OK, political junkies, here is today’s assignment: Identify which Republican Presidential candidate delivered to Congress the fiscal-policy message from which these representative quotes were excerpted:
“But it has become increasingly dear–particularly in the last five years–that the largest single barrier to full employment of our manpower and resources and to a higher rate of economic growth is the unrealistically heavy drag of Federal income taxes on private purchasing power, initiative and incentive. . . .
“The chief problem confronting our economy . . . is its unrealized potential–slow growth, under-investment, unused capacity and persistent unemployment. The result is lagging wage, salary and profit income, smaller take-home pay, insufficient productivity gains, inadequate federal revenues and persistent budget deficits. . . .
“ . . . our tax system still siphons out of the private economy too large a share of personal and business purchasing power and reduces the incentive for risk, investment and effort–thereby aborting our recoveries and stifling our national growth rate.
“In addition, the present tax code contains special preferences and provisions, all of which narrow the tax base (thus requiring higher rates), artificially distort the use of resources, inhibit the mobility and formation of capital, add complexities and inequities which undermine the morale of the taxpayer, and make tax avoidance rather than market factors a prime consideration in too many economic decisions.
“I am therefore proposing the following:
(1) Reduction in individual income tax rates . . .
(2) Reduction in the rate of the corporate income tax . . .
(3) Reversal of the corporate normal and surtax rates, so that the tax rate applicable to the (first dollars) of corporate income would drop . . . . . .
(5) (More favorable) tax treatment of capital gains, designed to provide a freer and fuller flow of capital funds and to achieve a greater equity; and . . . . . .
(7) Broadening of the base of the individual and corporate income taxes, to remove unwarranted special privileges, correct defects in the tax law, and provide more equal treatment of taxpayers . . . .
“Enactment of this program will help strengthen every segment of the American (economy) . . .
–Total output and economic growth will be stepped up by an amount several times as great as the tax cut itself. . . . Total incomes will rise–billions of dollars more will be earned each year in profits and wages. Investment and productivity improvement will be spurred by more intensive use of our present productive potential; and the added incentives to risk-taking will speed the modernization of American industry . . .
–Unemployment will be reduced, as firms throughout the country hire new workers to meet the new demands released by tax reduction. . . . The retraining of workers with obsolete skills will proceed more quickly and efficiently in a full employment climate. . . .
–Investment will be expanded, as the rate of return on capital formation is increased, and as growing consumer markets create a need for new capacity. . –Reducing the maximum individual income tax rate . . . makes more meaningful the concept of additional reward and incentive for additional initiative, effort and risk-taking. . . .
“. . . Within a few years of the enactment of this program, federal revenues will be larger than if present tax rates continue to prevail. Full employment, moreover, will make possible the reduction of certain government expenditures caused by unemployment. As the economy climbs toward full employment, a substantial part of the increased tax revenue thereby generated will be applied toward a reduction in the Federal deficit.
“. . . our choice today is not between a tax cut and a balanced budget. Our choice is between chronic deficits resulting from chronic slack, on the one hand, and transitional deficits temporarily enlarged by tax revision designed to promote full employment and thus make possible an ultimately balanced budget . . . The purpose of cutting taxes, I repeat, is not to create a deficit but to increase investment, employment and the prospects for a balanced budget.
“It would be a grave mistake to require that any tax reduction today be offset by a corresponding cut in expenditures. In my judgment, . . . the gains in demand from tax reduction would . . . be offset–or more than offset–by the loss of demand due to the reduction in Government spending. . . .
“On the other hand, I do not favor raising demand by a massive increase in Government expenditures. In today’s circumstances, it is desirable to seek expansion through our free market processes–to place increased spending power in the hands of private consumers and investors and offer more encouragement to private initiative. The most effective policy, therefore, is to expand demand and unleash incentives through a program of tax reduction and reform, coupled with the most prudent possible policy of public expenditures. “
OK, the answer: The writer was President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, in a message delivered to Congress in 1963:
Sorry, it was a trick question. Wouldn’t most Republicans vote for the man who uttered these words, if he were alive and a candidate today ? Wouldn’t most Democrats be mortified? Not convinced? Wait ‘til I give you JFK’s national defense and national security views.