Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933

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Author: Franklin D. Roosevelt  | Date: May 17, 1933

66 Message to Congress Recommending Enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act.
May 17, 1933

To the Congress:
Before the Special Session of the Congress adjourns, I recommend two further steps in our national campaign to put people to work.

My FIRST request is that the Congress provide for the machinery necessary for a great cooperative movement throughout all industry in order to obtain wide reemployment, to shorten the working week, to pay a decent wage for the shorter week and to prevent unfair competition and disastrous overproduction.

Employers cannot do this singly or even in organized groups, because such action increases costs and thus permits cut-throat underselling by selfish competitors unwilling to join in such a public-spirited endeavor.

One of the great restrictions upon such cooperative efforts up to this time has been our anti-trust laws. They were properly designed as the means to cure the great evils of monopolistic price fixing. They should certainly be retained as a permanent assurance that the old evils of unfair competition shall never return. But the public interest will be served if, with the authority and under the guidance of Government, private industries are permitted to make agreements and codes insuring fair competition. However, it is necessary, if we thus limit the operation of antitrust laws to their original purpose, to provide a rigorous licensing power in order to meet rare cases of non-cooperation and abuse. Such a safeguard is indispensable.

The other proposal gives the Executive full power to start a large program of direct employment. A careful survey convinces me that approximately $3,300,000,000 can be invested in useful and necessary public construction, and at the same time put the largest possible number of people to work.

Provision should be made to permit States, counties and municipalities to undertake useful public works, subject, however, to the most effective possible means of eliminating favoritism and wasteful expenditures on unwarranted and uneconomic projects.

We must, by prompt and vigorous action, override unnecessary obstructions which in the past have delayed the starting of public works programs. This can be accomplished by simple and direct procedure.

In carrying out this program it is imperative that the credit of the United States Government be protected and preserved. This means that at the same time we are making these vast emergency expenditures there must be provided sufficient revenue to pay interest and amortization on the cost and that the revenues so provided must be adequate and certain rather than inadequate and speculative.

Careful estimates indicate that at least $220,000,000 of additional revenue will be required to service the contemplated borrowings of the Government. This will of necessity involve some form or forms of new taxation. A number of suggestions have been made as to the nature of these taxes. I do not make a specific recommendation at this time, but I hope that the Committee on Ways and Means, of the House of Representatives, will make a careful study of revenue plans and be prepared by the beginning of the coming week to propose the taxes which they judge to be best adapted to meet the present need and which will at the same time be least burdensome to our people. At the end of that time, if no decision has been reached or if the means proposed do not seem to be sufficiently adequate or certain, it is my intention to transmit to the Congress my own recommendations in the matter.

The taxes to be imposed are for the purpose of providing reemployment for our citizens. Provision should be made for their reduction or elimination: First, As fast as increasing revenues from improving business become available to replace them;

Second, Whenever the repeal of the 18th Amendment now pending before the States shall have been ratified and the repeal of the Volstead Act effected. The pre-Prohibition revenue laws would then automatically go into effect and yield enough wholly to eliminate these temporary reemployment taxes.

Finally, I stress the fact that all of these proposals are based on the gravity of the emergency and that therefore it is urgently necessary immediately to initiate a reemployment campaign if we are to avoid further hardships, to sustain business improvement and to pass on to better things. For this reason I urge prompt action on this legislation.

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Chicago: Franklin D. Roosevelt, "66 Message to Congress Recommending Enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act.," Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933 in Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1938-1950), Item 210 Original Sources, accessed August 7, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9W3SWJ1U5QW53QR.

MLA: Roosevelt, Franklin D. "66 Message to Congress Recommending Enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act." Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933, in Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1938-1950), Item 210, Original Sources. 7 Aug. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9W3SWJ1U5QW53QR.

Harvard: Roosevelt, FD, '66 Message to Congress Recommending Enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act.' in Public Papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933. cited in , Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933 (New York: Russell & Russell, 1938-1950), Item 210. Original Sources, retrieved 7 August 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=9W3SWJ1U5QW53QR.