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New OPA Bill Will Not
Halt Run-Away Prices

Truman-Sponsored Measure Designed to Fool Workers

(13 July 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 28, 13 July 1946, pp. 1 & 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The new Truman-sponsored OPA bill being debated in Congress is a deception. It will not control prices any more than the previous measure, under which living costs soared during the war more than a hundred per cent.

This measure, like its predecessor, is intended not to halt rising prices but to “regulate” inflation. Unwilling to take responsibility for Congress’s openly inflationary bill which he vetoed, Truman is seeking to reestablish a fictitious price control in the disguise of a “good” OPA bill.

Although the Senate Banking Committee deleted some portions of the vetoed bill, the “compromise” measure it proposed last week is merely a patch-work of the former feeble “price control” act and the vetoed bill.

It fa clear that the administration would like to palm a measure like this off on the workers as “price control.” This would then be used as the pretext for demanding a wage freeze; – while prices continue upward as they did during the war.

The present bounding inflation is merely an intensification of the trend which developed throughout the imperialist war and has been accelerating steadily since V-J Day.

Prior to the expiration of the old OPA, the Truman administration had been whetting the profiteers’ appetites by sanctioning one price increase after another. The wage increases for which labor fought to compensate for previous big price increases were used by Truman as a pretext for granting huge profiteering price rises to virtually every industry. OPA completely “de-controlled” thousands of commodities.

Profiteers Gouge

While Truman and Congress are going through their fancy maneuvers and shadow-boxing, the food profiteers and rent hogs are digging their claws deeper and deeper into the workers’ pockets. At the same time, the capitalist press runs advertisements, editorials and angled news stories to give the false impression that the profiteers themselves are exercising “self-restraint” in their price demands.

According to the wholesale food prices index of Dun & Bradstreet, on July 2 prices of 31 basic commodities had risen to the highest peak since July 29, 1920 – high point of the post-World War I inflation. Tens of thousands are threatened with evictions as rents are being hiked almost everywhere.

Most of the union leaders, who want an excuse for holding back struggles for higher wages, are urging the workers to fight for a “good” OPA along the lines Truman is proposing.

They are spreading illusions about reliance on government “price control,” as they did during the war with their ill-fated campaigns for the “roll-back of prices” and “make OPA work.”

All the efforts of the workers should be directed instead toward independent mass struggle on an independent labor program of combatting the consequences of inflation.

Real Battle

The workers should be mobilized for a real battle for higher wages, and especially for a sliding scale of wages, automatically rising with every rise in living costs.

Workers, poor farmers and the lower middle class must be organized into their own mass consumers’ and tenants’ committees. They must directly resist exorbitant prices and rentals by mass pressure means.

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