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66TH CONGRESS

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1S SESSION
T

MAY 19-NOVEMBER )9, )9I9

HOUSE DOCUMENTS

VOL. 3)

WASHINGTON

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GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

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1919

HOUSE OF REFRESEKTA'iW^

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264^

THE NATIONAL BUDGET




HON. JOSEPH G. CANNON

(Awn Harper's Magazine, Oc^o&er, fMP)
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OCTOBER 8,1919.—Ordered to be printed

WASHINGTON
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE

1919

THE NATIONAL BUDCET.
HpHE Prodigal Son was a libera! spender and the
^ fatted ca)f was killed to make a feast when he
returned to his father's house, but he was not put in
charge o f the family purse. That was left in control
o f the elder son, who continued to work in the Held
and create income. Modern civilization has followed
that rule in family and in Government budgets, be­
cause income is the iirst item in every budget and the
one item which we can not do without. We can not
be spenders until we have bccome producers. My
wife and I tried budget-making when we began house­
keeping, regulating family expenditures by my small
income. She spent the money, but I had to first get
the money to be spent. W e got along fairly well, but
made one mistake. We raised a pig to increase our
assets, but 1 took so much interest in that pig, feeding
it, scratching its back to hear it grunt its satisfaction,
and conversing with it, until by the time it was grown
big and fat I could not turn it into our winter's meat.
That pig became a liability instead o f an asset. There
are a lot o f people who make the same mistake in
Government budgets and forget the real purpose in
raising a pig. They become so much absorbed in their
ambitions and efforts that they forget, the purpose be­
hind their efforts; and the liabilities they create are
the liabilities o f the people who pay the taxes. It is
not surprising that the people sometimes get an idea
s




4

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

that a government pig is not veiy different from the
golden calf which the Chitdren o f Israel worshiped,
instead o f a source o f food supply.
The Federal Government was not established as a
money-making enterprise, but the expenditures must
be regulated by the income, and the income comes
out o f the pockets o f the people in the form o f taxes.
The only part o f the Federal Government that has the
power to tax the people is Congress, and all revenue
bills must originate in the House o f Representatives.
The makers o f the Constitution were somewhat explicit
about that and insisted that Congress should control
the national purse or national budget, which covers
both taxation and expenditure. Franklin thought that
the purse should be controlled by the House, because
the Representatives were to be elected by direct vote
o f the people and for short terms; but Madison sug­
gested that the power o f amendment should be given
to the Senate so that it might " diminish " an extrava­
gant budget by the House. Senator Smoot recently
said in debate that once during his 18 years' service
the Senate had reduced an appropriation passed by
the House, and only once.
President Washington addressed all his messages on
the budget to the House, and so did President Adams;
and from the beginning o f the Government down to
the present the estimates o f Government expenditures
have been sent to the House, and there have originated
all tax bills and all appropriation bills. The Repre­
sentatives are the men who have to bear the responsi­
bility for unpopular taxes and are the first to feel the
weight o f the voters' dissatisfaction. They get kickcd
out whenever the people think too much has been
taken out o f their pockets for a Government budget.




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

6

They have to suffer for their sins o f omission as well
as their sins o f commission when they permit some
other part o f the Government to make an objection­
able budget.
The American people do not yet appreciate the cost
o f the war with Germany. The appropriations made by
the Sixty-Rfth Congress amounted to $42,000,000,000,
and the bills which failed March 4, and have been en­
acted by the Sixtv-sixth Congress, carrying appropria­
tions for this fiscal year and chargeable to the Sixtytifth Congress, increased the total to $45,000,000,000,
or more than the entire disbursements o f the Federal
Government from the first inauguration o f George
Washington to the second inauguration o f W oodrow
Wilson. The appropriations made by that one Con­
gress were greater than the entire wealth o f the Ameri­
can people in the census year 1880. The Government
disbursed more than $33,000,000,000 in the two years
from the beginning o f the war; or double the gold
production o f the world in the 400 years since Colum­
bus discovered this continent; four times the amount
o f gold money stock in the world to-day; eight times
the gold in this country, and one and one-half times
the total resources o f all the national banks. Congress
authorized Government loans o f $31,000,000,000 and
an annual tax levy o f $6,000,000,000, and there is con­
siderable complaint o f high taxes, but the executive
departments continue to estimate peace expenditures
on a war basis just as though gold grew like mush­
rooms in the Treasury cellar and bank notes budded
like leaves on the trees in springtime.
Col. Sellers was not more optimistic about his " eye
water " than arc some o f our would-be budget makers
over their plans to make the world good and happy by




