Federal Patronage

October 20, 1948

Report Outline
Federal Political Patronage in 1949
Patronage Problems and Civil Service
Governor Dewey and the Merit System

Federal Political Patronage in 1949

Effect of Prosperity on Pressure for Patronage

If Republican Candidate Dewey becomes President elect Dewey on November 2, as the political polls now indicate, an early task for him and his lieutenants will be to consider distribution of the federal patronage accruing to his party when the new administration takes office in January. Nearly 16 years have elapsed since control of the Executive Branch of the federal government passed from one party to another, and the last time the Republicans returned to power after a period in the political wilderness was nearly 28 years ago. It is thus a long time since either party, and particularly the Republican party, has had to deal with the patronage problems that attend a shift of party control.

The patronage situation in 1949 probably will differ in one important respect from that which prevailed in 1933 and in 1921. Both President Roosevelt and President Harding entered the White House when the country was in the midst of severe depression and unemployment was widespread. Consequently, large armies of job-hunters besieged the incoming party for patronage favors. Today, on the contrary, the nation is enjoying a period of high prosperity and full employment. If this condition continues through the winter, the next administration should be spared as heavy pressure for political rewards as that applied by the party faithful at the time of the previous changeovers.

Recent Lack of Candidates for Top Federal Jobs

Government officials recently have been having difficulty, not in warding off applicants for federal jobs, but in finding capable persons to fill available posts. President Truman has complained repeatedly about the trouble he has had inducing men of suitable qualifications to accept appointment to important positions in the federal establishment. That task has no doubt been made harder of late by the fact that political trends have indicated such appointments will be of brief duration. But other factors have entered into the situation. Federal salaries for the top jobs have appeared more inadequate than ever at a time when living costs are high and when individuals of the desired caliber can earn considerably more in private pursuits.

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