Dwight Eisenhower on Technology
But unless we moved further, we could fall behind.
"That's wonderful," I replied. "I surely feel a lot better now." But I warned, "Let's not make too great a hullabaloo over this." I did not want this success to result in any boastful pronouncements; primarily it marked a big step, but only a step, in a gigantic undertaking of space exploration.
With the January 31 launching, a long and difficult period had ended. Within the next 8 weeks we made 2 other successful shots: the Navy's Vanguard, launched March 17, and Explorer III, which went into orbit on March 26.
The exploration of outer space, a comprehensive and costly venture, demanded new controlling and operating mechanisms within the government. On April 2, I requested Congress to establish a National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA).
To my associates and me, the Agency was a non-military arm of defense and a voice of our foreign understanding among the peoples of the world. Unfortunately, however, the Agency had never been popular with the Congress.
[For 1957] I had asked for $144 million for the USIA--$31 million more than the year before. The appropriations subcommittee under the chairmanship of Senator Lyndon Johnson sliced that to $90.2 million.
Lyndon Johnson left no doubt about his views: "There is not one scintilla of evidence in the more than 1200 pages of hearings which would justify the assertion by a judicious, prudent man that the $90 million we have recommended will be wisely spent." I was disappointed by this irresponsible diminution of an agency on the front line in the cold war.
A year ago the nation was experiencing a decline in employment and output. Today that recession is fading into history, and this without gigantic, hastily-improvised public works projects or untimely tax reductions. A healthy and vigorous recovery has been under way since last May. New homes are being built at the highest rate in several years. Retail sales are at peak levels. Personal income is at an all-time high.
The marked forward thrust of our economy reaffirms our confidence in competitive enterprise. But--clearly--wisdom and prudence in both the public and private sectors of the economy are always necessary.
In further recognition of the importance of transportation to our economic strength and security, the Administration is thoroughly examining existing Federal transportation policies to determine their effect on the adequacy of transportation services. This is the first such comprehensive review directly undertaken by the Executive Branch of the government in modern times. We are studying closely the inter-relationships of civilian and government requirements for transportation.
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