John F. Kennedy delivered an astounding speech on tax cuts in 1962 during a question and answer address to the Economic Club in New York. The beloved Democratic president advocated for a reduced tax rate and championed responsible spending so the nation could prosper and asserted the national debt is something to be regarded.
It's a stark contrast to Democrats today as they advocate for the exact opposite of what Kennedy stood for in this speech. That's one of the reasons Kennedy's speech is highlighted in this episode of "Pat Gray Unleashed." Here's what President Kennedy had to say about taxes in 1962:
Nevertheless, as Chairman Mills of the House Ways and Means Committee pointed out this week, the size of the deficit is to be regarded with concern, and tax reduction must be accompanied, in his words, by "increased control of the rises in expenditures." This is precisely the course we intend to follow in 1963.At the same time as our tax program is presented to the Congress in January, the Federal budget for fiscal 1964 will also be presented. Defense and space expenditures will necessarily rise in order to carry out programs which are demanded and are necessary for our own security, and which have largely been authorized by Members in both parties of the Congress with overwhelming majorities. Fixed interest charges on the debt also rise slightly. But I can tell you now that the total of all other expenditures combined will be held at approximately its current level. This is not an easy task. During the past 9 years, domestic civilian expenditures in the National Government have risen at an average rate of more than 71/2 percent. State and local government expenditures have risen at an annual rate of 9 percent. Expenditures by the New York State Government, for example, have risen in recent years at the rate of roughly 10 percent a year. At a time when Government pay scales have necessarily risen--and I take New York just as an example--when our population and pressures are growing and the demand for services and State aid is thus increasing, next year's Federal budget, which will hold domestic outlays at their present level, will represent a genuine effort in expenditure control ...
Taking a longer view, the Federal debt today is 13 percent higher than it was in 1946, while State and local debt increased over 360 percent and private debt by over 300 percent. In fact, if it were not for Federal financial assistance to State and local governments, the Federal cash budget would show a surplus. Federal civilian employment, for example, is actually lower today than it was in 1952, while State and local government employment over the same period has increased 67 percent.
It is this setting which makes Federal tax reduction both possible and appropriate next year. I do not underestimate the obstacles which the Congress will face in enacting such legislation. No one will be satisfied. Everyone will have his own approach, his own bill, his own reduction. A high order of restraint and determination will be required if the possible is not to wait on the perfect. But a nation capable of marshaling these qualities in any dramatic threat to its security is surely capable, as a great free society, of meeting a slower and more complex threat to our economic vitality. This Nation can afford to reduce taxes, we can afford a temporary deficit, but we cannot afford to do nothing.
"That's astounding," asserted Pat. "From a Democrat and a Democrat president. That shows you how far left the Democrat Party has gone. The Democrats and socialists. There's no room between them anymore."
To read John F. Kennedy's entire speech, click here.