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The Kennedy Administration: Bay of Pigs – the Space Race & Domestic Economic Policy PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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The Kennedy Administration: Bay of Pigs – the Space Race & Domestic Economic Policy

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The Kennedy Administration:Bay of Pigs – the Space Race & Domestic Economic Policy

Presentation created by Robert Martinez

Primary Content Source: America’s History

Images as cited.

John F. Kennedy believed in a federal government that was visibly active. Kennedy’s energy attracted unusually able and ambitious people, including Robert McNamara, a renowned systems analyst and former head of Ford, at Defense, and C. Douglas Dillon, an admired Republican banker, as secretary of Treasury.

A host of trusted advisors and academics flocked to Washington to join the Kennedy’s ‘New Frontier.’ Included on the team as attorney-general was Kennedy’s kid brother, Robert, a trusted advisor who had made a name as a hard-hitting investigator of organized crime.

Not everyone was enchanted. Kennedy’s people “might be every bit as intelligent as you say,” House Speaker Sam Rayburn told his old friend Lyndon Johnson, “but I’d feel a whole lot better about them if just one of them had run for sheriff once.” Sure enough, the new administration immediately got into hot water.

Lyndon Baines Johnson &

Sam Rayburn

In January 1961 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced that the USSR intended to support “war of national liberation” wherever in the world they occurred.

Castro & Khrushchev

Kennedy took Khrushchev’s words as a challenge, especially as they applied to Cuba, where in 1959 Fidel Castro had overthrown the dictator Fulgencio Batista and declared a revolution.

Determined to keep Cuba out of the Soviet orbit, Kennedy took up plans by the Eisenhower administration to ship Cuban exiles from Nicaragua to provoke an anti-Castro uprising.

The invaders had been trained by CIA, but they were ill prepared for their task and betrayed by the CIA’s inept planning.

Upon landing at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs on April 17, the force of 1,400 was apprehended and crushed by Castro’s troops. The anticipated rebellion never happened.

Kennedy had the wise sense to reject CIA pleas for a U.S. air strike. And he was gracious in defeat. He went before the American people and took full responsibility for the fiasco.

Kennedy redeemed himself with a series of bold initiatives. One was the Peace Corps, which embodied his call to public service in his inaugural address.

Thousands of men and women agreed to devote two or more years to programs teaching English to Filipino schoolchildren or helping African villagers obtain adequate supplies of water.

Exhibiting the idealism of the early 1960s, the Peace Corps was also a Cold War weapon intended to show developing countries of the so-called Third World that there was a better way than Communism.

Also embodying this aim were ambitious programs of economic assistance. The State Department’s Agency for International Development coordinated foreign aid for the Third World, and its Food for Peace program distributed surplus agricultural products.

In 1961, the president proposed a “ten-year plan for the Americas” called the Alliance for Progress, a $20 billion partnership between the U.S. and the republics of Latin America, to reverse the cycle of poverty and stimulate economic growth.

Kennedy was also keen on space exploration. Early in his administration, Kennedy proposed that the nation commit itself to landing a man on the moon within the decade.

Two weeks later, on May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American in space (beaten by there by the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s 108-hour flight.)

Yuri Gagarin

The following year, John Glenn manned the first space mission to orbit the earth.

Capitalizing on America’s fascination with space flight, Kennedy persuaded Congress to greatly increase funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), enabling the U.S. to pull ahead of the Soviet Union.

Kennedy’s men on the moon arrived in 1969.

Kennedy’s most striking domestic achievement was the application of modern economic theory to government fiscal policy. New Dealers had lost faith in a balanced budget, turning instead to the Keynesian approach of deliberate deficit spending to stimulate economic growth.

Now, in addition to deficit spending, Kennedy and his economic advisors proposed a reduction in income taxes. A tax cut, they argued, would put money in the hands of consumers, thereby generating more demand, more jobs, and ultimately higher tax revenues.

Congress balked at this unorthodox proposal, but it made its way through the 1964, marking a milestone in the use of tax cuts to encourage economic growth.

In addition, Kennedy managed to push through legislation raising the minimum wage and expanding Social Security, but on other emerging issues – federal aid to education, mass transportation, medical insurance for the elderly – he gave up in the face of conservative opposition in Congress.

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