POLITICS JULY 5, 1954
The President’s Remarkable Firmness
The Tennessee Valley Authority needs a new plant—^with an installed capacity of 600,000 kilowatts—if it is to meet the demands of the Atomic Energy Commission: about 50 percent of TVA power goes to the AEC and another 25 percent to defense plants. But the Republican Administration does not want to appropriate funds to build this plant, So President Eisenhower has "directed" the AEC to enter "swift" negotiations with a private power syndicate to build a $107 million plant and supply present TVA customers so that tile 600,000 kilowatts needed by AEC can be supplied. TVA has been ordered to cooperate. The plan will cost taxpayers, some 4.5 million a year more than if TVA were allowed to build its own plant. Eisenhower's order has been opposed by three of the five Atomic Energy Commissioners as unsound, but they have chosen to be "good soldiers" and not buck the President.
In the Senate, Estes Kefauver and Albert Gore, both Democrats of Tennessee, have labeled the plan a maneuver to stop the growth of TVA at the expense of making AEC a "power broker." "This is about the same as directing the US Wild Life Service to run a brewery," says Kefauver. Since they are dealing with a Presidential directive, the Senators would have to pass positive legislation, to stop the plan—an amendment to the next appropriation bill, for example, could limit the AEC's authority to sign long-term contracts.
On another tack. Rep. Chet Holifield (D, Calif.), a member of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, protesting what he considers a misuse of the Atomic Energy Act, has challenged the President's authority to override a majority of the Commissioners. The President's action has raised the fundamental question of just how independent is an Independent Agency. And there is considerable doubt as to his legal authority to give such an order. It is argued that since certain powers of the President over the agency are specified in the Atomic Energy Act, he is limited to diem. If the AEC and TVA chose to take up Holifield's position, the question might have to be settled in federal court, Holifield also has requested the Securities and Exchange Commission to hold "full hearings" on the syndicate which proposes to build the plant. He wants to know if they meet all the requirements of the Public Utility Holding Company Act. The provisions of this Act have been relaxed in the past so that similar syndicates could provide power for atomic plants at Oak Ridge and Portsmouth. The reason, however, was that those plants were "urgent defense measures," an argument which would not apply in this case.
The present syndicate comprises the Middle-South ' Utilities, Inc., and the Southern Co. Sen. William Langer (R, N. Dak.) says there is evidence of "monopoly influence" in its selection. And as Chairman of the Senate Monopoly Subcommittee, he is considering an investigation. A study of testimony before the Joint Atomic Energy Committee indicates that one member firm of a competing group withdrew from the bidding under pressure. The General Accounting Office now has recommended that the contract be awarded on a competitive basis after advertising, and if "monopoly influences" are shown to have determined the government's choice, legality would be in question.
Meanwhile, negotiations on drawing up a contract are just beginning. A minimum of 60 to 90 days will be required to produce anything which could be signed, Congress will have recessed not signed, because of opposition to the President's plan or inability to arrive at mutually satisfactory terms, TVA will not be able to ask for needed appropriations until next January when Congress returns. In which case a power shortage in one of our most critical defense areas will be unavoidable. Conservative estimates indicate that TVA output will fall 2 percent below need—some one billion kilowatthours—by 1957 even if die needed plant is completed by then; if it is not, shortage will approach 10 percent. The President's plan to by-pass TVA and begin to squeeze it out of the picture will travel a rough road. Opposition in the Congress, already strong, is growing. Meanwhile, there is considerable speculation as to why a President who has been so reluctant to assert authority in so many important issues is so quick to act in matters involving public vs. private power. There would seem to be a strong influence exerted on the President whenever the issue is raised. All the evidence points to Presidential Assistant Sherman Adams.
Federal Savings and Loan Associations are familiar to almost everyone—certainly to anyone in the middle-income bracket who has ever built or thought' of building a home. They supply credit at reasonable interest rates, asking the kind of collateral that the average person can hope to supply. These associations are chartered by the Home Loan Bank Board, established in 1934 by one of the early New Deal measures, and, since then, through competition, they have been instrumental in preventing interest rates from soaring even higher than they have; They are not popular with commercial bankers. So the American Banker's Association, staunch champion of competition, has pushed a bill (S 975) designed to rid its members of this bothersome competition. The bankers' bill now has been passed by the Senate.
