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No. 25 "Congress at the Crossroads" Speech of Jouett Shouse At a Luncheon of the American Liberty League Club of New York, March 30, 1935. American Liberty League. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images Digital Library Services, University of Kentucky Libraries Lexington, Kentucky Am_Lib_Leag_25 These pages may freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. No. 25 "Congress at the Crossroads" Speech of Jouett Shouse At a Luncheon of the American Liberty League Club of New York, March 30, 1935. American Liberty League. American Liberty League. Washington, D.C. 1935. This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. tion which has lain prostrate on its hack for four years and you are attempting by these legislative measures to force down its throat things that it cannot digest without destroying it. Is there any man in this room who, if his wife had been desperately ill of pneumonia and was just getting well, had just thrown off a temperature and just begun to regain her strength, would come to that wife and tell her all of the misdeeds of the children during the period of her illness? Is there any man in this room who, with his wife in that condition, would say to her, "You have got to prepare yourself to face this and that and the other burden just as soon as you are able to stand on your feet"? After all isn't it a mistaken way to approach the result toward which a nation is striving and on which a nation is unanimous in its opinion as to the need? I referred to the fact that the Congress of the United States has begun to reassert itself. Without any undue credit to the work that the Liberty League has done may I suggest that the efforts of the limited number of men and the limited number of organizations that have been willing to stand up and be counted in this period where crimination and recrimination have been so freely bandied back and forth, are responsible largely for giving Congress the courage to recognize the functions for which it was created and for which it stands. And may I impress upon you, members of the Liberty League Club of New York, that if each one of you will constitute himself into a committee to help us gather membership you will add mightily to the influence that we can exert with the Congress of the United States towards the preservation of the form of government in which we believe and towards the re-institution and the upholding of constitutional principles in America. Congress at the Crossroads â˜… â˜… â˜… Speech of JOUETT SHOUSE At a Luncheon of the American Liberty League Club of New York, Empire State Building, New York City, Saturday, March 30, 1935, Broadcast by the Columbia Broadcasting System AMERICAN LIBERTY LEAGUE National Headquarters NATIONAL PRESS BUILDING WASHINGTON, D. C. 8 Document No. 25 CONGRESS AT THE CROSSROADS Mi LR. CHAIRMAN, Members of the New York American Liberty League Club and Guests: I am delighted to have the opportunity to address this Club, which, as I understand, represents in its membership and in its affiliations an excellent cross section of the great metropolis of America. Its membership, its officers say, is by no means confined to a class of large wealth or a single or individual class of any other kind. It has representatives of the professions, it has representatives of business, it has representatives of labor labor in its truest sense and in all of its ramifications, and through the courtesy of the Columbia Broadcasting Company I am delighted to be permitted to address a wider audience over a nationwide radio hookup. The subject which I will assume to discuss is that of Congress at the Crossroads. For twenty years it has been my privilege and at times my duty to observe closely at Washington what our national legislature was doing, was considering, and sometimes, was failing to do, and to my surprise not to my chagrin but to my surprise I have found the situation which confronts us at Washington today a more confused situation than I have ever observed there before in twenty years, and this surprisingly despite the fact that one political party has an overwhelming majority of both houses of the Congress. Congress has been in ses-CongreSS sion 8mce approximately Reasserting tne 1st of January, and Prerogatives this is approximately the 1st of April, and after three months not a single piece of major legislation has been enacted. Now, so far as I am concerned, I look upon that not as a bad sign but as a good and hopeful sign, because I am happy to pay to the present Congress the tribute of saying that once again in this country we have a Congress that is recognizing the fact that this Government is divided into three parts: Executive, Legislative and Judicial, and that the Congress of the United States and not the President of the United States should write the laws that govern the people of America. My observations are not directed either for or against a political party, they are not directed either for or against any individual officeholder. The American Liberty League, if it is to accomplish any part of the purpose for which it has been organized, must continue its non-partisan, unprejudiced course in dealing with legislative problems. And it is on that basis, it is on that basis alone, that I discuss with you today some of the things that are concerning the Congress as it stands at the crossroads. Through both of the Houses there has passed a bill known as the Works Relief Bill, which assumes to place in the hands of the President of the United States the gigantic sum of $4,880,-000,000 to be expended practicaUy as he may see fit. That bill when it passed the House was in much worse shape than it is now when it is in conference between the two Houses. Certain corrections have been made, certain steps have been taken to make it conform to the decision of the Supreme Court in the Amazon Petroleum case handed down on the 7th of last January. But that bill, in the power that it confers upon the Chief Executive, in the opportunity it places in the hands of a man who is candidate now for reelection as President next year, is adverse to the best interests of the masses of the American people, and lends itself if abused to the overt use of federal funds to control political destinies. That bill will be law, in my opinion, within a week, and there is nothing you can do about it. Economic Security Program There is pending before the Congress now what is known as the Economic Security bill. It is a tome of almost uncounted pages which embraces within its provisions four important separate propositions: 1. One of them is the establishment of a system of unemployment insurance, and 2. Second is the establishment of a system of old age pensions, and 3. Third is provision for additional care for mothers and children throughout the country, and 4. The fourth is the creation of machinery whereby the Government of the United States shall go into the insurance business by permitting voluntary contributions toward an ultimate pension system. Now speaking for myself and speaking also for the Executive Committee of the Liberty League which controls the policies of that League, as evidenced by the study of this bill which we produced some five or six weeks ago, I have every sympathy with some of the objectives that are sought in this legislation. But I submit frankly and candidly that either one of these