Speech of the Vice President of the United States on TV Station When, Syracuse, NY
First I want you to know how much I appreciate your giving me some of your television time tonight. I know how precious this time is in the average family because my two daughters like to see these 7 o'clock programs. But I know you realize, too, that the decision you will be making just a week from today may be the most important decision you will ever make in your life. And that's why I want to talk to you about that decision tonight and for the next 3 nights as well at this very time.
In speaking of this decision, it is one that is not just a decision to be made between two men who want to be President or between two political parties. It is a decision involving every home and every person in America as well as people throughout the world. It is a decision in which you, the people will, in effect, be voting the prices you will pay in the grocery store, the prices you will pay in the clothing store. You will be voting the taxes you will pay. You will also be voting for the policies which may or may not keep the peace and keep it without surrender in the years ahead.
Tonight I want to talk first about problems at home, the problems of the average family, the problems of what I would call the family budget, and progress at home.
Now here we have two diametrically points of view. I tell you tonight that I stand for programs that will build on the policies of the Eisenhower administration, policies which I believe have produced the greatest prosperity that America has ever had in any 8-year period. I believe we can build on those policies and expand progress by building on them.
On the other side, my opponent offers a program which, in effect, rather than carrying America forward would take her back - take her back to policies we left in 1953. He would take her back to policies we left then because he says America has been standing still for the last 7½ years.
Now I realize that this leaves you in somewhat of a predicament. I say one thing. He says exactly the opposite. Whom are you to believe?
Well, you don't have to believe either one of us because you know what the truth is. I just suggest this: Look around you. Look around in your own community or consider your own situation, your own job, the wages you've received. And do you know what you will find? You will find that in the 7 Truman years wages went up but prices went up so fast at the same time that at the end of that period you had no real increase in take-home pay. You also found in that period that the Truman administration ended with a war. You found, in other words, that you did not have prosperity in that period without war.
Now what has happened in this 7 years of our administration in which my opponent says we've been standing still? Well, if we've been standing still, we want more of it. You know that we have built three times as many schools in the past 7 years as in the previous 7 years. You know that we have built a great highway system. You know that we have built in America more hospitals, more houses than in any administration in history. You know, too, that there's been more progress in the field of civil rights, for example: not only more progress than in the previous administration but more than in the previous 20 years - more, in fact, than in the previous 80 years.
You know, in other words, that this has not been a period in which America has stood still. Putting it in terms which all of us will understand, you know, too, that as far as real wages are concerned, they've gone up in this administration, and they stayed stagnant in that administration. We find, for example, that factory wages have gone up from $68 to $91 a week and it's a real increase because we have kept prices in check so that prices went up only one-fifth as much as they did in the 7 years that preceded it.
In other words, we find that in the past 7 years we've had an increase of 15 percent in the real wages, in the take-home pay of the American wage earners in this country.
So the argument about standing still doesn't stand up because you know better and my opponent fights the truth when he says that we've been standing still.
But now we come to the future. What about the future? Here again I know that every family is concerned about the future. You're concerned about it because we've heard quite a few charges in this campaign, charges that terrible times are just around the corner unless we turn back to the policies that we left nearly 8 years ago.
When I was in Detroit the other day I saw one of these charges at its worst, and I really mean its worst. I picked up a copy of the Detroit Free Press. As you will note [indicating] "U.S. Facing Slump, Kennedy Declares." And I suppose many of my listeners will say "Well, if the U.S. is facing a slump, we had better have a change." Are we facing a slump? That's what he says. But you know better.
Let me prove it. In that very same paper, look at the headline above: "Ten-Day Auto Sales Set Record."
You know what that means. That means that the American people have confidence in the future. They're buying more cars than ever before. That means we're going to have not only more sales of cars but more production of steel, and it means that our economy is going to move forward, move forward without inflation, because as long as the people have confidence, we will not have a recession; and it's only the politicians who want to get the jobs - the jobs, of course, in the White House, particularly - who would talk this country into a recession.
I assure you we will not have one under our policies. I would have a question about it under theirs, as I will later point out.
Now let us look at the exact choice that we have in this campaign. My opponent begins by saying we have been standing still. He then predicts that we're going to have a slump. And then he says what the things are that he offers for America. And you know what they all add up to? They add up to the most extravagant promises that have ever been made by a Presidential candidate in any campaign in our history - promising everything to everybody.
