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The Militant, 13 July 1946

M. Stein

The Post-Mortem on Veto of OPA

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 28, 13 July 1946, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


I listened attentively to President Truman’s OPA post-mortem. Many among the vast radio audience must have felt sorry, no doubt, for the chief executive of this mighty nation when he made his tearful plea against those who murdered OPA. The people are of course justly scared of unbridled inflation. They know what rising prices have done to their living standards in the past five years – they were compelled to buy less and what they bought was of inferior quality. Inflation hits the wage-earner first, hitting where it hurts most – in the stomach.

But how can any one feel sorry for himself when the President is so deeply hurt? The villain who “did him wrong,” who with his own two hands choked the life out of OPA, is, according to Truman, none other than the Republican Senator from Ohio, Robert A. Taft.

The ordinary citizen is accustomed to pain and sorrow. That is his daily lot. But when an individual as high and mighty as the President himself is brought to tears, when he laments his frustration and defeat at the hands of the cruel Senator from Ohio, who can fail to be overwhelmed with sympathy for him and with indignation against those who offend him?

The first impulse is to rush to the nearest Western Union office to send off protest telegrams to the unconscionable Congressmen who stood by while Taft perpetrated his nefarious deed. But it suffices to add the cost of these telegrams to the extra cost of the next day’s groceries. For the average worker cannot afford it.

Since we have touched upon practical considerations, we might as well view Truman’s whole speech somewhat more critically. In his speech he said: “What I have done is to call a spade a spade.” This innocent-sounding phrase has a familiar and suspicious ring. Every politician schooled in the art of trickery and chicanery invariably resorts to this expression. Ask yourself, did he really? There is such a thing as telling a half-truth which is even more deceptive than an outright lie. Senator Taft, it is true, did his best to kill price controls. But why didn’t Truman mention such an item as: “Senate Democratic leader Allen W. Barkley (Ky.) said he and the other three Congressional Democratic chiefs had urged Truman to sign the measure ‘on the grounds that it is this or nothing’.”

Democrats Vote Same Way

This was reported by the entire press one day prior to the President’s radio address. The Democratic chiefs in Congress voted the same way as Taft did.

Why didn’t Truman mention “Pass-the-Biscuits – Pappy” O’Daniel and his filibuster? Is it perhaps because this Texas Senator and others, happen to be Democrats, members of Truman’s own party? To be really honest about it Truman should “have directed his fire at the members of his own party – the majority party in both the upper and lower houses of Congress. Were they innocents seduced by the cunning, scheming Taft, or were they willful parties to the crime? This should have at least been explained by one who wants to “call a spade a spade.”

Wouldn’t it have been the better part of candor for Truman to have said a few words about the role of members of his party? All these gentlemen who represent in Congress the cotton interests of the South, the real-estate interests, the interests of the packinghouse trusts, etc., etc., and who fought to the bitter end against price control?

And, come to think of it, what about Truman himself? Ha acted with lightning speed to break the railroad strike. He called a special session of both houses of Congress to demand stringent anti-strike legislation. He took over the railroads, mobilized the army and the navy to operate the roads – all to break a strike when the workers demanded a few cents an hour more to meet the rising cost of living. If he had all this power, as chief executive, against the railroad workers, why can’t he use some of it against the profiteers, the monopolists? Why not take over and operate the packinghouses, for example, under workers’ control so that the workers can get their meat at a price within their reach?

Is it possible that the. Veto of the OPA Bill by the President was not really intended to control prices but merely to place the onus of responsibility for inflation on the Republicans? Is it possible that it was nothing but a smokescreen to hide the real culprits? Is it possible that it was only a campaign trick in preparation for the Congressional elections this year?

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