Franklin D. Roosevelt

Annual Budget Message

January 05, 1942

To the Congress:

I am submitting herewith the Budget of the United States for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1943. It is the budget of a Nation at war in a world at war.

In practical terms the Budget meets the challenge of the Axis powers. We must provide the funds to man and equip our fighting forces. We must provide the funds for the organization of our resources. We must provide the funds to continue our role as the Arsenal of Democracy.

Powerful enemies must be outfought and outproduced. Victory depends on the courage, skill, and devotion of the men in the American, British, Russian, Chinese, and Dutch forces, and of the others who join hands with us in the fight for freedom. But victory also depends upon efforts behind the lines—in the mines, in the shops, on the farms.

We cannot outfight our enemies unless, at the same time, we outproduce our enemies. It is not enough to turn out just a few more planes, a few more tanks, a few more guns, a few more ships, than can be turned out by our enemies. We must outproduce them overwhelmingly, so that there can be no question of our ability to provide a crushing superiority of equipment in any theater of the world war.

And we shall succeed. A system of free enterprise is more effective than an "order" of concentration camps. The struggle for liberty first made us a Nation. The vitality, strength, and adaptability of a social order built on freedom and individual responsibility will again triumph.


Our present war program was preceded by a defense effort which began as we emerged from the long depression. During the past eighteen months we laid the foundation for a huge armament program. At the same time industry provided ample consumers' goods for a rapidly growing number of workers. Hundreds of thousands of new homes were constructed; the production of consumers' durable goods broke all records. The industrial plant and equipment of the country were overhauled and expanded.

Adjustment to a war program can now be made with greater speed and less hardship. The country is better stocked with durable goods. Our factories are better equipped to carry the new production load. The larger national income facilitates financing the war effort.

There are still unused resources for agricultural and industrial production. These must be drawn into the national effort. Shortages, however, have developed in skilled labor, raw materials, machines, and shipping. Under the expanding war program, more and more productive capacity must be shifted from peacetime to wartime work.

Last year fiscal policy was used to shift the economy into high gear. Today it is an instrument for transforming our peace economy into a war economy. This transformation must be completed with minimum friction and maximum speed. The fiscal measures which I outline in this message are essential elements in the Nation's war program.

WAR APPROPRIATIONS. This is a war budget. The details of a war program are, of course, in constant flux. Its magnitude and composition depend on events at the battlefronts of the world, on naval engagements at sea, and on new developments in mechanized warfare. Moreover, war plans are military secrets.

Under these circumstances I cannot hereafter present details of future war appropriations. However, total appropriations and expenditures will be published so that the public may know the fiscal situation and the progress of the Nation's effort.

The defense program, including appropriations, contract authorizations, recommendations, and commitments of Government corporations, was 29 billion dollars on January 3, 1941. During the last twelve months 46 billion dollars have been added to the program. Of this total of 75 billion dollars there remains 24 billion dollars for future obligation.

In this Budget I make an initial request for a war appropriation of 13.6 billion dollars for the fiscal year 1943. Large supplemental requests will be made as we move toward the maximum use of productive capacity. Nothing short of a maximum will suffice. I cannot predict ultimate costs because I cannot predict the changing fortunes of war. I can only say that we are determined to pay whatever price we must to preserve our way of life.

WAR EXPENDITURES. Total war expenditures are now running at a rate of 2 billion dollars a month and may surpass 5 billion dollars a month during the fiscal year 1943. As against probable budgetary war expenditures of 24 billion dollars for the current fiscal year, our present objective calls for war expenditures of nearly 53 billion dollars for the fiscal year 1943. And in addition, net outlays of Government corporations for war purposes are estimated at about 2 and 3 billion dollars for the current and the next fiscal year, respectively.

These huge expenditures for ships, planes, and other war equipment will require prompt conversion of a large portion of our industrial establishment to war production. These estimates reflect our determination to devote at least one-half of our national production to the war effort.

The agencies responsible for the administration of this vast program must make certain that every dollar is speedily converted into a maximum of war effort. We are determined to hold waste to a minimum.