The matter was brought to a head by the rapid growth of new, suburban communities in this country. As these communities develop, banking interests establish branch offices on the spot in order to get as much of the home-loan business as possible. Only West Virginia outlaws all forms of branch, chain or group banking, and at present Federal Savings and Loan Associations can establish branches in all other states to compete with state, mutual and commercial banks for this new business. The American Bankers' Association bill amends the Home Owners Loan Act of 1933 so as to outlaw Federal Savings and Loan Association branches in some 23 states. Commercial banks already enjoy an advantage: their varied functions allow them to operate without branches more easily than the specialized Home Loan Associations. The new bill relieves them from what has been very healthy competition. Sen. Paul
Douglas (D, 111.) tried to amend the American Bankers' Association bill so that Federal Home Loan Associations could set up branches in any state where commercial banks can. His motion was defeated 39-31. The bill must still be passed by the House before becoming a law, however, and it will be strongly opposed there.
Democratic National Chairman Stephen B. Mitchell has brought out into the open a widely repeated Washington rumor. The Republicans, Mr. Mitchell predicted on a national television program, are planning to indict a "considerable number" of prominent Democrats this fall, in the hope of "getting some political hay out of it" in the 1954 Congressional campaign. Democratic National headquarters has received at least a dozen reports from members of Congress and state party officials of Justice Department investigations being made into their tax records and personal affairs. In some cases the investigated Democrats were told, following the inquiries, that nothing had been found against them. Several California Democrats among the many who have been under Justice Department scrutiny, however, have received no such assurances.
On the request of lawyers representing Attorney General Brownell, a number of indictments handed down by a District of Columbia Grand Jury this spring were put under judicial seal. The "political indictments" to which Mr. Mitchell referred are thought to be in this group. His prediction that the Eisenhower Administration intends to use them to influence the November results was meant as a warning that the Democrats will not take such treatment meekly. Others of Mr. Mitchell's party will now join his effort to explode the "plot" long in advance of the time the Attorney General may have set for firing it off.
A subcommittee of the House Post Office Committee is holding hearings on the latest of a rash of "mail-control" bills introduced this session. This one (H.R. 9317) is sponsored by Rep. Katherine St. George (R, N.Y .)—a lady not exactly distinguished for her concern over civil rights. She would give the Postmaster General broad powers to deny second-class (low rate) mailing privileges to publications and films "containing material contrary to the best interests of the US"—"explicitly or implicitly." As in most bills of this kind, one man is made jury, judge and prosecutor. The language is so general that the bill could be used to squash expression of any idea which might happen to be unpopular at one time or another. Even historical materials — books, periodicals, pamphlets, speeches — necessary to scholars and research workers could be banned from the low cost mails.
It is unlikely that the full Post Office Committee, facing an already heavy schedule, will act on Katherine St. George's bill this session. But the increasing number of such bills, all written so as positively to invite abuse, indicates that sooner or later a lot of Congressmen are going to push for passage of some such legislation and that stopping them will not be easy.
Michigan: Division in the Democratic camp
If he had it his own way, Michigan's deliberate Democratic Governor G. Mennen Williams would have picked almost any other year to slug out in the primary with opponents of his own party. For this is his political payoff year. A re-election victory would make Williams the first fourth-termer ever in Michigan history. Then, reason his palace guard, he could virtually write his Washington ticket in a 1956 Democratic Administration — perhaps even call forth a lightning strike at the next national convention.
But Michigan Republican strategists, who know very well what Williams has at stake this fall, have a nationally significant re-election problem of their own in the wobbly campaign of GOP Senate Policy Chairman Homer Ferguson.' So they have finagled adeptly in Detroit labor rivalries to assure deadly earnest factional war in the August Democratic primary.
Although he faces no personal opposition for the gubernatorial nomination, Williams must put down primary insurrections against both former Sen. Blair Moody—^his 1951 appointee to the late Arthur Vandenberg's seat, now out to unseat Ferguson—and handpicked Lieutenant Governor hopeful Philip A. Hart Somehow, Williams must take his stand without fanning a blaze that could burn down the whole Michigan Fair Deal Democratic edifice he has been building since 1948.
Ever since Princeton-educated "Soapy" got his upset first-term start in a Michigan companion piece to Truman's victory over Dewey, a sorehead Old Guard —led by AFL Teamsters attorney George Fitzgerald—^has been out for "Soapy's" scalp. On the record, Fitzgerald has attacked "behind the scenes CIO control" in Lansing. But the real sin Williams committed was that he attracted a broad flow of new Democrats into the party. Suburban Grosse Point ladies who called him Mennen and had good government on their minds always seemed to be in the way when patronage questions came up or there were precinct committee vacancies to be filled. Together with Michigan CIO chiefs August Sidolle and Tom
Downs, Williams and his energetic lieutenants pushed Fitzgerald into the background.
