Dwight D. Eisenhower
State of the Union Address
January 6, 1955
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Congress:
First, I extend cordial greetings to the 84th Congress. We shall have
much to do together; I am sure that we shall get it done--and, that we
shall do it in harmony and good will.
At the outset, I believe it would be well to remind ourselves of this
great fundamental in our national life: our common belief that every human
being is divinely endowed with dignity and worth and inalienable rights.
This faith, with its corollary--that to grow and flourish people must be
free--shapes the interests and aspirations of every American.
From this deep faith have evolved three main purposes of our Federal
First, to maintain justice and freedom among ourselves and to champion
them for others so that we may work effectively for enduring peace;
Second, to help keep our economy vigorous and expanding, thus sustaining
our international strength and assuring better jobs, better living, better
opportunities for every citizen;
And third, to concern ourselves with the human problems of our people
so that every American may have the opportunity to lead a healthy, productive
and rewarding life.
Foremost among these broad purposes of government is our support of
freedom, justice and peace.
It is of the utmost importance, that each of us understand the true
nature of the struggle now taking place in the world.
It is not a struggle merely of economic theories, or of forms of government,
or of military power. At issue is the true nature of man. Either man is
the creature whom the Psalmist described as "a little lower than the angels,"
crowned with glory and honor, holding "dominion over the works" of his
Creator; or man is a soulless, animated machine to be enslaved, used and
consumed by the state for its own glorification.
It is, therefore, a struggle which goes to the roots of the human spirit,
and its shadow falls across the long sweep of man's destiny. This prize,
so precious, so fraught with ultimate meaning, is the true object of the
contending forces in the world.
In the past year, there has been progress justifying hope, both for
continuing peace and for the ultimate rule of freedom and justice in the
world. Free nations are collectively stronger than at any time in recent
Just as nations of this Hemisphere, in the historic Caracas and Rio
conferences, have closed ranks against imperialistic Communism and strengthened
their economic ties, so free nations elsewhere have forged new bonds of
Recent agreements between Turkey and Pakistan have laid a foundation
for increased strength in the Middle East. With our understanding support,
Egypt and Britain, Yugoslavia and Italy, Britain and Iran have resolved
dangerous differences. The security of the Mediterranean has been enhanced
by an alliance among Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia. Agreements in Western
Europe have paved the way for unity to replace past divisions which have
undermined Europe's economic and military vitality. The defense of the
West appears likely at last to include a free, democratic Germany participating
as an equal in the councils of NATO.
In Asia and the Pacific, the pending Manila Pact supplements our treaties
with Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Korea and Japan and our prospective
treaty with the Republic of China. These pacts stand as solemn warning
that future military aggression and subversion against the free nations
of Asia will meet united response. The Pacific Charter, also adopted at
Manila, is a milestone in the development of human freedom and self-government
in the Pacific area.
Under the auspices of the United Nations, there is promise of progress
in our country's plan for the peaceful use of atomic energy.
Finally, today the world is at peace. It is, to be sure, an secure peace.
Yet all humanity finds hope in the simple fact that for an appreciable
time there has been no active major battlefield on earth. This same fact
inspires us to work all the more effectively with other nations for the
well-being, the freedom, the dignity, of every human on earth.
These developments are heartening indeed, and we are hopeful of continuing
progress. But sobering problems remain.
The massive military machines and ambitions of the Soviet-Communist
bloc still create uneasiness in the world. All of us are aware of the continuing
reliance of the Soviet Communists on military force, of the power of their
weapons, of their present resistance to realistic armament limitation,
and of their continuing effort to dominate or intimidate free nations on
their periphery. Their steadily growing power includes an increasing strength
in nuclear weapons. This power, combined with the proclaimed intentions
of the Communist leaders to communize the world, is the threat confronting
To protect our nations and our peoples from the catastrophe of a nuclear
holocaust, free nations must maintain countervailing military power to
persuade the Communists of the futility of seeking their ends through aggression.
If Communist rulers understand that America's response to aggression will
be swift and decisive--that never shall we buy peace at the expense of
honor or faith--they will be powerfully deterred from launching a military
venture engulfing their own peoples and many others in disaster. This,
of course, is merely world stalemate. But in this stalemate each of us
may and must exercise his high duty to strive in every honorable way for
The military threat is but one menace to our freedom and security. We
must not only deter aggression; we must also frustrate the effort of Communists
to gain their goals by subversion. To this end, free nations must maintain
and reinforce their cohesion, their internal security, their political
and economic vitality, and their faith in freedom.
