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The CHAIRMAN. It was put in the Congressional Record.
Mr. WHITLOCK. Mr. Bowles is not opposed to the National Housing Administration. Mr. Bowles did write to Mr. Wyatt and outlined his entire program, and that program is based on a complete elimination of private enterprise.
The CHAIRMAN. It was put in effect by the Congress.
Mr. WHITLOCK. It is put in effect by Congress and we have serious doubts as to some of the aspects of that.
The CHAIRMAN. The reorganization plan has nothing to do with that.
Mr. HOFFMAN. What I get from his argument is that it makes it permanent.
Mr. WHITLOCK. It proposes to make the present set-up permanent. Mr. Wyatt's housing program will be coordinated with it, and I want to read you two or three of those sentences to show how gravely we are concerned.
No one believes for a moment that we can get this housing by giving construction industry its head. Anyone who argues for reliance upon the industry and upon traditional methods is arguing that we ignore the problem we face.
A little later on, when he described how this would be done by this work program, putting everything together to get production, and so forth, he said:
The way we tackled these problems during the war was to set our target, then to work out what that target required in terms of materials, in terms of manpower, and in terms of facilities needed to combine the materials and the manpower to get the scheduled production. All that meant central planning.
Mr. HOFFMAN. I understand that the chairman thinks that by passing the House bill a few days ago the Congress gave you exactly what you are objecting to. Is that not your point, Mr. Chairman?
The CHAIRMAN. It is one of the things he is objecting to.
Mr. WHITLOCK. I am objecting. We have serious doubts as to the purpose behind some of these proposals submitted to Congress.
Mr. HOFFMAN. The chairman seems to think I think that that closes the door in your face, now.
The CHAIRMAN. No; I say that is one of his objections.
Mr. HOFFMAN. I get his argument to be that if we go ahead with this plan and adopt this instead of being a temporary measure, the housing plan we passed the other day or being one which we could get rid of, that this would fasten it on them permanently. Is that what you are trying to tell us?
Mr. WHITLOCK. That is exactly right.
Mr. JUDD. It is as bad as the veterans' program we set up the other day.
Mr. WHITLOCK. That program has an expiration date of December 31, 1947. As to whether it will be extended, I think a lot depends upon whether or not it is effective.
The CHAIRMAN. You will never live to get out of any emergency, I do not think.
Mr. WHITLOCK. One of the things we have great doubts about, in this program and that program, is that when the housing is not made available, because of the confusion and restrictions and obstacles being placed in our way, we again will be blamed as we have been
blamed for creating this emergency, and it will lead to even further control and even greater restrictions and greater reorganization plans which leads step by step to the type of socialistic economy that England has. We find a great similarity in all of these proposals. If you will read Robert Lasch's book, he is an editorial writer for the Chicago Sun and one of the great advocates of these plans, he points out that the No. 1 plan to socialize this economy is to make permanent the National Housing Administration.
Mr. HOFFMAN. Do you see anything significant in this situation where we are short on farm machinery throughout the country? Now there is a strike on at International Harvester and has been for some time, and at J. I. Case, and then Schwellenbach announces that if they do not get together and settle that strike the Government is going to take over. I say, is that a part of the scheme?
Mr. WHITLOCK. Well, of course, I am not completely conversant with all of the problems that arise with all of the different manufactured items but we certainly feel very keenly in the construction field that the production of materials continues to be held up by obstacles that have been created for us. I have no doubt it is being created in other fields as well.
Mr. HOFFMAN. I believe you have said yours is a national organization of manufacturers of building materials and equipment?
Mr. WHITLOCK. That is equipment for buildings; it is things like bathtubs, electrical fixtures, hardware, as well as ice boxes and so forth.
Mr. HOFFMAN. I just wanted to call to your attention the fact that Mr. Schwellenbach in effect is now telling the Case Co. and the International Harvester Co. who make farm machinery that if they do not pay up or make settlement with the strikers that the Govern ment is going to take over and make it for them. That may happen to this business.