Sounds good, doesn't it? You would like to have those promises kept. But let's look at the cost - $15 billion a year more would be required on the Federal budget in order to pay for these promises included in his platform and in his speeches - $15 billion a year more.
Now you know of course who pays the bill. You do. The American people. The American taxpayers.
But then we have got to be fair and accurate here. I recognize that my opponent has said in recent days that he does not favor an increase in taxes. He said that during one of our debates, you recall. He also says that as far as the future is concerned, he does not believe that his program will result in unbalancing the budget.
In other words, what do we have here? He says that he is for a program which I say will cost $15 billion a year more at the Federal level, that he's against any increase in taxes and that he's for balancing the budget.
Well, my friends, you can't be for all those things because you can't spend $15 billion a year more and still balance the budget without raising taxes or without deficit spending.
What does this add up to? It means that if these programs go into effect we're going to have higher prices and higher taxes which all of the American people will have to pay.
Let me just take one of these programs and outline what it would mean to you - the farm program. This is the most radical farm program ever foisted upon the American people in a political campaign or at any other time.
Even Henry Wallace described it as a program so radical that it was turned down in the administration in which he was Secretary of Agriculture. What does it do? It doesn't help the farmers because it would drive a million farmers and farm workers from the farm. It would cut down their production by 40 to 50 percent in some area and in addition to that it would put over them approximately 50,000 more Federal police inspectors who would, in effect, tell them how much they could grow, what they could sell it for and what they could, do. This is what it would do to the farmers. It would cover every crop not just the five basic crops that are now covered by supports, but 250 crops. Whatever the farmer grew, chickens, tomatoes, anything, the Federal Government would be in there telling him what he could grow, how much and what he could sell it for. These are the things it would do to the farmer.
What does it do to the consumer? And this is the farmer, also. It would raise food prices in the store by 25 percent. Now these are not my figures. These are the figures of the career employees of the Department of Agriculture who made a study of this program. And these career employees in the Department of Agriculture, not political employees, have indicated that if this program goes in, food prices will go up 25 percent.
Do you know what that means? I do, because I grew up in a grocery store. That would mean 2 cents a loaf more for every loaf of bread. It would means 4 cents a quart more for every quart of milk. It would means 22 cents a dozen more for every dozen of eggs. It would means 28 cents more for every chicken you bought. It would mean 28 cents a pound more for every pound of butter you bought, and so on down the line.
My friends, I say this isn't good for the farmers, and it isn't good for the consumers. It's wrong. It's the wrong way to solve a problem, and I say that because I know what it would do. I say also that a program that would add $15 billion to the budget is not good for the American people, because it would require a rise in our taxes and a rise in our prices as well.
Why do I say this? Because I know it would work a terrible hardship on those trying to meet a family budget. I know it would work a particularly cruel hardship on the millions of people who are retired in this country, living on social security and pensions. And I know that these policies would bring our economy to a halt. They would risk the very recession that Senator Kennedy has so loosely and in a very demagogic way predicted.
So I say to you that there is a way to progress, a way in which we can have better education without having Federal control of our education; in which we can have better housing; in which we can have improved medical care and medical care and insurance for our older people without socializing the medical institutions in this country, without compelling people to have health insurance unless they want it and giving them a choice, which is the American way of doing it; a program in which we can have progress in civil rights, which will move forward from the area in which we are presently finding ourselves.
All these things we can have, my friends, and, in addition, we can have progress which will create more jobs for more Americans in this great period of the sixties which we are now entering. My programs will produce this kind of progress. And do you know why they will produce it? Because they are not based on turning everything over to Washington, to the Federal Government. They are based on the Federal Government encouraging and giving opportunity to millions of individual Americans to make their contributions to America's greatness. That is the way to progress in America.
And so here is your choice in this field. Do you want to have progress as we offer it, progress without inflation, or do you want the promise of progress as he offers it, the promise of progress with inflation? I say, my friends, that this choice is the most important decision you will ever make in your life and I urge you: think before you vote and then vote for what is best for America and best for you. Thank you very much.
Richard Nixon, Speech of the Vice President of the United States on TV Station When, Syracuse, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273642