In a true sense, there are no longer non-defense expenditures. It is a part of our war effort to maintain civilian services which are essential to the basic needs of human life. In the same way it is necessary in wartime to conserve our natural resources and keep in repair our national plant. We cannot afford waste or destruction, for we must continue to think of the good of future generations of Americans. For example, we must maintain fire protection in our forests; and we must maintain control over destructive floods. In the preparation of the present Budget, expenditures not directly related to the war have been reduced to a minimum or reoriented to the war program.

We all know that the war will bring hardships and require adjustment. Assisting those who suffer in the process of transformation and taxing those who benefit from the war are integral parts of our national program.

It is estimated that expenditures for the major Federal assistance programs- farm aid, work relief, youth aid—can be reduced by 600 million dollars from the previous to the current fiscal year, and again by 860 million dollars from the current to the next fiscal year. These programs will require 1.4 billion dollars during the fiscal year 1943, about one-half of the expenditures for these purposes during the fiscal year 1941.

Improved economic conditions during the current year have made possible the execution of economic and social programs with smaller funds than were originally estimated. By using methods of administrative budget control, 415 million dollars of appropriations for civil purposes have been placed in reserves.

Excluding debt charges and grants under the Social Security law, total expenditures for other than direct war purposes have been reduced by slightly more than 1 billion dollars in the next fiscal year.

Agricultural aid. I propose to include contract authorizations in the Budget to assure the farmer a parity return on his 1942 crop, largely payable in the fiscal year 1944. I do not suggest a definite appropriation at this time because developments of farm income and farm prices are too uncertain. Agricultural incomes and prices have increased and we hope to limit the price rise of the products actually bought by the farmer. But if price developments should turn against the farmer, an appropriation will be needed to carry out the parity objective of the Agricultural Adjustment Act.

The remaining expenditures for the agricultural program are being brought into accord with the war effort. Food is an essential war material. I propose to continue the soil conservation and use program on a moderately reduced scale. Acreage control by cooperative efforts of farmer and Government was inaugurated in a period of overproduction in almost all lines of farming. Then its major objective was the curtailment of production to halt a catastrophic decline in farm prices. At present, although there is still excess production in some types of farming, serious shortages prevail in other types. The present program is designed to facilitate a balanced increase in production and to aid in controlling prices.

Work projects. The average number of W.P.A. workers was two million in the fiscal year 1940, the year before the defense program started; the average has been cut to one million this year. With increasing employment a further considerable reduction will be possible. I believe it will be necessary to make some provision for work relief during the next year. I estimate tentatively that 465 million dollars will be needed for W.P.A., but I shall submit a specific request later in the year. Workers of certain types and in certain regions of the country probably will not all be absorbed by war industries. It is better to provide useful work for the unemployed on public projects than to lose their productive power through idleness. Wherever feasible they will be employed on war projects.

Material shortages are creating the problem of "priority unemployment." I hope the workers affected will be reemployed by expanding war industries before their unemployment compensation ceases. Some of the workers affected will not, however, be eligible for such compensation and may be in need of assistance.

Rather than rely on relief a determined effort should be made to speed up reemployment in defense plants. I have, therefore, instructed the. Office of Production Management to join the procurement agencies in an effort to place contracts with those industries forced to cut their peacetime production. The ingenuity of American management has already adapted some industries to war production. Standardization and substitution are doing their part in maintaining production. Ever-increasing use of subcontracts, pooling of industrial resources, and wider distribution of contracts are of paramount importance for making the fullest use of our resources. The newly nationalized Employment Service will greatly help unemployed workers in obtaining employment.

Aids to youth. Under war conditions there is need and opportunity for youth to serve in many ways. It is therefore possible to make a considerable reduction in the programs of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the National Youth Administration. The youth, too, will be aided by the United States Employment Service in finding employment opportunities.

Although I am estimating 100 million dollars for these two agencies, excluding 50 million dollars for defense training, it is probable that the total amount will not be needed. I am postponing until next spring presentation to the Congress of specific recommendations as to youth aid.

Public works program. The public works program is being fully adjusted to the war effort. The general program of 578 million dollars includes those projects necessary for increasing production of hydroelectric power, for flood control, and for river and harbor work related to military needs. Federal aid for highways will be expended only for construction essential for strategic purposes. Other highway projects will be deferred until the postwar period. For all other Federal construction I am restricting expenditures to those active projects which cannot be discontinued without endangering the structural work now in progress.

