John F. Kennedy on Corporations



Threat of price-fixing probe got Big Steel to lower prices

The president created an informal task force on the issue. The Defense Department announced that a $5.5 million order for steel plates would go entirely to a smaller company that had not raised prices. The Federal Trade Commission promised a price-fixing probe. Senator Estes Kefauver announced that his Anti-trust and Monopoly Subcommittee would investigate the steel industry.

The resolve of the steel magnates broke when Inland Steel of Chicago, the eighth largest company in the industry, refused to raise its prices. Before long, Bethlehem Steel, the nation's second largest producer, capitulated, and the U.S. Steel caved in. Steel prices returned to the level they had been at the start of the week.

Source: A Question of Character, by Thomas Reeves, p.331-332 , Dec 10, 1997

1962: Negotiated no steel price rise & no pay raise

Determined to fight inflation, Kennedy jawboned both industry and labor to hold the line on price and wage hikes. Executives of the steel industry and the United Steelworkers agreed at a White House meeting to hold off any pay increase that might trigger a new cycle of higher prices. But a month later, the CEO of US Steel asked Kennedy: "I want to ask your permission to raise the steel prices."

Kennedy responded, "What you are doing is in the best interest of your shareholders. My shareholders are every citizen of the US. I'm going to do everything in the best interest of the shareholders, the people of this country."

The next day, Robert Kennedy announced an antitrust investigation of the steel price hike. Subpoenas to produce documents were served on US Steel. The Pentagon was ordered to buy steel "where possible" from companies that had not raised prices. By the next night, 8 steel companies that had announced price hikes canceled them.

Source: Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews, p.208-209 , Jun 3, 1996

Shift tax payments of large corporations to a current time

Budgetary receipts [should] be increased by $1.5 billion a year, without any change in tax liabilities, by gradually shifting the tax payments of large corporations to a more current time schedule.

[With other measures], this net reduction in tax liabilities of $10 billion will increase the purchasing power of American families and business enterprises in every tax bracket, with greatest increase going to our low-income consumers. I do not say that a measure for tax reduction and reform is the only way to achieve these goals.

Source: Pres. Kennedy's 1963 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 14, 1963

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Former Presidents:
Barack Obama(D,2009-2017)
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022