JANUARY 14, 1948
WASHINGTON, Tuesday—It seems to me rather footless for the Republicans to say that President Truman's message on the State of the Union was purely political, and for the Democrats to try to convince themselves and the public that they have no blame for any of the things that have gone wrong.
There is no question but what both Democrats and Republicans were so anxious to do away with all wartime controls that, between them, they removed all the brakes which might have held up the buying spree until production in this country could reach more normal levels. That is water over the dam, however, and now the question is which party is viewing the situation as it is.
The President proposed a program, and it is worthy of consideration since no other plan exists. There may be something in what Sen. Robert A. Taft said, namely: "Rationing and price control ... won't work in the United States in peacetime ... Black markets spring up overnight." Perhaps we are that kind of people. Sen. Taft evidently thinks us stupid and undisciplined. But the fact remains that we face inflation. Day by day the cost of living mounts and, as it mounts, the demands for higher wages are bound to mount and the public is going to pay more and more for less and less. Somewhere this has to stop.
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The question is whether the Republican method of voluntary agreements by businessmen to allocate goods is going to have any effect upon inflation. If inflation goes on, big business will make money for a time and it can stand the bust which is bound to follow, but the little people are going to be hurt.
What is more serious, the USSR will say to the little people: "We told you so. We may not have your kind of freedom, but in the United States you have freedom to starve. What do you think it is worth?" That won't be a pleasant question to answer, no matter which party is elected in 1948. Inflation is one of the things which had better get a little nonpartisan interest in Congress.
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In the social program which the President has proposed, there is really nothing new. In one form or another, it has been presented to Congress year after year, and Congress has done little or nothing about it. All I can say is that I hope the President is going to fight for every one of the measures he advocated and that he is going to ask the people what they really want. He proposes:
1. Expansion of social security.
2. A national health-insurance plan.
3. A Federal housing program.
4. Federal aid to state education.
5. Further conservation and reclamation.
6. A farm program.
7. An increase in the minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents an hour.
Sen. Taft says that if all the President's proposals are adopted we will spend ten billion dollars a year more than we are now spending. And he asks, "Where is this money coming from?" He evidently missed a paragraph in President Truman's message which said: "Many of our families today are suffering hardship because of the high cost of living. At the same time profits of corporations have reached an all time record in 1947 ... $17,000,000,000 after taxes."
Somehow I think the money can be found if it is really necessary for the good of our nation to put these measures into operation.