President Barack Obama proudly announced that his policies would be on the ballot in the Nov. 4 midterm elections. He got his answer loud and clear: The American people said, “No thanks.”
The voters gave Republicans a big majority equal only to the stunning congressional victory 68 years ago in 1946. That Congress, known as the 80th Congress, which elected 57 new Republican House Members and 13 new Republican senators, should serve as a model to the members elected in 2014 for what a courageous conservative Republican Congress can accomplish.
Elected on the slogan “Had Enough,” the 80th Congress reflected the views of the American people who had had enough of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal and were especially irritated by his imposition of price control. The voters rose up and called for an end to the big-spending, big-government, pro-socialist years of FDR’s four-term regime.
Since we’ve also had enough of Barack Obama, it’s instructive for the current generation to learn how decisively the 1946 Republican winners responded to the challenge thrust upon them. Under the leadership of Sen. Robert A. Taft, that Congress racked up the greatest legislative record of any Congress in the 20th century.
The 80th Congress reduced taxes, balanced the budget and even reduced the national debt. Congress used congressional investigations to expose Communists in government, such as Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White.
We’re looking for the Boehner-McConnell Congress to do likewise in reducing taxes and spending. We also are looking for the new Congress to use aggressive televised congressional investigations to educate the public about Obama’s unconstitutional and illegal acts, especially his executive amnesty for illegal aliens.
The 80th Congress passed much good legislation over President Harry Truman’s veto, most notably the Taft-Hartley Law. That Congress was staunchly anti-Communist at home and abroad; it launched the Greek-Turkish Military Aid Plan which, under Gen. James Van Fleet, crushed the Communist guerrillas in Greece.
The 80th Congress passed the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution limiting the president to two terms, thereby rebuking FDR’s unprecedented four terms. That is a gift that keeps on giving because it meant we didn’t have to worry about Bill Clinton or Barack Obama running for a third term.
Republicans were given a resounding mandate in 1946 to scale back the federal government, which had bulked up to fight World War II. Defying the voters, President Truman greeted the incoming Republican Congress with the arrogant statement in his annual budget message of Jan. 10, 1947: “There is no justification now for tax reduction.”
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Republicans passed a bill to cut taxes across the board, while reducing expenditures to keep the budget balanced, but Truman vetoed it. Undeterred, they passed a second tax-cut bill, which Truman also vetoed. On the third try, Congress passed the tax cut over Truman’s veto.
That 1948 Revenue Act provided tax relief for all Americans by raising the personal exemption (which removed 7.4 million low-income Americans from the tax rolls), lowering the tax rates and instituting the joint income tax return for married couples. That pro-family innovation helped sustain the great American baby boom.
Running against the “me-too” Republican Tom Dewey in 1948, Truman managed to win a full four-year term as president, but his popularity soon collapsed. The conservative majority in Congress resumed passing bills over Truman’s vetoes, including the great McCarran-Walter Act of 1952, which reinforced strict limits on immigration and required the exclusion of Communists and other dangerous people.
The positive leadership exercised by the 80th Congress encouraged the start of a new grass-roots movement. Average Americans formed study groups in private homes to read the hearings and reports of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee.
Conservative newsletters, such as Human Events, informed the grass roots about current issues. Dr. Fred Schwarz presented his unique anti-Communism schools. Dean Clarence Manion gave us a conservative message every week on radio. Even the American Bar Association issued a report on “Communist Tactics, Strategy and Objectives,” daring to criticize a long list of pro-Communist Supreme Court decisions handed down by the Earl Warren Court.
Three courageous publishers produced books that were widely read: Henry Regnery, Caxton of Idaho and Devin Garrity of Devin-Adair, who published the popular books by John T. Flynn and warnings about school curriculum by professor Merrill Root. During the 1940s, new organizations were founded that helped to build grass-roots political effectiveness: the American Enterprise Association, America’s Future, the Foundation for Economic Education and the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).
So three cheers for the new Republican Congress; our hope is that it is ready for the fight. America is depending on you.