The Executive Order I have signed today is a hold-the-line Order.
To hold the line we cannot tolerate further increases in prices affecting the cost of living or further increases in general wage or salary rates except where clearly necessary to correct substandard living conditions. The only way to hold the line 'is to stop trying to find justifications for not holding it here or not holding it there.
No one straw may break a camel's back, but there is always a last straw. We cannot afford to take further chances in relaxing the line. We already have taken too many.
On the price front, the directions in the Order are clear and specific.
All items affecting the cost of living are to be brought under control. No further price increases are to be sanctioned unless imperatively required by law. Adjustments in the price relationships between different commodities will be permitted if such adjustments can be made without increasing the general cost of living. But any further inducements to maintain or increase production must not be allowed to disturb the present price levels; such further inducements, whether they take the form of support prices or subsidies, must not be allowed to increase prices to consumers. Of course, the extent to which subsidies and other payments may be used to help keep down the cost of living will depend on Congressional authorization.
Some prices affecting the cost of living are already above the levels of September 15, 1942. All of these cannot be rolled back. But some of these can and should be rolled back. The Order directs the reduction of all prices which are excessively high, inequitable, or unfair. The Stabilization Act was not intended to be used as a shield to protect prices which were excessively high on September 15, 1942.
On the wage front the directions in the Order are equally clear and specific.
There are to be no further increases in wage rates or salary scales beyond the Little Steel formula, except where clearly necessary to correct substandards of living. Reclassifications and promotions must not be permitted to affect the general level of production costs or to justify price increases or to forestall price reductions.
The Order also makes clear the authority of the Chairman of the War Manpower Commission to forbid the employment by an employer of any new employee except in .accordance with regulations of the Chairman, the purpose being to prevent such employment at a higher wage or salary than that received by the employee in his last employment unless the change of employment will aid in the prosecution of the war.
It further calls the attention of all agencies of the Federal Government and of State and municipal authorities concerned with the rates of common carriers and public utilities to the stabilization program in the hope that rate increases will be disapproved and rate reductions ordered so far as may be consistent with Federal and State laws.
For some time it has been apparent that this action must be taken because of the continued pressure for increased wages and increased prices. I have heretofore refrained from acting because of the contention of the supporters of the Bankhead bill that under the Act of October 2, 1942, I had no authority to place ceiling prices on certain commodities at existing levels. My views on that question were set forth in my message of April 2, vetoing the Bankhead bill.
The Senate did not vote upon the question of passing the bill over the veto. Its author moved to recommit the bill to the Committee on Agriculture, stating that there were not sufficient votes to override the veto.
I am advised that weeks or months from this date the bill may be reported for consideration. I am also advised that in the history of the Congress no bill vetoed by a President and recommitted to a committee has ever become law.
I cannot wait to see whether the Committee at some future date will again report the bill to the Senate. I cannot permit a continuance of the upward-spiral of prices.
Some groups have been urging increased prices for farmers on the ground that wage earners have unduly profited. Other groups have been urging increased wages on the ground that farmers have unduly profited. A continuance of this conflict will not only cause inflation but will breed disunity at a time when unity is essential.
Under the Act of October 2, 1942, Congress directed that so far as is practicable, wages, salaries and prices should be stabilized as of the level of September 15. Under that direction inflation has been slowed up. Now we must stop it.
We cannot stop inflation solely by wage and price ceilings. We cannot stop it solely by rationing. To complete the job, Congress must act to reduce and hold in check the excess purchasing power. We must be prepared to tax ourselves more, to spend less and save more. The details of new fiscal legislation must be worked out by the appropriate committees of the House and the Senate. The executive departments stand ready to submit suggestions whenever the committees desire.
I am exerting every power I possess to preserve our stabilization program.
I am sure the Congress will cooperate.
