Chapter 30: The Turbulent Sixties, 1960-1969 (#1)

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The New Frontier at Home

  • new administration reflected Kennedy’s aura of youth and energy

  • most controversial choice was Robert F. Kennedy – the president’s brother – as attorney general

  • Kennedy – relied heavily on academics and intellectuals to help him infuse the nation with energy and a new sense of direction

  • The Congressional Obstacle

    • logjam in Congress

      • a conservative coalition of northern Republicans and southern Democrats opposed all efforts at reform

    • gave up the fight for health care in the Senate and settled instead for a modest increase in the minimum wage and the passage of manpower training and area-redevelopment legislation

    • did win approval for a trade expansion act – designed to lower tariff barriers

    • no significant reform legislation was passed

  • Economic Advance

    • Kennedy – gave a higher priority to the sluggish American economy

      • determined to stimulate the economy to achieve a much higher rate of long-term growth

      • believed the United States had to surpass the Soviet Union in economic vitality

        • technological one urged manpower training and redevelopment programs to modernize American industry

        • federal spending to rebuild the nation’s public facilities

    • actual stimulation came from greatly increased appropriations for defense and space

      • more than half the federal budget was devoted to space and defense

    • desire to keep inflation rate low led to a serious confrontation with the business community

      • relied on informal wage and price guidelines to hold down the cost of living

    • president proposed a tax reduction of $13.5 billion – “the unrealistically heavy drag of federal income taxes on private purchasing power” was the “largest single barrier to full employment”

      • massive tax cut led to sustained economic advance for the rest of the decade

    • critics pointed to the Kennedy administration’s failure to close the glaring loopholes in the tax laws that benefited the rich and its lack of effort to help those at the bottom by forcing redistribution of wealth

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