This is a transcript of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A single text of this speech exists in the Senate Speech files of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers at the John F. Kennedy Library.
Franklin Roosevelt appealed to the nation in 1932 to remember the "Forgotten Man." The forgotten man of 1960 is the American consumer.
The forgotten woman is the American housewife.
In 1952 they were promised lower prices. They heard endless Republican commercials about a stable dollar and a cheaper market basket. But under 8 years of Republican rule, the cost of living has gone up and up - and the Republicans have done nothing about it.
What are most families to do? They are concerned about the growing missile gap - but they are equally concerned about the growing gap between what they earn and what they have to spend.
For example, the costs of medical care, drugs and hospital bills have become too high for their aged parents to pay. As devoted sons and daughters, they can hardly ask their parents to take a "pauper's oath", but they can also hardly afford to pay these bills. The Republicans have refused to pass a decent bill to help ease that burden. A Democratic Administration must act in 1961.
The interest costs on a $10,000 30-year mortgage have increased $3,300 since 1952. The Republicans refused to ease their tight money policies for the homeowner. They refused to pass legislation to encourage new housing. They refused to recognize that rents had gone up 20% - so that too many families were paying out too much in renting a home to put aside enough to buy a home.
Most families dream of sending their son and daughter to college, but the colleges have also been hit by increased costs and growing demand. They have been forced to raise their tuition and fees - the cost of a college education to the family is now $1,300 higher than it was in 1952. The Republicans have refused to act on college scholarships, on college dormitories, on college classrooms. But a Democratic Administration will act in 1961.
When the homeowner starts adding up his bills, he finds the cost of his utilities has skyrocketed since 1952. Yet, under Republican rule there have been no new starts on public power projects designed - either directly, or through competition - to bring down the cost of electricity, as Franklin Roosevelt did with TVA and REA and all the rest. There have been no regulatory agencies fighting for the interests of consumers instead of private interests. But a Democratic Administration will act in 1961.
The housewife this fall ought to remember the Republican promises of 1952 every time she goes to the supermarket. The Republicans said then that they would help both the farmers and the consumers, and bring food prices down in the process. But, instead, farm income has dropped far below its 1952 level, while food prices have gone far higher. When the housewife wants to buy her family a washer or a TV set or even a car, she finds the interest rates so much higher than 1952 that her budget simply cannot handle them. She wants a Democratic Administration to act in 1961.
In short, the high cost of living hurts almost every American. But it hurts most of all those whom the Republican brand of prosperity has left far behind - the four million unemployed whose jobless insurance check is too low to meet these cost - the three million put on a short work week, because our growth has slowed down and our major industries (such as steel and coal and textiles and autos) are below capacity - the millions earning the bare minimum wage, $1 an hour, $40 a week - which cannot possibly be enough at today's prices - the millions on an inadequate social security check - the school teachers in need of federal aid - millions of Americans caught in a squeeze of costs rising faster than income - millions of Americans asking for help.
Finally, last year, the Republicans decided to do something bold. They appointed a committee to study the problem. They called it the Cabinet Committee on Price Stability for Economic Growth, and for the Chairman they picked the Vice President of the United States. The New York Times called this Mr. Nixon's "first formal major executive role". They wanted to give him some "experience".
The Committee met - and talked - and studied - and, as a result, they acted. They didn't bring prices down. They didn't send our growth rate up. But they did file a report.
The Washington Post called Mr. Nixon's report "one of the most redundant, uninspired and generally useless documents lately to come off the Government's mimeograph machines."
The New York Herald Tribune, a Republican paper, said it was like something you wrote in high school.
The Wall Street Journal said it was fine except it had no recommendations on what it was appointed to do.
Today, as the 1960 campaign goes on, we hear a lot about experience - but somehow that Committee is never mentioned. We hear a lot about how well off we are under Republican rule - but the cost of living is never mentioned. But I intend to mention the high cost of living every week of this campaign. The American consumer and the American housewife may have been forgotten by the Republican leaders - but they have not forgotten the promises those same leaders made in 1952.