The Republican Position in '40


By STYLES BRIDGES, U. S. Senator from New Hampshire

Delivered before a meeting of the Texas State Central Republican Committee. Baker Hotel, Dallas, Texas,February 24, 1940

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VI, pp. 332-335.

IT is a real treat to meet with you today. As Republican leaders in a southern state, you are faced with particular obstacles to overcome. But I believe that all over the country men and women are realizing that the New Deal is anything but democratic, whether you spell it with a small or a capital d, that the Democratic Party has been raped by the New Deal crowd, and that the Republican Party must be the instrument of bringing about a recovery, not only of material prosperity, but of the moral and spiritual values upon which democracy is based. And I believe that if the New Dealers have their way and nominate either Mr. Roosevelt for a third term or any one of their clan, a numberof southern states will be found in the Republican column this November—including Texas.

Needless to say, the first and most obvious characteristic of the New Deal is that it will probably go down as the most colossal failure in our history. Having spent 66 billion dollars, and having been given the most far-reaching powers over our economy and the lives of our people of any administration of any democratic nation, the problems of unemployment, agriculture and industry are further than ever from solution. We have mortgaged Americans of tomorrow without providing work, security, much less prosperity to Americans of today. For the first time, the New Deal is onthe defensive. You cannot solve problems merely by creating a new bureau and giving it the money and the power to do so. If the more than 50 bureaus which the New Deal has established in less than seven years are not enough to solve our problems, how many would be? If the powers they have been given are not sufficient to enable them to solve our problems, how much more power do they need? If nearly a million bureaucrats in the various departments of the government cannot solve our problems, how many more would be necessary? If 66 billion dollars is not enough, how much more would it take?

Second, it is becoming increasingly clear that the New Deal has well-nigh exhausted its hat of rabbits. Having tried every conceivable panacea they could think of, the brain-stormers are now busy trying to disguise the same old tricks in new colors and new labels. There can be no doubt that another term of the New Deal will mean the persistence of policies that failed, that we shall be 4 years closer to bankruptcy and inflation or repudiation, and 4 years further from the restoration of our system of free economy and our democratic form of government. It is also clear that if the worthwhile reforms that the New Deal has attempted— collective bargaining, social security, and so on—are to be effectively achieved, their administration must be placed in Republican hands.

But we in the Republican Party cannot sit back and await the turning of the tide, nor will we. We are up against the most powerful propaganda machine in democratic history. The taxpayer's money is used to feed him propaganda day and night, in the press and over the air as the blessings of the New Deal. Moreover, there are always those who think that they are being supported by the government for nothing.

The New Deal is counting on these subsidies—which are increased in election years—to help reelect them to office. We can meet this only by awakening the people to the fact that not only are they subsidizing themselves but that they get back only a portion of what they pay in taxes, and will continue to pay for years on the debt. Santa Claus has not only taken money from the children's bank to pay for the toys he gives them, but he has signed their names to a lot of I.O.U.'s that they will have to pay, and the sooner they awaken to the fact the better. Today the government is borrowing thirty cents out of every one dollar deposited in the banks and replacing it with an I.O.U. The depositors will have to pay additional taxes—for interest as well as the amount borrowed—to get it back again. Incidentally, it costs the American people 76 million dollars just for traveling expenses for our army of bureaucrats. This represents 18 per cent of all railroad traffic. The unemployed have not only paid their share in hidden taxes on the cost of all that they buy, they bear the brunt of government taxation of business which has meant no money to hire more men. The farmer has not only paid these hidden taxes on the increased cost of industrial goods, he has suffered from government taxation of the rest of the population and government failure to put men back to work which have made it impossible for them to pay higher prices for his farm products.

The New Deal's favorite form of attack upon its opponents is to launch a campaign of fear against the dire results of returning to power the "reactionary Tories" the selfish "princes of privilege," and so on ad infinitum. We must meet this with the truth. I, for one, am not afraid to have the Republican Party known as the party that knows how to make jobs rather than destroy them. The only jobs the New Deal knows how to create are of two types—the meager subsistence job on relief and the soft, fat political job for the faithful.

