NOVEMBER 10, 1961
PORTLAND, Ore.—New York's intelligent and discriminating voters once again elected Mayor Robert F. Wagner. Also, the new city charter and court reform won approval.
In fact, I think the Mayor has received so much backing that now it is up to him to show the people how a strong and purposeful man can use this backing. In the early part of January I should like to see a review of the various departments of New York City government showing that each head of a department had gone through his employees with an eye to greater efficiency and loyalty to the new program promised by the Mayor.
If this is done, I feel sure that we shall soon see some real improvements in the city, principally the elimination of graft that led to the scandals which bedevilled previous administrations when the Mayor was not in full command. He now can show the people of New York City that he intends to make the improvements he has promised. Everyone of us is obligated, I think, to back him wholeheartedly and cooperate in any way he asks to make his task, which is not an easy one, a successful one.
I am also very happy about the victory in New Jersey of the Democratic candidate for Governor, Richard J. Hughes. These two Democratic successes—in New York City and in New Jersey—show a strengthening for our national leadership under President Kennedy and for his policies.
Mayor Wagner is now in a position to reorganize the state Democratic organization. I hope he will find some young and energetic chairman who will really capitalize on the many issues the Democratic party at present should bring home to the people in demonstrating its superior ability to meet the challenges both at home and abroad.
My warm congratulations go to Mayor Wagner and to New Jersey's Governor-elect Richard J. Hughes.
Former Sen. Herbert H. Lehman contributed greatly to Mayor Wagner's success, but, even more, he has shown his wisdom and leadership of the reform Democratic group. I hope under Mayor Wagner's leadership the reform group will now fight with its full energy to bring about the results it desires in the areas where it has the power to do so.
I have just received some information on the way the various departments in the federal government responded to the President's appeal for recommendations as to how to save money and come nearer to a balanced budget. I have long been taught that jeopardizing the economy of our country was a dangerous thing to do from the point of view of national defense as well as from our own personal interest and so I recognize fully the need for economy, but I think I differ somewhat as to where the cuts should be made.
We must not cut down on things that are vital to the health and strengthening of the people. The people, of course, are the strength of our country and so their protection is the first interest. Because of this, military expenditures in the past have not been very carefully scrutinized or watched over. We have taken for granted that these expenditures were what insured the protection of our people.
I am beginning to wonder whether the freedom from criticism and careful supervision has not been too great. Every now and then someone uncovers some tremendous waste that has long been going on in the conduct of our military establishments. Research can, of course, be neglected, but there are some ways, I feel quite sure, in which economy could be practiced in the area of our armed services.
There are many ways in various departments where economics could be carefully undertaken, but I am surprised to find that in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare Secretary Abraham Ribicoff has suggested that the amount voted for cancer research by Congress be cut from $142,000,000 to $127,000,000.
I understand that this will not affect this year's projects, but it will of course curtail next year's program—and I think this is the best example of how one should not economize.
Mr. Ribicoff has one of the most important departments for the future of our nation. Granted we must keep a balance in military preparedness, but if our people deteriorate in health and education, all the military preparation in the world will not save them. Among the most important expenditures we can make are those for health, education and housing.
I hope this suggestion by Mr. Ribicoff of a cut in the $142,000,000 for cancer research will not go through. I'm sure every voter will protest that kind of economy as strongly as possible.