When JFK took office, that January in 1961, we were in the middle of the worst recession in recent times, with personal bankruptcies at their highest since the Great Depression. Worse than that, our allies overseas were starting to wonder just how sound we were dollar-wise.
So as part of his State Of The Union Address, President Kennedy outlined some recommendations to close the dollar gap with our trade abroad.
Pres. Kennedy: “Our success in world affairs has long depended in part upon foreign confidence in our ability to pay. A series of executive orders, legislative remedies and cooperative efforts with our allies will get underway immediately. Aimed at attracting foreign investment and travel to this country, promoting American exports at stable prices, and with more liberal government guarantees and financing. Curbing tax and custom loopholes that encourage undo spending of private dollars abroad. And through OECD, NATO and otherwise sharing with our allies all efforts to provide for the common defense of the Free World and hopes for growth of the less developed lands. While the current deficit lasts, ways will be found to ease our dollar outlays abroad without placing the full burden on the families of men who we’ve asked to serve our flag overseas. (Applause). In short, whatever is required shall be done to back up all our efforts abroad and to make certain that in the future, as in the past, the dollar is as sound as a dollar.”
With the recommendations winding their way through Congress, the Sunday talk shows were filled with speculation and observations over what these recommendations would mean to the country. One of those shows was the CBS Radio program The Leading Question which featured a discussion between Congressmen William Avery (R-Kansas) and Al Ullman (D-Oregon) on whether or not the President's recommendations would effectively close the Dollar Gap.
In lieu of our current diet of fabrication, prevarication and innuendo, it's rather refreshing to hear a civil conversation take place between two opposing members of Congress.