In such a world, America's course is dear: We must tirelessly labor
to make the peace more just and durable.
We must strengthen the collective defense under the United Nations Charter
and gird ourselves with sufficient military strength and productive capacity
to discourage resort to war and protect our nation's vital interests.
We must continue to support and strengthen the United Nations. At this
very moment, by vote of the United Nations General Assembly, its Secretary-General
is in Communist China on a mission of deepest concern to all Americans:
seeking the release of our never-to-be-forgotten American aviators and
all other United Nations prisoners wrongfully detained by the Communist
We must also encourage the efforts being made in the United Nations
to limit armaments and to harness the atom to peaceful rise.
We must expand international trade and investment and assist friendly
nations whose own best efforts are still insufficient to provide the strength
essential to the security of the free world.
We must be willing to use the processes of negotiation whenever they
will advance the cause of just and secure peace to which the United States
and other free nations are dedicated.
In respect to all these matters, we must, through a vigorous information
program, keep the peoples of the world truthfully advised of our actions
and purposes. This problem has been attacked with new vigor during the
past months. I urge that the Congress give its earnest consideration to
the great advantages that can accrue to our country through the successful
operations of this program.
We must also carry forward our educational exchange program. This sharing
of knowledge and experience between our citizens and those of free countries
is a powerful factor in the development and maintenance of true partnership
among free peoples.
To advance these many efforts, the Congress must act in this session
on appropriations, legislation, and treaties. Today I shall mention especially
our foreign economic and military programs.
The recent economic progress in many free nations has been most heartening.
The productivity of labor and the production of goods and services are
increasing in ever-widening areas. There is a growing will to improve the
living standards of all men. This progress is important to all our people.
It promises us allies who are strong and self-reliant; it promises a growing
world market for the products of our mines, our factories, and our farms.
But only through steady effort can we hope to continue this progress.
Barriers still impede trade and the flow of capital needed to develop each
nation's human and material resources. Wise reduction of these barriers
is a long-term objective of our foreign economic policy--a policy of an
evolutionary and selective nature, assuring broad benefits to our own and
We must gradually reduce certain tariff obstacles to trade. These actions
should, of course, be accompanied by a similar lowering of trade barriers
by other nations, so that we may move steadily toward greater economic
advantage for all. We must further simplify customs administration and
procedures. We must facilitate the flow of capital and continue technical
assistance, both directly and through the United Nations, to less developed
countries to strengthen their independence and raise their living standards.
Many another step must be taken in and among the nations of the free world
to release forces of private initiative. In our own nation, these forces
have brought strength and prosperity; once released, they will generate
rising incomes in these other countries with which to buy the products
of American industry, labor and agriculture.
On January 10, by special message, I shall submit specific recommendations
for carrying forward the legislative phases of our foreign economic policy.
Our many efforts to build a better world include the maintenance of
our military strength. This is a vast undertaking. Major national security
programs consume two-thirds of the entire Federal budget. Over four million
Americans--servicemen and civilians--are on the rolls of the defense establishment.
During the past two years, by eliminating duplication and overstaffing,
by improved procurement and inventory controls, and by concentrating on
the essentials, many billions of dollars have been saved in our defense
activities. I should like to mention certain fundamentals underlying this
First, a realistic limitation of armaments and an enduring, just peace
remain our national goals; we maintain powerful military forces because
there is no present alternative--forces designed for deterrent and defensive
purposes alone but able instantly to strike back with destructive power
in response to an attack.
Second, we must stay alert to the fact that undue reliance on one weapon
or preparation for only one kind of warfare simply invites an enemy to
resort to another. We must, therefore, keep in our armed forces balance
and flexibility adequate for our purposes and objectives.
