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Heralded by a brief skirmish in yesterday's news, a major encounter of the coming Congressional session is sure to be the struggle between President Roosevelt and supporters of the veteran's bonus. Although cynical observers predict a victory for the ex-doughboys by the margin of three star-doughboys by the margin of three star-spangled banners and one bloody shirt, more hopeful commentators on the situation feel that Roosevelt, with Congress so predominantly Democratic, might be able to check their exorbitant demands on the national treasury.
The President, seconded by what conscientious Congressmen he can gather about him, seems determined to take a courageous stand against the forces of the American Legion and kindred organizations. The payment of 2,000,000,000 dollars, an obligation which will not mature until 1945, and is computed as with interest to that date, appears to be too much of a burden for the financial resources of the government to bear. The government, in paying the bonus now, would be deprived of the use of those funds for ten years, during which time the compound interest would amount to a most appreciable figure. Mr. Roosevelt does not subscribe to the veterans' ploa that 2,000,000,000 dollars released in bonuses now would help recovery enough to warrant its release. Such prudence seems very much like a contradiction in terms to him who looks with jaundiced eye on the Administration's huge loan and public works programs, but even if the President is inconsistent, the fact that he dares defy the pet project of the most influential non-partisan association in the country is commendable in itself.
If enough Senators and Representatives could take their minds off the political consequences of their votes for a long enough time to act in accordance with what they think is best for the government of the United States, the soldiers' bonus would have been a dead issue long ago. But our timorous legislators in Washington are too fearful of the populace which puts them in office, and that populace, in turn, is too easily swayed by such skilfully propagandizing institutions as the American Legion to use judgment in electing or rejecting its representatives. A shining hour of opportunity presents itself for Mr. Roosevelt. Most of the new majority in Congress were elected on a "Support Roosevelt" ticket. The President, if he is ever going to assume command, must do it now. He needs a Big Stick.
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