Courtesy Reuters

The Task of Economic Recovery

MUCH has happened since I wrote last fall in these pages.[i] Then the European Recovery Program was in its initial exploratory stage. Following the completion of the Paris report of the 16-nation Committee of European Economic Coöperation, and of the Harriman, Krug and Nourse Committee reports here at home, President Truman submitted to Congress a program of European aid from which, after extensive hearings, emerged the Economic Coöperation Act of 1948 (Title I of the Foreign Assistance Act) signed by the President on April 4. Mr. Paul Hoffman was appointed the American Administrator, and Mr. Averell Harriman the American Special Representative in Europe. The program got under way at approximately the April 1 deadline that had been set, with no real break after the Interim Aid program which Congress had passed in the special session last December.

This is a record of bipartisan coöperation in foreign policy in which we may well take satisfaction. It was entirely understandable that the debate in Congress should center upon the amount of aid and the method of administration. Between July 1, 1945, and December 31, 1947, we had made to the Western European countries loans and grants of nearly $12 billion, of which about $10 billion had already been used up. When, on top of this, the Paris Committee -- after substantially slashing its first draft in conference with Mr. Clayton -- presented in September an estimate of $19.6 billion for the next four years, it intensified the discussion which had been going on ever since Secretary Marshall's speech in June. There were sharp differences of opinion as to how much more European aid our economy could stand without bringing on an inflation here that would defeat the program; whether dollars really were the cure for Europe's ills; and how we could make sure they would be spent effectively to promote recovery rather than merely to postpone the corrective measures which only the European countries themselves could undertake. The Harriman Committee reduced the estimated four-year cost to the Treasury to an

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