He cut taxes, reducing marginal tax rates across the board and cut the marginal tax rates for the rich. His plan was created in the largest part by trickle-down, supply-side, Keynesian economist Walter Heller, who served as the Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors. His plan also cut corporate taxes, which at the time were the world’s highest. The tax cut also established the first ever minimum standard deduction, which allowed the lower and lower middle class taxpayers to avoid paying any federal income taxes.
He presided over the strongest economic expansion in the nation's history to that point. GDP increased more in his three years than it had in the previous eight altogether. The nation’s 16% growth in total output had provided more than 2.75 million more jobs and a record rise in wages income. Idle capital and manufacturing stocks were reduced by half, and job creation levels for whites, blacks, Asians and women shattered records.
He stared down what was then the biggest nuclear threat to global peace and stability by using the United States armed forces and the economic prowess of the American economy, forcing the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Cuba. Towards the end of his tragically short term, he negotiated the world’s first
nuclear test ban treaty in 1963.
He also took great interest in improving and expanding the combat capability and effectiveness of our armed forces, and gave particular attention to U.S. Army Special Forces. It was he who direct Army Special Forces to wear the iconic Green Berets. His focus on so called “irregulars” led to the special forces sub-commands in the Army, Navy, Marines (already born “irregular”) and Air Force. His defense budgets exceeded his predecessors’ as he sought to improve both living and readiness conditions for troops and bases overseas as well as at home.
On immigration, he took a measured and cautious stance. Before becoming President, he said that “America's capacity to absorb immigration was limited. …that there is a legitimate argument for some limitation upon immigration. ” As a result of his preference for caution and measured immigration policies, he averred that his immigration policy "does not seek to make over the face of America."
On trade, he was quite clear: “I believe that we must be able to compete in the market--steel and in all the basic commodities abroad--we must be able to compete against them because we always did… because of our technological lead. We have to persuade these other countries not to restrict our goods coming in, not to act as if there was a dollar gap. We have to persuade them to assume some of the responsibilities that up till now we've maintained, to assist underdeveloped countries make an economic breakthrough on their own. We have to be able to compete in the world market.”
He never flinched in using American economic power to achieve American foreign policy objectives. He rewarded our international friends with economic favor and punished international adversaries with economic disadvantage.
He dreamed big. “We choose to go to the moon,” he said. “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
And in his most famous speech:
America’s favorite conservative President was John Fitzgerald Kennedy and he was a Democrat.
The average Joe is wondering, “what has happened to the Democrats?” The party that produced wealth by cutting taxes, stymied nuclear aggression using force and diplomacy (with economic pressure), limited immigration and pushed for free and fair trade is not what it used to be. Its leaders and foremost candidates want the return of oppressive taxation, free rein for emerging nuclear threats, open borders and a saddling the American economy with the cost of new regulations for environmental and social justice.
These not the Democrats that produced Jack Kennedy. These are closer to those that produced Josef Stalin.
Note: Some of the material in this post comes from On The Issues, a non-partisan repository site. Its servers are non-https compliant and many browsers will not load the link, so there are no inline attributions here.