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Albert Gates

Republican Congress Plans
a Boost for Big Business

(25 November 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 47, 25 November 1946, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

The whole country is now deeply interested in what the Republican Party will do on January 3 when the new congress convenes. This is understandable, especially in light of the type of election propaganda which characterizes political campaigns in this country. The Republicans were wisely silent about their program and their plans in the campaign itself. Lacking a finished and common program, they concentrated on the chaos of the past period and the incompetence of the new Democratic administration. Their campaign slogan was designed as a catch-all for votes: “Had Enough! Vote Republican!” And there was no question that millions in the country felt they had had enough of the Truman administration.

In the absence of a bona fide labor political party, a party that could speak for and represent the overwhelming majority of the people, the choice between Truman’s Democratic Party, whose strongest base is the reactionary Southern leaders, and the reactionary, big business Republican Party, could not have been one based on program and policies. That is why it is correct to say that the vote was largely against the Democrats rather than for the Republican Party. The bankruptcy of the Democratic Party was, epitomized by the fact that its campaign featured the playing of records of speeches by the deceased Roosevelt and by the silence of its “leader,” who was prevented from making a single speech in behalf of his Party by its political big-wigs. Thus the vote of a large section of the electorate was a protest vote, but it was a protest vote going in no particular direction.

Problems the Republicans Face

The immediate problems which the Republican Party will tackle are already clearly indicated: foreign affairs, the budget and taxes, labor and emergency war powers. With the election over, the party congressional leaders are already approaching these questions with considerable caution. The reason for this caution is to be sought in the precarious nature of the world and domestic situation, the former fraught with extreme danger, the latter relating to the problem of labor, the boom and the prospect of a crisis.

However reactionary is the interest of the Republican Party in the welfare of big business and in maintaining the high profits of American capitalism through domination of world trade and the curbing of labor at home, these must be achieved with a minimum of international and domestic disturbances.

The Democratic Party and the befuddled PAC talked a great deal about how the Republicans threatened to wipe out all the achievements of the New Deal and to return to the conditions which existed during the Hoover days. This is nonsense. Reform legislation was long overdue in this country. The economic crisis of the Thirties merely hastened the enactment of social legislation, much of which was supported by the Republican Party. But it is necessary to distinguish between social legislation of the New Deal and the general political course pursued by Roosevelt through the successive Administrations. The Roosevelt of 1941–44 was not the Roosevelt of 1932.

The New Deal Administration was liquidated by Roosevelt himself during the war years. What remains of the New Deal is the social legislation enacted during the crisis and its basic achievements will remain even under the Republican Administration. That the Republicans will amend some of this legislation goes without saying; but in this they will have considerable support from the Democrats, counting among them some ardent Rooseveltians. The lessons of the Thirties have not been without their effect on the Republicans.

Will Not Return to Isolationism

The same holds true in the field of foreign affairs. The Republicans cannot, and do not want to, return to the isolationism of the pre-war years. To believe that this is possible contradicts the characterization of the party as the instrument of an interventionist big business. The Hot Springs conference of Republican leaders and the heads of some of the mightiest monopolistic enterprises in the country which met to consider the problems of foreign trade, prices, wages, prosperity and depression, the role of the Stalinist Party in this country, can hardly be characterized as an isolationist group.

That the party has its own type of “extremists” is obvious. A man like Rep. Taber of New York, who still lives in the dead era of the Twenties may stump for the “fiscal policy of the ’20’s” because “you won’t get a ’29 depression from any of the policies of the Coolidge administration,” will not set the tone for Republican financial policy even though he will be fighting for the dead past.

No, the Republican leaders Taft, Vandenberg, White, Wherry, Martin, and others have already met and mapped out the general course they will pursue in the next session of congress. If it is permissible to have said that the Roosevelt Administration was “friendly” to labor, that is, gave some concessions to labor in exchange for its unstinted support, the new congressional power will be more avowedly big business and anti-labor. But it will not seek to destroy the labor movement, for it will not dare to rouse the wrath of the organized labor movement. But it will aim to destroy some of labor’s power by legislation—and here labor will have to be strongly organized.

A Summary of GOP Policies

At present the following appear to be GOP policies:

  1. Emergency War Powers. The GOP will introduce a resolution declaring the end of the war. Government control and presidential extraordinary powers will terminate gradually. The statements about “returning power to the states” are propagandistic nonsense, as are those which declare that “business will now be free.”
  2. Foreign Affairs. There will be no policy change in Republican control of the Senate and House committees on foreign affairs. The Republicans, no matter how many differences they may have on concrete policies with the Democrats, or how vigorously they may prosecute “American interests first” will continue the main line in foreign policy pursued by the Democratic Administration.

    There will not and cannot be a repetition of the 1920’s when the United States, under Republican leadership, withdrew from participation in the League of Nations which Wilson helped to initiate. American policy in foreign affairs will bg decidedly interventionist whether it is led by Republicans or Democrats.
  3. Budget and Taxes. The Republicans will cut the budget by several billions and eliminate some Democratic projects. But there will be no substantial change in the main expenditures outlined by the Democratic Administration. While the Republicans have talked a great deal about tax cutting, they now warn that they will be guided by caution. They are aiming at a $30–31 billion dollar budget against the present one of $41 billion. In relation to the federal pay roll, which will be reduced, Senator Bridges has already said that “they will do it scientifically, and not with a sledge-hammer.” Slated to become the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, the senator also indicated that he is not even certain that his party will carry through an “across the board” 20 per cent tax cut. Government needs growing out of the war and the struggle for world domination compel the Republicans to conduct themselves carefully.
  4. Labor. On this question the Republicant Party is clearer than on any other. They will seek to enact curbs on the labor movement, trying to compel unions to register their funds and make public financial reports. They will very likely enact a new version of the Connally Act or seek the reintroduction of the Case anti-strike bill. Whatever form anti-labor legislation will take, either through the above, or by amendments to the Wagner Act, anti-union curbs will emerge from a Congress dominated by big business’ party – unless labor acts in such a way as to force them to retreat.

Proof of Labor Party Need

So far as other important questions relating to social problems are concerned, the Republican Party will bury most of them or prevent the enactment of positive legislation. These are bills on housing and medical aid. Since the Truman Administration has already taken the lead on raiding rents, which in effect means the end of rent control, the Republicans will find their job cut out for them. As for the rest, not even the Republicans are sure what they will do.

We are faced with a new Congress dominated by the reactionary party of big business. In a fundamental sense, as a capitalist party, it is in no principled sense, a different party from Roosevelt’s or Truman’s. But it is more OPENLY big business than the Democratic Party. The new Congress will therefore be a reactionary one, whether it will be more reactionary than the one just ended which was controlled by a bloc of Republicans and Southern Democrats will not alter things fundamentally.

In the light of what has happened in this election and the political prospects of the coming year, the criminal policy of the labor movement becomes abundantly clearer. Tying labor to the needs of the Democratic machine (the CIO-PAC) and the reactionary Republican Party (the AFL bureaucracy) has resulted in a defeat for the labor movement. The elections have supplied additional proof, if anymore was needed, that the political hopes for the working class lies through the establishment of its own political organization, an independent labor party.

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