John F. Kennedy photo

Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy on Vice President Nixon's "White Paper"

October 20, 1960

Mr. Nixon's white paper is intended, he said, to present some glaring errors. It does just that. It repeats some of the most glaring errors Mr. Nixon has made in this campaign. It is an interesting fact that he is willing to debate with a mimeograph machine that presents only one side, but is unwilling to make his answers and charges in direct TV confrontation with 70 million people watching. While I take this opportunity to set forth the facts on his list, the total record of Nixon misstatements, slurs, and distortions could not possibly be answered in a single white paper. But it will be answered by millions of white papers cast on November 8.

1. Kennedy statement: This administration and this country last year had the lowest rate of economic growth, which means jobs, of any major industrial society in the world.

Fact: In January 1960 the Joint Economic Committee reported that from 1953 to 1959 the average annual rate of growth was 2.3 percent.

Fact: In January 1960 the Joint Economic Committee reported that the average rate of growth of countries of Western Europe was 4.6 percent.

2. Kennedy statement: I am not satisfied when we are failing to develop the natural resources of the United States to the fullest. Here in the United States, which developed the Tennessee Valley and which built the Grand Coulee and other dams in the Northwest United States, at the present rate of hydropower production the Soviet Union by 1975 will be producing more power than we are.

Fact: In the May 1960 Journal of the Soviet Ministry of Power Station Construction, Prof. P.S. Neporozhni places overall Soviet power production at 1,550 billion kilowatts in 1975. According to the report to the Senate Interior Committee this year, this is a approximately the same power production projected for the United States in that year.

3. Kennedy statement: It is untrue that under my agricultural program food prices would go up 25 percent.

Fact: Senator Johnston, chairman of the Senate Civil Service Committee, stated following his investigation, Mr. Nixon's calculations of the effect of the farm program were "a fraud upon the public."

Fact: My farm program will cost taxpayers $3 billion a year less than Mr. Nixon's program.

Fact: My farm program will have little effect on food prices, for the farmer receives only a small share of the total cost of food. For instance, the farmer gets only 2.3 cents for the wheat in a 20-cent loaf of bread.

4. Kennedy statement: The Republicans in recent years, not only in the last 25 years but in the last 8 years, have opposed Federal aid to education.

Fact: In the 83d Congress there was no Federal aid to education bill.

Fact: In 1956, the Republicans in the House of Representatives opposed the school bill by a vote of 119 to 75.

Fact: In 1957, the Republicans in the House of Representatives killed the administration's school bill by a vote of 111 to 77.

Fact: In 1958, every Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee voted against aid to education and the bill did not reach the floor.

Fact: In 1959, threatened veto prevented any vote upon a school bill.

Fact: In 1960, the House Republicans opposed the school bill by a vote of 92 to 44. And the Senate Republicans opposed it by a vote of 22 to 9.

5. Kennedy statement: Our forests are vanishing and our wildlife is vanishing.

Fact: According to the Republican administration's own Forest Service, reforestation is proceeding at 8½ percent of need and timber quality is declining.

Fact: During the years of the Republican administration, an average of 200,000 acres of forests per year have burned while only 22,000 burned acres per year have been reforested.

Fact: President Roosevelt planted almost as many acres in 1 year as this Republican administration in 7½ years.

6. Kennedy statement: The Congress has provided more funds in fact than the President recommended for national defense.

Fact: From 1953 to the present, the administration asked for $232,020 million for defense. In the same period Congress appropriated $232,280 million - or $260 million more than the President requested.

7. Kennedy statement: Senator Kennedy accused the Vice President of election year hypocrisy in the health and medical fields. He complained that the Nation's health problems have been neglected for 8 years.

Fact: In the past 3 years the Congress has appropriated $210 million more for hospital construction under the Hill-Burton Act than the Republicans requested.

Fact: The water pollution control bill passed by the Democratic Congress was vetoed by the administration.

Fact: The health program for American Indians consisted primarily of a transfer operation from the Interior Department to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare - a transfer opposed by the Republican Director of the Budget Bureau and the Republican Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Fact: 85 percent of the Republican Senators voted against the Model Rehabilitation Center.

Fact: Democratic Congresses have increased funds for medical research by $433 million over Republican opposition.

