Dwight D. Eisenhower
State of the Union Address
January 5, 1956
To the Congress of the United States:
The opening of this new year must arouse in us all grateful thanks to
a kind Providence whose protection has been ever present and whose bounty
has been manifold and abundant. The State of the Union today demonstrates
what can be accomplished under God by a free people; by their vision, their
understanding of national problems, their initiative, their self-reliance,
their capacity for work--and by their willingness to sacrifice whenever
sacrifice is needed.
In the past three years, responding to what our people want their Government
to do, the Congress and the Executive have done much in building a stronger,
better America. There has been broad progress in fostering the energies
of our people, in providing greater opportunity for the satisfaction of
their need, s, and in fulfilling their demands for the strength and security
of the Republic.
Our country is at peace. Our security posture commands respect. A spiritual
vigor marks our national life. Our economy, approaching the 400 billion
dollar mark, is at an unparalleled level of prosperity. The national income
is more widely and fairly distributed than ever before. The number of Americans
at work has reached an all-time high. As a people, we are achieving ever
higher standards of living--earning more, producing more, consuming more,
building more and investing more than ever before.
Virtually all sectors of our society are sharing in these good times.
Our farm families, if we act wisely, imaginatively and promptly to strengthen
our present farm programs, can also look forward to sharing equitably in
the prosperity they have helped to create.
War in Korea ended two and a half years ago. The collective security
system has been powerfully strengthened. Our defenses have been reinforced
at sharply reduced costs. Programs to expand world trade and to harness
the atom for the betterment of mankind have been carried forward. Our economy
has been freed from governmental wage and price controls. Inflation has
been halted; the cost of living stabilized.
Government spending has been cut by more than ten billion dollars. Nearly
three hundred thousand positions have been eliminated from the Federal
payroll. Taxes have been substantially reduced. A balanced budget is in
prospect. Social security has been extended to ten million more Americans
and unemployment insurance to four million more. Unprecedented advances
in civil rights have been made. The long-standing and deep-seated problems
of agriculture have been forthrightly attacked.
This record of progress has been accomplished with a self imposed caution
against unnecessary and unwise interference in the private affairs of our
people, of their communities and of the several States.
If we of the Executive and Legislative Branches, keeping this caution
ever in mind, address ourselves to the business of the year before us--and
to the unfinished business of last year--with resolution, the outlook is
bright with promise.
Many measures of great national importance recommended last year to
the Congress still demand immediate attention legislation for school and
highway construction; health and immigration legislation; water resources
legislation; legislation to complete the implementation of our foreign
economic policy; such labor legislation as amendments of the Labor-Management
Relations Act, extension of the Fair Labor Standards Act to additional
groups not now covered, and occupational safety legislation; and legislation
for construction of an atomic-powered exhibit vessel.
Many new items of business likewise require our attention-measures that
will further promote the release of the energies of our people; that will
broaden opportunity for all of them; that will advance the Republic in
its leadership toward a just peace; measures, in short, that are essential
to the building of an everstronger, ever-better America.
Every political and economic guide supports a valid confidence that
wise effort will be rewarded by an even more plentiful harvest of human
benefit than we now enjoy. Our resources are too many, our principles too
dynamic, our purposes too worthy and the issues at stake too immense for
us to entertain doubt or fear. But our responsibilities require that we
approach this year's business with a sober humility.
A heedless pride in our present strength and position would blind us
to the facts of the past, to the pitfalls of the future. We must walk ever
in the knowledge that we are enriched by a heritage earned in the labor
and sacrifice of our forebears; that, for our children's children, we are
trustees of a great Republic and a time-tested political system; that we
prosper as a cooperating member of the family of nations.
In this light the Administration has continued work on its program for
the Republic, begun three years ago. Because the. vast spread of national
and human interests is involved within it, I shall not in this Message
attempt its detailed delineation. Instead, from time to time during this
Session, there will be submitted to the Congress specific recommendations
within specific fields. In the comprehensive survey required for their
preparation, the Administration is guided by enduring objectives. The first
THE DISCHARGE OF OUR WORLD RESPONSIBILITY
Our world policy and our actions are dedicated to the achievement of
peace with justice for all nations.
With this purpose, we move in a wide variety of ways and through many
agencies to remove the pall of fear; to strengthen the ties with our partners
and to improve the cooperative cohesion of the free world; to reduce the
burden of armaments, and to stimulate and inspire action among all nations
for a world of justice and prosperity and peace. These national objectives
are fully supported by both our political parties.
In the past year, our search for a more stable and just peace has taken
varied forms. Among the most important were the two Conferences at Geneva,
in July and in the fall of last year. We explored the possibilities of
agreement on critical issues that jeopardize the peace.