Combined with this campaign of fear is the ballyhoo of emergency being conducted by the Third Termites. In a radio speech the other night, Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes predicted revolution and chaos if public confidence in Mr. Roosevelt was shaken. The American people have lived in one perpetual emergency ever since the New Deal took office and they are getting tired of it. It is beginning to dawn upon them that the greatest emergencies confronting us are those caused by New Deal policies.

The New Deal has taken unto itself three little words that have a great appeal—"Liberal," "progressive" and "humane." But today the American people are asking for a greater liberalism than that of spending the people's money. They are asking "Progress toward what?" They are not so sure that they want four more years of New Deal "progress" such as they have had during the last seven. They want a government whose claim to being "humane" is based upon more than just keeping the unemployed alive with food and clothing and shelter.

One of the strongest appeals that the New Deal makes is the picture of itself, backed with cash and propaganda, that it is the friend of the underprivileged—as the President so eloquently expressed it, the "one-third of the nation" that is "ill-fed, ill-housed, ill-clad." If any of them have radios— and there is more than one for every five people in the country—they hear a melodious voice telling them in persuasive tones, "I am constantly thinking of all of our people." One must frankly admit that the President is adept at presenting his views and policies in human terms.

In this he is right as well as wise. The ultimate test of any government is its ability to meet human needs. The Republican Party accepts the challenge to discuss the issues of this campaign in human terms. The outstanding fact of seven years of New Dealism is that it has failed to meet these human needs. You cannot buy prosperity with the United States Treasury. You can achieve it only under conditions which encourage individual initiative, energy and industry, the creation of new jobs and new wealth in an expanding economy.

The average American is a practical person. He is more interested in results than in theories, in the specific rather than the abstract. The best way to show him the fallacies of New Deal policies is to demonstrate their effect upon him. He must be made to realize that, remote as they may seem, they have a direct effect upon his every-day life.

He must be convinced that taxation which devours the profits of an industry is undesirable, not because it deprives some economic royalist of another yacht, but because it keeps men out of work, prevents increases in wages, and raises the price to the farmer and every other consumer. Government baiting of business, restrictive regulations upon investment and expansion in industry—all these affect no one more directly than the man who is in search of a job, or who needs a raise in pay. He must realize that when business is put into the red by government taxation, jobs and wages are put into the red as well, that every restriction upon legitimate investment and expansion of business is a restriction upon new wages, new jobs and new purchasing power; and that a government that robs them of these things robs them of something that no subsidy can repay.

We must awaken the people to the fact that the United States Treasury is their treasury, not only to get money from but to fill; that the federal budget is their budget, and that the national debt is theirs to pay, whether directly through taxes, or indirectly in higher prices and lower wages. They must realize that the government is now spending nearly 26 million dollars a day, or more than a million dollars every hour, or over $18,000 every minute, every hour, every dayof the year. It is going into debt at the rate of over 14 1/2 million dollars every day, or over $604,000 every hour, or nearly $11,000 every minute, every hour, every day of the year.

All too few realize that between 20 and 30 cents of every dollar spent goes for hidden taxes which are added to the cost of all that they buy. All too few realize that their share of the national debt of over 42 1/2 billion is approximately $325, and that they will pay much of that too, as they now pay indirect taxes, in lower wages and higher prices. $325 —and yet our national income last year was only about $520 per person.

Bring these facts home to the American people, make them realize their stake in government spending and deficits, and the hue and cry will go up for economy as it has in recent years for spending.

We must bring home to the American people not only the truth about New Deal government by stealth, but its effect upon their lives and its threat to their free institutions. Ours is traditionally a representative government; and Congress has always been and must always be the most representative of the people. In a pure democracy, every individual would have a direct voice in public affairs. But because this is obviously impossible among a people numbering many millions, they can exercise their voice only through the election of their representatives and by holding those representatives responsible only to them. But the fact remains that the framers of the Constitution intended that the powers entrusted to the Congress were meant to be exercised by the people, through those whom they elected to represent them. Every power surrendered by Congress either to the President or to a government agency is a power taken away from the people, and over which they have lost their control.