Third, to keep our armed forces abreast of the advances of science,
our military planning must be flexible enough to utilize the new weapons
and techniques which flow ever more speedily from our research and development
programs. The forthcoming military budget therefore emphasizes modern airpower
in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and increases the emphasis on new
weapons, especially those of rapid and destructive striking power. It assures
the maintenance of effective, retaliatory force as the principal deterrent
to overt aggression. It accelerates the continental defense program and
the build-up of ready military reserve forces. It continues a vigorous
program of stockpiling strategic and critical materials and strengthening
our mobilization base. The budget also contemplates the strategic concentration
of our strength through redeployment of certain forces. It provides for
reduction of forces in certain categories and their expansion in others,
to fit them to the military realities of our time. These emphases in our
defense planning have been made at my personal direction after long and
thoughtful study. In my judgment, they will give our nation a defense accurately
adjusted to the national need.
Fourth, pending a world agreement on armament limitation, we must continue
to improve and expand our supplies of nuclear weapons for our land, naval
and air forces, while, at the same time, continuing our encouraging progress
in the peaceful use of atomic power.
And fifth, in the administration of these costly programs, we must demand
the utmost in efficiency and ingenuity. We must assure our people not only
of adequate protection but also of a defense that can be carried forward
from year to year until the threat of aggression has disappeared.
To help maintain this kind of armed strength and improve its efficiency,
I must urge the enactment of several important measures in this session.
The first concerns the selective service act which expires next June
30th. For the foreseeable future, our standing forces must remain much
larger than voluntary methods can sustain. We must, therefore, extend the
statutory authority to induct men for two years of military service.
The second kind of measure concerns the rapid turnover of our most experienced
servicemen. This process seriously weakens the combat readiness of our
armed forces and is exorbitantly expensive. To encourage more trained servicemen
to remain in uniform, I shall, on the thirteenth of this month, propose
a number of measures to increase the attractions of a military career.
These measures will include more adequate medical care for dependents,
survivors' benefits, more and better housing, and selective adjustments
in military pay and other allowances.
And third--also on January 13--I shall present a program to rebuild
and strengthen the civilian components of our armed forces. This is a comprehensive
program, designed to make better use of our manpower of military age. Because
it will go far in assuring fair and equitable participation in military
training and service, it is of particular importance to our combat veterans.
In keeping with the historic military policy of our Republic, this program
is designed to build and maintain powerful civilian reserves immediately
capable of effective military service in an emergency in lieu of maintaining
active duty forces in excess of the nation's immediate need.
Maintenance of an effective defense requires continuance of our aggressive
attack on subversion at home. In this effort we have, in the past two years,
made excellent progress. FBI investigations have been powerfully reinforced
by a new Internal Security Division in the Department of Justice; the security
activities of the Immigration and Naturalization Service have been revitalized;
an improved and strengthened security system is in effect throughout the
government; the Department of Justice and the FBI have been armed with
effective new legal weapons forged by the 83rd Congress.
We shall continue to ferret out and to destroy Communist subversion.
We shall, in the process, carefully preserve our traditions and the
basic rights of our citizens.
Our civil defense program is also a key element in the protection
of our country. We are developing cooperative methods with State Governors,
Mayors, and voluntary citizen groups, as well as among Federal agencies,
in building the civil defense organization. Its significance in time of
war is obvious; its swift assistance in disaster areas last year proved
its importance in time of peace.
An industry capable of rapid expansion and essential materials
and facilities swiftly available in time of emergency are indispensable
to our defense. I urge, therefore, a two-year extension of the Defense
Production Act and Title II of the First War Powers Act of 1941. These
are cornerstones of our program for the development and maintenance of
an adequate mobilization base. At this point, I should like to make this
additional observation. Our quest for peace and freedom necessarily presumes
that we who hold positions of public trust must rise above self and section--that
we must subordinate to the general good our partisan, our personal pride
and prejudice. Tirelessly, with united purpose, we must fortify the material
and spiritual foundations of this land of freedom and of free nations throughout
the world. As never before, there is need for unhesitating cooperation
among the branches of our government.
At this time the executive and legislative branches are under the management
of different political parties. This fact places both parties on trial
before the American people.
In less perilous days of the past, division of governmental responsibility
among our great parties has produced a paralyzing indecision. We must not
let this happen in our time. We must avoid a paralysis of the will for
peace and international security.