6

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

the expenditure o f public money and develop new
Government functions to swell the Government pay
roll. A good many camels got their noses under the
tent during the war emergency, and they are now
crowding their bodies in with an appeal to Congress
that they be consecrated as " the Government's own "
to be hereafter looked upon as were the sacred ele­
phants o f Siam. They are spreading propaganda,
much o f it at Government expense, to create public
sentiment in favor o f their permanent adoption; and
a great many people try to apply the old proverb that
public money is like holy water, free to all who seek
salvation. There is not a war activity, except lighting,
or a war-time appropriation that has been willingly
surrendered. The executive departments want to con­
tinue their control o f all the great agencies that were
taken over by the Government to help win the war,
even to that o f the "conservation o f waste," and I
have received letters from prominent business men
and bankers urging an appropriation for this function
o f educating the people to save rags and old iron.
They appear to be unconscious that they are as social­
istic in their recommendations as those who want the
Government to own the railroads, telegraphs, and
other great organizations o f industrial endeavor. A
member o f the President's Cabinet also recommends
this appropriation, and the Secretary o f the Treasury
sent it to Congress as an official estimate o f necessary
Government expenditures. Government spending is
like private spending, and it is advisable to keep the
purse strings in the hands o f others than the spenders.
The situation is serious enough as it touches the bil­
lions we have already spent, but there are also the con-




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

7

tinning contracts and obiigations to the soldiers and
their families.
The interest on the public debt will amount to more
than $1,000,000,000 a year. There will be the nest-egg
fo r our future national budget for each year, and
when to it is added the Navy egg, the Army egg, the
pension egg, and all the other eggs made necessary by
the war and planned by the executive departments,
the nest will be equal to that o f the goose that laid the
golden eggs, and call for four or tive billion dollars a
year in taxes. We were all willing and glad to pay
any kind o f taxes to win the war, but as we get away
from the war the people will, 1 fear, feel the burden
o f taxation more than the benefits derived from the
war. That has been the history after other wars, and
even now petitions are pouring in on Congress to
repeal many taxes levied only a few months ago.
It requires no Jeremiah to see considerable grum­
bling about future budgets. The executive depart­
ments spend the money, but they can not create a
dollar o f revenue, not even by borrowing without the
authority o f Congress. Some very bright and enter­
prising people appear to lose sight o f this division o f
functions, and that it is taxation to secure revenue that
raises Cain among the people. The taxpayers don't
pay much attention to the spending until they think
that too much money is taken out o f their pockets to
pay the bills. Then they begin to keep tab on their
Representatives who vote the taxes; and they know
that they elect Representatives every two years. The
makers o f the Constitution had this in mind when
they provided that the Representatives should be
elected every two years, that Congress should make no




H D -66-1-Y O J31— 2

8

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

appropriation for the support o f armies for longer than
two years, and that no money should be drawn from
the Treasury except in consequence o f appropriations
made by law— by Congress. The fathers planned to
keep the taxing power close to the people and not per­
mit it to be exercised very long without the Repre­
sentatives having to be rcelected. AH the checks lead
right to the Members o f the House, and they are held
responsible for excessive taxes whether they originate
them or consent to them when made elsewhere. So,
when we crcate a national budget committee we had
better keep it pretty close to the House, which is the
part o f the Government that is closest to the people
and on which the people have a short string to bring
under rein. Otherwise there may be trouble.
I know that the British Government has a budget
committee, but I have an impression that the House
o f Commons comes pretty near being the Government
over there. The British Cabinet is formed by the
leader o f the majority in the House o f Commons, and
when he loses his majority the cabinet goes out with
him and a new Government is formed. It is about the
same as though the leader o f the majority in the
House o f Representatives should dictate to the Presi­
dent the men who should compose his Cabinet. Such
a change would involve reducing the President to a
dignitied automaton who would be compelled to take
orders from the leader o f the House o f Representa­
tives, and it would make the Senate as harmless as is
the House o f Lords. The House would be the Govern­
ment in fact, and all others connected with the Gov­
ernment would take orders from the leaders o f the
House.




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

9

Just think o f President Wilson, after the rejection
o f his appeal to his countrymen for a Democratic ma­
jority in Congress last November, sitting in the White
House waiting for the lion. James R. Mann, then the
Republican leader o f the House, to send word that, in
obedience to the will o f the people, he had selected a
new Cabinet; and then have Mr. Mann drive up to the
White House and hand the President a list o f Republi­
cans to iii] every place in his Cabinet. But, under
the British system, that is just what would have hap­
pened last November after the election which reversed
the majority in the House. We should not have had
to wait a year for the constitutional meeting o f the
new Congress, nor for the President to call an extra
session at his pleasure. The new Congress would have
been summoned at once and the change would have
run throughout the Government with an entirely new
set o f advisers for the President to leave in control
while he journeyed to Paris to participate in the peace
conference. In fact, he might not have been permitted
to go to France as the chief representative o f the
United States. Lloyd-George had a general election in
England before he became the chief representative at
the peacc conference. This may appear like a far­
fetched illustration, but it fits the suggestion that we
should follow the British system in handling appro­
priations for the support o f the Government and all
its varied functions.
I say this without criticism o f the British budget
plan; for as I read the report o f the select committee
on national expenditures o f the House o f Commons,
the so-called budget committee was created to keep
control o f Government expenditures and Government