Until the current campaign, former National Committeeman Fitzgerald harassed Williams in what now seem, by comparison, relatively minor ways. In
1950, he fought ClO-led Congressional district Democratic committee factions in a furious precinct war. The widely publicized struggle—Fitzgerald charged CIO "goons" bossed Democratic convention halls—ended with a court ruling that Fitzgerald had faked thousands of signatures on precinct committeeman petitions. Williams tried to pacify Fitzgerald by reappointing him to his niche as Democratic member of the state Social Welfare Commission, but backed a successful move ousting Fitzgerald as National Committeeman at the 1952 Democratic Convention.
Now, Fitzgerald is competing with Hart for the Lieutenant Governor nomination. His vote-getting name worries the Williams camp despite the fact that Hart is a prominent Catholic layman, and sits importantly on the boards of both the Detroit Lions football team and the Detroit Tigers as an in-law of the wealthy Briggs family.
Hart's candidacy is wrapped tightly with the future of Williams. The Governor wants to leave state party control in the friendliest possible hands, once he leaves state politics. Hart, now his legal adviser, has been carefully primed as heir apparent. When a judge died in April, Williams performed an unusually involved three-way reshuffle of the • Detroit bench for the express purpose of blanketing a prospective anti-Hart candidate with judicial robes.
Both the Fitzgerald campaign for Lieutenant Governor and, even more directly, the anti-Moody Senate primary bid by Democratic former Councilman Patrick McNamara, have had potent Republican encouragement and inspiration. The Republican Detroit Free Press has tried valiantly to blue-pencil Drew Pearson's blistering, detailed accounts of a Ferguson election deal with the Teamsters. In exchange for arranging the primary attempt by McNamara, often a Teamsters' ally, Ferguson arranged on his side of the bargain to call offa GOP Congressional investigation by Michigan's crusty Clare Hoffman into "labor racketeering" in Detroit. In Detroit's war-torn AFL, the Teamsters deal meant that Wayne County AFL boss Frank Martel, usually with Williams, had to play ball for the sake of his own survival in a general contest to control the Michigan AFL. Martel promises that all AFL strength will be behind Moody in case McNamara loses. But there are some whispers that the Teamsters will stick quietly behind Senator Ferguson to the finish no matter what they say for the record.
Williams has other problems. The Governor and many of his staunch initial supporters in 1948 were all more or less identified with the small and struggling ADA chapter in Detroit. But when Williams moved into the executive office, key people in his entourage followed his decision to withdraw from all ADA identification. It was a • pattern that occurred in other states.
ADA leaders who remained threw stillettos at their renegade comrades in party ranks; now many of these same leaders have put ADA in second place for a new group aimed at penetrating the Democratic precinct structure; "The Volunteer Democrats," salvaged from the election-time Volunteers for Stevenson. This group, which says it is running 200 precinct committeeman candidates in the party primary, provides an election-year factional quirk of its own. Many Democratic officials regard the invasion of the Volunteers in the primary unhappily. Senatorial candidate Moody, who followed Stevenson throughout much of his early June Michigan tour, conspicuously absented himself from a garden party staged by the Volunteers and attended by Stevenson.
With the primary civil wars over and even a makeshift unity for the final fall campaign, Williams, Moody and Hart have at least a 50-50 chance to win, in about that order of strength. The general estimate in Detroit is that Williams s himself will squeak through with a margin bigger than his narrow recount a victories in 1952 and 1950, depending on whether popular former state police commissioner Donald Leonard or a weaker party machine candidate wins in the Republican primary. Moody's fate, however, hangs precariously on three unpredictable factors which will affect the whole ticket: the developing unemployment situation (220,000 are now jobless "in the state), the impact of the Supreme Court segregation ruling on Detroit Negro votes, and the general public response to the Eisenhower-McCarthy struggle.
Another "Texas Steal"?
The Texas version of the Gallup Poll, the Belden Poll, for May shows Dixiecrat Governor Allan Shivers favored for re-election by 42 percent of those interviewed, his opponent Ralph Yarborough by 32 percent, with 26 percent undecided. In a May, 1952, poll, the vote was Shivers 71 percent, Yarborough 14 percent. Opposition to Shivers is definitely increasing, though, it may not mount to defeat the "Democrat" who swung Texas to Eisenhower in 1952. Shivers is sufficiently alarmed, however, to be planning a new "Texas steal" to secure his control of the State's delegation to the 1956 Democratic National Convention.
