Those for whom the unexpected is what makes life stimulating must find the gyrations of the present Congress almost insupportably exciting. The House, for example, after its flood of rhetoric about our obligation to shore up the world's economy through Truman doctrine expenditures, has calmly added to the wool bill an amendment which could very possibly ruin the wool industries of several nations. President Truman's message in vetoing the bill is therefore a minimum statement of sanity on the wool question.
The original version of the bill called for a continuation of present wool subsidies till 1948, and the sale of 500 million pounds of wool accumulated by the government at war-profits prices. Dissatisfied with these provisions the House has written in an amendment raising import fees (and therefore prices), and calling for restrictions of wool imports. Thus is spelled out in sober measures what is, in short, an excellent deal for the American wool growers. The value of the amendment to the American consumer, and to the maintenance of world economy, is more difficult to discern.
The reasoning of the House seems especially lame in the consumer connection, since it is the proclaimed thesis of the Republican Congress that government intervention to fix prices is a Bad Thing. This rallying cry swept price controls and the housing program before it in recent memory, but apparently price-revision upward at government instigation is considered by the House to be sound tactics in special circumstances.
In the context of our efforts at Geneva to stabilize world economy, and so minimize the privation and unrest that lead to Communism and possible war, the amendment seems again a bootless move. Undersecretary of State Clayton has felt sufficiently convinced of this to return from Geneva and oppose the amendment.
President Truman's courage in opposing again a Congress plainly eager to demonstrate his ineffectualness is therefore laudable. The effect of his veto is likely to be the elimination of the import-fee amendment, and the final shifting of the burden to the Treasury. This act of sweeping the business out of public sight under the rug would obviously be no final answer to the wool wrangle. It would at least, though, spare America the irony of talking world stability up big at Geneva, while at the same time giving it a kick in the stomach long-distance from Washington.