8. Kennedy statement: The Republican Party has failed to take one constructive step toward guaranteeing equal opportunities to all Americans.

Fact: Each advance toward equality of opportunity for all Americans made during the past 7½ years has been due to the Democratic initiative.

A. The 1957 civil rights bill emerged from the Democratic Congress despite the failure by the Republican administration to recommend any bill when it had control of the Congress.

B. The Republican administration failed to take the recommendations of their own Civil Rights Commission for legislation in 1960.

C. The Armed Forces integration, for which Mr. Nixon takes credit, was accomplished by an Executive order issued by President Truman.

D. The Republican administration has repeatedly refused to endorse the school desegregation decision. The District of Columbia desegregation for which Mr. Nixon claims credit, was accomplished in obedience to a court order.

E. A Negro Governor of the Virgin Islands was first appointed by President Truman - not, as Mr. Nixon claims, by a Republican administration.

F. The number of complaints filed with the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, for which Mr. Nixon claims credit, has resulted in only five discrimination suits annually.

G. Lunch counter desegregation, for which Mr. Nixon claims credit, was achieved by courageous young students.

9. Kennedy statement: The Republicans in recent years, not only in the last 25 years but in the last 8 years have opposed housing programs for the American people.

Fact: All our basic housing programs have been enacted by the Democratic Congresses working with Democratic Presidents.

Fact: Mr. Nixon opposed and voted against the Housing Act of 1949 which created the urban renewal program.

Fact: Republicans opposed a $350 million authorization for urban renewal in 1960.

Fact: Republicans tried to cut back the urban renewal program by requiring communities to pay one-half instead of one-quarter of the cost.

Fact: Republicans vetoed two housing bills in 1959.

Fact: The volume of private home building is largely due to the FHA and VA programs under which 10 million homes have been built and 24 million home improvements have been made. This program was passed under a Democratic administration.

Fact: In 3 years a Democratic administration built 213,000 housing units of low rent housing - in 7 years the Republicans have built 132,000.

10. Kennedy statement: The President of the United States wrote to Senator Green, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that "Neither you nor any other American need fear the United States will be involved in military hostilities merely in the defense of Quemoy and Matsu."

Fact: This letter expressed the administration's position that -

A. We would defend Quemoy and Matsu if their defense became necessary or appropriate for the defense of Formosa and the Pescadores.

B. We would not defend Quemoy and Matsu if their defense was not necessary to the defense of Formosa and the Pescadores.

C. We would not retreat from Quemoy and Matsu under fire.

Fact: In the television debates with Mr. Nixon I stated that:

A. I would defend the islands of Quemoy and Matsu if their defense was necessary to halt an attack on the island of Formosa and the Pescadores.

B. I would not defend Quemoy and Matsu unless their defense was necessary or appropriate to the defense of Formosa and the Pescadores. I would never retreat from Quemoy or Matsu under fire.

Fact: My position throughout has been consistent with the position of the administration and with our present treaty obligations.

Fact: Mr. Nixon, immediately after our second television debate, pledged that he would defend Quemoy and Matsu whether or not their defense was essential to the defense of Formosa - thus going beyond the administration position.

Fact: In our third television debate, Mr. Nixon indicated that he would only defend the islands in the event that the defense of those islands was necessary or appropriate to the defense of Formosa.

Fact: Mr. Nixon has now retreated from his original position, until his position now accords with mine and that of the administration.

Fact: Mr. Nixon has not only misstated my position, he has also misstated his own.

11. Kennedy's statement: The Republicans have consistently opposed minimum wage legislation.

Fact: In 1938, when the first bill was passed, the Republicans voted against it 48 to 31 in the House and 13 to 2 in the Senate.

Fact: When the minimum wage was raised from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour, every Republican on the House Labor Committee opposed it and the Republicans in the House voted 143 to 12 to take away minimum wage protection from 1 million workers who were covered.

Fact: In 1960, the attempt to raise the minimum wage to $1.25 an hour was defeated in the House when Republicans voted 119 to 27 against it. In the Senate, the $1.25 minimum wage was opposed by the Republicans, 18 to 14.

12. Kennedy's statement: The Republican Party gives only lip-service to programs of care for the aged.

Fact: In 1935, when the Social Security Act was passed, 107 out of 115 Republican Members of the House and Senate voted against it.

