JUNE 13, 1951
HYDE PARK, Tuesday—I hope it will not be necessary for Congress to continue the present Defense Production Act on a temporary basis simply because it will not have time to improve it and have it ready by June 30. So much time has been given to delving into our Far Eastern policy and into the recall of General MacArthur that many of the things that are vitally important to our domestic economy are coming to a head and require attention. They have been neglected in the past few weeks.
The Defense Production Act is essential, and if it is not revised it will have to be extended on a temporary basis.
I believe, for instance, that no one single thing that we do will control inflation.
I think we should have what Roger Fleming, who is secretary of the Farm Bureau Federation, suggested on my television program. He said heavier taxes are necessary, particularly where profits have been unusually high, and he urged the curtailment of certain types of credit, particularly where these credits permit the public to compete in buying things that will be scarce and require materials which will also be required for defense purposes.
Nevertheless, I do not think these two measures alone will do the trick. I think we need price controls; and, having price controls, we will also be able to have wage controls.
I don't happen to like rationing any better than anyone else, but if liberal rationing will make it easier to make all people share alike what goods will be on the market—particularly those bound to become scarcer—I would be willing to see rationing put into effect. If this becomes necessary, however, I hope it would be on a very liberal basis, because we are not proposing to curtail our general production in the way we would have to do if we were in an all-out war. Rearmament and preparation for defense will require only about 15 percent of our production capacity as compared to the 50 percent of our wartime period.
I am not, of course, particularly concerned about the meat strike. But I must say that when Mr. Fleming stated that the "five million individual farmers are making up their respective minds as to whether the American people want meat or not," I felt a little suspicious that some of the bigger farmers have a somewhat greater influence than the small-farm owners. Coalitions that make for concerted action are easy to arrange among the big farmers in a way that the small farmers would find rather difficult.
We, as a family, raise a great deal of what we eat and because we have not in the past raised much beef, we have had very little beef on our tables. So, I haven't missed it. And I would be for putting on price controls just as one of the things that needs to be done. And, of course, I would be in favor of going without beef until it was back on the market at a controlled price.
This is one of the cases in which I think the consumer can have a tremendous influence by just doing without. It is well to remember that a great many people get along with very little beef and seem to survive quite comfortably. We will not survive, however, as a nation unless we have a Defense Production Act that controls inflation in every possible way, and I hope Congress has the wisdom and the courage to pass such legislation.