Mr. WHITLOCK. Another thing you are doing by creating the Na. tional Housing Administration and the powers in this organization plan, is to let them engage in statistical work and research work.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. What is the provision that authorizes that?
Mr. WHITLOCK. It is on page 11, section 506 (b) which says: the conduct of any research or statistical activities relating to any function of the National Housing Agency or any of its constituent units
Mr. WHITTINGTON. What is the function now!
Mr. WHITTINGTON. The function must be authorized by existing law. Now what new functions to which these statistics will be applicable is contained in that proposal? I am not quibbling with you now, but I just want to know.
Mr. WHITLOCK. Let me show you the existing law that we have that is untried at the time. The veterans emergency housing program authorizes large sums of money for investigation and research and the development of information. It is a very broad power.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I am thoroughly familiar and I think it has gone too far, but getting back to my question here, where is any research of any function except the functions presently authorized by law contained i nthis proposal ?
Mr. HOFFMAN. Let me answer for him, will you? Now under this bill we passed the other day, they are going to build some houses for the veterans. If they want to make research and they find out how long to make a bathtub, they go to gathering statistics. They get statistics on the weight and size and everything else.
The CHAIRMAN. They can do that now.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. The point is, there is nothing new in this bill about that.
Mr. HOFFMAN. It makes it permanent. They can make plans for the next hundred years.
Mr. Rich. I think the gentleman is calling your attention to something vitally important to this bill.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. It is a function we have already authorized.
Mr. Rich. I think he should be congratulated for emphasizing it and we should take recognition of that fact.
Mr. WHITLOCK. The functions that you authorized extent to December 31, 1947, under the emergency housing act. Now it is proposed to put all of these functions into one agency. We are putting financial organizations, we are putting public housing, we are putting veterans housing with the exception of the Veterans' Administration which is a part of this, all in one kettle. We have seen in the last few months statistics used to advocate rather than formulate policies. It gives us great pause, and I think it should give Congress great pause, to put such great power into a centralized organization.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. It is bad enough to give us the facts but to add to the facts does not help. My point is that these functions of which you speak and that I personally condemn and oppose are going to expire and they are not being continued by this act unless Congress provides for that.
Mr.WHITLOCK. Under this plan, the control over the functions of the leading agencies will be a little tighter, a little more complete, and of course permanent. We regret abolition of the individual administrators, and the loss of their independence. We believe in the organizations being returned to the Federal Loan Agency which is a credit facility for the Government and the public housing going to the Federal Works Administration which is a Federal Works organization rather than put them all together into a housing program. We see the confusion and feel the impact of the restrictions of OPA and NHA, and CPA and all these other things that are preventing us from going ahead; we think it is time for this Congress, even though we do believe in reorganization, to look more carefully at plan No. 1 and not rush into this thing which will leave this construction industry and 20 percent of our economy permanently cramped.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I will tell you what is bothering me now, with your statement, and I think you are very helpful, if you return this Federal Housing to the Federal Works Agency.
Mr. WHITLOCK. Do you mean the Federal Loan Agency?
Mr. WHITTINGTON. No; the Federal Works Agency. I am not talking about the Home Owners Land Bank and Savings; they go back to a loan agency, but under this law, this Federal Housing Agency
goes back to the Federal Works Agency. Now the Federal Works Agency has recommended in this Congress, and this Congress of which I am a Member has provided at their request, millions multiplied millions of dollars that they are making available to the governmental institutions in all these districts in the United States who prepare plans for public works, and that law provides that if Congress does not in the future provide money for that work, that they will not have to repay those loans. Now frankly, I think that Agency thus conducted is just as unfortunate as the Federal Housing, and I am just afraid with all due deference if we turn over to that Federal Works Agency, there will be the same pressure and the high pressure not only of the Agency itself, but practically every local institution and everybody's town where they furnish money for schools and stores and everything.
Mr. Rich. Why do you not do away with a lot of these laws and let private enterprise go out and build these houses?
Mr. HOFFMAN. That would wreck the New Deal.