In the traditionally bipartisan areas--military security and foreign
relations--I can report to you that I have already, with the leaders of
this Congress, expressed assurances of unreserved cooperation. Yet, the
strength of our country requires more than mere maintenance of military
strength and success in foreign affairs; these vital matters are in turn
dependent upon concerted and vigorous action in a number of supporting
programs. I say, therefore, to the 84th Congress:
In all areas basic to the strength of America, there will be--to the
extent I can insure them--cooperative, constructive relations between the
Executive and Legislative Branches of this government. Let the general
good be our yardstick on every great issue of our time.
Our efforts to defend our freedom and to secure a just peace are, of
course, inseparable from the second great purpose of our government: to
help maintain a strong, growing economy--an economy vigorous and free,
in which there are ever-increasing opportunities, just rewards for effort,
and a stable prosperity that is widely shared.
In the past two years, many important governmental Actions helped our
economy adjust to conditions of peace; these and other actions created
a climate for renewed economic growth. Controls were removed from wages,
prices and materials. Tax revisions encouraged increased private spending
and employment. Federal expenditures were sharply reduced, making possible
a record tax cut. These actions, together with flexible monetary and debt
management policies, helped to halt inflation and stabilize the value of
the dollar. A program of cooperation and partnership in resource development
was begun. Social security and unemployment insurance laws were broadened
and strengthened. New laws started the long process of balancing farm production
with farm markets. Expanded shipbuilding and stockpiling programs strengthened
key sectors of the economy, while improving our mobilization base. A comprehensive
new housing law brought impressive progress in an area fundamental to our
economic strength and closed loopholes in the old laws permitting dishonest
manipulation. Many of these programs are just beginning to exert their
main stimulating effect upon the economy generally and upon specific communities
and industries throughout the country.
The past year--1954--was one of the most prosperous years in our history.
Business activity now surges with new strength. Production is rising. Employment
is high. Toward the end of last year average weekly wages in manufacturing
were higher than ever before. Personal income after taxes is at a record
level. So is consumer spending. Construction activity is reaching new peaks.
Export demand for our goods is strong. State and local government
expenditures on public works are rising. Savings are high, and credit is
So, today, the transition to a peacetime economy is largely behind us.
The economic outlook is good.
The many promising factors I have mentioned do not guarantee sustained
economic expansion; however, they do give us a strong position from which
to carry forward our economic growth. If we as a people act wisely, within
ten years our annual national output can rise from its present level of
about $360 billion to $500 billion, measured in dollars of stable buying
My Budget Message on January 17, the Economic Report on the 20th of
this month, and several special messages will set forth in detail major
programs to foster the growth of our economy and to protect the integrity
of the people's money. Today I shall discuss these programs only in general
Government efficiency and economy remain essential to steady progress
toward a balanced budget. More than ten billion dollars were cut from the
spending program proposed in the budget of January 9, 1953. Expenditures
of that year were six and a half billion below those of the previous year.
In the current fiscal year, government spending will be nearly four and
a half billion dollars less than in the fiscal year which ended last June
30. New spending authority has been held below expenditures, reducing government
obligations accumulated over the years.
Last year we had a large tax cut and, for the first time in seventy-five
years a basic revision of Federal tax laws. It is now clear that defense
and other essential government costs must remain at a level precluding
further tax reductions this year. Although excise and corporation income
taxes must, therefore, be continued at their present rates, further tax
cuts will be possible when justified by lower expenditures and by revenue
increases arising from the nation's economic growth. I am hopeful that
such reductions can be made next year.
At the foundation of our economic growth are the raw materials and energy
produced from our minerals and fuels, lands and forests, and water resources.
With respect to them, I believe that the nation must adhere to three fundamental
policies: first, to develop, wisely use and conserve basic resources from
generation to generation; second, to follow the historic pattern of developing
these resources primarily by private citizens under fair provisions of
law, including restraints for proper conservation; and third, to treat
resource development as a partnership undertaking--a partnership in which
the participation of private citizens and State and local governments is
as necessary as Federal participation.
This policy of partnership and cooperation is producing good results,
most immediately noticeable in respect to water resources. First, it has
encouraged local public bodies and private citizens to plan their own power
sources. Increasing numbers of applications to the Federal Power Commission
to conduct surveys and prepare plans for power development, notably in
the Columbia River Basin, are evidence of local response.
Second, the Federal Government and local and private organizations have
been encouraged to coordinate their developments. This is important because
Federal hydroelectric developments supply but a small fraction of the nation's
power needs. Such partnership projects as Priest Rapids in Washington,
the Coosa River development in Alabama, and Markham Ferry in Oklahoma already
have the approval of the Congress. This year justifiable projects of a
similar nature will again have Administration support.
