’56 GAS BILL BACKLASHES ON DEMOCRATS He included reducing the social security age limit for women and extending coverage to practically all self-employed groups but doctors; tax revision to benefit low income groups, probably increasing exemptions; aid to health kesearch, with larger grants for hospital building; a school construction program; a public roads program, probably similar to the socalled Gore bill; a farm program of restoring 90 percent of parity, extending benefits on additional products, and possibly a soil-rental program; a natural gas bill to “preserve free enterprise and accord legitimate protection to consumers”; a housing program; water resources programs emphasizing a high dam at Hell’s Canyon, the Frying Pan, Ark., project, Niagara River development, Upper Colorado basic storage project, Washita, Okla., project, Ventura, Calif., project, tidal project survey, and a New England development project; relief of critical depressed areas, including tax measures to encourage industry, more public works, supplementary unemployment insurance, and surplus food grants; amendments to the immigration and naturalization laws; a constitutional amendment abolishing the poll tax; disaster insurance. The New York Times, Nov. 23, reported that Sen. Humphrey “saluted the Johnson program as representing a very fine batting averagetwelve hits in thirteen times at bat.’ The one ‘strike out,’ he added, was the gas bill.” The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 23, commented: “None of these items is new. Few of them are not, in some form or other, also destined to be part of the Eisenhower Administration’s program for next year.” And there were caustic comments. Joseph L. Rauh, national chairman of ADA, declared on Dec. 3: “Since we are here dealing with achievement and record, rather than slogans and promises, it would make sense to try and figure out just what Eisenhower moderation is versus Johnson moderation, if indeed there is a difference.” The most important development of 1955 was the conversion of Adlai Stevenson to the Johnson-Rayburn concept. On Sept. 27 Stevenson visited Johnson’s ranch and was joined there by Sam Rayburn. The three spent the evening together without publicly revealing the course of the conversation. On Nov. 19, Stevenson told a $100 Democratic Party dinner in Chicago: “I agree that it is a time for catching our breath; I agree that moderation is the spirit of the times. But we best take care lest we confuse moderation with mediocrity, or settle for half answers to hard problems. . . . Moderation, yes. Stagnation, no!” Averell Harriman was also present at the dinner and following it declared, “There is no such word as `moderation’ in the Democratic vocabulary.” Governor Williams of Michigan declared: “I am made heartsick by those in my own party who do not militantly resist the spurious doctrine that . . . our job is done, we can rest. So long as Published by Texas Observer Co., Ltd. Entered as second-class matter, April 26, 1937, at the Post Office at Austin, Texas, under the Act of March 3, 1879. APRIL 15, 1960 Ronnie Dogger Editor and General Manager Sarah Payne, Office Manager We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of man some 15 million American families are still housed in substandard dwellings I would be ashamed to hearken to the counsels of those who have proposed that this is an ideal time for a national coffee break.” The New Republic, Dec. 5, commented: “Governor Williams and his allies suspect that ‘moderation’ and ‘breath catching’ are the rationalization employed by Stevenson for his effort to come to terms with Johnson and his group. For three years Williams and his friends have been emphasizing to Stevenson that victory in 1956 will depend upon the enthusiasm with which labor and low-income groups generally regard the Democratic candidate, rather than the acceptance which this candidate can pick up from peripheral groups. “They have pointed out that onethird of the voters participate only in presidential elections. They have added that this one-third is made up predominantly of Americans with low incomes.” The reaction of Averell Harriman and Mennen Williams, by courtesy of historic hindsight, was prophetic. They were thinking in terms of winning the election; Stevenson seems to have been primarily concerned with getting the nomination. Herein lay the difference in the two Adlai Stevensonsthe man of 1952 and the man of 1955-’56. In 1952 Stevenson was drafted. In 1956 he wanted the nomination and to get it had to be a candidate for nine long months. Eisenhower delivered his State of the Union message on Jan. 5, and as the Dallas News commented Jan. 8, it “included in whole or in part ten of Senate Democratic Leader Johnson’s 13-point `program with a heart.’ Not accepted by Ike were Johnson’s call for a tax revision to benefit low income groups, a natural gas bill, and 90 percent of parity farm price supports.” His Gas Bill’s Backlash The natural gas bill had been whipped ,through the House of Representatives by Speaker Rayburn on July 28, 1955 on a vote of 209 to 203, 136 Democrats voting no, and 86 yes. The following day, though housing was a basic plank in the Democratic platform, Rayburn sat placidly by while the House tossed out of the bill the 35,000 public housing units to relieve slums in metropolitan areas. Johnson made the gas bill the first order of business for debate in the Senate in 1956. After three weeks of debate Sen. Case, Republican of South Dakota, broke the story of the $2500 “campaign contribution” by a Texas lawyer intereste4 in the bill. Johnson said he would call for a thoroughgoing inquiry into the incident, but Johnson had a problem. As Sen. Barkley commented, Washington was swarming with more lobbyists than at any time in his memory, and most of them were from Texas. The fly in Johnson’s ointment was Sen. Hennings of Missouri, chairman of the subcommittee on privileges and elections, which had jurisdiction over the Case incident. Hennings was opposed to the gas bill, and any investigation which he handled as the foundation of democracy; we wil take orders from none but our owr conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Published once a week from Austin Texas. Delivered postage prepaid $4 pei annum. Advertising rates available on re. quest. Extra copies 10c each. Quantity prices available on ordefs. EDITORIAL and BUSINESS OFFICE : 504 West 24th St., Austin, Texas. Phone GReenwood 7-0746. HOUSTON OFFICE: 1010 Dennis, Mrs R. D. Randolph. would certainly open up the Pandora’s Box of all influence exerted to get the bill passed. Hennings had to be side-tracked. On Jan. 31, Hennings had told the Senate: ” . . . I am told by some of the most astute and knowledgeable observers of the American political scene that the power of the oil companies is so great that even the United States government will have great difficulty in controlling, in the public interest, their rapacity. It is difficult, I am told, because the oil industry is truly bipartisan in politics, and works through both the great major parties. It has friends everywhere, and particularly among those in office. It is being noted, all over the country, by readers of the free press of this country, that this particular bill is being pushed through the Congress under Democratic Party auspices, and by some of my closest political associates, by senators whom I greatly admire and revere, and for whom I have affection. . . . Certainly, the representatives of the great majority of Democrats throughout the nation will be allied against it.” Hennings in charge of an investigation could upset the Texas oil and gas applecart for years. On Monday, Feb. 6, Johnson moved. He first laid out the unanimous consent agreements providing for voting on the gas bill that day. Then he introduced for himself and Knowland a resolution providing for a “select” committee of two Democrats and two Republicans to investigate only the alleged improper attempt to influence the vote of Sen. Case and to report by March 1. Hennings said that inquiring only into the matter of the attempted contribution to Sen. Case was like going lion hunting with a pea shooter. He asked Johnson to change the wording so the committee could investigate “all improper attempts to influence senators’ votes on the gas bill.” Johnson replied: “I don’t want . . . to have the Senate start out on a general fishing expedition.” Douglas of Illinois said: “As I have listened to the arguments of the senator from Texas and of the senator from Oklahoma I am reminded of Alice in Wonderland, when the Red Queen was conducting a trial, and Alice suggested that they should take the evidence. The Red Queen replied: `No; judgment first and evidence afterwards’.” Senator Pastore of Rhode Island introduced an amendment that the Federal Power Commission in arriving at a “reasonable market price” for natural gas would have to consider among the other factors the protection of the interest of the consumers. Humphrey, Kennedy, and Symington voted aye, Johnson no; the ‘amendment lost. Douglas introduced an amendment to free the small producers of natural gas from all regulation and retain regulation of the approximately 200 large producers. Humphrey, Kennedy, and Symington voted for the Douglas amendment, Johnson against; the amendment lost. When the vote came finally, Humphrey, Kennedy, and Symington voted against, Johnson for; the bill carried 53 to 38. On Feb. 7 Johnson got his resolution for the “select” committee passed. But the denouement had to wait until Feb. 17. From his vacation retreat at Thomasville, Ga., President Eisenhower vetoed the bill. Johnson had misjudged the public, the President and the politics of the situation. In his zeal to pass a bill for the oil and gas industry, he had been arrogant and ruthless. THE TEXAS OBSERVER Page 4 April 15, 1960 He held the whip-hand, but failed to consider the