Mr. Rich. You would get them cheaper than you will through the operation of this Government. The quicker the Members of Congress realize that, and do the things that this gentleman is trying to tell you to do, the better this country is going to be off.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I am agreeable with you but if you do not put this Federal Housing back under the Federal Works, where it goes automatically, the thing that bothers me is, that it is just as extreme as the Federal Housing Agency itself.
Mr. WHITLOCK. Mr. Congressman, we feel just as gravely concerned about the likelihood that the National Housing Administration will ask the Congress for millions of dollars. We have seen the present National Housing Administrator ask for $600,000,000 - and get $400,000,000 to subsidize building material producers when there was not a producer wanting a subsidy. We think it is time for Congress to stop granting these great sums of money to people who do not want them. I do not see what assurance that you have that this reorganized NHA will not be doing exactly what you are objecting to in FHA.
Mr. WHITTINGTON. I cannot see where they will do a thing in the world unless Congress provides the fund for them to do it in the future.
Mr. HOFFMAN. Well, we will do that; you know that..
Mr. WHITLOCK. Mr. Chairman, we are gravely concerned, and I cannot make it too emphatic that this plan No. 1, coming in here at this late hour of Congress, with all its grave implications to 20 percent of our national economy should not be passed at this time. It ought not to be allowed to become a law by default. This concurrent resolution should be enacted in order for us to take a look at this entire housing program and see what is behind it and see the social implications of it, from what we see in the Bowles letter and the Lasch book and the smothering of statistics by the NHA in not releasing statistics until the Bureau of the Budget finally insisted it be released which would be contrary to the policies they advocate, we think it is time for you to take a look at these things and not rush through legislation.
The CHAIRMAN. Has your organization made any studies and could they make any recommendations to our committee about how to reorganize some of the Government?
Mr. WHITLOCK. We believe and advocate very sincerely to you that the reorganization plan of 1939, of putting the financing facilities of the construction under the Federal Loan Agency or the Treasury Department where the credit facilities of this Government are administered is the right way. We believe that public housing is a public works that should go into the Federal Works Agency. Now when you get that down you have a reorganization and a sound functional reorganization. This kind of a plan puts money building and everything else together and then the NHA Administrator comes up here and does what he did recently and asks for $600,000,000 to give to people who do not want it and even today, in spite of the fact he said we are losing 3,000 houses a day. There has not been a single subsidy paid to a producer. We are telling you now that this reorganization plan ought not to go on the books. It should not go on the books by default.
The CHAIRMAN. Our committee does not go along with that kind of thing. It is another kind of committee of the House.
Mr. WHITLOCK. If your committee does not go along with this, Mr. Chairman, I have no doubt you will report this concurrent resolution out favorably and get action on it before it is too late.
Mr. Rich. Mr. Chairman, he is giving you something sound. You better drink it in.
Mr. JUDD. Mr. Chairman, I want to make an observation. Of the entire number who are on this committee, there are only a few of us here to listen to this testimony. The remainder of the committee will say, “all right, let the thing go through.” That is what it serves me. I sometimes think we should have a quorum here. If they are not going to come and hear the testimony, they will come along at the last minute and vote against these resolutions to block this plan.
Mr. Rich. The ones that are going to come in here are the ones that are going to vote against the testimony that the gentleman is giving right now. We should have the rest of them here or we should not sit.
The CHAIRMAN. We have 21 members, and there is a lot of pressure on the Congress to cut the committees down to a lower level thereby increasing the size of each committee.
Mr. HOFFMAN. There were two of us to start with, and now there are five.
The CHAIRMAN. I have no power to arrest the members and we have these men here to testify.
Mr. Judd. It is disturbing to go through all the trouble of trying to get the truth, and then be voted down by Members of Congress who do not come to a single hearing.
Mr. RICH. I think the five of us who are here all agree with the gentleman, but we will bring in the other fellows and they will outvote us and we will have spent our time here in vain.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you very much, Mr. Whitlock.
The next witness is Mr. James B. Burns, of the American Federation of Government Employees.