Election 1944: GOP says aid for veterans blocked (8-3-44)

The Pittsburgh Press (August 3, 1944)


GOP: Aid for veterans blocked

Negligence charged to administration
By Lyle C. Wilson, United Press staff writer

St. Louis, Missouri –
The Republican Governors Conference, under leadership of Governor Thomas E. Dewey, today charged the Roosevelt administration with blocking the returning veterans’ path to post-war employment and warned that only private enterprise can assure peacetime jobs.

The conference made public reports on six of the 14 domestic problems it undertook to discuss here under leadership of the Republican presidential candidate and his running mate, Ohio Governor John W. Bricker.

The 26 Republican governors approved the reports last night. They charged the Roosevelt administration with “listlessness, negligence and a lack of leadership which invites national disaster.”

The report on reconversion and post-war jobs said:

The national administration is now standing squarely in the path of future employment of our returning veterans and millions of displaced war workers.

National Guard upheld

Reporting on the National Guard and organized reserves, the governors said:

The New Deal is seeking to undermine and abandon the traditional state National Guard system.

They said federal absorption of public and private lands threatened many local political subdivisions with destruction.

But the reports also cautioned the states that they must be ready to accept their own responsibilities and not seek federal funds for public works when their own resources were adequate. The governors endorsed continued federal contributions under certain conditions to help pay for public works grants-in-aid should be made to the states or through them “without conditions which invade the authority of state or local governments.”

The reports were in the form of agreements on principle.

Eight points remaining

The agreements on principles announced today covered reconversion and post-war jobs, public works, highways, National Guard and organized reserves, veterans, and public lands.

Some of the eight remaining questions present more difficult problems. They are: agriculture, insurance, labor, public expenditures, social welfare and public health, taxation, unemployment compensation and services, and water resources.

Trip is planned

The reports so far made public emphasized the role the states must have in the future. Plans are being developed while the governors meet to send Governor Dewey and Governor John W. Bricker, Republican vice-presidential candidate, on coast-to-coast speaking campaigns to lay the party platform and the conference statement of policies before the voters.

The governors end their conference tonight and Governor Dewey will start back to New York tomorrow evening after conferences with Missouri political leaders and spokesmen of other groups including small businessmen.

Dewey brings outline

Governor Dewey’s conference was evident in the speed with which the governors disposed of the questions posed and in the nature of the proposals. The New Yorker came here with programs covering most of the issues already drafted in tentative form but explaining that the conferees would have a free opportunity for discussion and to make their own proposals or changes.

The reconversion and post-war job report said:

The great problem of permanent peacetime jobs can be adequately met. Only by private business under an enterprise system. This system depends upon the individual in initiative and organizing genius and energy of all our people.

The national administration is now standing squarely in the path of the future employment of our returning veterans and millions of displaced war workers.

The report on public lands charged that “under the present expanding program, many political subdivisions of local government are being completely destroyed,” and urged federal state cooperation which would avoid absorption of local governments.

Reconversion plan given

The reports called for “comprehensive and immediate action by the federal government to provide for prompt contract termination and plant clearance,” and for release of facilities for the resumption of peacetime production as war demands diminish.

The reconversion report also urged that post-war distribution of surplus war materials to state and local governments should be “through state agencies and under priority for all materials that can be shed by them.”

The public works plan proposed:

  • Construction of needed public works when materials and manpower are available.
  • Preparation for such public works construction as may be desirable during periods of unemployment.

Gas taxes cited

On highways, the report said proceeds of federal gasoline and other motor vehicle levies should in principle be wholly devoted to highway purposes and be distributed equitably among the states. State responsibility for highway construction, it continued, should be recognized by the federal government and be accepted by the states.

Citing the post-war need for “substantial armed forces including the National Guard and organized reserves,” the report charged that the Roosevelt administration was encroaching upon control of those organizations.

The report approved “the G.I. Bill of Rights,” recently enacted by Congress, and said each state and community must also meet its responsibilities to the veterans. Returning veterans should find someone in their hometowns with whom to discuss all phases of veterans’ benefits, the report continued, and urged that “these matters can be handled more efficiently by the states and local communities.”

The report repeatedly referred to the party platform as adopted by the Republican National Convention as pointing the way toward solution of various problems raised.