Prices and Politics

September 14, 1948

Report Outline
Postwar Price Inflation and 1948 Campaign
Government Price Control After the War
Controversy Over Anti-Inflation Measures
Special Focus

Postwar Price Inflation and 1948 Campaign

Party Attempts to Escape Blame for High Prices

Today's High Prices are recognized by Democrats and Republicans alike as a liability in the current bidding for ballots. The two parties admitted as much at the national conventions by blaming each other for the upward price movement, and recent exchanges in the same vein indicate that prices will be a continuing campaign theme. Because both parties have been exercising power, one in the Executive Branch and one in the Legislative Branch of the government, both are open to charges of not having done all that could have been done to halt or check price increases. Only Henry Wallace's Progressives, with no record of commission or omission, are free to accuse without having to defend.

The Republican platform declares that “Present cruelly high prices are due in large part to the fact that the government [Truman administration] has not effectively used the powers it possesses to combat inflation, but has deliberately encouraged higher prices.” The Democratic platform is even more positive. It says: “The Republican 80th Congress is directly responsible for the existing and ever-increasing high cost of living. It cannot dodge that responsibility.” And the Progressive party, without differentiating, blames the “old parties” for the fact that “Millions cry out for relief from unbearably high prices.”

Growing Fear of a Dangerous Deflation

Efforts of the major parties to clear their respective skirts and pin responsibility for the high cost of living on the other fellow reflect something besides concern over possible political repercussions from current price inflation. They are indicative also of growing fear that the inflation, barring war or a greatly expanded defense program, may be succeeded in the not distant future by a deflation of dangerous proportions. Precisely because the inflation has been allowed to mount so far, the deflation may be severe, widespread, and difficult if not impossible to control. Foreseeing that eventuality, those who may be responsible for dealing with it are trying to shield themselves against future accusations that they were in any way at fault for failure to take the proverbial stitch in time.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Price Controls
Jul. 26, 2019  Prescription Drug Costs
Aug. 05, 1954  Discount Selling
Aug. 10, 1951  Price Cutting and the Law
Apr. 25, 1951  Enforcement of Price and Rent Controls
Nov. 10, 1948  Basing Points and Delivered Prices
Sep. 14, 1948  Prices and Politics
May 28, 1947  Retail Price Agreements
Aug. 12, 1935  New State Laws for Price Maintenance
Apr. 03, 1930  The Trend of Commodity Prices
Campaigns and Elections
Party Politics