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Last week, commenting on the Congressional elections, Professor Seymour E. Harris, reflecting the opinion of economic authorities throughout the country, predicted a "depression within two to four years," to come during a Republican administration. By no means could the blame for such a catastrophe be laid on a single party or any small group in Washington. But the series of proposals announced by Republican Congressional leaders would, if put into action, put the country in a position similar to the free-for-all economic anarchy that saw its inglorious end in 1929.
Anticipating the pressure of a new Congress, President Truman has already removed price, wage, and salary controls except the ceilings on rent, rice, and sugar. And in one of the earliest moves of new GOP leaders, Representative Joe Martin has announced intentions to reduce income taxes by 20 per cent, and a consequent paring of appropriations for all government projects, including an Army and Navy engaged in vital Occupation duties. Further Republican proposals in this revival of the Crystal Palace era of laissez-faire include shelving of the minimum-wage bill and President Truman's measure to establish a Federal health insurance program, both of which were introduced in the last Congressional session.
Domestically, the abandonment of prices and wages in the unbalanced scale of supply and demand has already resulted in a cost of living that has risen, during the past month, one-half of what it did during four years of war. Economy-minded legislators, in their desire to operate a low-cost government, are apparently ignoring the necessity of maintaining military forces in Germany and Japan sufficient to insure successful Occupation. President Truman's proposed slash of the Army and Navy allotment by almost one-half has been criticized by Senator Taft, whose suggested 1947 budget cuts the Truman expenditures by over sixteen billion dollars. Running the country with lower expenditures may be justified in the termination of the emergency and the dissolution of many of the wartime bureaus, but it does not include the jeopardizing of national social security and abandonment of international commitments.
In a world of closely allied economic interests, the moves of the United States, its wealthiest power, are mirrored in the financial affairs of all nations. A depression here would be an international calamity, for the proposals of the country's new leaders' portend actions that will speak louder and harsher than the sweetly-phrased statements of American delegates at the United Nations. The extreme movement right in a world going left widens the breach between political ideologies and dogma, but the economic necessities of one world will always remain.
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