10

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

policies in Parliament, and not permit one department
o f the Government or one committee o f the House o f
Commons to inaugurate a new policy by way o f an
appropriation. That is a wise plan and it is what we
had in Congress until within the last 30 years. But
under our present plan o f distributing appropriation
bills to half a dozen committees o f the House and as
many more in the Senate, we have opened the door
for executive officers to formulate policies. They ask
for appropriations for new departures, present these
to committees that devote all their attention to those
departments, get appropriations recommended and
passed which present the camel's nose for new policies
created by law and requiring continuing appropria­
tions forever afterwards. The Members o f Congress
who are not on these committees know little about the
bills, but follow the committee having jurisdiction on
the theory that the committee is the best judge o f the
matter because it has investigated it. They see only
the camel's nose. The body o f the camel does not ap­
pear until later, when it comes into the House with the
claim that it has been authorized by law and is fully
entitled to future appropriations with which to de­
velop the new policy. The multifarious duties o f the
Members o f Congress in considering 25,000 bills jus­
tifies them in following the committees having juris­
diction, but this tendency o f the executive departments
to formulate Government policies without regard to
their conflict with other policies o f other departments,
and without consideration o f the revenues, is the one
great embarrassment in the present plan. Govern­
ment policies should be made by Congress, not by the
executive officers, whose function is to administer the
law, not make the law. And in inaugurating new




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

11

Government policies Congress shoutd consider them
apart from appropriation Mils.
Our Constitution ptaccd the national purse in the
hands o f Congress and largely in the House; and for
the first 75 years o f its existence the House had a
budget committee— the Committee 011 Ways and
Means. That committee reported both revenue bills
and appropriation bills. It had jurisdiction over taxa­
tion and expenditure, and its majority represented the
majority o f the House which represented the majority
vote o f the country at the last preceding election.
That was something like the plan in the House o f
Commons, for if the House majority offended the
people in taxation or expenditure it would be brought
to book at the next election. The Committee on Ways
and Means considered the needs o f the Government
in appropriations and then framed tax bills to pro­
duce the necessary revenue. It planned to cut the
garment according to the dot!), for the people did not
like either a surplus or a deficit in the Federal Treas­
ury. The responsibility was centered in one com ­
mittee, which might well have been called a budget
committee, and that plan prevailed until after the
Civil War. Then the House created a Committee on
Appropriations to consider the detaiis o f estimates
from the executive department, while the Committee
on Ways and Means continued to report tax bills; but
the two committees worked together balancing appro­
priations and revenues. Thaddeus Stevens, o f Penn­
sylvania, who had been chairman o f the Committee on
Ways and Means, became the first chairman o f the
Committee on Appropriations from choicc, and he ap­
plied to that committee the knowledge he had gained
in preparing both revenue and appropriation bills.




12

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

The budget was carefully considered to guard against
haying the majority o f the House turned out and a
new majority given control to reverse revenue
policies. This plan o f having two committees handle
the Government budget continued for 20 years and the
annual appropriations were kept below $400,000,000,
notwithstanding the debts o f the Civil War, paying the
interest on the public debt and reducing the principal
by one-half. Then in 1885 there came the change by
distributing the appropriation bills to half a dozen
committees, to develop new Government policies on
appropriation bills that had to be passed to prevent
the Government from embarrassment. That change
is often spoken o f as a reform, but it appeared to me
at the time as revenge on one o f the ablest and most
courageous men who ever sat in the House o f Repre­
sentatives. The purpose, not much disguised at the
time, was to cripple the power o f Samuel J. Randall
and humiliate him for what was called party treach­
ery, though he had never subscribed to the policy
which his party adopted.
Samuel J. Randall was chairman o f the Committee
on Appropriations and William R. Morrison, o f Illi­
nois, was chairman o f the Committee on Ways and
Means in the Forty-eighth Congress, elected in 1882.
They were both strong men and both earnest Demo­
crats, but they held divergent views on the tariff ques­
tion. Randall had always been a protection Demo­
crat, while Morrison was more in harmony with the
Southern wing o f the party in favor o f free trade.
Randall had been Speaker o f the House in the Fortyfourth, Fortv-tifth, and Forty-sixth Congresses, and
might have been Speaker o f the House in the Fortyeighth Congress, when the Democrats again came into




