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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Gore's relationship with Kennedy

Though Gore and President Kennedy often disagreed on important policy issues such as tax reform, they remained friends throughout Kennedy's political career. Senator and Mrs. Gore were even present at the party when Kennedy met Jacqueline Bouvier. As a result, when debating fiscal policy, Kennedy often consulted with Gore.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JAMES B. GARDNER:
As an outspoken proponent of tax reform, didn't you have some disagreement with the Kennedy administration, when Kennedy proposed a tax cut and you suggested an increase in the personal exemption? I understand that there was some disagreement between you and the Kennedy administration generally on economic matters, that you did not agree with his selection of the Secretary of the Treasury, that sort of thing, that there were some real problems over economic policy.
ALBERT GORE:
Well, President Kennedy and I served together in both the House and the Senate. We had been personal friends. My wife and his wife were warm friends. In fact, Mrs. Gore and I were two of a small party one night when young congressman Kennedy was the odd young man and Jacqueline Bouvier was the odd young woman, and they hadn't met before. There was some evidence of interest even that night [laughter] . So we were friends, and I had to a considerable extent forged the economic issue on the floor of the Senate on which Kennedy ran for the presidential nomination and for the election. I was active in his campaign. And after his election I discovered that he was going to appoint Douglas Dillon as Secretary of the Treasury. He was right our of Wall Street then. I strongly disagreed with that. Now, on the specific question about which you inquired, Kennedy had wanted to stimulate the national economy, and obviously stimulation was in order. And one of the ways to stimulate the national economy was through fiscal affairs; another was monetary. But he appointed the wrong man to use democratic monetary policy, so it was principally fiscal policy: governmental expenditures to stimulate the national economy. Now there are two ways to provide for governmental expenditures: one is tax cuts, which means you take it away from the treasury and leave it in the hands of those who otherwise would pay taxes. Or you proceed to continue with the existing taxation, but appropriate those funds and perhaps others, or some of those funds, for expenditure. I went out to see Kennedy. We had a very long discussion. He asked me to come out to his home in Georgetown (this was before he was inaugurated) to pass the evening so no one would interrupt us. So we had at it for about two hours, this whole question of economics for national administration: fiscal policy, monetary policy. Then later on when this particular issue of tax reduction was under consideration I remember going to Mrs. Roosevelt's funeral at Hyde Park. President Kennedy had flown on Air Force One and another delegation had flown on, I believe, maybe two other planes. We all landed at, I believe, West Point, the nearest airport to Hyde Park where large planes could land. At the home, before the ceremonies, President Kennedy and I met; he sort of plucked me aside and said, "What do you think I ought to do about tax reduction?" I said, "Forget it." Well, he wasn't ready to forget it, and this led to an extended conversation. I saw a larger and larger line forming to shake hands with the President, and I became a little nervous. But he wanted to talk. Anyway, I finally just said, "Mr. President, so many people are waiting to see you; maybe we can get together later." So I just excused myself. It was a little embarrassing to break myself away from the President, but after all [laughter] it's like being at a telephone booth when you've got twelve people waiting to use it and you have a good long chatty conversation with someone. Anyway, after the funeral, we were out at the airport, everybody on the plane, and our plane was held up. And we were waiting and waiting and waiting; no one knew why. Of course we couldn't take off until Air Force One took off. Then I noticed a car coming across the field. It came up to our plane, and the door opened. Apparently someone came in at the front of the plane and said, "Is Senator Gore a passenger on this plane?" I said, "Yes, I am he." He says, "President Kennedy would like you to ride back with him on Air Force One." I turned and bowed deeply to my colleagues on the plane, and they gave me the horse laugh [laughter] . I went and boarded President Kennedy's plane, and he and I discussed the merits and demerits as we saw them between governmental stimulation by way of appropriated funds or by way of tax reductions. I'll not review that whole issue for you, but I have a chapter in my book Let The Glory Out which deals with that subject, where I outlined with considerable detail my views of the much greater merit of expenditure by way of appropriating funds through the specific areas of need rather than by tax reduction, which usually gives relief where it is least needed.