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Truman Demands 40 Billions
for Inflationary War Budget

A-Bomb Gets 17 Times as Much as Housing

(19 January 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. XII No. 3, 19 January 1948, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Seventy-nine cents of every dollar the American people will shell out for Truman’s proposed 1949 budget of $39,669,000,000 (that’s billions) will go tor war – past, present and future. This does not include items, like the atom bomb development, which are hidden under special misleading headings.

Six times more will be spent for war preparations than for human needs.

Direct military expenditures alone will cost $11,025,000,000 – 28% of the total – a $279,000,000 increase over the present budget. The Social Welfare, Health and Security program will take $2,028,000,000 – $68 million more than before, but one-third less than the $3,147,000,000 in 1940.

Almost 17 times as much will be spent for developing the atom bomb ($674,000,000 under the heading – Natural resources not primarily agriculture”) as for long-range public housing ($40 million).

Truman proposes a “first year” expenditure of $400,000,000 for “universal training” – that is, universal compulsory military training which “in full operation will cost about 2 billion dollars annually.”

At the same time, he allocates the magnificent sum of – $20 million – to extend unemployment compensation to millions of workers not now covered. He also asks for a new national health insurance fund of $150 million – to be paid for out of new payroll taxes – and to cost the government in 1949 just $15,000,000 for administration.

In addition to direct military outlays, Truman proposes to spend $7,009,000,000 to bolster capitalist dictatorships and military machines in Europe, Asia and Latin America – under the heading of “international affairs” and “foreign relief.’” This is nearly 1½ billion more than in the present 1948 budget.

Another major war cost will be payment of $5,250,000,000 of interest on public debt – mostly to bankers and corporations for war loans and on interest-bearing government bonds.

Another $5 billion – a claimed anticipated surplus of revenue over expenditures – will go to these same bankers and corporations to pay off a part of the $251 billion war debt.

Still another sum of nearly $2 billion is earmarked for payment to the capitalists. It is buried right at the bottom of the budget under “Refund of receipts.” This is $1,990,000,000 for war tax rebates mainly to corporations.

The budget proposes $300 million as grants to states for elementary and secondary schooling in the face of the near-collapse of the country’s public school systems. Less than half as much for our children’s education as for the atom bomb!


Only $1,157,000,000 of the budget is designated for general operations other than those concerned with the military. This is less than the 1948 budget total of $1,473,000,000. It gives an idea of what the federal government’s operations would cost minus the war machine. Even this item includes a hidden war cost – $85 million for cemeteries and return of war dead.

While interest payments, military preparations and other war costs are higher, there is one war cost that Truman proposes to reduce – expenditures for the victims of past wars, the veterans. Veteran services and benefits will be cut from $6,632,000,000 in 1948 to $6,102,000,000 in 1949.

Compared to his eventual $2 billion annual spending for compulsory military training, his $4,507,000,000 for “foreign aid” and his $1,250,000,000 for “occupation purposes” in 1949, Truman has asked for just $571,000,000 in new appropriations for his much-vaunted new social welfare program, which some of the press has dubbed his “New Deal.”

More Inflation

Included in this “New Deal” is $80,000,000 of additional expenses for a so-called “new anti-inflation program.” This useless expenditure just raises the cost of government – and the inflation.

The “economy-minded” Republicans who dominate Congress have quickly indicated that if there is going to be any cutting of Truman’s budget, it will come from the minor items related to human welfare. Thus, Republican Senator Styles Bridges found the military and foreign affairs items “realistic,” but thought the meager sums for social security, health, education, housing, etc., “beyond the means of the nation to meet this year.”

Truman’s expanding war budget is the greatest single item aggravating the inflation, although he says in his budget message that “we are all aware of the imperative necessity for preventing further inflation.” One of his major proposals on this score is:

“I am not recommending at this time cost-of-living increases in pay for military and civilian government personnel, nor cost-of-living increases in benefits for our veterans, social insurance beneficiaries, retired Federal employees and other similar groups,” although “the rapid increase in living costs ... has placed a serious burden on these groups.”

Surplus to Bankers

Truman’s claimed anticipated surplus of $5 billion in 1949 is all going to pay the war debt to the bankers.

The budget figures give the lie direct to Truman’s “State of the Union” speech where he demagogically said he wants to cut income taxes $40 a year for every individual and put additional taxes on corporation profits.

His own estimate of direct taxes on individuals in 1949 totals $23,322,000,000, compared to $22,793,000,000 in 1948. Total direct taxes on corporations will be only $610,000,000 more in 1949 than 1948. But Truman doesn’t expect Congress to follow his tax proposals anyway.

The cold figures of Truman’s budget add up to – inflation, war, human agony.

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