Franklin D. Roosevelt

Veto of a Bill that Would Increase the Cost of Living.

February 18, 1944

To the House of Representatives:

I received yesterday afternoon, February 17, 1944—H. R. 3477 (S. 1458)—a bill which extends the life of the Commodity Credit Corporation until June 30, 1945, but which by its restrictive provisions would compel an increase in the cost of food and the cost of living to the people of the United States.

I promptly return the bill, without my signature, and urgently recommend that the Congress take action as soon as possible to extend without hampering restrictions the life of the Commodity Credit Corporation. Farmers could thereby make plans for the planting of crops and know the support prices on which they can rely.

The reasons for my disapproval of H. R. 3477—my most emphatic and vigorous disapproval—must already be known to every Senator and every Representative. The issue of using Government funds to hold down the cost of living is not a new issue and my views on it have been expressed before and at some length, particularly in my message vetoing a similar bill (H. R. 2869) on July 2, 1943.

This bill, like that bill, is an inflation measure, a high cost of living measure, a food shortage measure.

This bill will raise the cost of food in the Bureau of Labor Statistics index not less than 7 percent and will raise the whole cost of living materially.

If this bill were to become law, the housewife would soon have to pay:

     10¢ more a pound for butter

     Nearly 8¢ more a pound for cheese

     1¢ more for a quart of milk

     1¢ more for a loaf of bread

     7¢ more for a ten-pound bag of flour

     Hamburger would go up 4¢ a pound

     Pork chops would go up 4 1/2¢ a pound

     Sliced ham would go up 6 1/2¢ a pound

     Chuck roast would go up 3 1/2¢ a pound

     Round steak would go up 5¢ a pound

The cost of many other necessities would be increased materially.

While increasing the cost of living, the prohibition of consumers' subsidies will not add one dollar to the income of the farmers.

This bill would in effect reverse the policy of the Congress; in effect, it repeals the Stabilization Act of October 2, 1942.

It is clear that we cannot hold the wage line if the Congress deprives us of the means necessary to hold the cost of living line.

No major country at war today has been able to stabilize the Cost of living without the use of subsidies.

If the wage line breaks—and I do not see how it can be held if this bill becomes law—not only will food costs rise still further but all other costs will rise—including the cost of all munitions and supplies for the Army and Navy by many billions.

Not only will it cost every American family more to buy the necessities of life, not only will it cost more to run our factories and our farms, but also the costs of conducting the war will rise proportionately day by day.

The weight of the increased burden will fall on all of us, but most of all on the unorganized workers and others who live on small and relatively fixed incomes, among whom are most of the dependents of our fighting men.

The bill presented to me would destroy the stabilization program.

I cannot accept responsibility for its disastrous consequences.

I hope that the Congress will not compel these consequences.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Veto of a Bill that Would Increase the Cost of Living. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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