January 11, 1941 The NATION
“DOES THE SENATOR HIMSELF CONTEND,” Senator Wagner asked Senator Taft on January 2, “that it is a sound policy to give a contract, which is in the nature of a favor from the government, to one who willfully violates the laws of the nation?” The answer was, “Yes, I do; frankly.” Senator Taft gave the answer in the middle of the long and rambling speech with which he tried to block confirmation of J. Warren Madden’s appointment to the Court of Claims. In all but candor the War Department’s position seems to be that of Senator Taft. Despite its repeated pledges that defense contracts would be let subject to compliance with the labor laws, the War Department stubbornly insists on giving Henry Ford the much-discussed contract for $1,400,000 worth of midget military cars. Evasive answers were made by Assistant Secretary of War Patterson at a press conference last week when he was asked whether this accorded with the pledges made to labor last September and whether Ford had met the specifications of the contract. Ford’s failure to meet specifications would give the War Department an easy way out of its hastily made award. In the meantime, the War Department is again “discussing” the question of whether to insert a clause in future defense contracts stipulating compliance with the labor law. So far, its promises to labor have been worthless.