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Statement on Rural Electrification by Senator John F. Kennedy

September 22, 1960

I have this assurance for the rural families of America, and especially for those men and women who brought electric light and power to rural America with the help of REA:

1. Under the next Democratic administration, the Administrator of REA will apply no political tests to REA loan applications. He will be directed to approve any loan that meets the traditional standards of merit and feasibility developed under the 25-year-old Rural Electrification Act.

2. When first enacted it was clear that Congress intended REA policies to be keyed to economic growth. We must be true to that intention, and work sympathetically with rural electric systems to meet the increasing demands for electricity in rural areas. This means generation and transmission loans when such loans are feasible and will help solve a power shortage or reduce costs.

3. In place of the Government-led campaigns against the rural electrics there must be a climate of friendly encouragement. The experience and knowledge that rural electrification men and women have accumulated in the last quarter of a century must be used to help us develop the solutions to the rural electrification problems of the future. For this is not a time to stop or hold back. It is a time to advance. The power needs of the future will dwarf the power needs of today.

4. REA co-ops are not socialistic. The funds they receive from the Federal Government are not gifts or subsidies. They are business loans, repayable with interest. Repayments are well ahead of schedule. This is the kind of record we must help implement.

John F. Kennedy, Statement on Rural Electrification by Senator John F. Kennedy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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