Tax Increase Debate

Published: 1967
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Announcer: The topic of inflation crept into every conversation that had to do with money in 1967. The President recognizing the threat of inflation asked Congress to do something about it early in the year. This was his State of the Union address.

Lyndon Johnson: “I recommend to the Congress a surcharge of 6% on both corporate and individual income taxes, to last for two years or for so long as the unusual expenditures associated with our efforts in Vietnam continue.”

Announcer: That was in January. Seven months later the President made another request. This time he requested not a 6% but a 10% tax hike. The criticism that had been prevalent all during the year became bolder. The Republicans in the House and Senate were quick to take up the challenge. A strong critic all year was House Minority Leader Gerald Ford.

Gerald Ford: “If we could only get some cooperation from the White House and the Johnson Administration in the process of reducing nonmilitary, nonessential spending, we could probably avoid the need and necessity for the tax increase that the administration apparently wants Congress to approve. I don’t think they have yet sold the American people or the Congress on the need for increased taxes. Particularly, when the administration makes no visible effort to cut back on expenditures in those areas where I think we can differ or eliminate programs and expenditures.”

Announcer: Two persons backing the President's request were his Economic Advisor, Gardner Ackley and Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Fowler. Fowler said…

Henry Fowler: “We know that the American taxpayer doesn’t like to have taxes increased, but looking at that same taxpayer as a consumer, as a wage earner, as a businessman, as a veteran living off of a fixed income, as an elderly person living off of a fixed income, those concerned with the problems today in the cities, we know that the worst thing, the worst alternative, would be the threat of inflation and the financial imbalance that would be created if we didn’t have a tax increase.”

Announcer: But Lyndon Johnson did not get his tax increase during 1967. Wilbur Mills, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, told why the request was put aside this past year.

Wilbur Mills: “It seems to me that the position we are in shows an increasing awareness on the part of the administration of the need for expenditure cuts. I think we are making progress, but I feel that we still have some distance to go. I have not seen as yet any evidence that we are currently in any demandful inflationary situation which requires immediate action.”

Announcer: While money matters are a major concern of most Americans, there is one segment of society that wants little to do with the green stuff. To show their disdain for money, a delegation of hippies visited the New York Stock Exchange, and from the visitor's gallery showered the floor of the Exchange with dollar bills. That scene will never be repeated, for a new look at the Exchange is a visitor's gallery with a bulletproof glass wall.

Congressional ethics, elections in 1967, and candidates for President in 1968 will be heard next on the UPI Review of the News right after this message.

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