Mr. Brinkley: Mr. President, Harry Truman was out for his walk this morning and he said he did not think we should have a tax cut until we get the budget balanced, and the other day Senator Humphrey was saying in the Senate that what the American people think is true is very often more important than what actually is true. In view of all that, what do you think about cutting taxes while the budget is still in deficit?
THE PRESIDENT. The reason the Government is in deficit is because you have more than 4 million people unemployed, and because the last 5 years you have had rather a sluggish growth, much slower than any other Western country. I am in favor of a tax cut because I am concerned that if we don’t get the tax cut that we are going to have an increase in unemployment and that we may move into a period of economic downturn. We had a recession in ’58, a recession in 1960. We have done pretty well since then, but we still have over 4 million unemployed. I think this tax cut can give the stimulus to our economy over the next 2 or 3 years. I think it will provide for greater national wealth. I think it will reduce unemployment. I think it will strengthen our gold position. So I think that the proposal we made is responsible and in the best interests of the country. Otherwise, if we don’t get the tax cut, I would think that our prospects are much less certain. I think the Federal Reserve Board has indicated that. Nineteen hundred and sixty-four is going to be an uncertain time if we don’t get the tax cut. I think that to delay it to 1964 would be very unwise. I think our whole experience in the late fifties shows us how necessary and desirable it is. My guess is that if we can get the tax cut, with the stimulus it will give to the economy, that we will get our budget in balance quicker than we will if we don’t have it.
Mr. Huntley: The affirmative economic response to Britain’s tax cut seemed to be almost immediate. Would it be as immediate in this country, do you think?
THE PRESIDENT. I think it would be. Interestingly enough, the British came forward with their tax cut in April, passed it within a month. They have experienced economic benefits from it. Unemployment has been substantially reduced. They have a larger deficit than we do. Yet the only criticism was that it wasn’t enough. Nearly every economist has supported us. I think it is in the best economic interests of the country, unless this country just wants to drag along, have 5 or 6 million people unemployed, have profits reduced, have economic prospects, have our budgets unbalanced by a much larger proportion. The largest unbalanced budget in the history of this country was in 1958 because of the recession–$12 1/2 billion. The fact of the matter is that, of course, Government expenditures do go up in every administration, but the country’s wealth goes up. President Eisenhower spent $185 billion more than President Truman. But the country was much wealthier. It is much wealthier now than it was in the last year of President Eisenhower’s administration. I think our economic situation can be very good. I think what we have proposed is a responsible answer to a problem which has been part of our economic life for 5 or 6 years, and that is slack, failure to grow sufficiently, relatively high unemployment. If you put that together with the fact that we have to find 35,000 new jobs a week, I think the situation in this country calls for a tax reduction this year.
Mr. Huntley: Thank you, Mr. President.
Transcript of Broadcast on NBC’s “Huntley-Brinkley Report.”
Read the full transcript: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=9397