Undelivered Kennedy speech denounces “nonsense” of deficit fears “wholly unrelated to reality”

In the course of thinking about President Kennedy’s assassination fifty years ago last evening I read the speech Kennedy was scheduled to deliver on the afternoon of November 22, 1963 in Dallas. Much of the speech is related to the Cold War. But I was startled to read a portion of the speech that could have been delivered today.

The proper role of government in our society is a political issue that has been with us for a long time.

“But today other voices are heard in the land — voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they [view] that debt as the single greatest threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.”

“We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will “talk sense to the American people.” But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this Nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.”

– text from President John F. Kennedy’s undelivered speech in Dallas, TX, November 22, 1963