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Statement of the Vice President of the United States, on Inflation, Syracuse, NY

November 01, 1960

The fear of renewed inflation with a continual rise in the cost of living remains a top issue with the American people in this campaign.

The prospect of repeating the 48-percent increase in the cost of living that took place under the last Democratic President is enough to scare anybody.

It meant that by the end of Mr. Truman's administration of 7½ years, the American housewife could buy only two-thirds as much for a dollar as she could at the beginning.

It meant that the value of an elderly couple's pension dollar had been cut by one-third.

In the same 7½ year period, according to figures of the Bureau of Labor Statistics

A pair of overalls went up 53 percent;

A woman's cotton dress went up 34 percent; A man's shirt, 60 percent;

A cookstove, 34 percent;

An innerspring mattress, 28 percent;

Women's shoes, 63 percent;

Children's shoes, 73 percent.

Here is what would happen if that same degree of inflation repeated itself in the next 8 years:

A $4 pair of overalls would go up to $6.12;

A $12 woman's cotton dress would go up to $16.08; A $4 man's shirt would go up to $6.40;

A $90 cookstove would go up to $120.60;

A $29 innerspring mattress would go up to $37.12;

A $14 pair of women's shoes would go up to $22.82;

A $6 pair of children's shoes would go up to $10.38.

This is a frightening prospect but it need not come to pass.

Under President Eisenhower, runaway inflation has been stopped and the rise of the cost of living has been brought under control.

In the last 2½ years, the value of the dollar has been held virtually steady - a stability it certainly never knew under the opposition. As a result, the greatest increase in the average family's real income in recent history - 15 percent - has taken place under the Eisenhower-Nixon administration.

And now along comes my opponent with proposals that would inevitably mean a complete about face and a retreat to the unchecked price increases of the Truman administration. No wonder people are upset and fearful about the future purchasing power of their money. No wonder they are looking for reassurance.

Fiscal experts have priced the cost of his platform at more than $15 billion a year over and above what we are now spending. To pay for this Senator Kennedy has to admit either that he will increase taxes, or that he will unbalance the budget and thereby resurrect the inflation-breeding deficits of the past.

Anyone can add up the facts of the case. They mean runaway inflation and the tragically costly Kennedy program are one and the same thing. If Senator Kennedy was candid, he would admit this.

His farm program, for example, will sharply increase the cost of food in the stores, according to career farm and food experts of the Department of Agriculture - the people my opponent said could "without difficulty" calculate prices under his income parity concept.

Specifically, they estimated that under the Kennedy farm plan:

Beef would go up 16 cents a pound;

Pork would go up 24 cents a pound;

Eggs would go up 28 cents a dozen;

Milk would go up 5 cents a quart.

Senator Kennedy has also made it clear that he would pursue a cheap money policy and has indicated he would pressure the Federal Reserve Board through Presidential influence in order to force the price of money down by artificially increasing the supply. This proposal is not as easily understood as a rise in the price of milk, but it is dangerously irresponsible. It would be like trying to manufacture prosperity with a printing press. I can think of no carnival confidence man selling a worse quack medicine to an unsuspecting customer. For the inflation - the rising cost of living - that my opponent's proposal would bring, would affect not just a few items, but every single thing you buy - all across the board.

In other words, he can try to give us low-priced money, but only at the cost of higher prices for everything else.

When the American people hear about his proposals, no wonder they are concerned, no wonder they are alarmed, no wonder they consider the threat of more inflation with a much higher cost of living a top issue in this campaign.

During, the present administration, the country has had its first breather in many years from runaway inflation. Under my program - which calls for Federal budgets that are under control and a Federal Reserve Board free from political pressures so that it can protect the value of our dollar - people can be sure of the real value of their money and savings.

I am dead set against a return to the unchecked inflation of the Truman years. I pledge myself to prevent it.

This is a pledge that my opponent, running on his platform and promises, cannot make.

Richard Nixon, Statement of the Vice President of the United States, on Inflation, Syracuse, NY Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/273637

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