But these various New Deal agencies have not been content to exercise the vast powers which were vested in them, they have usurped powers which the Congress never intended them to have.

Americans are learning that the authority to exercise these vast powers in their favor is also the authority to use the same powers against them. The worker has learned that the National Labor Relations Board, for example, cannot only assure them the right to collective bargaining, but that it can discriminate against his union or destroy it at will and force him to join a union for which he has never been given the opportunity to vote. He must realize too that these powers which may be used in his favor today, may be used against him tomorrow. If the N.L.R.B. has the power to limit the free speech and press of the employer, it has the right to deny these same rights to the employee: and, should this power fall into other hands it might be so used. The fact that it is not is no justification for bestowing such power upon any board, nor is it any guarantee that "it can't happen here."

The hearings of the House Committee investigating the Labor Board has not only revealed discrimination and abuse in the use of its vast powers against employer and employee alike; it has also thrown light upon the workings of New Deal agencies. It has revealed organized campaigns on the part of these bureaucrats to line people up to exert pressure upon Congress against any amendments to the labor act or any cuts in appropriations. It has revealed that if an individual gets in bad with one board, he may be blacklisted by others. The N.L.R.B., for instance, presents lists of companies and individuals to the R.F.C. to whom loans shall be held up or denied. Moreover, there is evidence that attempts are also made to blacklist a company on trial before the Board with other private concerns.

We have learned that a company may be found guilty on charges so flimsy that the evidence is not accepted by a court of appeals, and yet the decision of the Board will be upheld by the Supreme Court. Should that company need a loan later from the R.F.C. in order to keep going, it stands small chance of obtaining it once blacklisted by the N.L.R.B. The result? A business shut down if it is unable to obtain a loan, more idle men and idle machines—all because a board of three men, entirely beyond the reach of the people, usurped powers they were never intended to have. Multiply this one example by the more than fifty agencies created by the New Deal, and you have some conception of what is going on every year under this administration. How many men may have been kept on relief by bureaucratic baiting and blacklisting of business, it would be impossible to estimate. Who says that such policies don't affect the man on the street?

The American farmer has not only suffered in losses of domestic markets and in higher industrial prices as a result of these policies. No one has been a greater victim than he of bureaucratic red tape, restriction and conflicting policies. We reduce our production of cotton, corn and wheat. Brazil increases her production of cotton, Argentine her production of corn and Canada her production of wheat to take over foreign markets formerly supplied by the American farmer. Meanwhile, the importation of competitive agricultural products has been encouraged under the reciprocal trade program.

All that is necessary to see the result of the combination of these policies is to take a look at the figures of farm imports and exports under seven years of the New Deal. Agricultural exports amounted to only five billion dollars, while agricultural imports—most of them competitive— amounted to nearly seven and a half billion dollars. This has meant an unfavorable balance of more than 47 per cent for the farmer. By contrast, industry had a favorable balance of trade of 70 per cent during the same period. The index of prices for grain fell from 103 in 1935 to 87 in 1939. For cotton and cottonseed it fell from 181 in 1935 to 82 in 1939. Other prices tell the same story. New Deal subsidies to the farmer have averaged less than 500 million a year, cannot begin to repay such losses.

Texas is the largest cattle raising state in the country, with some seven million head. In 1939, we imported more than 750,000 head of cattle or well over 10 per cent of all the cattle in Texas.

Not only is such competition harmful to the American farmer and worker, but it is a detriment to the development of new industries in this country. Indeed, Mr. Grady of the State Department has expressed himself as opposed to the development of new American industries that will compete with our imports from other countries! Who, one might ask, is to receive first consideration?

A few weeks ago, you in Texas started a new industry of great promise. In Herty, Angelina County, the Southern Paper Mills, Inc., began making newsprint from Southern pine for the first time in American history. It represents a triumph over many obstacles, and a new chapter in Texas industry that should grow. The productive capacity of this plant is estimated at 50,000 tons of newsprint annually.

