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The mutiny is to continue. Congress, taking up where it left off last summer, has already submerged the President's program and is determined to "do something for private business." The Senate has not even made a pretense of discussing any of the measures proposed by the White House, but has snarled itself into a minor filibuster on the antilynching bill of Senator Wagner.
Last summer, immediately following the adjournment, when the President was left angry and defeated on a majority of issues, political prophets expressed the belief that a special session would be called, and that when that session assembled, there would be at hand a splendid barometer for testing popular sentiment on the subject of the New Deal. For the President, as well as the Congressmen, was to visit many of the important constituencies, and, they argued, the attitude when Congress re-assembled would reflect, to a large extent, the attitude of the voters "back home."
The President took his swing across the country and returned, brimming with confidence, and assured that he would again hold the whip hand. But, during the summer, what Mr. Roosevelt himself referred to in his message to Congress as a "marked recession" in business, set in, and the tide began to run out fast.
Even the President's message to the special session was indicative of the new attitude of the Administration. Characterized by a Washington correspondent as "the mildest message of his career," the document breathed a conciliatory spirit, and went to the unprecedented length of proposing tax revision,--albeit somewhat vaguely,--and again mentioned budget-balancing. Only once did the President stoop to demagoguery, when in referring to his old whipping post, the Supreme Court, he expressed the hope that the Court will not "again deny to farmers the protection which it now accords to others."
However, there are many passages that indicate that the leopard has not entirely changed his spots. The President, in discussing the proposed agricultural act, declared that "here again majority rule seems justified." This apparently means that, as in the Wagner Labor Act, the President favors a plan by which a majority may bind the rest of the farmers to a definite program.
Again, in his proposal for a national wage and hours bill, one of the measures on which the Administration was unable to secure action in the last session, Mr. Roosevelt urged that a coordinating agency, with powers of "inspection and investigation to ensure the recognition and enforcement of what the law requires," be set up. This is the same dictatorial body with sweeping powers over all American industry that caused the downfall of the bill last session and should do so at this special meeting.
In short although many of the proposals of the President are as worthy of stinging defeat as ever, it appears likely that his mental state is calmer and more conciliatory, quieted perhaps by the start of a depression which may well develop into one fully as fearful as the depression which first elected Mr. Roosevelt. But vastly more important than the President attitude is the attitude of Congress, and if the beginning of the special session is any barometer, the fears of business men, which have been responsible for this "second depression," should be largely groundless.
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