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I submit, Mr. Chairman, that this section of the bill is the most controversial and contradictory of any section of the bill. In the first place, it is the entering wedge of a planned economy. It completely ignores States' rights. And, finally, it promises something to the people that it can't possibly deliver considering costs and economic trends.
The only way the Congress can house some of the people is to take away housing from those who are trying to provide it for themselves. The concept of ownership by Government of the homes in which the people live is incompatible with the principles which have harnessed the initiative and capabilities of our people.
The pattern is very clear. Housing provided by Government. Melicine provided by Government. Food through great farm programs provided by Government. That takes care of two out of the three-food, clothing, and shelter—that we hold as essentials of good living.
Russia confiscated property rights. England has followed suit with its Town and Country Planning Act. Are we to follow the same pattern? I think we will do exactly that if this bill is passed.
We have achieved greater progress in meeting the housing needs of our people in America than any other country in the world. We have not done this under a philosophy which says “I have a right to part of what my neighbor earns. Such philosophy in practice does untold damage to the character of the recipient. He would be shielded in an unrealistic manner from his own responsibility to provide shelter for his family.
This same practice dwarfs the incentive of his neighbor who is forced to provide for him by taking from him the substance earned to care for the needs of his own family. In marginal cases the heavier taxes required by this enormous housing program in addition to all the other increased spending could well take to the Federal Treasury the money required by payments and upkeep on the home owner's own home. This would occur at the same time that local taxes would need be increased to care for the tax-exempt public housing which would add to the school, fire, police, and sanitation burden of the community.
At the same time we should bear in mind the political implications inherent in this program. Langdon W. Post, a regional director of the Federal Public Housing Administration on the west coast, in his book, Challenge of Housing, referred to public housing as a "new brand of political fruit which has enormous possibilities for exploitation." Charles Abrams, while consultant to the United States Housing Authority, admitted thatpublic housing is a great field for political intrigue and offers many opportunities of personal advantage of the unscrupulous. (His book, Revolution in Land.)
Mr. Abrams, still an aggressive proponent of public housing and frequently quoted by administration leaders in the recent Senate debate, wrote in the New York Post, January 19, 1949:
The New York City Housing Authority looms as the big plum in the political orchard, and the politician who dominates the housing authority controls the city's political destiny.
He writes further:
Within a few years the families in housing projects will be nearly 10 percent of the city's total
that is in New York Cityand the investment of the authority will exceed $2,000,000,000 with all this means of construction contracts, patronage, and other rewards to the worthy. Selection of sites enables carving out blocks where hostile voters are numerous and then re-tenanting the project with those who vote right, while tenant relocation of vacant areas could change a whole neighborhood's political complexion overnight.
Evidence has been introduced on the Senate side to show that the Tacoma Housing Authority sent a letter to contractors building public housing jobs asking for contributions of $250 to $500 to lobby for public-housing legislation.
The House Expenditures Committee, on April 16, 1918, brought out that corrupt political activity was conducted in the Federal housing projects in San Diego. Posters had been put up in the buildings, according to the report, opposing a candidate for congressional office. The posters read:
Save your home. Izac's opponent (former Congressman Fletcher) says "I am not in favor of Federal housing. The sooner the projects are closed the better."
Congressman Fletcher testified under oath that he has not made such a statement. He further testified that while he won the election, the voting in the public-housing projects was 3 to 1 against him. That can be found in the hearings of the House Expenditures Committee, pages 47 and 48.
Mr. Chairman, we like to assume good intentions on the part of those proposing this program and operating the present system. However, the results to date have been disappointing. Perhaps considering the weaknesses of human nature, future results would tend to be even worse. At least, that is indicated by warnings of outstanding advocates of public housing, well versed in the possibilities involved. I stated before, and I repeat, this bill looms as the entering wedge into a planned economy.