The July meeting of Heads of Government held out promise to the world
of moderation in the bitterness, of word and action, which tends to generate
conflict and war. All were in agreement that a nuclear war would be an
intolerable disaster which must not be permitted to occur. But in October,
when the Foreign Ministers met again, the results demonstrated conclusively
that the Soviet leaders are not yet willing to create the indispensable
conditions for a secure and lasting peace.
Nevertheless, it is clear that the conflict between international communism
and freedom has taken on a new complexion.
We know the Communist leaders have often practiced the tactics of retreat
and zigzag. We know that Soviet and Chinese communism still poses a serious
threat to the free world. And in the Middle East recent Soviet moves are
hardly compatible with the reduction of international tension.
Yet Communist tactics against the free nations have shifted in emphasis
from reliance on violence and the threat of violence to reliance on division,
enticement and duplicity. We must be well prepared to meet the current
tactics which pose a dangerous though less obvious threat. At the same
time, our policy must be dynamic as well as flexible, designed primarily
to forward the achievement of our own objectives rather than to meet each
shift and change on the Communist front. We must act in the firm assurance
that the fruits of freedom are more attractive and desirable to mankind
in the pursuit of happiness than the record of Communism.
In the face of Communist military power, we must, of course, continue
to maintain an effective system of collective security. This involves two
things--a system which gives clear warning that armed aggression will be
met by joint action of the free nations, and deterrent military power to
make that warning effective. Moreover, the awesome power of the atom must
be made to serve as a guardian of the free community and of the peace.
In the last year, the free world has seen major gains for the system
of collective security: the accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
and Western European Union of the sovereign Federal German Republic; the
developing cooperation under the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty;
and the formation in the Middle East of the Baghdad Pact among Turkey,
Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. In our own hemisphere, the
inter-American system has continued to show its vitality in maintaining
peace and a common approach to world problems. We now have security pacts
with more than 40 other nations.
In the pursuit of our national purposes, we have been steadfast in our
support of the United Nations, now entering its second decade with a wider
membership and ever-increasing influence and usefulness. In the release
of our fifteen fliers from Communist China, an essential prelude was the
world opinion mobilized by the General Assembly, which condemned their
imprisonment and demanded their liberation. The successful Atomic Energy
Conference held in Geneva under United Nations auspices and our Atoms for
Peace program have been practical steps toward the world-wide use of this
new energy source. Our sponsorship of such use has benefited our relations
with other countries. Active negotiations are now in progress to create
an International Agency to foster peaceful uses of atomic energy.
During the past year the crucial problem of disarmament has moved to
the forefront of practical political endeavor. At Geneva, I declared the
readiness of the United States to exchange blueprints of the military establishments
of our nation and the USSR, to be confirmed by reciprocal aerial reconnaissance.
By this means, I felt mutual suspicions could be allayed and an atmosphere
developed in which negotiations looking toward limitation of arms would
have improved chances of success.
In the United Nations Subcommittee on Disarmament last fall, this proposal
was explored and the United States also declared itself willing to include
reciprocal ground inspection of key points. By the overwhelming vote of
56 to 7, the United Nations on December 16 endorsed these proposals and
gave them a top priority. Thereby, the issue is placed squarely before
the bar of world opinion. We shall persevere in seeking a general reduction
of armaments under effective inspection and control which are essential
safeguards to ensure reciprocity and protect the security of all.
In the coming year much remains to be done.
While maintaining our military deterrent, we must intensify our efforts
to achieve a just peace. In Asia we shall continue to give help to nations
struggling to maintain their freedom against the threat of Communist coercion
or subversion. In Europe we shall endeavor to increase not only the military
strength of the North Atlantic Alliance but also its political cohesion
and unity of purpose. We shall give such assistance as is feasible to the
recently renewed effort of Western European nations to achieve a greater
measure of integration, such as in the field of peaceful uses of atomic
In the Near East we shall spare no effort in seeking to promote a fair
solution of the tragic dispute between the Arab States and Israel, all
of whom we want as our friends. The United States is ready to do its part
to assure enduring peace in that area. We hope that both sides will make
the contributions necessary to achieve that purpose. In Latin America,
we shall continue to cooperate vigorously in trade and other measures designed
to assist economic progress in the area.
Strong economic ties are an essential element in our free world partnership.
Increasing trade and investment help all of us prosper together. Gratifying
progress has been made in this direction, most recently by the three-year
extension of our trade agreements legislation.
I most earnestly request that the Congress approve our membership in
the Organization for Trade Cooperation, which would assist the carrying
out of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to which we have been
a party since 1948. Our membership in the OTC will provide the most effective
and expeditious means for removing discriminations and restrictions against
American exports and in making our trade agreements truly reciprocal. United
States membership in the Organization will evidence our continuing desire
to cooperate in promoting an expanded trade among the free nations. Thus
the Organization, as proposed, is admirably suited to our own interests
and to those of like-minded nations in working for steady expansion of
trade and closer economic cooperation. Being strictly an administrative
entity, the Organization for Trade Cooperation cannot, of course, alter
the control by Congress of the tariff, import, and customs policies of
the United States.
