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Industry Insight

Worth Reading: History of JFK's Economic Legacy

By Dr. Joe Webb
Published: September 22, 2016

The new book JFK and the Reagan Revolution: A Secret History of American Prosperity by economist Larry Kudlow and historian Brian Domitrovic is a fascinating account of JFK's economic policies.

Most books about JFK's administration center on Viet Nam, the Cuban Missle Crisis, and numerous sordid incidents. Three quarters of this book details the behind the scenes struggles with economic advisors and Congress, the intrigue of dealmaking, especially in his last year. The three recessions of the Eisenhower years led to concerns about boom and bust cycles and economic stagnation.

After disappointing results from his first set of economic policies, Kennedy began to think about a different approach to investment and taxation. The supporters of his plan were unlikely in terms of the way we see the various interests today, so it is almost shocking about who supported it and who did not. JFK's tax plan became tied to the civil rights movement in interesting ways.

The book details how LBJ got the Kennedy tax bill passed to honor JFK and also how LBJ & Nixon squandered its gains. The book is highly readable for a general business audience and offers insight into JFK's thinking and actions that are forgotten and often surpressed.

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.


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