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Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy on Douglas-Flood Bill

September 20, 1960

Mr. Nixon's contention that the hard-hit unemployment areas of the country would have received more help under the administration area redevelopment bill than under the Douglas-Flood bill, which I supported and which President Eisenhower vetoed, is patently absurd.

The Vice President is reported to have said in Scranton, Pa., yesterday, that the Scranton area would have received $1.5 million under the administration bill compared to less than $1 million under the Democratic bill; and that the Wilkes-Barre-Hazleton area would have received $2.6 million compared to $1.6 million under the Democratic bill.

Mr. Nixon did not explain how he derived his figures, but he did say that the administration program would have provided $180 million in aid. These figures do not agree with the public record. The administration bill considered by the Congress this year provided only $53 million. After the Democratic bill was vetoed, the administration did propose another bill, which appeared to be a political maneuver rather than a serious legislative proposal. Even this bill provided only $80 million.

The Democratic bill that was vetoed provided assistance totaling $251 million - or almost 5 times the $53 million proposed by the administration.

While it is true that the Democratic program would have made more areas eligible, it is clear that five times as much money can be spread five times as far. Five times as much money will help five times as many people; create five times as many jobs.

No one can say, moreover, not even Mr. Nixon, how much money any one community would get under any of the proposed bills. Broad discretion would have been granted the administrator under any bill, and certainly the communities which are hardest hit would have been given a priority.

The fact is that the Vice President must still try to explain two vetoes of legislation which would have brought help to America's depressed areas. The people of those areas were injured by those vetoes, and no amount of arithmetical doubletalk can conceal that essential truth.

John F. Kennedy, Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy on Douglas-Flood Bill Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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