Third, the Federal Government must shoulder its own partnership obligations
by undertaking projects of such complexity and size that their success
requires Federal development. In keeping with this principle, I again urge
the Congress to approve the development of the Upper Colorado River Basin
to conserve and assure better use of precious water essential to the future
of the West.
In addition, the 1956 budget will recommend appropriations to start
six new reclamation and more than thirty new Corps of Engineers projects
of varying size. Going projects and investigations of potential new resource
developments will be continued.
Although this partnership approach is producing encouraging results,
its full success requires a nation-wide comprehensive water resources policy
firmly based in law. Such a policy is under preparation and when completed
will be submitted to the Congress.
In the interest of their proper conservation, development and use, continued
vigilance will be maintained over our fisheries, wildlife resources, the
national parks and forests, and the public lands; and we shall continue
to encourage an orderly development of the nation's mineral resources.
A modern, efficient highway system is essential to meet the needs of
our growing population, our expanding economy, and our national security.
We are accelerating our highway improvement program as rapidly as possible
under existing State and Federal laws and authorizations. However, this
effort will not in itself assure our people of an adequate highway system.
On my recommendation, this problem has been carefully considered by the
Conference of State Governors and by a special Advisory Committee on a
National Highway Program, composed of leading private citizens. I have
received the recommendations of the Governors' Conference and will shortly
receive the views of the special Advisory Committee. Aided by their findings,
I shall submit on January 27th detailed recommendations which will meet
our most pressing national highway needs.
In further recognition of the importance of transportation to our economic
strength and security, the Administration, through a Cabinet committee,
is thoroughly examining existing Federal transportation policies to determine
their effect on the adequacy of transportation services. This is the first
such comprehensive review directly undertaken by the Executive Branch of
the government in modern times. We are not only examining major problems
facing the various modes of transport; we are also studying closely the
inter-relationships of civilian and government requirements for transportation.
Legislation will be recommended to correct policy deficiencies which we
The nation's public works activities are tremendous in scope. It is
expected that more than $ 12 billion will be expended in 1955 for the development
of land, water and other resources; control of floods, and navigation and
harbor improvements; construction of roads, schools, and municipal water
supplies, and disposal of domestic and industrial wastes. Many of the Federal,
State and local agencies responsible for this work are, in their separate
capacities, highly efficient. But public works activities are closely inter-related
and have a substantial influence on the growth of the country. Moreover,
in times of threatening economic contraction, they may become a valuable
sustaining force. To these ends, efficient planning and execution of the
nation's public works require both the coordination of Federal activities
and effective cooperation with State and local governments.
The Council of Economic Advisers, through its public works planning
section, has made important advances during the past year in effecting
this coordination and cooperation. In view of the success of these initial
efforts, and to give more emphasis and continuity to this essential coordination,
I shall request the Congress to appropriate funds for the support of an
Office of Coordinator of Public Works in the Executive Office of the President.
A most significant element in our growing economy is an agriculture
that is stable, prosperous and free. The problems of our agriculture have
evolved over many years and cannot be solved overnight; nevertheless, governmental
actions last year hold great promise of fostering a better balance between
production and markets and, consequently, a better and more stable income
for our farmers.
Through vigorous administration and through new authority provided by
the 83rd Congress, surplus farm products are now moving into consumption.
From February 1953 through November 1954, the rate of increase of government-held
surpluses has been reduced by our moving into use more than 2.3 billion
dollars' worth of government-owned farm commodities; this amount is equal
to more than seven percent of a year's production of all our farms and
ranches. Domestic consumption remains high, and farm exports will be higher
than last year. As a result of the flexibility provided by the Agricultural
Act of 1954, we can move toward less restrictive acreage controls.
Thus, farm production is gradually adjusting to markets, markets are
being expanded, and stocks are moving into use. We can now look forward
to an easing of the influences depressing farm prices, to reduced government
expenditures for purchase of surplus products, and to less Federal intrusion
into the lives and plans of our farm people. Agricultural programs have
been redirected toward better balance, greater stability and sustained
prosperity. We are headed in the right direction. I urgently recommend
to the Congress that we continue resolutely on this road.
