This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A copy of the text of this speech exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library.
AID TO DEPRESSED AREAS
There is really only one basic issue in this state – one issue that underlies all the rest – one issue that leads to all the other issues of defense contracts, unemployment compensation, surplus food and others – and that one issue is jobs.
More jobs for West Virginia – that is our goal – more jobs for our depressed areas of long-term labor surplus and chronic unemployment. We have those areas in Massachusetts – they can be found in Pennsylvania and Kentucky and in many of the 50 states. But no state is in more urgent need of new jobs for its depressed areas than the State of West Virginia.
Stop-gap relief will help. Emergency feed programs will help. Unemployment compensation helps as long as it lasts. But in the long run the only thing that will give real help to our depressed areas is more jobs.
That means helping existing industries – pottery, glass and coal, for example – regain their former payrolls and markets. But it also means helping bring in new industry to create new jobs. A new industry in the community means new income and new hope – and that is why any Area Redevelopment program – any Depressed Areas Bill – must be aimed primarily at stimulating new industries and new jobs in these hard-hit areas.
Our nation’s economy is growing. New industries are springing up all the time. Old industries are expanding with new plants. All West Virginia asks for is a fair share of this expansion. This state does not need runaway shops or fly-by-night operators. It does not want to take business away from any other state. All it asks is a fair share of the new plants and industries now being located in areas that do not have the facilities for them.
The Federal Government has a responsibility in this matter – to make sure that no state suffers unfairly – to make sure that our depressed areas receive the work they need to get back on their feet.
And that is why in 1956 I pushed through the Senate, as floor leader for the bill, the nation’s first Depressed Areas Bill. The Republicans never acted on it in the House. And when we passed it again in 1958, and this time the House passed it, it was vetoed – vetoed without regard to the suffering and tragedy that fills more than 100 distressed communities of heavy unemployment – vetoed by a Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In 1959, we in the Senate – with the help of your two able Senators, Jennings Randolph and Bob Byrd – passed it again. And now again the Republicans are threatening to delay it, to water it down, or even to veto it once again.
But I tell you that an Area Redevelopment Bill is going to pass. If not this year, a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress will pass an even better bill next year – a bill that really works – that really brings about area redevelopment in these communities – and that means a bill that brings more jobs and more industry to West Virginia.
To attract new industry in this day and age, a city must have adequate water, streets, schools and other community facilities. This bill will help build them.
To attract new industry these days, a supply of unemployed workers is not enough – they must be retrained in the new skills a new industry will be looking for. This bill will help retrain them.
To attract new industry these days requires market surveys and economic studies, credit facilities and modern plants. This bill helps make all these features available to a depressed area.
I really think this bill will work. It doesn’t do it all – it doesn’t answer every problem. But it will help – it will help bring in new plants and new employment opportunities. So I say let us get on with the job.