four propositions attempted to be embraced in a blanket measure offers all of the food for thought and for consideration and action that should he put up to the Congress in any one piece of legislation. As the friend, if you please, of the objectives sought, I suggest that the whole plan may easily be destroyed unless we approach cautiously and carefully the thing that we are attempting to do, and I bring to your attention a fact that was made clear by the President's own commission in presenting this biU, with its report, that if enacted in the form in which it came to Congress the financial burden upon the treasury of the United States with passing time would become so great as to jeopardize seriously even their ideas of what expenditures this country is capable of making. One of the other pieces Holding of legislation that is at- Company trading marked atten- Abolition tion is the so-called Util- ity Holding Company Bill. I hold no brief for utilities and particularly I do not attempt to defend some holding companies that have been organized in this country. In their basic organization and in their operations I think they are properly subject to the most severe criticism. But this bill, if passed in its present form, will wipe out incontinently every utility holding company in 4 America, and the net effect wiU be necessarily to destroy the investments mounting into hundreds of millions, even biUions, of dollars in the securities of those companies, because if they are compelled to dissolve, as this bill requires, there will be no earthly market where the securities that comprise their assets can possibly be sold and you wiU have dumped upon an unwilling and an unbuying public a mass of securities which it will neither accept nor which could it digest. Regulation, yes. A little more than a year ago there was presented to the Congress a bill to regulate stock exchanges. I felt about that biU as I feel about this. The regulation of stock exchanges was a necessary thing. The destruction of stock exchanges was contrary to the interests of the mass of the American people. Yes, regulation for holding companies wherever and whenever that regulation should be applied, and stringent regulation if you please, but the man and the woman and the institution investing their savings in the securities of holding companies which have been founded on a solid basis, which have conducted themselves properly, these people, American citizens, are entitled to have their investments defended and not destroyed by the parent government to which they give their support. There is now pending an important Banking Bill. Some of the provisions are wise and some of them undesirable. But if that bill be enacted as it now stands and as the Administration seeks to have it enacted it wiU place the whole banking structure of America in political hands. I call your attention to the lesson of history that without exception where the banking system of a nation has been made subservient to the politics of the nation that banking system has inevitably been destroyed. There are amendments pending now to what is known as the Agricultural Adjustment Administration Act. What do they do? This Triple "A," as it is commonly known, has regulated the amount of wheat that could be grown; it has regulated the amount of cotton that could be grown, and incidentally, has practically de-5 stroyed at least for the time being the great export market for American cotton; it has regulated the number of pigs that could be raised; it has regulated the pounds of tobacco that could be produced. And what does it now seek to do by the Amendments which have been introduced and are now pending before the Congress? It strives to place under the control of one man, the Secretary of Agriculture, every individual, every corporation that has anything whatever to do with the processing of foodstuffs. And through its regulation of the processor inevitably it can extend its control to the individual farmer himself whom it dared not attempt to include within its original provisions. There is also pending before the Congress a piece of legislation known as the Wagner Labor bill which, if made a part of the statutory law of this country, will make it impossible, no matter what labor may desire or labor wants, to operate, save under the domination of and in connection with the American Federation of Labor. There is pending further The Future the propo8ed extension of the NRA â€žf tne National Recovery Act commonly known as the NRA. You have in process an investigation of the NRA by the Finance Committee of the Senate. That has been going on for some two or three weeks. You perhaps have observed in the papers this week that the Government of the United States, acting through the Department of Justice, has abandoned the appeal to the Supreme Court of the so-called Belcher Case and has refused to permit the Supreme Court to have the opportunity to pass upon the Constitutional questions therein raised with reference to the whole National Recovery Administration. Only yesterday there was introduced a bill which proposes to extend and continue the NRA with certain changes. I have not analyzed that bill carefully. I caU your attention, however, to a statement that was made in the letter of the Whaley-Eaton Service, one of the prominent business services going out of Washington, dated March 15th or 16th, in which Whaley-Eaton contended that the plan of the Government was to dismiss the Belcher appeal, preventing an immediate decision of the Supreme Court as to the NRA, and to pass an NRA act which, without any difference as to intent or purpose or control by the Government over industry, would yet give the Government the opportunity to compel a complainant again to go through every process of the courts, with the incidental delay that necessarily attaches, before there can be any decision as to the Constitutionality of the fundamental facts that underlie the NRA. And in that connection let me read you an excerpt from an editorial from the Scripps-Howard Newspapers that appeared on last Wednesday, a syndicate of newspapers that is perhaps the most pronounced defender of the present administration : "The Government's apparent intention to avert a Supreme Court showdown pending an enactment of new NRA legislation may not be as shrewd strategy as it is supposed to be. It encourages the popular belief that the New Deal is unconstitutional and thereby breaks down both compliance and enforcement. Moreover, the procedure gives off an odor oi deliberate official law dodging which must offend believers in the orderly processes of government.** That, if you please, from one of the foremost defenders of the Administration. May I, for a moment, attempt with you to throw aside aU of the discussion as to the wisdom or the unwisdom of pending legislation, and face frankly exactly what the situation at Washington is. Here you have one objective with which we are all agreed, the Administration and its critics alike, the objective of recovery if this nation is to be saved. _ But the Administration, Recovery . . in connection with re-Reform and covery, is insisting on Investigation two other things. What are they? One is reform. The other is investigation. Now, it doesn't matter in the least how appealing the reform measures may be. It doesn't matter in the least how necessary in some circumstances further investigation might seem. You have here a na-