Editor At Large

JFK was pro-business

- Last modified: November 21, 2013 at 5:06 PM

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Many Baby Boomers have wondered what kind of America we would have today had U.S. President John F. Kennedy not been assassinated 50 years ago this week.

Primarily, people wonder with respect to Kennedy's potential impact on social issues, civil rights, the Vietnam War, the Cold War and the spread of Communism.

But, it must be asked, how was Kennedy on business and the economy?

Perhaps surprisingly, the Democrat became bullish on business -- after a rocky start.

According to the JFK Presidential Library and Museum website, the president's "domestic political fortunes seemed bleak" in 1962 as unemployment remained high and the stock market had failed to recover. (Kennedy took office in January 1961.)

Kennedy "finally decided that only a bold domestic program, including tax cuts, would restore his political momentum," the website says.

According to the website: "Declaring that the absence of recession is not tantamount to economic growth, the president proposed in 1963 to cut income taxes from a range of 20-91 percent to 14-65 percent. He also proposed a cut in the corporate tax rate from 52 percent to 47 percent."

For fun, take a look at this column in the Oct. 28, 1963, St. Petersburg Times (now the Tampa Bay Times). The piece talks about how Kennedy is "cooperating with and trusting the U.S. businessman to a degree unprecedented in modern times."

The column also says Kennedy fought for and won $2.5 billion in tax relief for businesses in 1962. (Note that the page also has a story -- in the middle of the page -- on a local price war that has caused gasoline prices to drop to 22.9 cents per gallon.)

Another source, conservapedia.com, which leans right, also says that Kennedy had a pro-business reputation.

"Kennedy … sponsored policies such as tax cuts and low inflation that conservative businessmen wanted," according to conservapedia. "On taking office, he called for a 'full-fledged alliance' with business. …

"Kennedy never proposed major legislation that business opposed. He named Douglas Dillon, a leading Republican businessman, as his Secretary of the Treasury. On dealing with unemployment, he [Kennedy] never proposed New-Dealish programs but instead had a package that was acceptable to conservative Republicans."

*Note: Since everyone about 55 or older can recall where they were when they learned that Kennedy had been shot, here is my remembrance: I was in class at Sacred Heart Elementary School in the city of Lancaster. We prayed. We were scared. And we were mighty glad to be home, safe and sound, that evening.

Bill Kline

Bill Kline

Editor Bill Kline can be reached at billk@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 15. Follow him on Twitter @BillKline24.

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