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

13

control after losing the Forty-seventh Congress, if he
had been willing to compromise his tariff views and
adopt the free-trade declarations o f his party in the
platforms o f 1876 and 1880. It was an open secret
when the House met to organize in December, 1883,
that the Georgia delegation had sent a message to Ran­
dall offering him their support for Speaker on condi­
tion that he would appoint as members o f the Com­
mittee on Ways and Means Democrats who were in
harmony with the Democratic platform declaration o f
a tariff for revenue only; and that Gen. Rosecrans
acted as messenger for the California delegation offer­
ing support on the same terms. But Randall would
make no terms to secure the Speakership again, and
he was defeated by John G. Carlisle, o f Kentucky.
Under the custom o f seniority in committee assign­
ments Randall became chairman o f the Committee on
Appropriations because he had been the leader o f the
minority on that committee in the Republican Fortyseventh Congress. Morrison was appointed chairman
o f the Committee on Ways and Means, and there be­
gan the trouble. Randall was the most forceful man
on the floor, notwithstanding the position o f Morrison
as chairman o f Ways and Means made him the nom­
inal leader o f the House.
When Morrison reported his celebrated horizontal
tariff reduction bill to the House, Randall, true to his
long record and his State, led a considerable Demo­
cratic faction in opposition. That was one o f the most
interesting factional contests I ever saw in the House.
A score or more o f Democrats from New England,
New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois followed
Randall and voted with the Republicans to strike out
the enacting clause, and the bill was defeated by a




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

good majority in a Democratic House. It raised Cain
among the Democrats not only in the House but
throughout the country; but notwithstanding the ex­
coriation o f the insurgents, the Democratic national
convention, held in Chicago a few months later, in
1884, modified the platform by dec!aring that any
change in the taritf laws should " b e regardful o f
labor and capital invested." Randall and his fo l­
lowers, no doubt, compelled that change in the party
platform, and it was on that platform Mr. Cleveland
was elected, but after the election and inauguration
o f the tirst Democratic President since the Civil W ar
he went back to the old tariff-for-revcnue-only policy
that was a tradition with the party.
The Democrats again controlled the House in the
Forty-ninth Congress and Carlisle was again elected
Speaker. We knew that the party leaders, including
the President, had a rod in pickle for Randall, and it
was rumored that he would lose the chairmanship o f
Appropriations as punishment for defeating the Mor­
rison bill. That would have continued the split in the
Democratic Party, for Randall was a tighter and not
entirely dependent on position for his following. His
courage, ability, and experience made him a leader
regardless o f the position he held. Speaker Carlisle
was too good a politician, too fair a man, and had too
much regard for the traditions o f the House to listen
to such advice. There was no committee on commit­
tees then. Carlisle was a Speaker o f the old order and
appointed all the committees, assigning both Demo­
crats and Republicans, and the Member who did not
like his assignment could lump it and bite his thumb
to his heart's content without disturbing John G. Car­
lisle. He presided over the House as Clay and Blaine




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

15

and Randall had presided before him and as Reed
presided after him; but he was a good politician,
recognized the personal power o f RandaH, and did not
propose to quarrel with him and have his party suffer
another tariff defeat in the House o f its friends. Ran­
dall was again named as chairman o f the Committee
on Appropriations, but Morrison had his revenge in
the distribution o f the appropriations. He introduced
a rule at the beginning o f the session, which was re­
ported by the Committee on Rules and adopted by
the House, giving jurisdiction o f appropriations as
well as legislation for the various departments o f
government to the Committees on Military Affairs,
Nava! Affairs, Post Offices, Agriculture, Indian Affairs,
and Foreign Affairs. The members o f President
Cleveland's Cabinet supported Morrison's plan to not
only humiliate Randall but to curb his power, and I
have sometimes thought they were shrewder than they
were credited with being and that they saw the ad­
vantage to the executive departments as well as the
punishment o f RandaH in the change. It was the
beginning o f executive interference in legislation
which has led to executive dominance in legislation
for appropriations to meet the demands o f the spend­
ers instead o f the demands o f the taxpayers. Thomas
H. Reed, then the Republican leader in the House, sup­
ported the new rule, but some years later, after ex­
perience as Speaker, he admitted to me that his judg­
ment had been at fault on that occasion. It was po­
litical revenge, not well-considered political reform,
and it has led to extravagance in appropriation o f the
people's money.
Mr. Fitzgerald, chairman o f the Committee on Ap­
propriations for six years, made a forceful speech two




