Newstalgia Reference Room featuring a Meet The Press panel interview with Dr. Walter Heller, Economic Adviser to JFK and LBJ on the Economic outlook for 1966.
December 5, 2011

Dr. Walter Heller - Extended prosperity. If only . . .

Dr. Walter Heller, Economic Adviser to both the JFK and LBJ Administrations, was an architect of the War On Poverty which President Johnson ran with enthusiastically.

In this Meet The Press interview from November 7, 1965 in which he ran down the outlook for the economy in 1966 and beyond.

Dr. Walter Heller: “It seems to me that we have a very basic issue. We’ve had a winning combination of a good private policy and good public policy which has produced a long standing prosperity. And an absolute essential of that has been the fine productive performance of private industry and their moderation. A moderation in their inventories and finance and particularly their moderation in prices. And it seems to me unless we maintain that, we threaten the whole fabric of expansion.”

Only one problem: Vietnam. As the War escalated and as we found ourselves deeper and deeper in a questionable commitment, President Johnson insisted that escalating the war wouldn't require raising taxes in order to pay for it. The result was a spiraling inflation and Heller's optimistic predictions were largely relegated to the dustbin of history. And Heller subsequently resigned in disgust.

But before all that there was optimism and Lyndon Johnson was riding the crest of a very popular wave. And Dr. Walter Heller was largely responsible for at least part of it economically.

Hindsight - that other thing about history.

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