But last year we imported more than two and a half million tons of newsprint from abroad. The increase over 1938 was over 340,000 tons. In other words, the increase alone would take nearly seven plants such as the one just opened by Southern Paper Mills to produce. Is this not stiff competition for an infant industry to be facing? Is it not a serious obstacle to expansion and the greater employment that such an industry might otherwise be able to provide?

No one wants to do away with trade treaties. No onewants to raise tariffs so high that they assure complete monopoly and permit exorbitant prices at home, at the same time setting up barriers to world trade. No one wants the approval of these treaties by Congress to be turned into logrolling contests. But that is not the alternative. A tariff which prevents the importation of cheap foreign-made goods below the American cost of production is merely giving the American farmer or worker or a new American industry a 50-50 chance. It is merely a protection against cheap foreign products against which our people cannot compete if they are to maintain their standard of living. It is merely protection against displacing American labor and American land with those of other lands. Such treaties can and should be used to stimulate our agricultural exports which have fallen so disastrously in recent years. But we cannot do so as long as we continue to make concessions to all the world but receive concessions from no one. To place these treaties on a basis of true reciprocity, whereby we gain as much as we give, is merely to give the American farmer and worker an even break with those of other nations. To assure adequate hearings before these treaties are negotiated, and the right of the citizen to appeal, to provide that the people shall have an opportunity to approve them through their representatives, is only to assure the democratic method of procedure.

To awaken the American people to these fundamental truths about the New Deal, its fallacies and its failures, is enough to assure the defeat of the New Deal at the polls this November. But it is not enough to assure the election of the Republican Party. It is not enough to show that the New Deal has failed, but that the Republican Party can and will succeed. Our criticism of the New Deal is not partisan but is rather based on principle. It is on principle that we must wage our campaign. Our program is non-partisan, it is American; and it is to the great body of Americans who are independent of any political party that we must make a non-partisan appeal.

We must not forget that just as it is the people who never come to church who are generally most in need of salvation, so the people who never attend political rallies are the ones we need most to reach. Here the administration in power has a tremendous advantage. The party out of power can do so only by tireless and endless work, by enlisting thousands who will go from door to door, day in and day out throughout the year. Political rallies are simply the starting point. The Republican Party must be the means of restoring theAmerican government to the American people, of returning to them the powers which can and should be administered locally, of returning to Congress the powers which are the people's to exercise through their representatives.

The Republican Party must be the party of liberation—of freedom from stifling taxation and oppressive restriction, from the tinkering of bureaucrats with their lives, from the competition of their government with the way in which they earn their living.

The Republican Party can and will bring about the recovery of our system of free economy, not by restricting it, but by freeing it from the chains that bind it today. The legislation we write will not be designed at making the system over, but at correcting evils and preserving the freedom and opportunity of men to rise according to their abilities.

We can and will bring about the more abundant life; but we know that prosperity must be achieved not through scarcity, but through plenty and that abundance must be created not by idleness but by work. The security we will offer those who are underprivileged today is not dependence upon government subsidy, but the security of a job in an expanding economy with the opportunity to rise through their industry and their initiative. We will lend particular encouragement to new industries employing agricultural products as an ever widening field of untold possibilities for farmer and worker alike.

The New Deal has assumed that work and wealth must be divided; we Republicans are going to multiply them. They have gone on the theory that freedom and opportunity, like national income, must be taken away from some if they are to be increased for others. We know that freedom and opportunity, as well as national income, can be increased for the underprivileged without depriving any citizen of his civil liberties or of the fruits of his labor. The New Dealers have attempted to equalize by leveling down. We Republicans are going to assure greater justice and equality by raising up.

That is a large order. It is a challenge that must be met. And yet, it is a program based on simple truths and plain, ordinary common sense.

It is in terms of these fundamental truths which should be obvious that we can best present the Republican program to the American people, for they are the basis of progress itself.

Dedicated to such a program, the Republican Party will not fail to achieve victory through service.