Before the President called the extra session of Congress last May, Republican leaders assured the country that if the President would call them together in Washington, they would settle the railroad problem, the merchant marine question, revise the tax laws, reduce the cost of living, and enact the great constructive legislation which the problems resulting from the war made imperative. The President obligingly called the extra session and urged a revision of the war taxes. The Democrats had to put on these taxes to lick the Kaiser. Our gallant dough boys having finished that job, war taxes should now be reduced.
Has the Republican majority done anything to reduce taxes, or to solve any of the great war problems? No, they have simply lain down on the job. If the Republican majority is unable to deal with the tax and war problems, why is it not honest enough to tell the people so? Under the Constitution, every bill to reduce, or revise, or impose taxation must originate in the House of Representatives, which is absolutely in the hands of the Republican majority. The responsibility for neglecting to relieve the people of some of these great war burdens rests upon the Republican majority. The President can only recommend. The Republican Congress must legislate to give relief.
The question of taxation touches every home in America. There is no man, woman, or child who can escape the relentless tax law. It reaches into every pocket, and extracts its share whether the pocket belongs to the rich or to the poor. While the poor do not pay these taxes directly, they do pay them indirectly, because the taxes increase the price of every ounce of food, every pound of coal, every piece of clothing and every article consumed or used by the people. Between the high cost of living and the high load of taxation, the masses are carrying a heavy burden these days, and they have a right to demand that the Republican majority in Congress carry out its promises to give relief.
Instead of trying to reduce the burden of taxation, the Republican Senate has spent its full time trying to defeat the plan for a League of Nations, which if organized will cut down and limit military armament among all the great powers, and will make war almost if not impossible. If the Senate destroys the League of Nations, then the United States must begin at once to arm on a greater scale than any other nation in the world, because we must be strong enough to beat all comers from the Atlantic, the Pacific, or any other quarter. This means a navy in the Atlantic big enough to overcome the combined navies of at least three European powers. It means a navy in the Pacific bigger than Japan. It means the greatest standing army we have ever had. And it means possibly forcing universal military training on a million young men every year. This will add at least two billion dollars per annum to our present tax burden.
Do we want to promote or prevent human slaughter in the future? Do we want to increase or reduce taxation? If we want to promote human slaughter and increase taxation, we should defeat the League of Nations. Our war preparation will then necessitate increasing present income taxes at least fifty percent per annum to say nothing of a general increase in every form of federal taxation. Let us understand the consequences of our entrance on such a career of militarism. If we must abandon the glorious ideas of peace for which this nation has always stood, we must do so with full knowledge of the fact that the alternative is wholesale preparation for war and the enthronement of armed force as the arbiter of America's destiny, and of the world's future faith.