Statement by the Vice President of the United States on Campaign Issues in Areas of Health, Education, and Welfare
Of all the questions that our citizens ask about a candidate for the office of President, I feel that. the most important is this: Does he have a deep-seated concern for the welfare of his fellow human beings?
I was brought up in a family where it was necessary for us to be concerned about food, clothing, shelter, jobs, education, and medical bills for ourselves.
From my earliest days, however, we were taught that we must also have a concern for the needs of others. This meant that we had an obligation to do something about meeting those needs.
It is in that spirit that I would discharge the responsibilities of the Presidency.
In this statement I am addressing myself specifically to those responsibilities that relate to the areas of health, education, and welfare.
How has my opponent dealt with the issues in these areas?
First of all he has deliberately distorted the record. He has stated, for example, that I am opposed to medical care for the aged and Federal aid to education. In so doing he has permitted his desire to be President to stand in the way of the truth.
Second, he has supported programs that have been rejected by a Congress that had a 2-to-1 Democratic majority. In so doing he is trifling with human needs. Those who are in need are entitled to action rather than empty promises.
Here is the way I approach the human needs of our Nation
I have a deep-seated concern, for example, for our senior citizens and the members of their families as they face the problem of meeting heavy medical expenses.
Because of some of my own family experiences, I understand the nature of the burden that is being carried by so many of our senior citizens.
I am convinced that the Federal Government must help our senior citizens deal with this problem. We cannot dismiss the problem by saying that the aged can be cared for through public assistance. Most of them, and properly so, want to avoid being completely dependent on the Government. Nor can we dismiss this problem by saying that senior citizens can obtain protection under private health insurance programs. I know that many of them with low incomes find it impossible to participate in such programs.
I believe, therefore, that the Federal Government must act in this area. I favor a voluntary program that would be open to all persons 65 and over of moderate means. I favor a program that would enable senior citizens to obtain substantial benefits under a State-administered health insurance plan or that would help them purchase private insurance.
My opponent advocates a compulsory Federal health insurance program open only to persons 68 and over who are under social security. His plan would include the wealthy as well as the needy. On the other hand, his plan would exclude at least 3 million senior citizens with incomes of $2,000 or less.
My opponent's plan was defeated in the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives, in the Senate Finance Committee and on the floor of the Senate. It will be defeated every time it is put to a vote. Why? Because the Members of Congress know that our citizens do not want to start down the path of a compulsory governmental health insurance program. They know that if they start down such a path it could lead to socialization of all of our health services.
The plan that I back will make available to senior citizens of moderate means more substantial benefits than my opponent's plan. As President I am confident that I can rally the support that will insure its passage by the Congress.
Likewise I have a deep-seated concern for providing our children and young people with adequate educational opportunities.
My opponent says that I am opposed to Federal aid to education. Actually I favor a comprehensive program of Federal aid to children: I favor it because I believe that such assistance is essential if our Nation is to take full advantage of its educational opportunities.
In the field of elementary and secondary education, I advocate a program of substantial Federal matching grants to our States. Under my program, the local school districts could use these funds to pay principal and interest on debts that have been or may be incurred for the construction of classrooms, and also to help cover the cost of classrooms that are being erected on a pay-as-you-go basis. This will release funds that otherwise would have to be used on construction items so that they can be used to increase the salaries of our teachers, This I regard as our No. 1 problem in the field of education. My program will also reduce sharply our existing classroom shortages:
My opponent favors a program under which Federal funds would be made available for the current operating budgets of local school districts. Our citizens know that his program could lead to Federal control of what is taught in the classroom. That is why it hasn't passed the Congress. That is why, in my judgment, it never will pass the Congress.
My program achieves all of the objectives of any opponent's program without running the risk of Federal control. Therefore, my program will get the support that is needed in order to obtain approval by the Congress. Here again I am offering action. My opponent is offering promises that he knows he cannot fulfill.
What about higher education?
There will be a million more students on our campuses in the fall of 1964 than there were in the fall of 1959. They will not receive the education to which they are entitled unless the Federal Government helps to speed up the construction of the necessary buildings. I favor a program of substantial Federal assistance to our public and private colleges and universities in the form of loans at low rates of interest and also in the form of matching grants.
In addition, I believe that the Federal Government must do more than it is now doing to overcome economic obstacles that stand in the way of .many of our young people attending our colleges and universities. I know of no more indefensible waste of human resources.
I believe, therefore, that the Congress should extend and expand our present student loan program. I also believe that Federal matching grants should be made available to the States to enable them to offer a limited number of scholarships based on merit and need.
But these two programs alone do not go far enough. The time has come for the Federal Government to show concern for the literally millions of parents who make sacrifices in order to enable their children to have the benefits of higher education. For these people I propose to urge the Congress to provide tax credits or deductions for tuition payments and other expenses incurred in connection with higher education. In this manner the Federal Government will be helping our people who help themselves.
This total program for Federal aid to higher education is the most comprehensive one that has been proposed to date. My opponent has refused to say how he stands on it.
I also have a deep-seated concern for the health of our people. There is no question in my mind but that we must continue to increase our investment of Federal and private funds in medical research. I am prepared to back a comprehensive program along this line. I believe that such a program will lead to breakthroughs in such areas as cancer, heart disease, and mental illness.
Investment of money, however, is not enough. We must also have available an increasing number of persons who are qualified not only to do research work but also to teach our medical schools and to apply the results of medical research.
In order to achieve this objective, I have proposed that the Federal Government make matching grants available for the construction of teaching facilities in our medical schools. I have also advocated a program of medical fellowships under which the student would receive help and, in addition, the medical school that he attends would also be given assistance.
I have made another proposal in the health area which I regard as very significant. Health insurance for citizens of all ages has made a major contribution to improve the quality of medical care. In order to accelerate the purchase of health insurance for catastrophic illnesses, I believe that we should be permitted to deduct for income-tax purposes the cost of premiums.
Then there is our Federal-State program of vocational rehabilitation.
Amazing progress has been made in this area under the leadership of President Eisenhower. The number of rehabilitated persons placed in jobs has increased from around 55,000 just a few years ago to 88,000 last year. It will exceed 90,000 this year.
I believe that we must continue to increase the amount of both Federal and State funds for this program. I know of no program that is sponsored by government that makes better sense than this one. It replaces despair with hope in the lives of tens of thousands of our fellow citizens. It means that persons who in many instances have been completely dependent on society once again become productive members of society.
So far I have been talking with you about my concern for our fellow citizens. Concern for people, however, cannot be confined to our own Nation.
I have a concern for all of the peoples of the world. I know that my fellow Americans share this concern. We must, in the great American tradition of concern for those less fortunate than we are, welcome the opportunity to work with people everywhere to help them achieve their aspirations for a life of human dignity. We must do this not merely to stop communism, not to help governments, but to help people - to help them attain the life they deserve. If I become President, I will do everything I can to provide leadership in this all-important area.
At the center of our Judeo-Christian tradition is the commandments "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." This means that we should never pass up the opportunity to help our neighbors achieve their highest potential.
If I become your President I will keep this commandment at the center of my thinking and planning. I will insist on the Federal Government keeping at the top of its list of priorities a deep-seated concern for human needs - both at home and abroad.
Richard Nixon, Statement by the Vice President of the United States on Campaign Issues in Areas of Health, Education, and Welfare Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273784