back-lash. New Republic acidly said ” . . . the veto of the gas bill neatly undercuts the Democrats’ give-away’ argument against the GOP.” And an article in Harper’s Magazine for May on “Giveaways” concluded: “Since President Eisenhower’s February veto of the amendment to the Natural Gas Act, the political potency of the ‘giveaway’ charge has been considerably watered down. . . . The score card ends up with dollar signs opposite both teams.” Federal aid for school construction had been pledged in the 1952 Democratic platform. On Nov. 21, 1955, Johnson had included in his “program with a heart” for the Congress “a school construction program to meet the needs of our children. The House education and Labor committee had reported out a bill authorizing $1.6 billion as grants to states and local communities for school construction. The bill specifically prohibited any federal interference in schools but included the Powell amendment against aid to segregated schools. After the Poivell amendment had ‘been attached to the bill by a vote of 225 to 192, the House rejected the bill by a vote of 192 for, 224 against. Eighteen Texas Democratic congressmen \(all who against the aid for school construction bill. If the Texas delegation had followed the Democratic platform or even Johnson’s program with a heart, the school construction bill would have passed. Again complaint was heard that if Rayburn had worked one-tenth as hard for a Democratic platform pledge as for the natural gas bill, it could have passed. 12 to 18 Hours Meanwhile, the national conventions had taken over the political stage, and Stevenson, Harriman, Kefauver, Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Kennedy, Paul Butler, et al., had their ideas to be considered. The Democrats in convention assembled at Chicago. Johnson, as a favorite son from Texas, had the Texas delegation secure in his hip pocket. Only Mississippi ,joined Texas in voting for him. He told the press all he had wanted was a winning platform, and he was satisfied with the one adopted, though he did not agree with every line of it. In fact, Vann. Kennedy, his appointee to the drafting committee, voted against the civil rights plank; but Johnson said he thought the plank was one the party could win with. However, Johnson was serious about getting the nomination for himself. Time Magazine Aug. 20 reported that he would “do my duty” if nominated and that when asked if ‘Stevenson or Harriman was the best candidate, he replied, Lowe to Reply The Observer has recently carried three articles by Franklin Jones, the celebrated Marshall attorney, criticizing recent decisions of Texas Supreme Court Justice Robert Calvert and opposing his present aspiration for the chief justiceship of that court. The next issue of the Observer will include a gracious and engagingly written retort to Jones from Hamilton Lowe, the Austin attorney who successfully defended Jones before the Supreme Court after Jones was threatened with three days’ incarceration for the vigor with which he insisted on his right, on behalf of an injured client, to tell at least part .of the truth to a jury about the insurance cpmpany defendant in the case. “the best candidate at the moment is Lyndon Johnson.” The New Yorker Aug. 25 said that for 12 to 18 hours, Johnson “waged a perfectly serious and purposeful campaign for the nomination.” Newsweek Aug. 27 explained that Stevenson asked for an appointment with Johnson to frighten the Northern delegations with the idea that Johnson might get the credit for putting Stevenson over the top. The strategy worked. The guardian angel of the Democratic Party was at work in Chicago when Stevenson did not have to deal with Johnson and turn over control of the Democratic National Committee to him to get the nomination. Johnson took charge of the presidential campaign in Texas in 1956. In many ways it was the most incredible campaign Texas had ever seen. Johnson’s constant newspaper admirer, William S. White, wrote of the Texas campaign on Oct. 18: “The Johnson-Rayburn leadership is running its show basically on the premise that what is important in Texas is simply the Democratic Party and not so much the Democratic presidential candidate personally.” Governor Allan Shivers, heading the Democrats for Eisenhower in Texas, caustically commented on this strange development, as reported by the Houston Post Nov. 2: “Shivers charged that Johnson and Rayburn tried to conceal the names of the Democratic candidates in the meetings they have been holding over Texas, and spent most of their time talking about each other. ” ‘Why, you’d almost think Lyndon and Mr. Sam were running,’ he laughed.” But the weirdest operation of all came out of the Johnson-run state headquarters. One Holmes Alexander, a Washington columnist
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The Texas Rangers are tasked with investigating corruption and crimes by public officials. Those officials are rarely held accountable.