• U.S.

THE PRESIDENCY: Stop, Look, Listen

4 minute read


“Stop, Look, Listen”

At President Coolidge’s request, the legislative engineers of the Flood Control bill called once more at the White House. The President took up a copy of their measure as last agreed upon by House and Senate, wrote three changes into it and walked away from his desk. The Congressmen found the changes acceptable and one of the knottiest knots of the session lay unraveled at last.

The chief effects of the final changes were two: 1) to limit the life of the new Flood Control Board, by referring to the Mississippi River Commission instead of to the Board the proposed survey of the river’s tributaries, a task which will take many years; 2) to lessen the Government’s liability for damages and expenses by specifying that damage claims are not retroactive and providing that the U. S. need not buy flowage rights over lands which the river now floods naturally. The face cost of the bill remained $325,000,000 to the U. S. President Coolidge said it would cost $500,000,000 but was prepared to sign it, thus admitting a defeat by the Congress.

The looming cost of Flood Control, however, was only one source of worry to President Coolidge last week. The end of the Congressional session was approaching,* and with it the last-moment votes for all manner of Federal outlay. Senator Smoot was going slowly with the Revenue Act and its $200,000,000 or so reduction of taxes. Some said his motive was to delay the Senate’s vote on the Boulder Dam bill. But in the light of an announcement by Representative Snell of New York, trusted Administration man, it looked as though President Coolidge’s ever-quick solicitude for the financial condition of the Government might have transcended the advisory and become legislative. At least, the President took note of the Snell announcement and warned Congress that there might be no tax cut if care were not had.

Administration-Man Snell announced:

“To show you that … we have had some problems to deal with of importance and cost to. American people, I want to enumerate. … It is about time to put up the ‘Stop, look and listen sign. . . .”

Mr. Snell enumerated appropriation bills still pending, as follows:

Flood control……………………………. $325,000,000

Muscle Shoals, $60,000,000 to. . . 75,000,000

Boulder Dam………………….. 125,000,000

Mississippi barge line……….. $ 10,000,000

Virginia Mount Vernon Road… 4,500,000

Welch Pay bill……… 18,000,000

Pink Boll Worm bill……. 5,000,000

Forestry Research bill…….3,625,000

Pay, customs employes……. 1,635,000

Pay, immigration employes….. 142,000

Vocational Education bill…… 6,000,000

Retirement emergency officers…. 2,000,000

Retirement of civil employes….. 30,000,000

Farm relief………….. 400,000,000

Good Roads bill, $75,000,000 to. 85,000,000

Vermont road repairs………. 1,600,000

Kentucky roads………. 1,800,000

New Hampshire roads……. 625,000

George Rogers Clark Memorial.. 1,000,000

War minerals relief, $5,000,000 to 10,000,000

Total $1,105,927,000

¶ From Rapid City, S. D., scene of the last Coolidge summer vacation, there arrived in Washington, Banker Russ Halley, comet-wise, in his Eagle Rock airplane. Banker-Aviator Halley proceeded to the White House. Washington took interest, for perhaps this would settle a muchdiscussed question (see LETTERS). It did. Banker-Aviator Halley emerged from the White House with the news that President Coolidge had declined an invitation to go flying; had announced that he would not leave the earth so long as he is in office. ¶ The President got news from Germany that he had written an article for the Berlin Acht-Uhr Abendblatt, expounding U. S. conditions and international relations. President Coolidge denounced the article, unsensational though it was, as a fabrication. . . From England came a story which President Coolidge did not denounce. A certain Richard Speaight (author of The Memoirs of a Court Photographer) had returned to England from the U. S. and told a newsgathering friend about how he took President Coolidge’s photo in the Cabinet Room of the White House last winter. To get his light right, Photographer Speaight covered the windows with tissue paper. To “amuse” President Coolidge, Photographer Speaight made a “witty” allusion to the fact that the tissue paper had been imported “all the way from England.” President Coolidge’s reply, which Photographer Speaight and his English friends considered sidesplitting, was: “If it answers the purpose, that is all that is required.”

*Senate-leader Curtis, House-leader Tilson, Speaker Longworth of the House and Representative Garner, important House Democrat, conferred Ir.st week and agreed that Congress might adjourn as soon as May 26, no later than June 8.

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