The Shivers-controlled State Democratic Committee has voted to base representation in state and county conventions (which choose delegates to national conventions) on both Democratic and Republican votes cast for Shivers in the election in 1952. Shivers, it will be recalled, cross-filed as a Republican in that election, so that people voting the straight Republican ticket voted for him as a Republican. The Shivers plan for 1954 and 1956, if not upset by the courts or. by the conventions, will make the winning of the major county conventions by loyal Democrats (who did not, as did Shivers, run as Republocrats) difficult if not impossible.
The voting strength of precincts in the county conventions is based on one vote for 925 cast for the party's nominee for Governor. Shivers' plan would allow precincts which went ten-to-one Republican to vote as if they had been 100' percent Democratic. "Ilie maneuver indicates that Shivers feels he is too weak to control the conventions by following law and precedent and has chosen instead to attempt another "Texas steal" of the kind which supporters of Taft for President tried against the Eisenhower slate of delegates to the Republican National Convention in 1952.
When Sen. Edwin C. Johnson, who has drawn almost as many Republican as Democratic votes the three times He has run for the US Senate from Colorado, announced last April that Mrs. Johnson insisted they leave Washington, it appeared that the Republicans had a good chance to pick up his Senate seat as well as retain the Colorado Governorship and control of the legislature.
Today, however, many Republicans admit this looks like a Democratic year in Colorado, and Democratic leaders are finding it necessary to warn against overconfidence in their ranks.
Two primary factors explain the change. Senator "Big Ed" is not retiring from politics although he is 70. He is a candidate for Governor, the position which he held from 1932 to 1936 prior to going to the US Senate. Why he wants his old job back when he could comfortably retire on his Senate pension and enjoy being paid commissioner of the Western. Baseball League, is a question only a seasoned politician like Johnson can answer.
Practically everybody concedes that Johnson will be the next Governor. Republicans have put up youthful Donald G. Brotzman, 32, first term State Senator from Boulder—a coming leader in Republican ranks but in this instance a sacrificial lamb. No Democrat has announced for a primary race against f Johnson although this does not mean p that the liberal New Deal-Fair Deal wing of the party is satisfied with thebipartisan, isolationist, maverick record of the senior Senator.
Only announced GOP candidate for the Senate post is Lt. Gov. Gordon Allott, who is a bit too independent for a many of the Old Guard. Allott was a Stassen supporter before Chicago in d 1952. Sen. Eugene Millikin, leader of the Taft-supporting Old Guard which n renewed its tight control over the party p machinery this year although pro-Eisenhower supporters had upset it two years ago, is busily seeking another more f dynamic contender, since the colorless Allott has failed to inspire enthusiasm a even at Republican rallies. The race for the Democratic nomination for the US Senatorship in the September 14 primaries is turning out to be the race, therefore, with three aspirants in the ring: former Rep. John Carrol, Mayor Quigg Newton of Denver, and State Sen. Lew Williams, Western slope rancher and uranium mine owner. Carroll, New Dealer and Fair Dealer, assistant to President Truman during his latter days in office, has been a potential candidate ever since he was defeated by Senator Millikin in 1950. He says his Carroll defeat' was due to Korea. His friends say he was knifed by Ed Johnson. Williams, a person-to-person handshaking-type campaigner, says he entered the race because Denver should not have two Senators. (Millikin is from Denver, as are Carroll and Newton.)
Mayor Newton abandoned the nonpartisan Olympiad of the mayoralty just a year ago by registering, as a Democrat, just in time to run for partisan office in this election.
A considerable number of wealthy Denver Republicans are known to have shifted their registration to vote for him in the Democratic primary.
While Senator Johnson professes to be impartial in the primary race, there is every reason to believe that he would much prefer to see Newton in the Senate. Newton has not taken a stand on issues other than innocuous bromides. Carroll tackles McCarthyism and argues for a strong internationalist foreign policy.
The first poll taken by the Denver Post showed Newton a little ahead of Carroll among Democratic voters sampled over die whole state, but with 25 percent of them undecided.
The name of former Secretary of Agriculture Charles F. Brannan is frequently mentioned as a desirable candidate for either Senator or, more recently, for governor. Carroll's early announcement for the Senate pre-empted that place, to Brannan's evident regret, and being Colorado Governor with little real power has little appeal for him. His friends expect him to be available to oppose Millikin in 1956—or to accept appointment to any Senate vacancy from his friend Johnson, as Governor.
This article originally ran in the July 5th, 1954, issue of the magazine.