August 8, 1936 - Article - The Spenders, by Raymond G. Carroll

The twelve leading listed alphabeticals of the New Deal alone have dispensed, since they took over, between $20,000,000,000 and $25,000,000,000, a range that makes adequate allowance for loans that have been repaid and for possible bookkeeping overlapping. The exact sum is $22,158,164,006 up to dates within the current six months, according to data graciously supplied by officials.

This spending takes no account of more than $2,000,000,000 credit and cash allotted for the bonus up to July 1, 1936, nor the $250,000,000 or more asked for by the President to finance the Social Security Act up to July 1, 1937.

"How much cash and credit of the United States Government has been spent since March 4, 1933?" I finally asked a very high-placed official.

He answered calmly enough: "I do not know. I do not suppose anybody knows." (pg. 23)

I had luncheon recently with an idealist of the New Deal who is supreme in a small alphabetical that had just been allotted $100,000,000, and he could hardly lift his demitasse to his lips for the trembling of his hand. Power over the spending of so much money was beyond his wildest dreams, and here he was in possession of it.

Pride in size of spending develops withing each of the groups. It extends form the sumptuous head offices to the vast long rooms with regiments of typewriter desks and filing cabinets. In a Washington, D.C., boardinghouse, two junior clerks working for rival alphabeticals nearly came to blows. One employed by the WPA shouted: "We have spent the most money." The other, from PWA, taunted back: "Yes, but only if you include FERA, which gave away money and has nothing to show for it.

So we have petty wars between the alphabeticals; their quarreling over which has made the best showing, which has got off with the least criticism, which shall have the largest slice of the last current emergency appropriation and which establishment the sooner will pass into a permanent phase of Government.

The record follows:

PWA - Public Works Administration - to March 31, 1936, spent $3,124,667,407.

FERA - Federal Emergency Relief Administration - to January 1, 1936, spent $2,905,701,296, matching state funds of $522,779,649 and local funds of $667,952,422.

WPA - Works Progress Administration - is now in the process of spending and lending $1,169,650,880, and further allocations are being made to it, both from the $4,880,000,000 emergency fund of 1935, and the new $1,425,000,000 to meet current relief needs.

RA - Resettlement Administration - to March 1, 1936, spent $169,136,145 upon some 586 projects.

FHA - Federal Housing Administration - to January 1, 1936, distributed credit amounting to $424,665,592 among 750,552 borrowers.....

HOLC - Home Owners' Loan Corporation - to January 2, 1936, made 972,590 loans aggregating $2,941,755,526......

ECW - Emergency Conservation Work - operating 2427 Civilian Conservation camps on January 1, 1936, to that date had spent $1,089,111,441.

AAA - Agricultural Adjustment Administration - to March 1, 1936, had distributed $1,492,004,138, which includes $279,449,417 not allocable to particular states.

CCC - Commodity Credit Corporation - to January 1, 1936, had loaned $524,636,933, which included 1933-34 cotton loans of $99,498,491....

FCA - Farm Credit Administration - loans and discounts outstanding December 1, 1935, were $3,313,595,384, including $89,988,050 not allocable to particular states.

RFC - Reconstruction Finance Corporation - made disbursements to January 1, 1936, of $4,200, 539,993.....

CWA - Civil Works Administration - to April 1, 1935, when discontinued and seemingly forgotten, spent $802,699,271. (pp. 68-69)

There is no question but that the New Deal contributions to some states are all out of proportion to gifts and loans to other states. These inequalities reflect primarily the trading ability of the applicants, plus a willingness to support the political machine developed behind the screen of the humanitarian and eleemosynary alphabeticals. I heard laughter in the House when a sincere member warned: "Somehow, all too many of our citizens seem to believe that the federal Government has money in limitless supply."

A United States senator was speaking of what his state already had got out of the New Deal Clearing House: "I regard it as money that came back home; prodigal-son money. Should I have stood aside and let some other state infringe upon the quota my state was entitled to> To have gone after it as I did was my best bet. It was common sense, and I am not ashamed of my action either." (pg. 70)

Comments: Some of this money was in the form of loans. This would be prodigal-son money that was to be paid back with interest. Imagine the Federal Government taxing the people and then loaning the money they taxed from them back with interest. Sound like a good plan to you? At any rate, FDR's next landslide election victory was being bought, although at a very high price.

Back to Old Weekly Press Table of Contents

Home