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Herbert Hoover Against Early Payment of the WWI Veterans' Bonus

Herbert Hoover:

September 14, 1932: It is my duty to the country and to the veterans that there should be no misunderstanding of my position upon payment of the face value of the adjusted service certificates prior to maturity, as recommended in the resolution pending before the convention in Portland. I have consistently opposed it. In public interest I must continue to oppose it.... Every right-thinking man has the deepest sympathy for the veteran suffering from disability, for those out of work or for veterans on farms struggling with the adversities of the depression. No one who began life in the humble circumstances that I did, and who at the earliest and most impressionable age learned the meaning of poverty from actual experience, can be lacking in feeling and understanding of the problems and sufferings of these men and their families. I have seen war at first hand. I know the courage, the sacrifice of our soldiers.

But there are many million others in the same circumstances. They too must be entitled to consideration. Their employment and their farm recovery, as well as that of the veterans, can be secured only by the restoration of the normal economic life of the Nation. To that end we have been and are devoting our best efforts. Anything that stands in the way must be opposed. The welfare of the Nation as a whole must take precedence over the demands of any particular group....

This would, I am advised, add about $2,250,000,000 to the amount which the people of the United States acting through Congress, undertook to pay when they gave the certificates.

No such sum is available. It cannot be raised by adding to the crushing burden of taxes which drain every family budget in our country today and weigh heavily on business struggling in the midst of depression. It cannot be borrowed without impairment of the credit of the National Government and thus destroy that confidence upon which our whole system depends. It is unthinkable that the Government of the United States should resort to the printing press and the issuance of fiat currency as provided in the bill which passed the House at the last session of Congress under the leadership of the Democratic vice presidential candidate. Such an act of moral bankruptcy would depreciate and might ultimately destroy the value of every dollar in the United States. It would cause the collapse of all confidence in our Government and would bring widespread ruin to the entire country and to every one of our citizens. Daniel Webster one hundred years ago stated: “He who tampers with the currency robs labor of its bread. He panders, indeed, to greedy capital, which is keen-sighted, and may shift for itself; but he beggars labor, which is honest, unsuspecting, and too busy with the present to calculate for the future. The prosperity of the working classes lives, moves, and has its being in established credit, and a steady medium of payment.” And the experience of every Government in the world since that day has confirmed Webster's statement.

Let us not forget that while we have lost much in this depression, we still have much more to lose. And our whole future may be said to depend upon early recovery.

For many months the right-thinking men of both parties have been engaged in organizing and mobilizing the resources of the Nation to promote the economic recovery which is the one sure and effective means of restoring the standard of living of all of our people and rescuing millions of them from suffering and to pay it to a particular group constitutes a fatal threat to the entire program of recovery, to the success of which all must look for their well-being, security and happiness. In my judgment the enactment of any such proposal into legislation would be a deadly blow at the welfare of the Nation. I was elected to protect and promote the interests of all of the people. As long as I am President I shall continue to do so and to oppose with all of the strength and influence at my command any demand that runs counter to the common welfare.

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