16

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

years ago, comparing the 12-year period 1875-86 with
the 12-year period 1901-12; the increase in reguiar
appropriations had been 292.5 per cent— four times
the rate o f increase in population, three and a half
times the rate o f increase in weaith, and larger than
the rate o f increase in any other department o f our
domestic life. Mr. Fitzgerald expressed the opinion
that these large increases in public expenditures had
been due to the change o f the rules o f the House which
distributed the appropriation bills to half a dozen
committees instead o f having one committee act as an
auditing body to keep the expenditures within the
revenues. I am inclined to agree with Mr. Fitzgerald's
conclusions that the distribution o f the jurisdiction
over appropriations was a big incentive to extrava­
gance and the more careless appropriation o f public
money. I don't mean to suggest that the other com ­
mittees are consciously extravagant and wasteful, but
when one set o f men is making appropriations for the
Army, another for the Navy, and others for particular
functions o f the Government, it naturally leads to a
gimlet-hole view o f Government finances. The Com­
mittee on Appropriations in the old days had to have
all the estimates o f all the executive departments on
the table, and it had to consider the demands o f each
in its relation to the whole and to the revenues to meet
the expenditures. Chairman Sherlev, o f the last Com­
mittee on Appropriations, for some years favored a
budget committee, but in the closing days o f Congress,
February 28, he made a speech in which he took the
position that any commission making recommenda­
tions for a budget must be subject to the control o f
Congress " and not to the administrative branch o f the
Government," and that the House, " which, after all,




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

17

is the real guardian o f Hie liberties o f the people, be­
cause it represents at short periods o f time the popular
will o f the people, must take its true piace in deter­
mining what shall be done and what shall not be
done in respect to the great questions which confront
this country and the world." Like the Hritish commit­
tee on budget, Mr. Sherley insisted that Congress and
the popular House o f Congress should make the poli­
cies o f the Government.
We have only one executive elected by the people
and responsible to them. That is the President, but
he has half a million people in the civil service under
him— it was nearly a million during the war with Ger­
many, and we are having some difficulty in securing
consent o f the executive departments for its reduction
to the prewar figures o f 500,000. Creating offices is
the easiest thing in the world; abolishing offices is the
hardest thing in the world. With the railroads under
Government control, there are 2,000,000 more people
added to the civil list, and with the telegraph and tele­
phone employees added, the civil-service army has
been almost as large as the military forces put into
the field for the war with Germany. This great ag­
gregation may be, and often is, directed by the heads
o f the executive departments to bring pressure on
Congress for new and extraordinary appropriations
and the initiation o f new policies. The distribution o f
the appropriation bills in the House helps the depart­
ments to bring pressure on the special committees
having jurisdiction, and when they fail with one com ­
mittee to try another. We have given so much lati­
tude to the departments that they now presume to
prepare legislation and insist on its adoption by Con­




18

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

gress without amendment o f any kind; and, having
prepared such legislation, they sometimes interpret it
in administration in a way that surprises even the
members o f committees who reported and defended
it on the floor.
None o f these executive officials are responsible to
the people or can be called to account by the voters.
They are appointed by the President or by the heads
o f departments or selected by the Civil Service Com­
mission, and w hen they make mistakes in recommend­
ing and preparing legislation which Congress adopts
Congress alone is held responsible.
I have found executives—members o f the Cabinet,
bureau chiefs, and subordinate officials, including
commissioners—very human in wanting what they
want when they want it and without regard to the
revenues or the demands o f other departments. They
are specialists and each devotes his whole attention to
his one specialty as though it were the universe.
There are many very bright and clever men among
them, and they are all energetic in their own fields o f
endeavor, but Congress has to look at the whole Gov­
ernment together. Their enthusiasm is commendable,
but not conclusive. They are also like other people,
imitative, and when one conceives an idea for a new
government function the others jum p in and also
want the same function, with the result too often o f
half a dozen rival functions in as many different de­
partments. This is one o f the most wasteful features
o f the distribution o f appropriation bills. W e had an
example o f it when the Post Office appropriation bill
was before the House last winter. The Postmaster
General recommended that he be given a large appro­
priation for building and operating airplanes when we




