During the 1946 election season the question was asked "What would Roosevelt do if he were alive?". There were a number of reasons for people to ask the question. The Marxists were attempting to bring true labor socialism to America by staging strikes against the auto makers just as they were converting back to their peacetime businesses, the coal mines (then the only fuel for power generation) and the railroads. Truman was doing his best to help by listening to the Harvard economists who warned against the catastrophe of abandoning the wartime wage and price controls.

After the election (in which the Republicans gained 55 seats and elected Joseph Martin as Speaker - the first one since Nicholas Longworth in 1928), the wags changed the question. It became "What would Truman do if he were alive?"

The answer, which came in 1948, was "buy the farm vote" with the system of subsidies, allotments and quotas that still rules American agriculture 2/3rds of a century later. I owe my career as a formerly licensed adviser to tax cheats to those farm bills and the compromise of 1954 that adopted its form of high nominal rates and massive and obvious loopholes. Rayburn could sell it to the Marxists (who never, ever know how to count), the real estate developers and oil producers while Martin thought the independent business people would be pleased and Eisenhower got his National Defense Highway system that he had wanted for a third of a century.


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