APRIL 20, 1957
NEW YORK—A tabulation of Federal budget spending in the United States from 1935 to the present, as made up from the Fulton Lewis Jr. Newsletter, was handed to me the other night.
From a comparative point of view, I found it interesting, although Lewis's crusade against the schools saddens me, for that is essential spending.
In the worst days of the Depression, our highest Federal expenditures ran to $9,550,000,000. They never reached this height again until we began to see World War II approaching. In 1940 we went above that 1934 figure, and from 1940 on the costs of the war and of the postwar period took us into fabulous sums. The highest was $97,957,000,000, in 1945.
This comparison of what it cost us to combat the Depression and to pay for the war should be remembered. Much of what was done in the Depression, no matter how wasteful you think it was, left us a heritage of forests, soil conservation, roads, buildings and dams, all of which are of service to the people today.
Wartime spending, however, left us nothing tangible. We are still a free nation and the major part of the world is free, which is basically all-important. Nevertheless, nothing tangible for the people's good resulted from all that spending.
The Democrats, under President Truman, managed to reduce Federal expenditures considerably after the war until we were faced with the Korean War action. But even that did not entail expenditures approximating those of World War II. The highest cost was $48,300,000,000, in 1951.
But from the time the Republicans came into power in 1952 the budget began to mount—not, of course, to its wartime size, but for 1956 it was $75,975,000,000.
It is true that we have more people to care for. But these figures, I think, speak for themselves as to who has tried to reduce spending and who has talked about it but accomplished rather little. Now let's watch the next two years!
This rise in expenditures came about without adding one of the most vital things for the country—the schoolrooms needed for our children and better pay for our teachers. I wonder if our people realize that unless we have more schoolrooms and better teachers, the children of this generation will be cheated out of a decent education.
In addition, in our foreign assistance program we have included military aid and lessened economic aid for areas of the world where economic help is desperately needed and where military help will never be very effective.
The other night I saw a private showing of Henry Fonda in "Twelve Angry Men." He is magnificent, but the whole cast is made up of excellent actors.
As a character study, this is a fascinating movie, but more than that, it points up the fact, which too many of us have not taken seriously, of what it means to serve on a jury when a man's life is at stake. In addition, it makes vivid what "reasonable doubt" means when a murder trial jury makes up its mind on circumstantial evidence.