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

19

have a surplus o f airplanes and operators in the Army
and also in the Navy with rivalry and friction between
them. He also recommended a !arge appropriation
fo r the construction o f post roads when the Depart­
ment o f Agriculture has control o f miilions o f money
appropriated by Congress to aid the States in building
roads, with a road division that appears to have be­
come efficient. But the Postmaster Genera! wanted to
dupiicate this important Government function. The
Post Office Committee wrote his recommendations
into the Post Office appropriation bifl. The House by
a substantia! majority refused these appropriations
because they were duplications o f service performed
by other departments, but the Senate adopted the
Postmaster General's recommendations and the House
concurred rather than !et the Post OfHce appropriation
bill fail; but onfy after the transfer o f jurisdiction o f
the appropriation o f $200,000,000 for post roads to
the Department o f Agriculture, which has control o f
other good-road funds, and prevented the most ex­
travagant duplication o f Government service that was
ever proposed. Such duplications have been occur­
ring from year to year under the present distribution
o f appropriations, because the committees reporting
the legislation do not have time to go over the whole
history o f what has been authorized and done by other
departments, but accept the recommendations o f de­
partment heads who desire to inaugurate new policies
or duplicate those o f other departments.
When Congress adopts a new national policy it
should be presented in a specific bill and carefully
considered, and not as an amendment to an appropria­
tion bill which must be enacted to provide funds for
continuing the regular functions o f a department o f




20

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

the Government. I regret to say that much o f the
most extravagant legislation has been secured in this
way o f amendment to emergency appropriation bills.
The distribution o f appropriation bills has developed
this haphazard legislation more than anything else I
can recall, because the bills reported from these com ­
mittees now combine legislation and appropriation.
In the old days we did not have this embarrassment.
The Committee on Military Affairs prepared legisla­
tion for the Army, and the Committee on Appropria­
tions reported the appropriations for the Army; the
law and the appropriations were kept separate, as they
should be to avoid confusion and also to avoid writing
new policies into the law on appropriation bills with
little or no consideration, the appropriations as a
whole being the one great object before Congress.
What is true o f the legislation reported by the Com­
mittee on Military Affairs is true o f that reported from
the other committees that have the power to report
appropriations, such as the Committee on Agriculture,
the Committee on Naval Affairs, the Committee on
Foreign Affairs, the Committee on Indian Affairs, the
Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, and the
Committee on Rivers and Harbors. They all combine
legislation and appropriations and sometimes in a way
to have the legislation little understood and even dis­
guised from the average member; but whatever the
objections to it, they must be waived to secure the ap­
propriation for the Government function o f the de­
partment.
Any budget committee appointed by the Executive
would not materially differ in its functions from that
performed by the Secretary o f the Treasury, who,
under an old act o f Congress, is required to transmit




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

21

to Congress al! the estimates for Government expendi­
tures before Congress assembles, and with them esti­
mates o f the revenues. That is a budget function con­
ferred on the Secretary o f the Treasury as complete
as any that I have seen proposed in which the Executive
tive has any part. But what does the Secretary o f the
Treasury do? He, or often a clerk, simply transmits
to Congress every estimate made by any o f the depart­
ments, when, and as often as they make them, until it
is a common thing to have supplementary estimates
come in all through a session o f Congress and then
followed by deficiency estimates until it requires the
services o f a body o f expert accountants to figure out
the estimates o f the different departments in one ses­
sion o f Congress. The Treasury Department, instead
o f being a clearing-house for the estimates o f expendi­
tures and revenue to meet them, is simply a pneumatic
tube to hustle along to Congress all the estimates o f
expenditure anybody in any o f the executive depart­
ments thinks desirable. Would any budget commis­
sion appointed by the Executive change this extrava­
gant method o f conducting the public business?
Reform is a much-abused word in Government
affairs. When 1 hear men talk about Government re­
form I am sometimes reminded o f a newspaper waif
I read many years ago:
I'm thankful th at the sun and moon
Are both hung up so high
T h at no pretentious hand can stretch
And puli them from the sky.
If they were not, I have no doubt
B ut some reforming ass
Would recommend to take them down
And light the world with gas.

! admit that the Government has many valuable ex­
perts who give their time to special investigations; but




22

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

some years ago it was a standing joke that one o f the
most modest dubs in Washington was the most ex­
pensive club in the world, because ail the Government
experts and many not in the Government service were
inembers o f that club and it became an exchange for
ideas for new plans o f Government expenditure and
enlargement o f the Government budget. The Govern­
ment experts know little or nothing about how rev­
enues are secured, and they have no hesitancy about
working up all sorts o f schemes for spending public
money on the theory that Uncle Sam has an inex­
haustible and independent income. I have met all
kinds o f experts in the Committee on Appropriations
and have sometimes voted for what they asked, and
afterward concluded that I had been hypnotized by
their enthusiasm and confidence in making two blades
o f grass grow where one had grown before, for the
harvest was not materially changed by the appropria­
tion.
But I have some impressive memories o f Govern­
ment experts who did not understand the art o f prop­
aganda. There was Prof. Langley, for many years
secretary o f the Smithsonian Institution. He was a
great scientist and one o f the most modest men about
asking for Government help that I ever met. About
20 years ago, when I was chairman o f the Committee
on Appropriations, Prof. Langley was before the com ­
mittee, and after he had presented his estimates to the
subcommittee I asked if there was anything else he
would like to present to the committee.
"Y es, Mr. Chairman; I would like to have $10,000
to experiment in building a flying machine," said the
professor.




