Sunday, May 10, 2020

From the Archives: Can Hoover Normalize Mass Unemployment?

Page One, May 9, 1932:

Hoover Claims Job Losses Normal
And Next Year Will Be 'Tremendous'


Predicts 'Transition to Greatness'

Warns against Socialist Solutions 

By David Bloviator
Political Editor
with William Manchester, Researcher

WASHINGTON, D.C. –With close to one in four Americans jobless and destitute, President Herbert Hoover's re-election campaign team is crafting a message emphasizing that such unemployment levels are “to be expected in the early stages of an economic recovery” and that 1933 will be a “tremendous” year for the U.S. economy if he is re-elected.

He plans to stress that the future of the economy depends on his re-election because “only I  can save you.”  He will also criticize the likely Democratic nominee, New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, as an “out-of-touch coastal elitist” who offers “Socialist tyranny.”

Yet privately Hoover's campaign advisers admit that his campaign faces challenges after three years of Depression, and the unrelenting gloomy headlines of factories closing and men thrown out of work.

The Administration claims that the current crisis is in fact laying the basis for a great economic recovery.  But in doing so, the administration is effectively bowing to — and asking Americans to accept — a devastating proposition: that a steady, daily accumulation of unemployment and poverty is the grim cost of economic revival.  Inside the West Wing, some officials talk about the federal government’s economic recovery mission as largely accomplished because they believe the nation’s factories are now equipped to meet anticipated demand.

However sources close to the campaign remain concerned about how successful they will be in distracting the electorate from the grim economic toll:  12 million unemployed, 34 million without any income, before taking into account the 11 million farm families enduring an unprecedented collapse in commodity prices.

On Friday, as the unemployment rate reached a historically high 23.6 percent, Hoover urged Americans to think of this period as a “transition to greatness,” adding during a meeting with Republican members of Congress: “We’re going to do something very fast, and we’re going to have a phenomenal year next year.”

President Herbert Hoover called reports of
mass homelessness and poverty . . .
But Hoover’s outward projections of assurance and hope masked the more sober acknowledgments of some outside advisers and experts who worry the number of unemployed  will either stabilize around 12,000,000 or continue to climb over the next month.  “The question is, will people become anesthetized to it? Are they willing to accept that?” said one adviser to the White House recovery task force who, like many others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters or offer candid assessments.

Hoover is also offering a version of events that some critics say may not be fully reflective of facts on the ground.  At a recent news conference, President Hoover told reporters that “nobody is actually starving.  The hoboes are better fed than they ever have been.  One hobo in New York got ten meals a day.”

He dismissed widespread newspaper reports of famine, want, and homelessness as “fake news.” and said that reporters should be “ashamed” of printing those reports.

Hoover's campaign officials stress that if the election is a referendum on the last four years, the President is in trouble.  However, they intend to make the election a choice between the President's stable genius leadership and what they see as the “feckless Socialism” of Gov. Roosevelt.

They will attack Gov. Roosevelt for putting traditional American liberties in peril by introducing a minimum wage and limits on hours worked in New York State, which Hoover's experts believe will only make the Depression worse by limiting the freedom of job-creators to hire and fire freely.  Hoover believes that the Governor's program of offering “make-work” public-sector jobs will prove to be a political loser.

. . . Fake News
The Hoover re-election team will exploit divisions in the Democratic Party by appealing to former Smith supporters who see Roosevelt as a dangerous radical and depressing turnout among progressives by repeating the left-wing critique of Roosevelt  as (according to The Nation) a “Hoover by another name.”

Some Hoover campaign advisers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters or offer candid assessments, implied that Gov. Roosevelt had a number of weaknesses that could be exploited by the Hoover campaign.

“We will ask the real American people who don't live in hotbeds of elitism like New York whether they want to give the Presidency to a not very bright cripple who is dominated by sinister globalists like Henry Morgenthau,” said one Hoover aide.

Some of Hoover's more extreme business associates, such as New York slumlord Fred Trumpf, have urged the President to appeal to white racists by noting that Roosevelt's social welfare programs would necessarily involve giving government money and jobs to Negroes.  But other more mainstream Republican sources urge Hoover not to go down that path, telling him that an increasingly destitute white electorate would never buy such obvious twaddle. 

No comments:

Post a Comment