Greater attention must be directed to the needs of low-income farm families.
Twenty-eight per cent of our farm-operator families have net cash incomes
of less than $1,000 per year. Last year, at my request, careful studies
were made of the problems of these farm people. I shall later submit recommendations
designed to assure the steady alleviation of their most pressing concerns.
Because drought also remains a serious agricultural problem, I shall
recommend legislation to strengthen Federal disaster assistance programs.
This legislation will prescribe an improved appraisal of need, better adjustment
of the various programs to local conditions, and a more equitable sharing
of costs between the States and the Federal Government.
The prosperity of our small business enterprises is an indispensable
element in the maintenance of our economic strength. Creation of the Small
Business Administration and recently enacted tax laws facilitating small
business expansion are but two of many important steps we have taken to
encourage our smaller enterprises. I recommend that the Congress extend
the Small Business Act of 1953 which is due to expire next June.
We come now to the third great purpose of our government-its concern
for the health, productivity and well-being of all our people.
Every citizen wants to give full expression to his God-given talents
and abilities and to have the recognition and respect accorded under our
religious and political traditions. Americans also want a good material
standard of living--not simply to accumulate possessions, but to fulfill
a legitimate aspiration for an environment in which their families may
live meaningful and happy lives. Our people are committed, therefore, to
the creation and preservation of opportunity for every citizen to lead
a more rewarding life. They are equally committed to the alleviation of
misfortune and distress among their fellow citizens.
The aspirations of most of our people can best be fulfilled through
their own enterprise and initiative, without government interference. This
Administration, therefore, follows two simple rules: first, the Federal
Government should perform an essential task only when it cannot otherwise
be adequately performed; and second, in performing that task, our government
must not impair the self-respect, freedom and incentive of the individual.
So long as these two rules are observed, the government can fully meet
its obligation without creating a dependent population or a domineering
During the past two years, notable advances were made in these functions
of government. Protection of old-age and survivors' insurance was extended
to an additional ten million of our people, and the benefits were substantially
increased. Legislation was enacted to provide unemployment insurance protection
to some four million additional Americans. Stabilization of living costs
and the halting of inflation protected the value of pensions and savings.
A broad program now helps to bring good homes within the reach of the great
majority of our people. With the States, we are providing rehabilitation
facilities and more clinics, hospitals, and nursing homes for patients
with chronic illnesses. Also with the States, we have begun a great and
fruitful expansion in the restoration of disabled persons to employment
and useful lives. In the areas of Federal responsibility, we have made
historic progress in eliminating from among our people demeaning practices
based on race or color.
All of us may be proud of these achievements during the past two years.
Yet essential Federal tasks remain to be done.
As part of our efforts to provide decent, safe and sanitary housing
for low-income families, we must carry forward the housing program authorized
during the 83rd Congress. We must also authorize contracts for a firm program
of 35,000 additional public housing units in each of the next two fiscal
years. This program will meet the most pressing obligations of the Federal
Government into the 1958 fiscal year for planning and building public housing.
By that time the private building industry, aided by the Housing Act of
1954, will have had the opportunity to assume its full role in providing
adequate housing for our low income families.
The health of our people is one of our most precious assets. Preventable
sickness should be prevented; knowledge available to combat disease and
disability should be fully used. Otherwise, we as a people are guilty not
only of neglect of human suffering but also of wasting our national strength.
Constant advances in medical care are not available to enough of our
citizens. Clearly our nation must do more to reduce the impact of accident
and disease. Two fundamental problems confront us: first, high and ever-rising
costs of health services; second, serious gaps and shortages in these services.
By special message on January 24, I shall propose a coordinated program
to strengthen and improve existing health services. This program will continue
to reject socialized medicine. It will emphasize individual and local responsibility.
Under it the Federal Government will neither dominate nor direct, but serve
as a helpful partner. Within this framework, the program can be broad in
My recommendations will include a Federal health reinsurance service
to encourage the development of more and better voluntary health insurance
coverage by private organizations. I shall also recommend measures to improve
the medical care of that group of our citizens who, because of need, receive
Federal-State public assistance. These two proposals will help more of
our people to meet the costs of health services.