We need to encourage investment overseas by avoiding unfair tax duplications,
and to foster foreign trade by further simplification and improvement of
our customs legislation.
We must sustain and fortify our Mutual Security Program. Because the
conditions of poverty and unrest in less developed areas make their people
a special target of international communism, there is a need to help them
achieve the economic growth and stability necessary to preserve their independence
against communist threats and enticements.
In order that our friends may better achieve the greater strength that
is our common goal, they need assurance of continuity in economic assistance
for development projects and programs which we approve and which require
a period of years for planning and completion. Accordingly, I ask Congress
to grant limited authority to make longer-term commitments for assistance
to such projects, to be fulfilled from appropriations to be made in future
These various steps will powerfully strengthen the economic foundation
of our foreign policy. Together with constructive action abroad, they will
maintain the present momentum toward general economic progress and vitality
of the free world.
In all things, change is the inexorable law of life. In much of the
world the ferment of change is working strongly; but grave injustices are
still uncorrected. We must not, by any sanction of ours, help to perpetuate
these wrongs. I have particularly in mind the oppressive division of the
German people, the bondage of millions elsewhere, and the exclusion of
Japan from United Nations membership.
We shall keep these injustices in the forefront of human consciousness
and seek to maintain the pressure of world opinion to fight these vast
wrongs in the interest both of justice and secure peace.
Injustice thrives on ignorance. Because an understanding of the truth
about America is one of our most powerful forces, I am recommending a substantial
increase in budgetary support of the United States Information Agency.
The sum of our international effort should be this: the waging of peace,
with as much resourcefulness, with as great a sense of dedication and urgency,
as we have ever mustered in defense of our country in time of war. In this
effort, our weapon is not force. Our weapons are the principles and ideas
embodied in our historic traditions, applied with the same vigor that in
the past made America a living promise of freedom for all mankind.
To accomplish these vital tasks, all of us should be concerned with
the strength, effectiveness and morale .of our State Department and our
Another guide in the preparation of the Administration's program is:
THE CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT OF OUR NATIONAL SECURITY
Because peace is the keystone of our national policy, our defense program
emphasizes an effective flexible type of power calculated to deter or repulse
any aggression and to preserve the peace. Short of war, we have never had
military strength better adapted to our needs with improved readiness for
emergency use. The maintenance of this strong military capability for the
indefinite future will continue to call for a large share of our national
budget. Our military programs must meet the needs of today. To build less
would expose the nation to aggression. To build excessively, under the
influence of fear, could defeat our purposes and impair or destroy the
very freedom and economic system our military defenses are designed to
We have improved the effectiveness and combat readiness of our forces
by developing and making operational new weapons and by integrating the
latest scientific developments, including new atomic weapons, into our
military plans. We continue to push the production of the most modern military
aircraft. The development of long-range missiles has been on an accelerated
basis for some time. We are moving as rapidly as practicable toward nuclear-powered
aircraft and ships. Combat capability, especially in terms of firepower,
has been substantially increased. We have made the adjustments in personnel
permitted by the cessation of the Korean War, the buildup of our allies
and the introduction of new weapons. The services are all planning realistically
on a long-term basis.
To strengthen our continental defenses the United States and Canada,
in the closest cooperation, have substantially augmented early warning
networks. Great progress is being made in extending surveillance of the
Arctic, the Atlantic and the Pacific approaches to North America.
In the last analysis our real strength lies in the caliber of the men
and women in our Armed Forces, active and Reserve. Much has been done to
attract and hold capable military personnel, but more needs to be done.
This year, I renew my request of last year for legislation to provide proper
medical care for military dependents and a more equitable survivors' benefit
program. The Administration will prepare additional recommendations designed
to achieve the same objectives, including career incentives for medical
and dental officers and nurses, and increases in the proportion of regular
Closely related to the mission of the Defense Department is the task
of the Federal Civil Defense Administration. A particular point of relationship
arises from the fact that the key to civil defense is the expanded continental
defense program, including the distant early warning system. Our Federal
civil defense authorities have made progress in their program, and now
comprehensive studies are being conducted jointly by the Federal Civil
Defense Administration, the States, and critical target cities to determine
the best procedures that can be adopted in case of an atomic attack. We
must strengthen Federal assistance to the States and cities in devising
the most effective common defense.
We have a broad and diversified mobilization base. We have the facilities,
materials, skills and knowledge rapidly to expand the production of things
we need for our defense whenever they are required. But mobilization base
requirements change with changing technology and strategy. We must maintain
flexibility to meet new requirements. I am requesting, therefore, that
the Congress once again extend the Defense Production Act.
