you measure the cost to a country whose security is in danger of being nibbled away by brush-fire wars too limited to justify the use of the massive retaliation our defense budgets have forced us to rely upon?
I do not call that economy. The Republican Party is one of waste - the waste of our human resources and the waste of our natural resources.
Thirty-five percent of our brighter students in this country do not go on to college. They cannot afford it and the Republicans have refused to help either the colleges or the students. But what a tragic waste of their talents. What a costly waste to the American people who paid to educate them this far.
Nine billion dollars worth of foods is wasting in storage at a time when millions of Americans are without an adequate diet and at least 4 million of them depend on surplus food packages from the Government which provide each person with roughly 5 cents a day worth of rice, cornmeal, dried eggs, skimmed milk and now a little lard. That food and fiber is being wasted when it could be serving people, when it should be serving the cause of peace.
Last week approximately 50 percent of our steel capacity was idle; and 100,000 steelworkers were out of work. That is waste of the worst sort. This is waste caused by the shortsighted policies of the Republican Party that have slowed down our economic growth and threatened us with a new recession.
We are wasting our great river valleys, such as the Wabash, if we fail to utilize their potential, to develop their resources and to purify their water. It is wasteful to have our best teachers moving into other jobs because their pay is too low. It is wasteful for our areas of chronic labor surplus to be burdened with idle men and idle plants that are needed in our economy. It is wasteful for talented men and women to be denied an equal opportunity to make the most of their talents because of their race or religion. It is wasteful for more and more tax dollars to be consumed in higher and higher interest rates on the national debt.
This country can afford that waste no longer. This State can afford that waste no longer. It is truly time for a change. * * *
John F. Kennedy, Excerpts from the Speech of Senator John F. Kennedy, Auditorium (Coliseum), Indianapolis, IN - (Advance Release Text) Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/274312