December 19, 1946 – Not so much a news filled day as one that observed things to come. Via this commentary by Richard Harkness, the topic of conversation on Capitol Hill was the new Republican Congress, which won the mid-term elections for both the House and the Senate.
One of the issues the Republicans campaigned on strongly was saving the taxpayers money but cutting the Federal payroll. And where it was anticipated the axe would fall first was over Government Press agents. Looking at the Federal Employees payroll, there were some 23,009 listed as being employed full-time doing educational, informational, promotional and publicity activities for the administration. Another 22,769 were listed as part-time employees; workers in the same field – making for a total of 45,778 people on the public payroll doing work which the new Republican Congress referred to as Propaganda. Take into consideration family members and other dependents and you have, at rough estimate, over 100,000 people living off the government, making Propaganda.
And in addition to the payroll, the actual production of these materials is expensive. So it was estimated that the full total of maintaining this department runs in the neighborhood of $74 million per year.
It was this expenditure of money and these programs that Representative John Taber (R-New York) was planning to do away with what he called “Government Propaganda dispensers and Federal Press Agents”. Taber was slated to become the new Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. So would be in a position to deny funds to the various administration Public Relations offices. If he could close them all down, Taber estimated he would save the U.S. taxpayers some $100 million a year. Taber felt that the money saved woiuld not be as important as the principle involved. Taber believed that Propaganda was not a function of the Federal Government. All that said, it was easier said than done, because one of Taber’s colleagues, Representative Knudsen of Minnesota, also a Republican, was to become Chairman of the House Ways And Means Committee. He was planning on hiring a Government Press Agent for the express purpose of keeping the public informed of the goings on with his committee.
And that’s what politics was looking like, this December 19, 1946 as reported by Richard Harkness and NBC Radio.