Of great importance to our nation's security is a continuing alertness
to internal subversive activity within or without our government. This
Administration will not relax its efforts to deal forthrightly and vigorously
in protection of this government and its citizens against subversion, at
the same time fully protecting the constitutional rights of all citizens.
A third objective of the Administration is:
A public office is, indeed, a public trust. None of its aspects is more
demanding than the proper management of the public finances. I refer now
not only to the indispensable virtues of plain honesty and trustworthiness
but also to the prudent, effective and conscientious use of tax money.
I refer also to the attitude of mind that makes efficient and economical
service to the people a watchword in our government.
Over the long term, a balanced budget is a sure index to thrifty management--in
a home, in a business or in the Federal Government. When achievement of
a balanced budget is for long put off in a business or home, bankruptcy
is the result. But in similar circumstances a government resorts to inflation
of the money supply. This inevitably results in depreciation of the value
of the money, and an increase in the cost of living. Every investment in
personal security is threatened by this process of inflation, and the real
values of the people's savings, whether in the form of insurance, bonds,
pension and retirement funds or savings accounts are thereby shriveled.
We have made long strides these past three years in bringing our Federal
finances under control. The deficit for fiscal year 1953 was almost 9-1/2
billion dollars. Larger deficits seemed certain--deficits which would have
depreciated the value of the dollar and pushed the cost of living still
higher. But government waste and extravagance were searched out. Nonessential
activities were dropped. Government expenses were carefully scrutinized.
Total spending was cut by 14 billion dollars below the amount planned by
the previous Administration for the fiscal year 1954.
This made possible--and it was appropriate in the existing circumstances
of transition to a peacetime economy--the largest tax cut in any year in
our history. Almost 7-? billion dollars were released and every taxpayer
in the country benefited. Almost two-thirds of the savings went directly
to individuals. This tax cut also helped to build up the economy, to make
jobs in industry and to increase the production .of the many things desired
to improve the scale of living for the great majority of Americans.
The strong expansion of the economy, coupled with a constant care for
efficiency in government operations and an alert guard against waste and
duplication, has brought us to a prospective balance between income and
expenditure. This is being done while we continue to strengthen our military
I expect the budget to be in balance during the fiscal year ending June
I shall propose a balanced budget for the next fiscal year ending June
But the balance we are seeking cannot be accomplished without the continuing
every-day effort of the Executive and Legislative Branches to keep expenditures
under control. It will also be necessary to continue all of the present
excise taxes without any reduction and the corporation income taxes at
their present rates for another year beyond next April 1st.
It is unquestionably true that our present tax level is very burdensome
and, in the interest of long term and continuous economic growth, should
be reduced when we prudently can. It is essential, in the sound management
of the Government's finances, that we be mindful of our enormous national
debt and of the obligation we have toward future Americans to reduce that
debt whenever we can appropriately do so. Under conditions of high peacetime
prosperity, such as now exist, we can never justify going further into
debt to give ourselves a tax cut at the expense of our children. So, in
the present state of our financial affairs, I earnestly believe that a
tax cut can be deemed justifiable only when it will not unbalance the budget,
a budget which makes provision for some reduction, even though modest,
in our national debt. In this way we can best maintain fiscal integrity.
A fourth aim of our program is:
TO FOSTER A STRONG ECONOMY
Our competitive enterprise system depends on the energy of free human
beings, limited by prudent restraints in law, using free markets to plan,
organize and distribute production, and spurred by the prospect of reward
for successful effort. This system has developed our resources. It has
marvelously expanded our productive capacity. Against the record of all
other economic systems devised through the ages, this competitive system
has proved the most creative user of human skills in the development of
physical resources, and the richest rewarder of human effort.
This is still true in this era when improved living standards and rising
national requirements are accompanied by swift advances in technology and
rapid obsolescence in machines and methods. Typical of these are the strides
made in construction of plants to produce electrical energy from atomic
power and of laboratories and installations for the application of this
new force in industry, agriculture and the healing arts. These developments
make it imperative--to assure effective functioning of our enterprise system--that
the Federal Government concern itself with certain broad areas of our economic
life. Most important of these is:
Our farm people are not sharing as they should in the general prosperity.
They alone of all major groups have seen their incomes decline rather than
rise. They are caught between two millstones--rising production costs and
declining prices. Such harm to a part of the national economy so vitally
important to everyone is of great concern to us all. No other resource
is so indispensable as the land that feeds and clothes us. No group is
more fundamental to our national life than our farmers.
In successful prosecution of the war, the nation called for the utmost
effort of its farmers. Their response was superb, their contribution unsurpassed.
Farmers are not now to be blamed for the mountainous, price-depressing
surpluses produced in response to wartime policies and laws that were too
long continued. War markets are not the markets of peacetime. Failure to
recognize that basic fact by a timely adjustment of wartime legislation
brought its inevitable result in peacetime--surpluses, lower prices and
lower incomes for our farmers.