Civil departments and agencies. The work of the civil departments and agencies is undergoing thorough reorientation. Established agencies will be used to the greatest possible extent for defense services. Many agencies have already made such readjustment. All civil activities of the Government are being focused on the war program.

Federal grants and debt service. A few categories of civil expenditures show an increase. Under existing legislation Federal grants to match the appropriations for public assistance made by the individual States will increase by 73 million dollars. I favor an amendment to the Social Security Act which would modify matching grants to accord with the needs of the various States. Such legislation would probably not affect expenditures substantially during the next fiscal year.

Because of heavy Federal borrowing, interest charges are expected to increase by 139 million dollars in the current fiscal year, and by another 500 million dollars in the fiscal year 1943. Debt service is, of course, affected by war spending.

COORDINATION OF FISCAL POLICIES. The fiscal policy of the Federal Government, especially with respect to public works, is being reinforced by that of State and local governments. Executive committees of the Council of State Governments and the Governors' Conference have issued excellent suggestions for harmonizing various aspects of State and local fiscal policy with national objectives. These governments are readjusting many of their services so as to expedite the war program. Many are making flexible plans for the postwar readjustment and some are accumulating financial reserves for that purpose. The larger the scale of our war effort, the more important it becomes to provide a reservoir of postwar work by business and by Federal, State, and local governments.


Determination, skill, and materiel are three great necessities for victory. Methods of financing may impair or strengthen these essentials. Sound fiscal policies are those which will help win the war. A fair distribution of the war burden is necessary for national unity. A balanced financial program will stimulate the productivity of the Nation and assure maximum output of war equipment.

With total war expenditures, including net outlays of Government corporations, estimated at 26 billion dollars for the current fiscal year and almost 56 billion dollars for the fiscal year 1943, war finance is a task of tremendous magnitude requiring a concerted program of action.

RECEIPTS UNDER PRESENT LEGISLATION. Total receipts from existing tax legislation will triple under the defense and war programs. They are expected to increase from 6 billion dollars in the fiscal year 1940 to 18 billion dollars in the fiscal year 1943. This increase is due partly to the expansion of economic activities and partly to tax legislation enacted during the last two years. As we approach full use of our resources, further increases in revenue next year must come predominantly from new tax measures rather than from a greater tempo of economic activity. Taxes on incomes, estates, and corporate profits are showing the greatest increase. Yields from employment taxes are increasing half as fast; and the yields from excise taxes are increasing more slowly; customs are falling off. On the whole, our tax system has become more progressive since the defense effort started.

DEFICITS UNDER PRESENT LAWS. The estimate of deficits must be tentative and subject to later revision. The probable net outlay of the Budget and Government corporations, excluding revenues from any new taxes, will be 20.9 billion dollars for the current fiscal year, and 45.4 billion dollars for the fiscal year 1943. Borrowing from trust funds will reduce the amounts which must be raised by taxation and borrowing from the public by about 2 billion dollars in the fiscal year 1942 and 2.8 billion dollars in the fiscal year 1943.

· In estimating expenditures and receipts, only a moderate rise in prices has been assumed. Since expenditures are affected by rising prices more rapidly than are revenues, a greater price increase would further increase the deficit.

THE NEED FOR ADDITIONAL TAXES. In view of the tremendous deficits, I reemphasize my request of last year that war expenditures be financed as far as possible by taxation. When so many Americans are contributing all their energies and even their lives to the Nation's great task, I am confident that all Americans will be proud to contribute their utmost in taxes. Until this job is done, until this war is won, we will not talk of burdens.

I believe that 7 billion dollars in additional taxes should be collected during the fiscal year 1943. Under new legislation proposed later in this Message, social security trust funds will increase by 2 billion dollars. Thus new means of financing would provide a total of 9 billion dollars in the fiscal year 1943.

Specific proposals to accomplish this end will be transmitted in the near future. In this Message I shall limit my recommendations on war finance to the broad outline of a program.

Tax programs too often follow the line of least resistance. The present task definitely requires enactment of a well-balanced program which takes account of revenue requirements, equity, and economic necessities.

