Election 1944: Bricker calls OPA ‘inept, confused’ (10-14-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (October 14, 1944)


Bricker calls OPA ‘inept, confused’

Denounces ‘politics’ in rationing

Sacramento, California (UP) –
Ohio Governor John W. Bricker declared today that the Office of Price Administration was inept, confused and devoid of planning and was being operated for political advantage.

Opening his California campaign, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, in a speech prepared for delivery here, blamed OPA for “keeping the people in the dark” on the entire rationing program. However, he admitted that rationing itself was necessary to combat wartime shortages.

But he asserted that handling of rationing by the OPA had been incompetent in eight ways:

  • Planning was obviously poor.
  • OPA had no understanding of the “psychology of rationing,” actually encouraging hoarding.
  • Irregular rationing periods created confusion.
  • Rationing was not coordinated with pricing.
  • OPA had not always know how many rationing coupons it had issued.
  • Responsibility was divided.
  • Unnecessarily complex systems and forms were adopted.
  • Black markets flourished and the pleasure driving ban was bungled.

Hits ‘political implications’

Asserting that the Republican Party believes in the principle of wartime rationing as an “instrument of war,” Mr. Bricker said:

The party does object to ineptness, the confusion, the lack of elementary planning and vision with which the New Dealers have administered the program… it particularly condemns the political implications of rationing.

Mr. Bricker illustrated the “political implications” remark by citing the recent order of OPA making “farm machinery ration-free” the very day after an OPA official dismissed as “astonishing” rumors of the removal. He said “we cannot know what the policy should be” because while OPA has the facts it insists upon “keeping the people in the dark.”

Influenced by election

He said:

But this we can be sure of the new policy undoubtedly was facilitated by the fact that Election Day is approaching.

Mr. Bricker makes his first major California speech tonight in San Francisco, which will be broadcast over MBS beginning at 8:30 p.m. PWT (5:30 p.m. EWT).

Mr. Bricker came to California after a tour of Oregon as the Republican Party’s assigned collector of its 25 electoral votes. Governor Thomas E. Dewey made only two speeches in the state, and party generals handed Mr. Bricker the job of winning over the voters for the entire ticket.