If the declaration of policy is adopted as part of this bill, it will be a direct attack upon States' rights. The tenth amendment of the Constitution provides:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution or prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Thus, the decision seems to be whether this legislation will be discriminatory in that the national policy shall direct its efforts to serve a tiny segment of the economy instead of the economy as a whole; and, further, whether this Congress wishes to invite communities of the Nation to come to Washington, bypassing the constitutional provisions of States' rights for every bit of assistance, be it for housing, medicine, clothing, education, or other essentials of our American way of life.
This is not a new issue. It has been brought up time and again in the past decade or more. It was part of the full-employment bill, where the purpose was to force acceptance of a principle that the Federal Government must assume the responsibility for providing every American citizen with a job at a living wage. It was defeated in this House of Representatives only after arduous struggle.
H. R. 4009 raises again this same issue of direct governmental responsibility for the welfare of its individual citizens. It is stated in broad and resounding terms in the obscure language of the declaration of policy, and it is implied elsewhere in the bill.
The question is not one of desirability of better housing. It is not even of the probability of the Government being able to provide hous
ing for its citizens through the kinds of activity called for in this measure. The larger question is whether it is possible for the Government to undertake this responsibility without opening itself to demands for taking on the responsibility for other needs clothing, automobiles, farm machinery. There is nothing unique about housing when this question is faced.
Thus a great deal rests upon the determination of whether or not it is the responsibility of the Federal Government to provide a house for every American citizen. We say it is not.
Let's consider some of the economic factors.
The Bureau of Census reports that there are over 7,000,000 families with incomes of $1,600 a year or less. On page 768 of the Senate hearings on S. 1070 Senator Sparkman says:
This housing shall be primarily for those families with an income below $2,000.
This bill, H. R. 4009, provides for 1,050,000 public housing units over a 6-year period. What of the other 6,000,000 people which it is said private enterprise hasn't and can't provide for?
I think that the people should know that only 1 out of 7 families in this $1,600-or-under category will be eligible to live in this housing.
Persons with adjusted gross incomes of $2,500 and over carried 84.22 percent of all Federal income taxes in 1946, according to the latest figures available from the Treasury Department.
I call your attention to the following table, which proves this point. I will not read the contents of the table, Mr. Chairman, but I would like to have it inserted in the record.
Mr. Brown. It may be inserted in the record at this point. (The document referred to is as follows:)
Federal income-tax returns (by adjusted gross-income classes), 1946
Adjusted gross-income classes 1
Percent of total
Individual returns (taxable and nontaxable) with adjusted gross income:
United States total..
1 Definition of "adjusted gross income": "Adjusted gross income means gross income minus allowable trade and business deductions, expenses of travel and lodging in connection with employment, reimbursed expenses in connection with employment, deductions attributable to rents and royalties, certain deductions of life tenants and income beneficiaries of property held in trust, and allowable losses from sales or exchanges of property. Should these allowable deductions exceed the gross income, there is an adjusted gross deficit." 1 Includes the nontaxable returns with adjusted gross income of $4,500 and over.
Source: Treasury Department Press Service No. S-1015, Mar. 9, 1949 (preliminary report, Statistics of Income for 1946, pt. I).
Mr. SNYDER. If we assume $16,000,000,000 as the cost of housing proposed in H. R. 4009 over the 40 years of subsidy payments and if the 1946 percentage of 84.22 remained constant, those earning over $2,500 per year could be expected to pay out of their future earnings, $13,475,000,000. Bear in mind that those earning $2,400 and over are not eligible in the largest city, New York, and in most of the rest of the Nation as well.
Now let's point out to the 84 percent of the Nation's taxpayers who cannot themselves live in this housing, that the actual construction costs are to be $1,750 a room with administrative privilege to increase it to $2,500 a room, exclusive of land and utility costs. We also point out that there are no limits in the bill as to the number of rooms per unit. And finally, these costs are appreciably higher than permitted for rental housing constructed by private enterprise using FHA title VI mortgage insurance.
At this point, Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I should like to insert in the record an analysis which is taken from the Federal Public Housing Authority requirements for construction, showing the minimum requirements for construction, showing the minimum number of rooms permissible, and the square footage of each room, based upon the number of occupants who would be permitted to live in that public housing unit.
