What FDR Can Teach Us About Congress and National Emergencies

by Martin Halpern

Martin Halpern is professor emeritus of history at Henderson State University and the author of UAW Politics in the Cold War Era and Unions, Radicals, and Democratic Presidents: Seeking Social Change in the Twentieth Century.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Sam Rayburn, and Alben Barkley

 

Seventy-five years ago this week, there was a serious conflict between President Franklin Roosevelt and Congress. The United States was at war, indisputably a national emergency. Today we face a serious conflict between President Donald Trump and Congress. President Trump has declared a national emergency in order to spend monies appropriated by Congress for other purposes in order to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Only Trump’s supporters, a minority of the country, see an emergency. If Trump is not stopped, we will have taken a serious step toward authoritarian government. We may draw some lessons from the conflict between Roosevelt and Congress in 1944 that may be helpful today.

As a follow-up to his call for an Economic Bill of Rights in his January 11, 1944, State of the Union address, Roosevelt had proposed to raise $10.5 billion for the prosecution of the war and domestic needs. The resulting Revenue Act raised only $2.1 billion and included tax cuts and new benefits for bondholders and the airline, lumber, and natural gas industries. On February 22, 1944, Roosevelt issued a veto message, charging that the measure enacted by Congress was “not a tax bill but a tax relief bill providing relief not for the needy but for the greedy.” Although Roosevelt was right in his criticism, the reaction on Capitol Hill was outrage. 

The next morning, Senate Majority Leader Alben Barkley of Kentucky, hitherto a close supporter of the president, charged that…

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https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171377

Nazis and communists tried it too: Foreign interference in US elections dates back decades

(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)

Bradley W. Hart, California State University, Fresno – 

(THE CONVERSATION) Americans have spent the last 18 months wondering about Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. Charges have already been filed against 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering with the 2016 presidential campaign, as special counsel Robert Mueller continues investigating the extent of the Trump campaign’s links to Russia.

A Senate report concluded that the Russians’ interference was aimed at influencing the outcome of the election.

If true, the president would not be the first U.S. politician that foreign powers tried to help.

In fact, two campaigns, in 1940 and 1960, featured bold attempts by hostile foreign powers to put their preferred candidates in the Oval Office.

 

While neither was successful, both highlight a vulnerability in the American political system…

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https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/Foreign-interference-in-US-elections-dates-back-13551260.php

If You Ask Me: The Writings of Eleanor Roosevelt

IWF Reads: If You Ask Me

by Hadley Heath

Eleanor Roosevelt is an American icon. In her time, she was a progressive, but as Mary Jo Binker points out in the introduction to her new book, “If You Ask Me,” the term “progressive” has changed with the times.

The book is a compilation of Roosevelt’s advice columns, ranging topics from etiquette to war and peace. It’s a delightful look back at a pivotal chapter in American history, and much of the timeless advice is just as applicable to our present chapter as it was then.

On politics, Roosevelt believed in positive rights, such as the right to a job, good wages, education, health care, and so on. She chaired the UN drafting committee for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is fundamentally different from the U.S. Constitution, which only secures negative rights, meaning it limits government’s interference in our freedoms.

Her political views would be very different from…

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http://www.iwf.org/blog/2808309/IWF-Reads:-If-You-Ask-Me

75th Anniversary of Repeal of Chinese Exclusion Act

In 1943, Congress passed a measure to repeal the discriminatory exclusion laws against Chinese immigrants and to establish an immigration quota for China of around 105 visas per year. As such, the Chinese were both the first to be excluded in the beginning of the era of immigration restriction and the first Asians to gain entry to the United States in the era of liberalization. The repeal of this act was a decision almost wholly grounded in the exigencies of World War II, as Japanese propaganda made repeated reference to Chinese exclusion from the United States in order to weaken the ties between the United States and its ally, the Republic of China. The fact that in addition to general measures preventing Asian immigration, the Chinese were subject to their own, unique prohibition had long been a source of contention in Sino‑American relations. There was little opposition to the repeal, because the United States already had in place a number of measures to ensure that, even without the Chinese Exclusion Laws explicitly forbidding Chinese immigration, Chinese still could not enter. The Immigration Act of 1924 stated that…

Read more at: https://history.state.gov/milestones/1937-1945/chinese-exclusion-act-repeal

Remembering the House F.D.R. Built (Well, His Mother Did)

By James Barron

Nov. 29, 2018

Franklin D. Roosevelt at his townhouse in Manhattan surrounded by family members on Nov. 9, 1932, after he won the presidency in a landslide election. On either side of him, from left to right: Sara Delano Roosevelt, his mother; James Roosevelt, his son; and Anna Eleanor Dall, his daughter. —Photo Credit: Associated Press

The historian Doris Kearns Goodwin stood in a place she had described in her most recent book.

“This was where he crawled,” she said.

“He” was a middle-aged man, Franklin D. Roosevelt. The place was the library in the Manhattan townhouse where he struggled to regain the use of his body — by literally crawling on the floor — after he was all but paralyzed by polio in 1921, when he was nearing 40.

Ms. Goodwin was there because of something that happened years later: Roosevelt sold the townhouse to Hunter College for $50,000. On Tuesday, during a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the moment the Roosevelts handed over the keys, Jennifer J. Raab, the president of Hunter, called it “surely the real estate bargain of the 20th century.” (Maybe, maybe not. That amount, in today’s dollars, would be $726,000, far less than a townhouse on the Upper East Side would probably go for now. One in the next block is on the market for $24.5 million, according to the real estate site Trulia.) …

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https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/29/nyregion/roosevelt-house-nyc.html

What Do the Democrats Need in 2020?

Walter G. Moss is a professor emeritus of history at Eastern Michigan University and Contributing Editor of HNN. Among his publications are An Age of Progress?Clashing Twentieth-Century Global Forces,various volumes on Russian history, and over 200 essays.

 

An October 2018 report, Hidden Tribes: A Study of America’s Polarized Landscape, indicated that poor national leadership and our political polarization were main concerns. Our recent midterm election offers little hope that the two problems will diminish. Thus, we ask ourselves, “What type of political leadership is now needed? Who might furnish it? Trump supporters might answer Trumpian and Trump. But most of us seek a better answer. 

In a recent New York Times op ed—“What Kind of Democrat Can Beat Trump in 2020?”— columnist Frank Bruni cited various opinion-givers and answers. Two of the former were past Obama chief strategist David Axelrod and onetime Nebraska Senator and Governor Bob Kerry. Both agreed, in Axelrod’s words, “that there’s a market out there for a more unifying figure.” 

Bruni’s own opinion is that…

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