September 9, 2009


(Truman and The Congress Of Nope in 1947)

The 80th Congress, dubbed the "Do Nothing Congress" by President Truman was the result of a Republican majority from the 1946 mid-term elections. Pretty much bent on overturning legislation enacted during the FDR Administration, they managed to stifle almost all the bills Truman introduced during the 80th session of Congress from 1947-1949. This meant, of course Universal Health Care which had been on the books in various forms since 1941 as well as a number of economic packages needed to deal with the Recession of 1947.

Pres.Truman: “On several occasions during the past year I have reported to the Congress and to the Nation on our general economic situation. These reports have told of new high levels of production and employment. Farmers are producing 37% more than in 1929. Industry is producing 65% more. In terms of actual purchasing power, the average income of individuals after taxes has risen 39%. The rapid growth of our post-war activity has exceeded expectations, and has revealed anew the potentialities of our economy. In each of my reports however, I have had to warn of dangers that lie ahead. Today, inflation stands as an ominous threat to the prosperity we have achieved. We can no longer treat inflation with spiraling prices and living costs as some vague condition we may encounter in the future. We already have an alarming degree of inflation.

And even more alarming, it is getting worse. Since the middle of 1946, fuel has gone up 13%. Clothing prices have gone up 19%. Retail food prices have gone up 40%. The average for all cost of living items has risen 23%. The housewife who goes to buy food today must spend ten dollars to buy what seven dollars bought a year and a half ago. She must spend ten dollars to buy what seven dollars would have bought a year ago. The cost of living is still climbing. In the past four months it has risen at the rate of 16% a year. Wholesale prices are rising too. They affect every industry and trade. And they are soon translated into retail prices. Since the middle of 1946, wholesale textile prices have gone up 32%. Metals have gone up 36%. Building materials have gone up 42%. Wholesale prices on the average have gone up 40%. The harsh effects of price inflation are clear. They are felt by wage earners, farmers and businessmen. Wage earners are finding that bigger paychecks this year buy less than smaller paychecks bought last year.”

Judging from the tepid response during this address, it was pretty obvious it was going to be an uphill battle. Subsequently, during the 1948 elections, Truman campaigned just as much to overturn the Do Nothing Congress as he did to win his re-election.

Makes you wonder . . .

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