This schedule is very short. I have taken it from Minimum Physical Standards and Criteria for the Planning and Design of FPHAaided Low Rent Housing, which I am advised by the Public Housing Administration is the basis upon which minima are presently determined today.
Mr. Brown. It may be inserted in the record.
1 Areas given are not areas inside room wall exclusive of closets or off-set entrances.
2 Exclusive of infants 2 years of age or under. This occupancy column is for use only in determining space requirements for furniture and size of closets (see following page).
3 Where space heaters are used in the living room, 16 square feet shall be added. * Minimum width of living room, 10 feet 6 inches. * Minimum width of all bedrooms, 8 feet 6 inches. 6 When the combined area of the living room, kitchen, and dining space equals or exceeds 260 square feet count as 212 rooms.
Mr. SNYDER. Certainly we should advise the taxpayers that already nearly $3,000,000,000 has been spent on Federal public housing. We must justify, too, the need for Federal subsidy in a period which administration spokesmen have said reflects the highest standard of living in our Nation's history.
I am sure this same taxpayer knows that the House of Representatives has this year passed appropriation bills calling for about $6,000.000,000 more than in 1948. Total 1950 cash appropriations and contract authorizations approved by the House to date amount to $31,844,385,750. This is $5.955,343,304 in excess of the amount approved by Congress last year for the same departments for the fiscal year 1949.
Still to come are the appropriations for ECA and other foreign aid, which will approximate 6.4 billion dollars; also, for the legislative branch, about 13 million dollars; also, permanent or automatic appropriations for interest on the national debt and other items, totaling approximately 6.5 billion dollars; and, finally, whatever additional appropriations may be required as the result of passage by Congress of new spending proposals recommended by the President, such as federally controlled education, socialized medicine, Atlantic pact, and so forth. Add $19,000,000,000 for housing should this bill pass.
Significant is the action taken last week by the Federal Reserve Board in loosening bank reserves to make available more credit. This is the second time since the Eighty-first Congress gave the 0. K. to strict credit controls resulting in reestablishing regulation W that the Federal Reserve Board has taken steps to loosen the credit market.
We have reviewed the economic factors only in the light of costs or potential costs. How about what we already owe! We must look at the relationship of Federal to State and municipal per capita indebtedness to get the true picture. Can and should the Federal Government establish a policy of providing a home for every American family in light of per capita debt of the several levels of government?
You will find attached to this statement three charts which explain graphically this relationship. It may be said that constitutional provisions prohibit municipality or State from exceeding their present existing debt. In fact, I heard testimony this morning from the mayor of Baltimore to that effect, that the debt is limited. However, we have searched the constitutional provisions of the State laws and we find without exception that there is not one State whose constitution prohibits a change in the existing tax and debt limitations so long as a majority of the voters favor such change.
County governments spent $1,967,000,000 in 1946 as compared with : 1,696,000,000 the year before. This increase of 16 percent contrasts with increase of only 4.1 percent between 1944 and 1945. Operation costs accounted for over four-fifths of the total general expenditure, or $1,578,000,000. This was 15.5 percent more than operation expenditure in 1945. The cost of every function of county government went up, with the sole exception of sanitation. The greatest rise in absolute amount was for highways. The largest percentage increase, also true in the case of cities and States, was in recreation expenditures.
Although there was a sharp increase in the amount of new debt issued during 1946, this was not sufficient to halt the downward trend of county indebtedness. Gross debt outstanding at the close of 1946 amounted to $1,463,000,000, or 4.4 percent less than the $1,531,000,000 outstanding at the close of 1945.
Many counties put extra amounts into their sinking funds: hence net long-term debt fell by a considerably greater amount than gross longterm–6 percent as compared with 4.7 percent. Net long-term debt reached $1,277,000,000 in 1946, having declined from the 1945 figure of $1,358,000,000. Substantially all county indebtedness was for general Government purposes, only about 1 percent being for countyowned enterprises.