President Nixon, as he prepares for his speech to the nation on America’s economic situation, June 17, 1970.
44 years ago today, President Nixon addressed a nation teetering on the edge of economic depression. Unemployment in 1970 had increased, the consumer price index was rising, profits were lower, and as a result the stock market was declining, and interest rates were too high. The United States trade deficit was beginning to creep up at the tail end of the 1960s, and as the decade of the 1970s commenced, growing international competition seemed bent on dipping America into irrevocable trade deficits. President Nixon needed to address the nation as international confidence in the dollar steadily declined.
President Nixon, as seen on a television set, addressing the nation and offering solutions to America’s economic situation.
Listen to President Nixon’s entire address below:
President Nixon proposed to combat the battles of an economy in danger of fostering uncontrollable inflation by first telling the nation that the current economic hardship was an expected result of America’s transition from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy. A national reorganization of priorities was underway, with expected decreases to defense budget spending of up to $5 billion by 1972.
Additionally, President Nixon chose to fight the inflation battle with caution, shying away from overt governmental impositions–so as to allow the economy, in its natural tendency, to revert back to price stability. The intent was to slowly curb the rise of inflation without affecting too great a hardship on the working man. To fight an efficient, yet controlled battle against inflation, the President enlisted the support of three teams of economic analysts:
First, I shall appoint a National Commission on Productivity with representatives from business, labor, the public, and government.
Second, I have instructed the Council of Economic Advisers to prepare a periodic Inflation Alert. This will spotlight the significant areas of wage and price increases and objectively analyze their impact on the price level. This Inflation Alert will call attention to outstanding cases of price or wage increases and will be made public by the productivity commission.
Third, I am establishing a Regulations and Purchasing Review Board within the Federal Government. All Government actions will be reviewed to determine where Federal purchasing and regulations drive up costs and prices; our import policy will be reviewed to see how supplies can be increased to meet rising demand, without losing jobs here at home.
The President also made light of legislation his administration had delivered to Congress, awaiting to be acted upon. He urged Congress to pass the Home Emergency Finance Act of 1970, which would attract as much as $6 billion to the housing market and would help families finance their homes immediately.
He asked for legislation that would enable the Department of Transportation to provide emergency funds to railroads in financial difficulties. He urged Congress to pass the legislation he proposed that would strengthen the American unemployment insurance system. He called for full appropriation of the Office of Economic Opportunity and that Congress provide a supplement of $50 million for over-the-summer job training purposes. He asked Congress to grant the Small Business Administration more authority to stimulate banks to make loans to small businesses at low interest rates. Finally, he stated his support for the establishment of an insurance corporation that would guarantee the investor against losses that could be caused by financial difficulties of brokerage houses.
With these proposals, President Nixon demonstrated that he would try his utmost best in preparing America for peacetime prosperity, without imposing immediate wage and price controls.
As I see it, prosperity is not a period of good times between periods of hard times–that’s false prosperity, with people riding high but riding for a fall.
Nor is prosperity a time when the well-to-do become better off while everyone else stays the same or falls behind–that’s partial prosperity. It only widens the gap between our people.
The true prosperity that I envision offers a new fairness in our national life.
We are working toward a system that will provide “job justice”–open and equal opportunity for every man and woman to build a good career.
We are working toward a system that replaces the old ups and downs with a new steadiness of economic growth within our capacity to produce efficiently.
And we are working toward a system that will deliver a higher standard of living to a people living in peace.
That is the hope offered by a modem free enterprise system–not managed by government and not ignored by government, but helped by a government that creates the climate for steady, healthy growth.
As we move forward into a peacetime economy, I am confident that we will achieve the only kind of prosperity that counts–the prosperity that lasts, the prosperity that can be shared by every American.