Newspaper Articles

Charleston Gazette
September 20, 1960

Kennedy Returns, Reaffirms Pledge to Aid State Economy

Neglect of GOP Blamed for Ills

By Harry G. Hoffmann
Editor The Gazette

Sen. John F. Kennedy, returning to the state "that put me on the road to the Democratic presidential nomination," Monday night outlined his program of full employment which he said would stimulate the growth of the nation's economy and "strengthen the cause of freedom all over the world."

Speaking before a cheering, overflow throng in Charleston's Civic Center, in a major economic address which was televised throughout the state, Kennedy blamed "the indifference and neglect of the of the Republican Party" for forcing one out of every 10 Americans "to get by on a partial paycheck or none at all."

He made specific reference to Vice President Richard Nixon's boast that this is "the greatest prosperity that Americans have every enjoyed", and challenged the GOP presidential nominee to face those who are not sharing in the abundance.

"I challenge Mr. Nixon to tell that to the people of West Virginia, or Pennsylvania, or Kentucky," he said. "I challenge him to tell that to the four million people who are out of work, or to the three million who are forced to work only part-time..."

The Democratic nominee's program, geared to state, national and international levels, stressed both a long-range policy of full employment and stop-gap legislation for adequate unemployment compensation, a richer and more varied diet of surplus foods, and a Youth Conservation Corps for the younger unemployed.

Earlier, Kennedy swept through a $100-a-plate fund-raising dinner at the Daniel Boone Hotel before heading for the Civic Center.

Sen. Joseph Clark (D-Pa.) held the spotlight before an estimated 125 paying guests, urging Democrats to "get out your checkbooks and leave the amount blank." While boldly optimistic about the November results, Clark soberly reminded the dinner audience that it takes money to run a campaign.

"You may think you've paid your way by appearing here tonight," he warned, "but I can assure you that we will come calling soon - and we hope you receive us generously."

Kennedy's address capped a day-long economic conference on new jobs and new growth, which was attended by officials of 10 states faced with the same problems which are worrying West Virginia. He thus chose Charleston to focus national attention on spreading economic troubles which fail to recognize state boundaries or to confine themselves to a single industry.

In the long run," he said, "there is only one way to put men back to work - by stimulating the growth of our economy. And he said his administration would be pledged to a policy of economic growth, with specific programs in Congress to carry it out. Then he gave a general outline of his "policy of full employment":

"We will stimulate private investment in a growing America by eliminating artificial Republican restrictions on the supply of money - restrictions which have made it difficult for existing business to get funds to expansion, and for new businesses to get started."

"We will permit every American child to receive the kind of education which will produce the skills and creativity which a growing America desperately needs." He mentioned overcrowded schools, ill-paid teachers, the need for scientific advances. "This problem is a national problem - and the national government must act to meet it."

"We must move immediately to meet the growing crisis of automation - the replacement of men by machines...The Republicans have done nothing to harness the benefits of modern technology for all America, while ensuring that displaced men can find new uses for their skills. This problem can be solved - through a nationwide conference of industry and labor to map a strategy for putting displaced men back to work - through technical assistance to plants which want to adjust to modern machinery without undue hardship on their workers - through programs of retraining displaced workers - and through expanding the employment services of the United States government so that men can find new job opportunities."

"We must give special assistance to help hard-hit areas to catch up. Twice a Democratic Congress has passed a bill to aid areas where men have long been out of work - and twice the Republicans have vetoes this bill."

On point five, Kennedy took notice of a statement by Henry Cabot Lodge last week that the Republicans were considering a program to help distressed areas.

"But they weren't considering West Virginia's problems when they vetoed these bills," said Kennedy, "or when they opposed every effort to help. The Republicans consider your problems at election time - and they forget them immediately thereafter. We Democrats will not forget - and a bill to help distressed areas will be signed into law by a Democratic President next year."

Conceding that "much more needs to be done," the Democratic nominee turned to a problem of particular interest to West Virginia.

"We must give special attention to industries like coal which have been especially hard hit," he said. "A growing America needs growing supplies of energy - and coal can help supply that energy if we engage in a broad, dynamic program of coal research to find new uses for coal, and if we strive to expand and diversify existing markets."

Kennedy then made it clar that in efforts to create a growing America "we must not forget about those who are out of work today." He specified:

"We need to enact federal standards of unemployment compensation so that jobless men can receive benefits adequate to allow them to obtain at least the basic rudiments of existence.

"We need to offer a richer and more varied diet to those forced to live on surplus foods.

"We need to help unemployed young people, and aid our resources development, through the creation of a Youth Conservation Corps."

While Kennedy addressed his economic program to national problems, he left no doubt that his travels in West Virginia during the primary had impressed upon him the need for such a program.

"I have traveled a long way since the people of West Virginia put me on the road to the Democratic presidential nomination," he said. "I have seen an America deeply concerned over the failures of the past eight years - an America alarmed at the drift and complacency which grip the Great Republic - an America looking for new leadership...

"I return here to tell you that just as I took my case for the nomination to the people of West Virginia in the spring. I am taking your case to the people of the United States this fall...

"I have told them the story of a state with courageous and determined people - a state rich in resources and the skills of its workers, but a state which is being denied its rightful share in American abundance by the indifference and neglect of the Republican Party. And the people of America have listened. I have repeated to them my pledge to West Virginia - the pledge of a New Deal for your state."

Striking at Nixon and his all-is-well, all-is-prosperous campaign, Kennedy suggested that perhaps Nixon believes that if only one out of every 10 Americans are unable to find full-time work, the other nine must be doing all right.

"But," said Kennedy, "Mr. Nixon forgets that when people aren't working they spend less for food, and the farmers suffer; they don't buy cars, and the automobile industry suffers; they don't shop as often or buy as much, and every storekeeper and shopkeeper suffers; they can't buy houses, and home builders suffer; they are kept from contributing their labor and skills to America - and all America suffers."

Then he added, "Mr. Nixon does not understand - just as Republicans have never understood - that America is not truly prosperous unless every American is permitted to share in the prosperity."

Turning specifically to West Virginia, Kennedy said:

"During your primary I pledged that within 60 days of my election I would send to the Congress a complete program to restore and revive the economy of West Virginia - to bring new industry and new jobs to your state and all the other neglected areas of our country. Today, I reaffirm that pledge. And, with your help, I will carry it out this January."

He also viewed the problem as one of international import.

"In every part of our globe," he said, "people are striving to eliminate the hunger and poverty and misery which now blanket so much of the Earth. They are looking for leadership in this great undertaking. The great question of our time is whether they will look to Moscow to find this leadership - or whether they will look to America.

"Only if America is growing - only if it is caring for the needs of its own people - only then will other nations know that the road of progress is freedom's road - and only then will the cause of freedom triumph."

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