The President's News Conference
EMERGENCY RELIEF AND CONSTRUCTION LEGISLATION
THE PRESIDENT. The urgent question today is the prompt balancing of the budget. When that is accomplished I propose to support adequate measures for relief of distress and unemployment. In the meantime it is essential that there should be an understanding of the character of the draft bill [H.R. 12353] made public yesterday in the House of Representatives for this purpose. That draft bill supports some proposals we have already made in aid to unemployment through the use of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to make loans for projects which have been in abeyance and which proposal makes no drain on the taxpayer. But in addition it proposes to expend about $900 million for Federal public works.
I believe that the American people will grasp the economic fact that such action would require appropriations to be made to the Federal departments, thus creating a deficit in the budget that could only be met with more taxes and more Federal bond issues. This makes balancing of the budget hopeless. The country also understands that an unbalanced budget means the loss of confidence of our own people and of other nations in the credit and stability of the Government and that the consequences are national demoralization and the loss of 10 times as many jobs as would be created by this program even if it could be physically put into action.
An examination of only one group of these proposals--that is, proposed authorizations for new post offices--shows a list of about 2,300 such buildings, at a total cost of about $150 million. The Post Office Department informs me that the interest and upkeep of these buildings would amount to $14 million per annum, whereas the upkeep and rent of buildings at present in use amounts to less than $3 million. Many of the other groups in this will no more stand the light of day than this example.
A total of over 3,500 projects of various kinds are proposed in this bill, scattered into every quarter of the United States. Many of these projects have heretofore been discredited by Congress because of useless extravagance involved. Many were originally authorized as justified only in the long-distant future. I do not believe that 20 percent could be brought to the stage of employment for a year. I am advised by the engineers that the amount of labor required to complete a group of $400 million of these works would amount to only 100,000 men for 1 year because they are in large degree mechanized jobs.
This is not unemployment relief. It is the most gigantic pork barrel ever proposed to the American Congress. It is an unexampled raid on the Public Treasury.
Detailed lists of these projects have been broadcast to every part of the country during the past 24 hours, to the cities, towns, villages, and sections who would receive a portion of this pork barrel. It is apparently expected that the cupidity of these towns and sections will demand that their Congressmen and Senators vote for this bill or threaten to penalize them if they fail to join in this squandering of money.
I just do not believe that such lack of intelligence or cupidity exists amongst the people of the United States. If that shall prove true, then this is not the United States that had the intelligence to frame the Constitution of this Republic, which fought the War of the Revolution, or the Civil War, or the World War, that it might be forged into the greatest Nation of the world, the whole foundations of which are common sense, honesty, character, and idealism. Our Nation was not rounded on the pork barrel, and it has not become great by political logrolling. I hope that those many Members of Congress of both parties who I know will oppose this bill will receive the definite support of the people in their districts in resisting it.
Note: President Hoover's two hundred and fiftieth news conference was held in the White House at 4 p.m. on Friday, May 27, 1932.
On the same day, the White House issued a text of the President's statement on the emergency relief and construction legislation (see Item 183).
Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/206981