Fact: In 1949, Mr. Nixon and 110 other Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to eliminate benefits to persons who became disabled.

Fact: In 1956, the Republican administration opposed lowering the retirement age for women to 62 and opposed benefits for persons who became permanently and totally disabled. Thirty-eight of the forty-four Republicans voted against the disability provisions.

Fact: Until this year during the closing months of Congress, the Republican administration opposed any action upon health care. During public hearings of the House Ways and Means Committee in 1959, and during the executive sessions of that committee in 1960, the only Republican recommendation called for further study through a national conference on the aging in 1961.

Fact: The bill supported by Mr. Nixon this year did not receive a single Republican vote when it was considered by the Senate Finance Committee.

13. Kennedy's statement: All regular Spanish language broadcasts of the Voice of America were suspended from 1953 to 1959, with the exception of the 6 months of the Hungarian crisis.

Fact: Regular Spanish language Voice of America broadcasts to South America were suspended in 1953 and resumed in 1959 with the exception of the 6 months of the Hungarian crisis.

Fact: In 1953, the Republicans canceled Democratic plans for two powerful radio transmitters which would have enabled us to reach large parts of the world with direct broadcasts.

Fact: In 1952, we were competing with Moscow for first place in nationaT broadcasting. We are now running a poor fourth to Moscow, Peiping, and the United Arab Republic.

In closing, I might suggest that Mr. Nixon - by raising the standard of truth and accuracy - has exposed his own campaign's most vulnerable weakness. A real "truth squad," for example, would find it necessary to ask Mr. Nixon such questions as these:

1. Why do you repeat the statement that real wages have gone up 15 percent during the present administration compared with only 2 percent in the previous one, when your own Department of Labor figures clearly establish that the increase between September 1945 (the first postwar month) and January 1953 was 18.3 percent while the increase between January 1953 and August 1960 has been 13.7 percent.

2. Why have you not personally admitted that you misquoted me when you said that in my Detroit speech on Labor Day I had said "What the American labor movement wants for America is what I want for America" when this statement did not appear in either my advance statement or in the speech as actually delivered?

3. When you insist that Federal aid to teachers salaries means Federal control over education, are you aware of the fact that the present program for aid to federally impacted areas has been free of such control, and that the provision which you killed with your tie-breaking vote contained explicit language ruling out any Federal "direction, supervision, or control over the policy determinations, personnel, program of instruction, or the administration or operation of any school or school system"?

4. How can you claim credit for the present administration for more new water project starts than any other time in our history, when the stated Republican position except in campaign election years has been a no-new-starts policy that the Democratic Congress has sought to overcome?

5. How can you call the vetoed 1960 Democratic bill on depressed areas "straight pork barrel" when your own Secretary of Labor, just 24 hours before the veto was announced, called the bill "good enough so that any Senator or Congressman from a State with areas of chronic unemployment would have no alternative but vote for it"?

6. Why do you take credit for the present levels of operations at the National Institutes of Health, when the Democratic Congress, ignoring threats of veto, raised the administration request from $400 million to $560 million for the present year - the sixth consecutive year that Democrats have raised administration requests?

7. On October 5, in Philadelphia, you talked about civil rights and said, "My position and that of my running mate has been clear and straightforward. We have said the same thing in every section of the country." Do you stand by this statement in light of the varying statements both you and your running mate have made on question of appointing a Negro to the cabinet, for example?

8. Why do you repeat the Communist argument that unemployment was eliminated in the United States only when we have had a war economy, when the fact is that unemployment during the Truman administration averaged about a million less than during the administration even though the level of defense expenditures - including the Korean war - was lower than it has been during the present administration?

9. Why have you stated that I support a minimum wage which "official studies show would force unemployment and business failures" when there are no such studies, just administration assertion that this might happen - assertions like those made by Republicans every time an increase in the minimum wage is proposed?

10. Why do you blame the present huge agricultural surpluses on the policies your party inherited, when the fact is that at the end of the Truman administration total farm surpluses were valued at $2.5 billion, while the present value is $8.5 billion?

John F. Kennedy, Statement by Senator John F. Kennedy on Vice President Nixon's "White Paper" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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