Statement on Signing the Stabilization Extension Act.
BY THE Stabilization Extension Act which I have just signed, the Congress renews the general authority vested in the executive agencies by the Emergency Price Control and Stabilization Acts to hold the line against inflation.
For more than two years, under the Emergency Price Control and Stabilization Acts, we have been fighting inflation and fighting it successfully. Although the cost of living rose substantially in the early years of the war, for a whole year the cost of living has been held without change. This, of course, was possible only with the aid of the limited subsidies authorized by the Congress. While clothing prices have risen during the past year, they have not risen enough to wipe out the reduction in retail prices of necessary food items. Meantime rents have been firmly held.
The Stabilization Extension Act represents the considered judgment of the Congress that the policies and the programs which have resulted in this achievement are sound policies and sound programs and should be continued for another year.
In particular it should be noted that the Congress rejected all pleas which would require any general change in the wage, price, and subsidy policies now in effect.
During the past three months, while the Extension Act was under consideration and debate in the Congress, the clamor of pressure groups was loud in the land. I think it is a source of gratification that in spite of this clamor the Congress has stood firm against any departure from the basic principles which have made it possible for us to hold the line.
Some of the amendments introduced in the Stabilization Extension Act may make it somewhat harder to hold the line. But I am advised by the enforcing agencies that in their opinion the line can be held against inflationary price increases if they are supported in a firm administration of the law in accordance with its basic objectives.
The provisions of the Extension Act which give me the most concern are those relating to enforcement. No act is any better than its enforcement. No act, least of all a price control act, can be effectively enforced without the support of the people affected by it. But people tend to become careless in the observance of even a good law if it is not enforced against the fringe of chiselers who will violate a law whenever they think they can get away with it.
I know that the Congress in relaxing the penalties against non-willful violations was anxious to protect only those acting in good faith and not those who do not wish to know what the law requires of them. But I fear that the changes made will weaken and obstruct the effective enforcement of the law. I hope that experience may not justify my fear. But if it should turn out that the enforcing officers encounter serious difficulties in bringing chiselers and black market operators to book, I shall ask the Congress to remove the difficulties.
In enacting the Stabilization Extension Act, the Congress has performed a signal service. It has heard and considered all the complaints against the Stabilization Act. It has tried to deal with those complaints fairly. It has shown statesmanship and courage in resisting group pressure and in protecting the public interest. By its action, it has made clear that it is the wish, not of a few Government officials, but of all our people that the line against inflation should be held.
I think the occasion is appropriate to express deep appreciation of the splendid work done by the officials charged with enforcing the stabilization program, and particularly the workers in the field offices, and in all the county war boards and the local price and rationing boards. Without them we could not have held the line. They have served their country well.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, Statement on Signing the Stabilization Extension Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/210870