Forum Post: John F Kennedy January 14, 1963 Annual Message to the Congress on the State of the Union
Posted 7 years ago on Oct. 31, 2011, 7:34 p.m. EST by USCitizenVoter
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John F. Kennedy 1963 [ As delivered in person before a joint session ]
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the 88th Congress:
I congratulate you all--not merely on your electoral victory but on your selected role in history. For you and I are privileged to serve the great Republic in what could be the most decisive decade in its long history. The choices we make, for good or ill, may well shape the state of the Union for generations yet to come.
Little more than 100 weeks ago I assumed the office of President of the United States. In seeking the help of the Congress and our countrymen, I pledged no easy answers. I pledged--and asked--only toil and dedication. These the Congress and the people have given in good measure. And today, having witnessed in recent months a heightened respect for our national purpose and power--having seen the courageous calm of a united people in a perilous hour-and having observed a steady improvement in the opportunities and well-being of our citizens--I can report to you that the state of this old but youthful Union, in the 175th year of its life, is good.
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For this would mean tens of billions of dollars more each year in production, profits, wages, and public revenues. It would mean an end to the persistent slack which has kept our unemployment at or above 5 percent for 61 out of the past 62 months--and an end to the growing pressures for such restrictive measures as the 35-hour week, which alone could increase hourly labor costs by as much as 14 percent, start a new wage-price spiral of inflation, and undercut our efforts to compete with other nations.
To achieve these greater gains, one step, above all, is essential--the enactment this year of a substantial reduction and revision in Federal income taxes.
For it is increasingly clear--to those in Government, business, and labor who are responsible for our economy's success--that our obsolete tax system exerts too heavy a drag on private purchasing power, profits, and employment. Designed to check inflation in earlier years, it now checks growth instead. It discourages extra effort and risk. It distorts the use of resources. It invites recurrent recessions, depresses our Federal revenues, and causes chronic budget deficits.
Now, when the inflationary pressures of the war and the post-war years no longer threaten, and the dollar commands new respect-now, when no military crisis strains our resources--now is the time to act. We cannot afford to be timid or slow. For this is the most urgent task confronting the Congress in 1963.
In an early message, I shall propose a permanent reduction in tax rates which will lower liabilities by $13.5 billion. Of this, $11 billion results from reducing individual tax rates, which now range between 20 and 91 percent, to a more sensible range of 14 to 65 percent, with a split in the present first bracket. Two and one-half billion dollars results from reducing corporate tax rates, from 52 percent--which gives the Government today a majority interest in profits-to the permanent pre-Korean level of 47 percent. This is in addition to the more than $2 billion cut in corporate tax liabilities resulting from last year's investment credit and depreciation reform.
To achieve this reduction within the limits of a manageable budgetary deficit, I urge: first, that these cuts be phased over 3 calendar years, beginning in 1963 with a cut of some $6 billion at annual rates; second, that these reductions be coupled with selected structural changes, beginning in 1964, which will broaden the tax base, end unfair or unnecessary preferences, remove or lighten certain hardships, and in the net offset some $3.5 billion of the revenue loss; and third, that budgetary receipts at the outset be increased by $1.5 billion a year, without any change in tax liabilities, by gradually shifting the tax payments of large corporations to a . more current time schedule. This combined program, by increasing the amount of our national income, will in time result in still higher Federal revenues. It is a fiscally responsible program--the surest and the soundest way of achieving in time a balanced budget in a balanced full employment economy.
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