The dimensions of government responsibility are as broad and complex
as the farm problem itself. We are here concerned not only with our essential
continuing supplies of food and fiber, but also with a way of life. Both
are indispensable to the well-being and strength of the nation. Consideration
of these matters must be above and beyond politics. Our national farm policy,
so vital to the welfare of farm people and all of us, must not become a
field for political warfare. Too much is at stake.
Our farm people expect of us, who have responsibility for their government,
understanding of their problems and the will to help solve them. Our objective
must be to help bring production into balance with existing and new markets,
at prices that yield farmers a return for their work in line with what
other Americans get.
To reach this goal, deep-seated problems must be subjected to a stepped-up
attack. There is no single easy solution. Rather, there must be a many-sided
assault on the stubborn problems of surpluses, prices, costs, and markets;
and a steady, persistent, imaginative advance in the relationship between
farmers and their government.
In a few days, by special message, I shall lay before the Congress my
detailed recommendations for new steps that should be taken promptly to
speed the transition in agriculture and thus assist our farmers to achieve
their fair share of the national income.
Basic to this program will be a new attack on the surplus problem-for
even the best-conceived farm program cannot work under a multi-billion
dollar weight of accumulated stocks.
I shall urge authorization of a soil bank program to alleviate the problem
of diverted acres and an overexpanded agricultural plant. This will include
an acreage reserve to reduce current and accumulated surpluses of crops
in most serious difficulty, and a conservation reserve to achieve other
needed adjustments in the use of agricultural resources. I shall urge measures
to strengthen our surplus disposal activities.
I shall propose measures to strengthen individual commodity programs,
to remove controls where possible, to reduce carryovers, and to stop further
accumulations of surpluses. I shall ask the Congress to provide substantial
new funds for an expanded drive on the research front, to develop new markets,
new crops, and new uses. The Rural Development Program to better the lot
of low-income farm families deserves full Congressional support. The Great
Plains Program must go forward vigorously. Advances on these and other
fronts will pull down the pricedepressing surpluses and raise farm income.
In this time of testing in agriculture, we should all together, regardless
of party, carry forward resolutely with a sound and forward looking program
on which farm people may confidently depend, now and for years to come.
I shall briefly mention four other subjects directly related to the
well-being of the economy, preliminary to their fuller discussion in the
Economic Report and later communications.
I wish to re-emphasize the critical importance of the wise use and conservation
of our great natural resources of land, forests, minerals and water and
their long-range development consistent with our agricultural policy. Water
in particular now plays an increasing role in industrial processes, in
the irrigation of land, in electric power, as well as in domestic uses.
At the same time, it has the potential of damage and disaster.
A comprehensive legislative program for water conservation will be submitted
to the Congress during the Session. The development of our water resources
cannot be accomplished overnight. The need is such that we must make faster
progress and without delay. Therefore, I strongly recommend that action
be taken at this Session on such wholly Federal projects as the Colorado
River Storage Project and the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project; on the John Day
partnership project, and other projects which provide for cooperative action
between the Federal Government and non-Federal interests; and on legislation,
which makes provision for Federal participation in small projects under
the primary sponsorship of agencies of State and local government.
During the past year the areas of our National Parks have been expanded,
and new wildlife refuges have been created. The visits of our people to
the Parks have increased much more rapidly than have the facilities to
care for them. The Administration will submit recommendations to provide
more adequate facilities to keep abreast of the increasing interest of
our people in the great outdoors.
A modern community is a complex combination of skills, specialized buildings,
machines, communications and homes. Most importantly, it involves human
lives. Disaster in many forms--by flood, frost, high winds, for instance--can
destroy on a massive scale in a few hours the labor of many years.
Through the past three years the Administration has repeatedly moved
into action wherever disaster struck. The extent of State participation
in relief activities, however, has been far from uniform and, in many cases,
has been either inadequate or nonexistent. Disaster assistance legislation
requires overhauling and an experimental program of flood-damage indemnities
should be undertaken. The Administration will make detailed recommendations
on these subjects.
We must help deal with the pockets of chronic unemployment that here
and there mar the nation's general industrial prosperity. Economic changes
in recent years have been often so rapid and far-reaching that areas committed
to a single local resource or industrial activity have found themselves
temporarily deprived of their markets and their livelihood.
Such conditions mean severe hardship for thousands of people as the
slow process of adaptation to new circumstances goes on. This process can
be speeded up. Last year I authorized a major study of the problem to find
additional steps to supplement existing programs for the redevelopment
of areas of chronic unemployment. Recommendations will be submitted, designed
to supplement, with Federal technical and loan assistance local efforts
to get on with this vital job. Improving such communities must, of course,
remain the primary responsibility of the people living there and of their
States. But a soundly conceived Federal partnership program can be of real
assistance to them in their efforts.