To reduce the gaps in these services, I shall propose:
New measures to facilitate construction of needed health facilities
and help reduce shortages of trained health personnel;
Vigorous steps to combat the misery and national loss involved in mental
Improved services for crippled children and for maternal and child
Better consumer protection under our existing pure food and drug laws;
Strengthened programs to combat the increasingly serious pollution of
our rivers and streams and the growing problem of air pollution.
These measures together constitute a comprehensive program holding rich
promise for better health for all of our people.
Last year's expansion of social security coverage and our new program
of improved medical care for public assistance recipients together suggest
modification of the formula for Federal sharing in old age assistance payments.
I recommend modification of the formula where such payments will, in the
future, supplement benefits received under the old age and survivors insurance
It is the inalienable right of every person, from childhood on, to have
access to knowledge. In our form of society, this right of the individual
takes on a special meaning, for the education of all our citizens is imperative
to the maintenance and invigoration of America's free institutions.
Today, we face grave educational problems. Effective and up-to-date
analyses of these problems and their solutions are being carried forward
through the individual State conferences and the White House Conference
to be completed this year.
However, such factors as population growth, additional responsibilities
of schools, and increased and longer school attendance have produced an
unprecedented classroom shortage. This shortage is of immediate concern
to all of our people. Positive, affirmative action must be taken now.
Without impairing in any way the responsibilities of our States, localities,
communities, or families, the Federal government can and should serve as
an effective-catalyst in dealing with this problem. I shall forward a special
message to the Congress on February 15, presenting an affirmative program
dealing with this shortage.
To help the States do a better and more timely job, we must strengthen
their resources for preventing and dealing with juvenile delinquency. I
shall propose Federal legislation to assist the States to promote concerted
action in dealing with this nationwide problem. I shall carry forward the
vigorous efforts of the Administration to improve the international control
of the traffic in narcotics and, in cooperation with State and local agencies,
to combat narcotic addiction in our country.
I should like to speak now of additional matters of importance to all
our people and especially to our wage earners.
During the past year certain industrial changes and the readjustment
of the economy to conditions of peace brought unemployment and other difficulties
to various localities and industries. These problems are engaging our most
earnest attention. But for the overwhelming majority of our working people,
the past year has meant good jobs. Moreover, the earnings and savings of
our wage earners are no longer depreciating in value. Because of cooperative
relations between labor and management, fewer working days were lost through
strikes in 1954 than in any year in the past decade.
The outlook for our wage earners can be made still more promising by
several legislative actions.
First, in the past five years we have had economic growth which will
support an increase in the Federal minimum wage. In the light of present
economic conditions, I recommend its increase to ninety cents an hour.
I also recommend that many others, at present excluded, be given the protection
of a minimum wage.
Second, I renew my recommendation of last year for amendment of the
Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 to further the basic objectives
of this statute. I especially call to the attention of the Congress amendments
dealing with the right of economic strikers to vote in representation elections
and the need for equalizing the obligation under the Act to file disclaimers
of Communist affiliation.
Third, the Administration will propose other important measures including
occupational safety, workmen's compensation for longshoremen and harbor
workers, and the "Eight Hour Laws" applicable to Federal contractors. Legislation
will also be proposed respecting nonoccupational disability insurance and
unemployment compensation in the District of Columbia.
In considering human needs, the Federal Government must take special
responsibility for citizens in its direct employ. On January 11 I shall
propose a pay adjustment plan for civilian employees outside the Postal
Field Service to correct inequities and increase individual pay rates.
I shall also recommend voluntary health insurance on a contributory basis
for Federal employees and their dependents. In keeping with the Group Life
Insurance Act passed in the 83rd Congress, this protection should be provided
on the group insurance principle and purchased from private facilities.
Also on January 11 I shall recommend a modern pay plan, including pay increases,
for postal field employees. As part of this program, and to carry forward
our progress toward elimination of the large annual postal deficit. I shall
renew my request for an increase in postal rates. Again I urge that in
the future the fixing of rates be delegated to an impartial, independent
More adequate training programs to equip career employees of the government
to render improved public service will be recommended, as will improvements
in the laws affecting employees serving on foreign assignments.
