Election 1944: Remarks by Roosevelt in Hartford (11-4-44)


Remarks by President Roosevelt
November 4, 1944

Delivered at Hartford, Connecticut


I am glad to come back here. It’s rather a happy surprise. Four years ago, I was told terrible things were being circulated all over the country. People all over the United States were being told that if I got reelected, all of the Hartford insurance companies would go broke. So, coming in here, I expected to see vast, empty buildings not being used and employing no people. The insurance business was going to go flat. And yet they are still present. And, of course, the joke is that the insurance companies, not only of Hartford but of other places, are better off than they ever have been before. They are pretty good insurance companies, you know. They subscribe to the war loans. They have been patriotic. They just have only one unfortunate habit which they acquire every four years – in fact, the last few months of every four years. They say, “If this man Roosevelt gets elected President, we will have to go out of business!” So, it is good to see them still going good to see that Hartford is not a city of empty homes.

But, you know, that was like a lot of other campaigns. Back in – what was it? – 1932, they said that grass was going to grow in the streets. But it didn’t! And Mr. Hoover wasn’t reelected President.

And then in 1936, some of the people all over the country – you know the kind I mean – tried to instill fear in the minds of the American people by saying that the social security funds of the United States were no good – they weren’t safe. They even went to the extent of having some of their large financial backers put this type of scare material in the pay envelopes of millions of employees. And the interesting thing was that the employees didn’t fall for it. They thought they knew better than the president of the company. And they took another chance with me.

Now, they will apparently never learn that this kind of campaign does not produce the results they look for. In fact, it usually produces the opposite result. It is going to do that again this year.

And they are making the fantastic claim this year that your government is now engaged in some deep-dyed plot to take over the insurance business.

Well, it so happens that I have had some experience in the insurance business myself, and I know that the workers and managers in that business cannot be easily fooled by that type of propaganda.

Why, the insurance policies of the United States and your savings are safer than they ever were in the whole history of the United States – and so is the insurance business.

That was not true in 1933 when I took office. I don’t have to recall to you the closing banks and the shaky insurance companies of those days. In fact, I think it is safe to say that a great many of the insurance companies in 1933, if they had tried to liquidate their assets for the benefit of policyholders, would have found themselves in the “red.” They would not have had enough money. And the reason is obvious – because before 1933 – a year before and the year before that – the value of the farms and mortgages and other properties on their books had depreciated so much that by March of 1933, they couldn’t have been liquidated at anything like the figures at which they were carrying their assets on their own books. That’s a pretty serious charge. But the record is there. Under the last Republican administration, the insurance companies were “bust.”

You know what happened in 1933. You know how quickly the action of this administration resulted in increased earnings and savings and property values. And that is what this “bungling, incompetent” administration has done for the people of the United States.

There is one thing that I have meant to say for the last two months, and haven’t had a chance. It’s a word about a group of our citizens that have been pretty hard hit by the war. They have not been able to earn the high level of wages that have been paid in shipyards and war factories – and yet, with amazing patience and fortitude they have continued in their essential jobs – carrying on as best they can. And those are the white-collar workers of America.

I think, however, that in addition to being thoroughly patriotic, staying at their work, they realize that this administration has done a pretty good job in keeping down the cost of living, in protecting the purchasing power of their dollars in terms of rent and other necessities of life. Compared with the skyrocketing cost of living in the last war – twice as much of a rise as in this war – our record in this war, on the whole, has been very good. And I want you – as they used to say – to give a hand to the white-collar workers of the United States.

Because during the war, for the first time in history, we have avoided wartime inflation. Inflation means nothing more than a rise in the cost of things, and the white-collar workers’ wages haven’t gone up anything like what the wages have gone up in other professions or trades.

The lesson of the last war was clear to us – nearly all of us – in the administration, but to many Republicans it was not plain at all.

Time and again the Republicans in the Congress voted overwhelmingly against price control, and in favor of letting prices go skyrocketing.

So, I make an assertion. The Democratic Party in this war has been the party of sound money. The Republican Party has been the party of unsound money.

If the Republicans had had their way, all of us – farmers, white-collar workers, factory workers, housewives – we would all have had our dollars cut by inflation and a higher cost of living.

I hope to come back here very often either as a private citizen, or as President of the United States. But I am very confident today that when I come back during the next four years it will be as President of the United States.

And in saying goodbye to you, after this very pleasing visit, I assure you that when I do come back, I will still be able to wear the same size hat.