Legislation to provide a modern, interstate highway system is even more
urgent this year than last, for 12 months have now passed in which we have
fallen further behind in road construction needed for the personal safety,
the general prosperity, the national security of the American people. During
the year, the number of motor vehicles has increased from 58 to 61 million.
During the past year over 38,000 persons lost their lives in highway accidents,
while the fearful toll of injuries and property damage has gone on unabated.
In my message of February 22, 1955, I urged that measures be taken to
complete the vital 40,000 mile interstate system over a period of 10 years
at an estimated Federal cost of approximately 25 billion dollars. No program
If we are ever to solve our mounting traffic problem, the whole interstate
system must be authorized as one project, to be completed approximately
within the specified time. Only in this way can industry efficiently gear
itself to the job ahead. Only in this way can the required planning and
engineering be accomplished without the confusion and waste unavoidable
a piecemeal approach. Furthermore, as I pointed out last year, the pressing
nature of this problem must not lead us to solutions outside the bounds
of sound fiscal management. As in the case of other pressing problems,
there must be an adequate plan of financing. To continue the drastically
needed improvement in other national highway systems, I recommend the continuation
of the Federal Aid Highway Program.
Aside from agriculture and the four subjects specifically mentioned,
an integral part of our efforts to foster a strong and expanding free economy
is keeping open the door of opportunity to new and small enterprises, checking
monopoly, and preserving a competitive environment. In this past year the
steady improvement in the economic health of small business has reinforced
the vitality of our competitive economy. We shall continue to help small
business concerns to obtain access to adequate financing and to competent
counsel on management, production, and marketing problems.
Through measures already taken, opportunities for smallbusiness participation
in government procurement programs, including military procurement, are
greatly improved. The effectiveness of these measures will become increasingly
apparent. We shall continue to make certain that small business has a fair
opportunity to compete and has an economic environment in which it may
In my message last year I referred to the appointment of an advisory
committee to appraise and report to me on the deficiencies as well as the
effectiveness of existing Federal transportation policies. I have commended
the fundamental purposes and objectives of the committee's report. I earnestly
recommend that the Congress give prompt attention to the committee's proposals.
Essential to a prosperous economic environment for all business, small
and large--for agriculture and industry and commerce-is efficiency in Government.
To that end, exhaustive studies of the entire governmental structure were
made by the Commission on Intergovernmental Relations and the Commission
on the Organization of the Executive Branch of the Government--the reports
of these Commissions are now under intensive review and already in the
process of implementation in important areas.
One specific and most vital governmental function merits study and action
by the Congress. As part of our program of promoting efficiency in Government
and getting the fiscal situation in hand, the Post Office Department in
the past three years has been overhauled. Nearly one thousand new post
offices have been provided. Financial practices have been modernized, and
transportation and operating methods are being constantly improved. A new
wage and incentive plan for the half million postal employees has been
established. Never before has the postal system handled so much mail so
quickly and so economically.
The Post Office Department faces two serious problems. First, much of
its physical plant--post offices and other buildings-is obsolete and inadequate.
Many new buildings and the modernization of present ones are essential
if we are to have improved mail service. The second problem is the Department's
fiscal plight. It now faces an annual deficit of one-half billion dollars.
Recommendations on postal facilities and on additional postal revenues
will be submitted to the Congress.
A final consideration in our program planning is:
THE RESPONSE TO HUMAN CONCERNS
A fundamental belief shines forth in this Republic. We believe in the
worth and dignity of the individual. We know that if we are to govern ourselves
wisely--in the tradition of America--we must have the opportunity to develop
our individual capacities to the utmost.
To fulfill the individual's aspirations in the American way of life,
good education is fundamental. Good education is the outgrowth of good
homes, good communities, good churches, and good schools. Today our schools
face pressing problems--problems which will not yield to swift and easy
solutions, or to any single action. They will yield only to a continuing,
active, formed effort by the people toward achieving better schools.
This kind of effort has been spurred by the thousands of conferences
held in recent months by half a million citizens and educators in all parts
of the country, culminating in the White House Conference on Education.
In that Conference, some two thousand delegates, broadly representative
of the nation, studied together the problems of the nation's schools.
They concluded that the people of the United States must make a greater
effort through their local, State, and Federal Governments to improve the
education of our youth. This expression from the people must now be translated
into action at all levels of government.
So far as the Federal share of responsibility is concerned, I urge that
the Congress move promptly to enact an effective program of Federal assistance
to help erase the existing deficit of school classrooms. Such a program,
which should be limited to a five-year period, must operate to increase
rather than decrease local and State support of schools and to give the
greatest help to the States and localities with the least financial resources.
Federal aid should in no way jeopardize the freedom of local school systems.