There are those who suggest that the policy of progressive taxation should be abandoned for the duration of the war because these taxes do not curtail consumers' demand. The emergency does require measures of a restrictive nature which impose sacrifices on all of us. But such sacrifices are themselves the most compelling argument for making progressive taxes more effective. The anti-inflationary aspect of taxation should supplement, not supplant, its revenue and equity aspects.

PROGRESSIVE TAXES. Progressive taxes are the backbone of the Federal tax system. In recent years much progress has been made in perfecting income, estate, gift, and profit taxation but numerous loopholes still exist. Because some taxpayers use them to avoid taxes, other taxpayers must pay more. The higher the tax rates the more urgent it becomes to close the loopholes. Exemptions in estate and gift taxation should be lowered. The privileged treatment given certain types of business in corporate income taxation should be reexamined.

It seems right and just that no further tax-exempt bonds should be issued. We no longer issue United States tax-exempt bonds and it is my personal belief that the income from State, municipal, and authority bonds is taxable under the income-tax amendment to the Constitution. As a matter of equity I recommend legislation to tax all future issues of this character.

Excessive profits undermine unity and should be recaptured. The fact that a corporation had large profits before the defense program started is no reason to exempt them now. Unreasonable profits are not necessary to obtain maximum production and economical management. Under war conditions the country cannot tolerate undue profits.

Our tax laws contain various technical inequities and discriminations. With taxes at wartime levels, it is more urgent than ever to eliminate these defects in our tax system.

ANTI-INFLATIONARY TAXES. I stated last year in the Budget Message that extraordinary tax measures may be needed to "aid in avoiding inflationary price rises which may occur when full capacity is approached." The time for such measures has come. A well-balanced tax program must include measures which combat inflation. Such measures should absorb some of the additional purchasing power of consumers and some of the additional funds which accrue to business from increased consumer spending.

A number of tax measures have been suggested for that purpose, such as income taxes collected at the source, pay-roll taxes, and excise taxes. I urge the Congress to give all these proposals careful consideration. Any tax is better than an uncontrolled price rise.

Taxes of an anti-inflationary character at excessive rates spell hardship in individual cases and may have undesirable economic repercussions. These can be mitigated by timely adoption of a variety of measures, each involving a moderate rate of taxation.

Any such tax should be considered an emergency measure. It may help combat inflation; its repeal in a postwar period may help restore an increased flow of consumers' purchasing power.

Excise taxes. All through the years of the depression I opposed general excise and sales taxes and I am as convinced as ever that they have no permanent place in the Federal tax system. In the face of the present financial and economic situation, however, we may later be compelled to reconsider the temporary necessity of such measures.

Selective excise taxes are frequently useful for curtailing the demand for consumers' goods, especially luxuries and semiluxuries. They should be utilized when manufacture of the products competes with the war effort.

Payroll-taxes and the social security program. I oppose the use of pay-roll taxes as a measure of war finance unless the worker is given his full money's worth in increased social security. From the inception of the social security program in 1935 it has been planned to increase the number of persons covered and to provide protection against hazards not initially included. By expanding the program now, we advance the organic development of our social security system and at the same time contribute to the anti-inflationary program.

I recommend an increase in the coverage of old-age and survivors' insurance, addition of permanent and temporary disability payments and hospitalization payments beyond the present benefit programs, and liberalization and expansion of unemployment compensation in a uniform national system. I suggest that collection of additional contributions be started as soon as possible, to be followed one year later by the operation of the new benefit plans.

Additional employer and employee contributions will cover increased disbursements over a long period of time. Increased contributions would result in reserves of several billion dollars for postwar contingencies. The present accumulation of these contributions would absorb excess purchasing power. Investment of the additional reserves in bonds of the United States Government would assist in financing the war.

The existing administrative machinery for collecting pay-roll taxes can function immediately. For this reason Congressional consideration might be given to immediate enactment of this proposal, while other necessary measures are being perfected.

I estimate that the social security trust funds would be increased through the proposed legislation by 2 billion dollars during the fiscal year 1943.

FLEXIBILITY IN THE TAX SYSTEM. Our fiscal situation makes imperative the greatest possible flexibility in our tax system. The Congress should consider the desirability of tax legislation which makes possible quick adjustment in the timing of tax rates and collections during an emergency period.