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

23

" Great Heavens!" I exclaimed. "A Hying machine
to ride up in the air? "
" Yes," he replied. " I don't wonder at your ques­
tion because you have not given the subject any in­
vestigation. But is not a bird heavier than air? Is
not the eagle who soars in the sunlight and above the
clouds heavier than air; and don't you think we could
devise a machine by which the human animal can
navigate the air? "
He did not have to argue or make elaborate explana­
tions. The subcommittee agreed to the appropriation,
the full committee accepted the recommendation, and
the House and Senate made the appropriation; and I
was more ridiculed and abused for " wasting the peo­
ple's money " on Hying machines than for any other
appropriation I reported while chairman o f that com ­
mittee. I was cartooned as Mother Shipton riding
through the air on a broom, and was given no end o f
notoriety because o f that modest appropriation. Prof.
Langley built his machine, took it down the Potomac
and made it fly, but he was too old to operate it him­
self, and his assistant was too timid, especially with a
bevy o f newspaper correspondents hovering about to
record the failure, and the Hying machine, after a very
short Hight, tumbled into the river. The gasolene en­
gine had not been fully developed and Langley failed,
but the Wright brothers took up the same principle
and, with a better engine, made Hying not only a pos­
sibility but developed it into a pastime. They did
more. They took the old Langley machine from its
place in the National Museum and made it Hy over the
national capital to let the Congress see that it had not
thrown away that $10,000 which was appropriated to




24

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

help Prof. Langley experiment with a Hying machine.
But Langley was an exception among Government ex­
perts, especially in his modesty about asking for big
Government appropriations, and my confidence in
him made me more lenient in considering the ex­
travagant prospectuses o f others.
The promotion and encouragement o f agriculture
is otic o f the enthusiasms o f the present time and has
been growing ever since the distribution o f the ap­
propriation bills. Before that" reform " the Commit­
tee on Agriculture reported legislation and the Com­
mittee on Appropriations reported the appropriations
for the Bureau o f Agriculture. In 1881 this appropria­
tion was $250,000, and it was considered ample, but
within 10 years the bureau had become a department
and the appropriation increased to $3,000,000. Last
year Congress appropriated $27,000,000 for the activi­
ties o f the Department o f Agriculture and gave an­
other appropriation o f $11,000,000 fo r the stimulation
o f agriculture for war emergencies, making a total o f
$38,000,000 for the encouragement o f farming four
times that o f 10 years ago— and the average yield o f
cereals per acre is less now than then. This appro­
priation for the Department o f Agriculture is con­
stantly growing. This year it is $34,000,000, and with
the good-roads appropriations which are handled by
the department added, its annual disbursements
amount to about $70,000,000. The experts are con­
tinually crying for more and spreading propaganda to
extend their work, even to teach the farmers' wives
how to cook and make butter.
There is one recommendation o f the select commit­
tee on national expenditures o f the British House o f




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

25

Commons that is worth considering. That committee
in its report says that " the Treasury could not exercisc its powers o f control if it is itself a spending de­
partment," and it recommended that the old-age pen­
sions control be transferred to some other depart­
ment. Hut when we created the Bureau o f War Risk
Insurance, which is to he one o f the greatest spending
bureaus o f the Government, it was placed under the
Treasury Department; and, partly by law and partly
by Executive order, the Secretary o f the Treasury has
become the controller o f greater expenditures than
any other administrative department to divert his at­
tention from the function o f looking after Govern­
ment finances and checking up all expenditures. The
President placed the control o f the railroads in the
hands o f the Secretary o f the Treasury, and Congress,
under advice from the Treasury Department, has given
it control o f war-risk insurance, o f public buildings,
the Coast Guard, the Public Health Service, and other
spending bureaus.
Several new Government policies have been adopted
through the efforts o f these bureaus under the stress
o f war. One is an appropriation o f $11,000,000 for
the establishment o f hospitals for soldiers—and
others— under the control o f the Public Health Serv­
ice, notwithstanding the reports o f the Surgeon Gen­
erals o f the Army and Navy that they had ample hos­
pital facilities for all the soldiers. Here is another
duplication o f service under the impulse to take care
o f the soldiers, and a new Government policy by mak­
ing it permanent for civilians; and the extension o f
the Public Health Service, which is the greatest mush­
room growth in the Government, reaching out to con­