There will be presented to the Congress a recommended program of Federal
assistance for school construction.
Such a program should be accompanied by action to increase services
to the nation's schools by the Office of Education and by legislation to
provide continuation of payments to school districts where Federal activities
have impaired the ability of those districts to provide adequate schools.
Under the 1954 Amendments to the old-age and survivors' insurance program,
protection was extended to some 10 million additional workers and benefits
were increased. The system now helps protect 9 out of 10 American workers
and their families against loss of income in old age or on the death of
the breadwinner. The system is sound. It must be kept so. In developing
improvements in the system, we must give the most careful consideration
to population and social trends, and to fiscal requirements. With these
considerations in mind, the Administration will present its recommendations
for further expansion of coverage and other steps which can be taken wisely
at this time.
Other needs in the area of social welfare include increased child welfare
services, extension of the program of aid to dependent children, intensified
attack on juvenile delinquency, and special attention to the problems of
mentally retarded children. The training of more skilled workers for these
fields and the quest for new knowledge through research in social welfare
are essential. Similarly the problems of our aged people need our attention.
The nation has made dramatic progress in conquering disease--progress
of profound human significance which can be greatly accelerated by an intensified
effort in medical research. A well-supported, well-balanced program of
research, including basic research, can open new frontiers of knowledge,
prevent and relieve suffering, and prolong life. Accordingly I shall recommend
a substantial increase in Federal funds for the support of such a program.
As an integral part of this effort, I shall recommend a new plan to aid
construction of non-Federal medical research and teaching facilities and
to help provide more adequate support for the training of medical research
Finally, we must aid in cushioning the heavy and rising costs of illness
and hospitalization to individuals and families. Provision should be made,
by Federal reinsurance or otherwise, to foster extension of voluntary health
insurance coverage to many more persons, especially older persons and those
in rural areas. Plans should be evolved to improve protection against the
costs of prolonged or severe illness. These measures will help reduce the
dollar barrier between many Americans and the benefits of modern medical
The Administration health program will be submitted to the Congress
The response of government to human concerns embraces, of course, other
measures of broad public interest, and of special interest to our working
men and women. The need still exists for improvement of the Labor Management
Relations Act. The recommendations I submitted to the Congress last year
take into account not only the interests of labor and management but also
the public welfare. The needed amendments should be enacted without further
We must also carry forward the job of improving the wagehour law. Last
year I requested the Congress to broaden the coverage of the minimum wage.
I repeat that recommendation, and I pledge the full resources of the Executive
Branch to assist the Congress in finding ways to attain this goal. Moreover,
as requested last year, legislation should be passed to clarify and strengthen
the eight-hour laws for the benefit of workers who are subject to Federal
wage standards on Federal and Federally assisted construction and other
The Administration will shortly propose legislation to assure adequate
disclosure of the financial affairs of each employee pension and welfare
plan and to afford substantial protection to their beneficiaries in accordance
with the objectives outlined in my message of January 11, 1954. Occupational
safety still demands attention, as I pointed out last year, and legislation
to improve the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act is still
needed. The improvement of the District of Columbia Unemployment Insurance
Law and legislation to provide employees in the District with non-occupational
disability insurance are no less necessary now than 12 months ago. Legislation
to apply the principle of equal pay for equal work without discrimination
because of sex is a matter of simple justice. I earnestly urge the Congress
to move swiftly to implement these needed labor measures.
In the field of human needs, we must carry forward the housing program,
which is contributing so greatly to the well-being of our people and the
prosperity of our economy. Home ownership is now advanced to the point
where almost three of every five families in our cities, towns, and suburbs
own the houses they live in.
For the housing program, most of the legislative authority already exists.
However, a firm program of public housing is essential until the private
building industry has found ways to provide more adequate housing for low-income
families. The Administration will propose authority to contract for 35
thousand additional public housing units in each of the next 2 fiscal years
for communities which will participate in an integrated attack on slums
To meet the needs of the growing number of older people, several amendments
to the National Housing Act will be proposed to assist the private homebuilding
industry as well as charitable and non-profit organizations.
With so large a number of the American people desiring to modernize
and improve existing dwellings, I recommend that the Title 1 program for
permanent improvements in the home be liberalized.
I recommend increases in the general FHA mortgage insurance authority;
the extension of the FHA military housing program; an increase in the authorization
for Urban Planning grants; in the special assistance authority of the Federal
National Mortgage Association; and continued support of the college housing
program in a way that will not discourage private capital from helping
to meet the needs of our colleges.
The legislation I have recommended for workers in private industry should
be accompanied by a parallel effort for the welfare of Government employees.
We have accomplished much in this field, including a contributory life
insurance program; equitable pay increases and a fringe benefits program,
covering many needed personnel policy changes, from improved premium pay
to a meaningful incentive award program.
Additional personnel management legislation is needed in this Session.