Needed improvements in survivor, disability, and retirement benefits
for Federal civilian and military personnel have been extensively considered
by the Committee on Retirement Policy for Federal personnel. The Committee's
proposals would strengthen and improve benefits for our career people in
government, and I endorse their broad objectives. Full contributory coverage
under old-age and survivors' insurance should be made available to all
Federal personnel, just as in private industry. For career military personnel,
the protection of the old-age and survivors' insurance system would be
an important and long-needed addition, especially to their present unequal
and inadequate survivorship protection. The military retirement pay system
should remain separate and unchanged. Certain adjustments in the present
civilian personnel retirement systems will be needed to reflect the additional
protection of old-age and survivors' insurance. However, these systems
also are a basic part of a total compensation and should be separately
and independently retained.
I also urge the Congress to approve a long overdue increase in the salaries
of Members of the Congress and of the Federal judiciary to a level commensurate
with their heavy responsibilities.
Our concern for the individual in our country requires that we consider
several additional problems.
We must continue our program to help our Indian citizens improve their
lot and make their full contribution to national life. Two years ago I
advised the Congress of injustices under existing immigration laws. Through
humane administration, the Department of Justice is doing what it legally
can to alleviate hardships. Clearance of aliens before arrival has been
initiated, and except for criminal offenders, the imprisonment of aliens
awaiting admission or deportation has been stopped. Certain provisions
of law, however, have the effect of compelling action in respect to aliens
which are inequitable in some instances and discriminatory in others. These
provisions should be corrected in this session of the Congress.
As the complex problems of Alaska are resolved, that Territory should
expect to achieve statehood. In the meantime, there is no justification
for deferring the admission to statehood of Hawaii. I again urge approval
of this measure.
We have three splendid opportunities to demonstrate the strength of
our belief in the right of suffrage. First, I again urge that a Constitutional
amendment be submitted to the States to reduce the voting age for Federal
elections. Second, I renew my request that the principle of self-government
be extended and the right of suffrage granted to the citizens of the District
of Columbia. Third, I again recommend that we work with the States to preserve
the voting fights of citizens in the nation's service overseas.
In our determination to keep faith with those who in the past have met
the highest call of citizenship, we now have under study the system of
benefits for veterans and for surviving dependents of deceased veterans
and servicemen. Studies will be undertaken to determine the need for measures
to ease the readjustment to civilian life of men required to enter the
armed forces for two years of service.
In the advancement of the various activities which will make our civilization
endure and flourish, the Federal Government should do more to give official
recognition to the importance of the arts and other cultural activities.
I shall recommend the establishment of a Federal Advisory Commission on
the Arts within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, to
advise the Federal Government on ways to encourage artistic endeavor and
appreciation. I shall also propose that awards of merit be established
whereby we can honor our fellow citizens who make great contribution to
the advancement of our civilization.
Every citizen rightly expects efficient and economical administration
of these many government programs I have outlined today. I strongly recommend
extension of the Reorganization Act and the law establishing the Commission
on Intergovernmental Relations, both of which expire this spring. Thus
the Congress will assure continuation of the excellent progress recently
made in improving government organization and administration. In this connection
we are looking forward with great interest to the reports which will soon
be going to the Congress from the Commission on Organization of the Executive
Branch of the Government. I am sure that these studies, made under the
chairmanship of former President Herbert Hoover with the assistance of
more than two hundred distinguished citizens, will be of great value in
paving the way toward more efficiency and economy in the government.
And now, I return to the point at which I began--the faith of our people.
The many programs here summarized are, I believe, in full keeping with
their needs, interests and aspirations. The obligations upon us are clear:
To labor earnestly, patiently, prayerfully, for peace, for freedom,
for justice, throughout the world;
To keep our economy vigorous and free, that our people may lead fuller,
To advance, not merely by our words but by our acts, the determination
of our government that every citizen shall have opportunity to develop
to his fullest capacity.
As we do these things, before us is a future filled with opportunity
and hope. That future will be ours if in our time we keep alive the patience,
the courage, the confidence in tomorrow, the deep faith, of the millions
who, in years past, made and preserved us this nation.
A decade ago, in the death and desolation of European battlefields,
I saw the courage and resolution, I felt the inspiration, of American youth.
In these young men I felt America's buoyant confidence and irresistible
will-to-do. In them I saw, too, a devout America, humble before God.
And so, I know with all my heart--and I deeply believe that all Americans
know--that, despite the anxieties of this divided world, our faith, and
the cause in which we all believe, will surely prevail.