Agenda of the 78th Congress (1-5-43)

The Pittsburgh Press (January 5, 1943)

Background of news –
Agenda of the 78th Congress

By editorial research reports

The new Congress, which convenes tomorrow, will get to work immediately on appropriations for the fiscal year 1944, beginning on July 1, 1943, but for some weeks, the problem will be tackled only by the Appropriations Committee of the House, through separate subcommittees. A reform in this procedure, long urged, calls for consideration of appropriations by a joint committee, representing not only the appropriations committees of the two houses, but also the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, which handle the bills for raising revenue to meet expenditures. The economy bloc will fight hard for drastic reduction in non-war expenditures.

A new revenue bill will be considered – first by the Ways and Means Committee – as soon as the Treasury formulates proposals. The Treasury will probably renew its recommendations for compulsory joint income-tax returns, for taxing income from future and perhaps outstanding state and local securities, for some form of compulsory savings. The Ruml Plan to forego one year’s income taxes, in order to put taxpayers on a pay-as-you-go basis, will come up with renewed support, and a general federal sales tax will also have considerable backing.

Congress may take action to nullify the executive action limiting salaries to $25,000, net; the administration will probably renew its recommendation for 100% taxation on all income above $25,000, net. Direct limitation of war profits may also come up.

While committees are wrestling with these problems, the parity price formula for farm products will come to the fore on the floor of both houses. The farm bloc will exert pressure to have farm labor costs, perhaps including the value of unpaid family labor, included in the formula. The farm bloc may also move to have parity price and other farm benefit payments disallowed in the formula, and to raise the loan value on basic crops from 90% to 100% of parity.

A strong move is expected to abolish, or at least amend, the requirements in law for time-and-a-half for hours worked above 40 a week. Restrictions on trade unions and limitation on the right to strike will get additional support if serious strikes break out. The fight for an anti-poll tax law may be renewed.

The debt limit will have to be increased. The administration will renew its recommendations for higher Social Security taxation and wider Social Security coverage – recommendations which will be viewed in the light of the recent Beveridge Report in Great Britain.

A legacy from the last Congress will be the Third War Powers Bill, giving the President powers he has asked to relax certain import and immigration restrictions alleged to be irritants in the war effort. Congress may decide to legislate on the size of the Army, but is more likely to leave the decision to the military and manpower administrators.

Senator Wheeler predicts that some limitations will be placed on the present Lend-Lease powers of the President; those powers, also certain inflationary powers and the power to make reciprocal trade agreements, must be renewed in 1943.