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Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy (Question-and-Answer Period), Jackson, MI

October 14, 1960

Senator KENNEDY. Are there any questions? We may have a couple before we pull out.

(Question from the audience.)

Senator KENNEDY. The question is "What about inflation?"

In the last 8 years we have had in the cost of industrial goods nearly a 30-percent rise. Of course, farm income dropped during that same period. The overall increase in the cost of living has been only about 22 percent. For medical care it has been 35 percent, for rent 30 percent, for the general costs, particularly in the heavy industries, it has gone up more than 30 percent. This is a serious problem, not only to our own people who are adversely affected by a steady increase in their cost of living, but it is also a serious problem in our attempts to compete in other markets, in automobiles, in steel, in heavy construction. We have to try to provide a full economy. If we are only using 50 percent of our capacity in steel, if other capacity which we now have is being unused then it is difficult to have sufficient competition in our system to maintain price stability. I believe it must be the responsibility of the next President of the United States and the next administration, by monetary and fiscal policy, by a recognition by both labor and management, that they have a stake in maintaining the soundness of the dollar. I believe it is important that we maintain full use of our economy, but that we also concentrate our attention in making sure that any increases are not derived because of deterioration in the value of the dollar.

(Question from the audience.)

Senator KENNEDY. The question is whether we will defend Quemoy and Matsu, if it is part of an attack on the island of Formosa.

In my judgment, if the attack on Quemoy and Matsu is part of an attack on the Pescadores and Formosa, then in my opinion the entire area will become an area of war, unfortunately. The problem really is should the line be drawn at the islands themselves, should the line be drawn as the treaty now draws it and as the administration, at the Pescadores. If the action which takes place on the other side of the line is part of a general attack on the Formosa-Pescadores area, then not only those islands, but also the entire area would become an area of military action and I sustain that.

(Question from the audience.)

Senator KENNEDY. I think the question of what weapons ought to be used ought to await the kind of attack and all the rest of it.

(Question from the audience.)

Senator KENNEDY. The question is "What should I tell my parents who don't want to vote for you because of" - because of my religion.

Well, I would ask them first to study what I have stated on the matter, to study what I have said in regard to separation of church and state, to realize that I have served in the Congress for 14 years, that I vote to sustain the Constitution, and then I would tell them to read the U.S. Constitution, which says there shall be no religious test for office. [Applause.]

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy (Question-and-Answer Period), Jackson, MI Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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