By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the statutes, and particularly by the First War Powers Act, 1941, and the Act of October 2, 1942, entitled "An Act to Amend the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942, to Aid in Preventing Inflation, and for Other Purposes," as President of the United States and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, and in order to safeguard the stabilization of prices, wages, and salaries, affecting the cost of living on the basis of levels existing on September 15, 1942, as authorized and directed by said Act of Congress of October 2, 1942, and Executive Order No. 9250 of October 3, 1942, and to prevent increases in wages, salaries, prices, and profits, which, however justifiable if viewed apart from their effect upon the economy, tend to undermine the basis of stabilization, and to provide such regulations with respect to the control of price, wage, and salary increases as are necessary to maintain stabilization, it is hereby ordered as follows:
1. In the case of agricultural commodities the Price Administrator and the Administrator of Food Production and Distribution (hereinafter referred to as the Food Administrator) are directed, and in the case of other commodities the Price Administrator is directed to take immediate steps to place ceiling prices on all commodities affecting the cost of living. Each of them is directed to authorize no further increases in ceiling prices except to the minimum extent required by law. Each of them is further directed immediately to use all discretionary powers vested in them by law to prevent further price increases direct or indirect, to prevent profiteering and to reduce prices which are excessively high, unfair, or inequitable. Nothing herein, however, shall be construed to prevent the Food Administrator and the Price Administrator, subject to the general policy directives of the Economic Stabilization Director, from making such readjustments in price relationships appropriate for various commodities, or classes, qualities or grades thereof, or for seasonal variations or for various marketing areas, or from authorizing such support prices, subsidies, or other inducements as may be authorized by law and deemed necessary to maintain or increase production, provided that such action does not increase the cost of living. The power, functions, and duties conferred on the Secretary of Agriculture under section 3 of the Emergency Price Control Act of 1942 (Public Law 421, 77th Congress) and under section 3 of the Act of October 2, 1942 (Public Law 729, 77th Congress) are hereby transferred to, and shall be exercised by the Food Administrator.
2. The National War Labor Board, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and other agencies exercising authority conferred by Executive Order No. 9250 or Executive Order No. 9299 and the regulations issued pursuant thereto over wage or salary increases are directed to authorize no further increase in wages or salaries except such as/are clearly necessary to correct substandards of living, provided that nothing herein shall be construed to prevent such agencies from making such wage or salary readjustments as may be deemed appropriate and may not have heretofore been made to compensate, in accordance with the Little Steel formula as heretofore defined by the National War Labor Board, for the rise in the cost of living between January 1, 1941, and May 1, 1942. Nor shall anything herein be construed to prevent such agencies, subject to the general policies and directives of the Economic Stabilization Director, from authorizing reasonable adjustments of wages and salaries in case of promotions, reclassifications, merit increases, incentive wages, or the like, provided that such adjustments do not increase the level of production costs appreciably or furnish the basis either to increase prices or to resist otherwise justifiable reductions in prices.
3. The Chairman of the War Manpower Commission is authorized to forbid the employment by any employer of any new employee or the acceptance of employment by a new employee except as authorized in accordance with regulations which may be issued by the Chairman of the War Manpower Commission, with the approval of the Economic Stabilization Director, for the purpose of preventing such employment at a wage or salary higher than that received by such new employee in his last employment unless the change of employment would aid in the effective prosecution of the war.
4. The attention of all agencies of the Federal Government, and of all State and municipal authorities, concerned with the rates of common carriers or other public utilities, is directed to the stabilization program of which this Order is a part so that rate increases will be disapproved and rate reductions effected, consistently with the Act of October 2, 1942, and other applicable Federal, State, or municipal law, in order to keep down the cost of living and effectuate the purposes of the stabilization program.
5. To provide for the consistent administration of this Order and Executive Order No. 9250, and other orders and regulations of similar import and for the effectuation of the purposes of the Act of October 2, 1942, the Economic Stabilization Director is authorized to exercise all powers and duties conferred upon the President by that Act, and the Economic Stabilization Director is authorized and directed to take such action and to issue such directives under the authority of that Act as he deems necessary to stabilize the national economy, to maintain and increase production and to aid in the effective prosecution of the war. Except insofar as they are inconsistent with this Order or except insofar as the Director shall otherwise direct, powers and duties conferred upon the President by the said Act and heretofore devolved upon agencies or persons other than the Director shall continue to be exercised and performed by such agencies and persons.
6. Except insofar as they are inconsistent with this Order, Executive Order No. 9250 and the regulations issued pursuant thereto shall remain in full force and effect.