BORROWING AND THE MENACE OF INFLATION. The war program requires not only substantially increased taxes but also greatly increased borrowing. After adjusting for additional tax collections and additional accumulation in social security trust funds, borrowing from the public in the current and the next fiscal year would be nearly 19 billion dollars and 34 billion dollars, respectively.

Much smaller deficits during the fiscal year 1941 were associated with a considerable increase in prices. Part of this increase was a recovery from depression lows. A moderate price rise, accompanied by an adjustment of wage rates, probably facilitated the increase in production and the defense effort. Another part of the price rise, however, was undesirable and must be attributed to the delays in enacting adequate measures of price control.

With expenditures and deficits multiplied, the threat of inflation will apparently be much greater. There is, however, a significant difference between conditions as they were in the fiscal year 1941 and those prevailing under a full war program. Last year, defense expenditures so stimulated private capital outlays that intensified use of private funds and private credit added to the inflationary pressure created by public spending.

Under a full war program, however, most of the increase in expenditures will replace private capital outlays rather than add to them. Allocations and priorities, necessitated by shortages of material, are now in operation; they curtail private outlays for consumers' durable goods, private and public construction, expansion and even replacements in non-defense plants and equipment. These drastic curtailments of non-defense expenditures add, therefore, to the private funds available for non-inflationary financing of the Government deficit.

This factor will contribute substantially to financing the tremendous war effort without disruptive price rises and without necessitating a departure from our low-interest-rate policy. The remaining inflationary pressure will be large but manageable. It will be within our power to control it if we adopt a comprehensive program of additional anti-inflationary measures.

A COMPREHENSIVE ANTI-INFLATIONARY PROGRAM. t great variety of measures is necessary in order to shift labor, materials, and facilities from the production of civilian articles to the production of weapons and other war supplies. Taxes can aid in speeding these shifts by cutting non-essential civilian spending. Our resources are such that even with the projected huge war expenditures we can maintain a standard of living more than adequate to support the health and productivity of our people. But we must forgo many conveniences and luxuries.

The system of allocations—rationing on the business level should be extended and made fully effective, especially with relation to inventory control.

I do not at present propose general consumer ration cards. There are not as yet scarcities in the necessities of life which make such a step imperative. Consumers' rationing has been introduced, however, in specific commodities for which scarcities have developed. We shall profit by this experience if a more general system of rationing ever becomes necessary.

I appeal for the voluntary cooperation of the consumer in our national effort. Restraint in consumption, especially of scarce products, may make necessary fewer compulsory measures. Hoarding should be encouraged in only one field, that of defense savings bonds. Economies in consumption and the purchase of defense savings bonds will facilitate financing war costs and the shift from a peace to a war economy.

An integrated program, including direct price controls, a flexible tax policy, allocations, rationing, and credit controls, together with producers' and consumers' cooperation will enable us to finance the war effort without danger of inflation. This is a difficult task. But it must be done and it can be done.


On the basis of tentative Budget estimates, including new taxes, the Federal debt will increase from 43 billion dollars in June, 1940, when the defense program began, to 110 billion dollars three years later. This increase in Federal indebtedness covers also the future capital demands of Government corporations. About 2 billion dollars of this increase will result from the redemption of notes of Government corporations guaranteed by the Federal Government.

These debt levels require an increase in the annual interest from i billion dollars in 1940 to above 2.5 billion dollars at the end of fiscal year 1943. Such an increase in interest requirements will prevent us for some time after the war from lowering taxes to the extent otherwise possible. The import of this fact will depend greatly on economic conditions in the postwar period.

Paying 2.5 billion dollars out of an extremely low national income would impose an excessive burden on taxpayers while the same payment out of a 100-billion-dollar national income, after reduction of armament expenditures, may still permit substantial tax reductions in the postwar period.

If we contract a heavy debt at relatively high prices and must pay service charges in a period of deflated prices, we shall be forced to impose excessive taxes. Our capacity to carry a large debt in a postwar period without undue hardship depends mainly on our ability to maintain a high level of employment and income.

I am confident that by prompt action we shall control the price development now and that we shall prevent the recurrence of a deep depression in the postwar period. There need be no fiscal barriers to our war effort and to victory.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Annual Budget Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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