As I stated last year, an executive pay increase is essential to efficient
governmental management. Such an increase, together with needed adjustments
in the pay for the top career positions, is also necessary to the equitable
completion of the Federal pay program initiated last year. Other legislation
will be proposed, including legislation for prepaid group health insurance
for employees and their dependents and to effect major improvements in
the Civil Service retirement system.
All of us share a continuing concern for those who have served this
nation in the Armed Forces. The Commission on Veterans Pensions is at this
time conducting a study of the entire field of veterans' benefits and will
soon submit proposed improvements.
We are proud of the progress our people have made in the field of civil
rights. In Executive Branch operations throughout the nation, elimination
of discrimination and segregation is all but completed. Progress is also
being made among contractors engaged in furnishing Government services
and requirements. Every citizen now has the opportunity to fit himself
for and to hold a position of responsibility in the service of his country.
In the District of Columbia, through the voluntary cooperation of the people,
discrimination and segregation are disappearing from hotels, theaters,
restaurants and other facilities.
It is disturbing that in some localities allegations persist that Negro
citizens are being deprived of their right to vote and are likewise being
subjected to unwarranted economic pressures. I recommend that the substance
of these charges be thoroughly examined by a Bipartisan Commission created
by the Congress. It is hoped that such a commission will be established
promptly so that it may arrive at findings which can receive early consideration.
The stature of our leadership in the free world has increased through
the past three years because we have made more progress than ever before
in a similar period to assure our citizens equality in justice, in opportunity
and in civil rights. We must expand this effort on every front. We must
strive to have every person judged and measured by what he is, rather than
by his color, race or religion. There will soon be recommended to the Congress
a program further to advance the efforts of the Government, within the
area of Federal responsibility, to accomplish these objectives.
One particular challenge confronts us. In the Hawaiian Islands, East
meets West. To the Islands, Asia and Europe and the Western Hemisphere,
all the continents, have contributed their peoples and their cultures to
display a unique example of a community that is a successful laboratory
in human brotherhood.
Statehood, supported by the repeatedly expressed desire of the Islands'
people and by our traditions, would be a shining example of the American
way to the entire earth. Consequently, I urgently request this Congress
to grant statehood for Hawaii. Also, in harmony with the provisions I last
year communicated to the Senate and House Committees on Interior and Insular
Affairs, I trust that progress toward statehood for Alaska can be made
in this Session.
Progress is constant toward full integration of our Indian citizens
into normal community life. During the past two years the Administration
has provided school facilities for thousands of Indian children previously
denied this opportunity. We must continue to meet the needs of increased
numbers of Indian children. Provision should also be made for the education
of adult Indians whose schooling in earlier years was neglected.
In keeping with our responsibility of world leadership and in our own
self interest, I again point out to the Congress the urgent need for revision
of the immigration and nationality laws. Our nation has always welcomed
immigrants to our shores. The wisdom of such a policy is clearly shown
by the fact that America has been built by immigrants and the descendants
of immigrants. That policy must be continued realistically with present
day conditions in mind.
I recommend that the number of persons admitted to this country annually
be based not on the 1920 census but on the latest, the 1950 census. Provision
should be made to allow for greater flexibility in the use of quotas so
if one country does not use its share, the vacancies may be made available
for the use of qualified individuals from other countries.
The law should be amended to permit the Secretary of State and the Attorney
General to waive the requirements of fingerprinting on a reciprocal basis
for persons coming to this country for temporary visits. This and other
changes in the law are long overdue and should be taken care of promptly.
Detailed recommendations for revision of the immigration laws will be submitted
to the Congress.
I am happy to report substantial progress in the flow of immigrants
under the Refugee Relief Act of 1953; however, I again request this Congress
to approve without further delay the urgently needed amendments to that
act which I submitted in the last Session. Because of the high prosperity
in Germany and Austria, the number of immigrants from those countries will
be reduced. This will make available thousands of unfilled openings which
I recommend be distributed to Greece and Italy and to escapees from behind
the Iron Curtain.
Once again I ask the Congress to join with me in demonstrating our belief
in the right of suffrage. I renew my request that the principle of self-government
be extended and the right of suffrage granted to the citizens of the District
To conclude: the vista before us is bright. The march of science, the
expanding economy, the advance in collective security toward a just peace--in
this threefold movement our people are creating new standards by which
the future of the Republic may be judged.
Progress, however, will be realized only as it is more than matched
by a continuing growth in the spiritual strength of the nation. Our dedication
to moral values must be complete in our dealings abroad and in our relationships
among ourselves. We have single-minded devotion to the common good of America.
Never must we forget that this means the well-being, the prosperity, the
security of all Americans in every walk of life.
To the attainment of these objectives, I pledge full energies of the
Administration, as in the Session ahead, it works on a program for submission
to you, the Congress of the United States.