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Truman Appeases Capitalist Class

‘Nothing to Fear,’ He Tells Conclave of Manufacturers

(13 December 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 50, 13 December 1948, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Truman took the occasion of the National Association of Manufacturers convention last week to assure Big Business that his blasts at “gluttons of privilege” and “Wall Street reactionaries” before Nov. 2 were just election ballyhoo. As the spokesmen of the country’s powerful monopolies met in New York City, the President told his largest press conference since the elections that the corporations have “nothing to fear’’ from his program. He pointedly offered as evidence his past three and a half years in office when corporate profits broke all records, ini peace or war.

The very next day Secretary of Commerce Sawyer made an extremely conciliatory and reassuring address to the NAM convention. Sawyer’s speech, it was emphasized, was approved in advance by Truman.

“Nothing to Fear”

Repeating that “business has nothing to fear” from Truman’s program, the Commerce Secretary lavishly praised “private enterprise” and the capitalists. “Firat of all,” he said, “Government officials should remember that business men are working for profits. Profit is the main motivation of business; it is the ignition system of our economic engine. The importance of profit must be recognized and utilized.”

He whitewashed the scandalous profiteering by the major corporations, claiming they “have shown admirable restraint in raising prices and have reluctantly done so in the face of steadily mounting costs.” Emphasizing that “there is nothing sinful about profits,” he suggested that the corporation pirates merely “give careful and thoughtful consideration” to the inflationary effect of large profits and “unreasonably” high prices.

The Big Business press has expressed both surprise and pleasure – but more pleasure than surprise – at Truman’s demonstrative peace overtures to the economic royalists he so roundly denounced little more than a month ago. They are further reassured by the mounting evidence that Truman intends to hedge all along the line on his promises to labor. He is now preparing, it is well known, a “substitute” law for the Taft-Hartley Act which will contain some of the worst features of the latter. His civil rights program is almost certain to be buried or compromised as a conciliatory gesture to the still-powerful Southern wing of the Democratic Party.

Same Cabinet

On the same day as he reassured the NAM gang in New York, Truman punctured the fond hopes of the Trumanite liberals and labor leaders that he would rid his cabinet of the professional militarists and Wall Street bankers who are directing U.S. foreign policy. Marshall, former Army Chief of Staff, and Forrestal, former Dillon, Read investment bank official, have been asked to continue as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense respectively, Truman told reporters, and they “are willing” to do so.

Marshall and Forrestal are the chief symbols of the Wall Street-Big Brass domination of the Truman Administration’s policies. Their retention in the cabinet affirms the continued drive of Truman toward militarism and war.

This program rules out any substantial social improvements at home. Sawyer, in his speech to the NAM, admitted that the major drain on the economy and the biggest inflationary pressure is “the enlargement of our military program.” Further military expansion must “further intensify that pressure.”

Truman now talks about a $15 billion “limit” on direct military expenditures for 1949. What most people don’t realize is that this is nea/ly 40® more than the $11 billion he proposed in January 1948 and which the bi-partisan Congress boosted by $3 billion.

Military Costs

The Administration also plans vast new expenditures to arm the so-called “Western Union” countries and all the capitalist dictatorships being lined up for the contemplated war against the Soviet Union. “Foreign military aid may wreck Truman’s budget ... No one knows what it will cost. Estimates run from $2 billion to $5 billion a year,” writes the Scripps-Howard Washington staff on Dec. 4. A half billion has already been sunk in tiny Greece alone.

With these big increases for the military and “foreign aid” already scheduled, while Truman promises a “balanced budget,” how much will be allocated for social improvements? In his January 1948 budget, when he proposed far smaller sums for military purposes, the total of all new sums his budget allowed for education, health, housing, social security, etc., was only a half billion dollars.

Against a total of $42 billion or more that the government will spend this fiscal year, the whole cost of the social improvements Truman promised in his election campaign – health, education, housing, reclamation, higher social security payments, etc., adds up to $573 million.

Militarism and war preparations – these will have first call. Who will foot the bill? Not the monopolists, as Truman has plainly indicated by his latest appeasement gestures toward Big Business. As always, it will be the working people who will be forced to carry the load. The “new New Deal” will be a scrawny, short-lived infant indeed – if it isn’t dead before it’s born.

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