26

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

trol the health o f all the people and become a national
dispensary and clinic at the expense o f the Federal
Treasury with an army o f doctors prescribing calomel
and castor oil to 100,000,000 people without even look­
ing at their tongues.
Another new policy was grafted last year on the
Army appropriation bill, making an appropriation o f
about $3,000,000 for the cooperation o f the Federal
Government with the States in the control o f vice dis­
eases. This was also placed under the direction o f the
Public Health Service. It may or may not have been
a good war policy; but it was adopted, not as a sep­
arate measure, but as an amendment to the bill to
appropriate $10,000,000,000 for the Army in the emer­
gency o f war, making an appropriation to be controlled
by a bureau under the Treasury Department. But, in
addition to the irregular way o f making the appropria­
tion, there was the manufactured emotionalism fo r
protecting the boys from greater dangers than those o f
battle, with alleged statistics to show that our boys were
not tit to tight because o f their vices. There was little
debate on this " war measure " because no member
was prepared to dispute the statistics and be charged
with defending vice; and Congress gave the Public
Health Service $3,000,000 and arbitrary power over all
people who approached an Army camp, and also over
interstate travel. This new policy came in answer to
the agitation as to whether the American boys were At
to tight, and that agitation appears like a nightmare,
since the boys showed to the whole world their fitness
for fighting at Verdun, at St. Mihiel, and in the Argonne,
when they drove back the Germans and won the war.
The Provost Marshal General's report also discredits

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

27

the statistics o f the health experts by showing that o f
the millions o f boys examined by the Army surgeons
only 1 per cent o f those rejected as unfit for fighting
were rejected because o f vice disease, and that only one
in a thousand o f those examined was disqualified by
reason o f vice. Consciously or ignorantly, the health
experts slandered our American boys, but they got
$3,000,000 and established an autocratic power over all
the people under the stress o f war. They are trying to
make this power permanent since the armistice, and,
strange to say, the one voice raised against it in the last
session was that o f the only woman who ever held a
seat and a vote in Congress. Where men feared to be
misunderstood by opposing this new policy, a refined
woman stepped into the arena to do battle and discuss
a question which is barred from good society. Miss
Rankin fought the paragraph, secured an amendment
cutting off a part o f the arbitrary power o f the experts,
and won the admiration o f all Members o f the House
by the way she laid aside mock modesty to discuss
frankly and intelligently the questions involved in the
control o f vice disease.
Some o f our reformers are unconscious revolution­
ists, and some o f the advocates o f the budget system
are o f that order. They want to strike out the " govern­
ment o f the people " and the " government by the peo­
ple " from Lincoln's celebrated phrase, and retain only
" a government for the people." They are the reaction­
aries I most fear because they are going back toward
the centralization and bureaucracy that long ago dis­
appeared from the world except in Russia and Ger­
many, where it recently went down in a crash o f an­
archy. W e want no such " reform " in this country.




28

THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

When we create a budget commission we should keep
it in Congress and as far as possible in the House of
Representatives, which is directly responsible to the
people on the basis o f population. If we leave any part
o f it to the Executive we shall only exaggerate the pres­
ent embarrassments. The electorate will continue to
hold the Representatives responsible for the budget,
whatever power they surrender to the Executive. The
heads o f the departments want to make the budget o f
expenditures and compel Congress to levy taxes ac­
cording to their plans for expenditure. The Pharaohs
had that kind o f a budget system, and so has the Czars
o f Russia. It was not the system embodied in the
American Constitution. The President recently vetoed
the sundry civil appropriation bill which carries appro­
priations for almost every department o f the Govern­
ment, because the appropriation for one function was
not as large as the chief o f the bureau desired, although
it was more than double the official estimates submitted
to Congress for that bureau; and because the bill put a
limitation on the amount that might be paid in high
salaries to the employees o f the bureau; notwithstand­
ing the fact that Congress from the beginning has pro­
vided by law what the salaries o f the President and all
other oBicers o f the Government should be. These de­
velopments are all away from the budget plans o f those
who prepared the Constitution, and when Congress
consents to the Executive making the budget it will
have surrendered the most important part o f a repre­
sentative government, and put this country back where
it was when the shot at Lexington was " heard 'round
the world." Taxation without representation brought
this Nation into being, and I think we had better stick




THE NATIONAL BUDGET.

29

pretty dose to the Constitution with its division of
powers well defined and the taxing power dose to the
people.
I believe that the House o f Representatives should
have one committee with jurisdiction over appropria­
tions, and that the House should stand firmiy for its
budget, because it is the one branch o f Congress to
which the Constitution committed this responsibility
and the one which the people hold responsible for the
budget, which includes taxation as well as expenditure.




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