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what bead shall the blow fall? Shall it be in the civil list, or the army, or the navy? He says, in the early part of his Message, that he thinks a reduction can be made, without essential injury to any useful objects, " for reasons which will be hereafter enumerated." I have looked through the whole paper carefully, and cannot say that I have met with that enumeration of reasons. Perhaps the chairman of the committee, if he were here, could tell us where those reasons are to be found. He does say, indeed, in a subsequent part of his communication, that it may become necessary to diminish the compensation of all officers, civil, military, executive, judicial, and legislative. But he states no proposed rate of reduction; and, indeed, he does not recommend reduction at all. He says it may become necessary. Does he think it has become, and is now, necessary? Does be recommend it? Is that his reliance to eke out his ways and means? And what amount of reduction does he suppose such a process would accomplish? It is better to do this, he says, than to expose the Treasury to bankruptcy. Does he mean that the Treasury will be exposed to bankruptcy, if this be not done? Does he mean to say that the Treasury will be forthwith bankrupt, unless the pay of the President, heads of departments, judges, members of Congress, and military and civil officers, be immediately reduced? Is it acknowledged that our finances are in this condition? If so, why not recommend the measure at once? Why not tell us, distinctly, what is necessary? Why leave Congress to grope in the dark, amidst many various, and sometimes inconsistent, propositions and suggestions? When the report begins with such a flourishing paragraph about the great prosperity ol the Treasury, one is not prepared to see the Secretary come to this complexion of bankruptcy quite so soon.
But, Mr. President, there is at least an apparent inconsistency between the President and the Secretary. The Secretary says the appropriations may be reduced below the estimates, so as to leave two millions in the Treasury at the be^nning of next year. This will require a reduction of one million, if he reckon on collecting all the balances due from the deposit banks; or, if not, then a reduction of a million, and as much more as shall equal what may remain unpaid of these balances. He supposes, then, that these estimates of appropriations may be safely cut down at least one or two millions. This would be a very important saving.
But what says the President? The President says that lie "has directed the estimates for 1840 to be subjected to the severest scrutiny, and to be limited to the absolute requirements of the public services."
Now, Sir, if his directions had been followed, — if these estimates bad been subjected to the severest scrutiny, and are limited to the absolute requirements of the public service, — where is the reduction to be made? The Secretary, as I have said, specifies nothing, and recommends nothing directly. Where would he have us lop off? Will he spare us one or two millions from his own department? Will the Secretary at War spare a million from his? Or the Secretary of the Navy from bis? Why, I ask, should Congress, when called on to appropriate the public moneys, be left in such clouds, and such darkness?
Sir, one word as to the manner of making estimates of expenditure for the consideration of Congress. It is a plain and simple business, though, from its nature, it cannot be very precise, and I cannot see any necessity for enveloping it in so much obscurity and uncertainty.
Appropriations are of three classes.
In the first place, there are certain existing or standing appropriations, which need not be renewed annually. Such is the sum of $'200,000 expended every year for arming the militia; and such are some of the classes of pensions, and a few other small charges.
In the second place, there are the large class, in which the charge is created by law, but annual appropriations are required to enable the Treasury to disburse the sums necessary for its payment. This includes the army and navy, the civil list, and a list of miscellaneous objects.
In the third place, there are, as we all know, many appropriations made by Congress for special objects, public or private, and those often amount to considerable sums — private claims, roads and canals, building of lighthouses, Indian treaties, many objects recommended by the Executive itself; and these require, every year, a greater or less amount of money from the Treasury. The Secretary says that the expenditures of this description, which may be sanctioned by Congress annually, are very uncertain in their amount. This is true; but then, as these expenditures, in every year, amount to a considerable sum, and have done so from the very beginning of the Government, can any just or comprehensive view of the probable necessities of the Treasury be presented which shall leave all such out? It is quite impossible that some such expenditures should not be made. Now, in these estimates and recommendations, 1 find no provision whatever for any objects of this kind. The estimates are strictly confined to the army, the navy, and the civil list. I find no allowance for a single dollar which we might vote away here upon a private claim. Yet the Secretary tells us that, if we will keep within the estimates, the means will hold out. But he must know, I should have thought, that we cannot keep within the estimates. It is more than probable, judging from the past, that he himself, before the session is out, will call for appropriations not within the estimates. And does he mean, in that case, to throw the blame of any deficiency which may arise on Congress, by saying that Congress did not keep within the estimates?
If we may believe the President, and if the Secretaries have fulfilled his directions, there is nothing in any of these estimates which is not required by the absolute wants of the Government. But we know, Sir, that there are things not in the estimates, in regard to which the wants will be absolute; for instance, the private claims, upon which we are passing here every day, and for many of which we must provide, if we mean to do justice. Besides, do we not see, and know, that, in all human probability, various oiher occasions of appropriation will arise? Will there be no contin
fencies for the war in Florida? no expense for Indian treaties? s it not possible that events may arise on the north-eastern frontier, involving heavy charges?
And again, Sir; does the Administration abandon the Cumberland road? Here is no estimate for a dollar on that head of expenditure. Yet I trust an appropriation for that object will be made. I shall certainly vote for it myself. And harbors on the lakes — are provisions for those places of refuge and safety to lake mariners to be again postponed? They are not in the estimates. Is no improvement of any other harbor, no new lighthouse, and nothing else, which the protection of Atlantic or inland commerce may require, to be undertaken or provided for? Or, since these things are not within the estimates, if Congress should provide for them, is Congress to be reproached for its conduct, and made answerable for deficiencies?
I repeat, Sir, that the Executive departments must well know that, for some of these objects, appropriations will of necessity be made; and I repeat, therefore, that it seems to me to have been their duty to have presented such a plan, for receipt and expenditure, as should have embraced them, and provided for them. The amount, I agree, could not be well foreseen. But it must have been foreseen — it could not but have been foreseen — that something would be necessary; and yet the estimates make allowance for nothing.
There is, Sir, in all these Executive communications, a constant repetition of sound general maxims about the importance of economy. I hope the virtue will be practised, as well as preached. But in my opinion there is no just economy in refusing appropriations to important, necessary, and useful public objects. Let economy begin by cutting off useless objects, and diminishing the expense of accomplishing such as are useful. Let it push its reform to the reduction of the cost of collecting the revenue. Let it take care of expenditures, by trusting the public moneys to honest hands. Let it reduce offices, wherever they can be reduced. In all these, and other like things, let it exert its salutary influence. But is the Cumberland road to stop, from an impulse of economy? Are the lakes to be without harbors, from considerations of economy? Are important contingencies in public affairs not to be reasonably provided for, from reasons of economy? What sort of economy would that be?
Sir, I take that great public virtue, true economy, to consist, not in an undistinguishing neglect or refusal to appropriate money, but in a careful selection of important and necessary objects of expenditure, in the frugal application of means to accomplish these objects, and in enforcing an exact and punctual discharge of duty by every officer charged either with the collection of money, or with any expenditure, great or small. This is my idea of wise and practical economy, such as it becomes us to exercise, and such as the country will approve. But it is of little value, or no value at all, that Executive communications should rehearse to us general economical maxims, unless they show us what objects of expenditure may be disregarded, or in what other way savings may be made. And it would be especially edifying if these general admonitions should be accompanied and enforced by some striking and brilliant examples set by the heads of departments themselves. , I presume that no injustice towards Congress is intended, but I must say that in many of these communications, there are things which seem calculated to assert great merit for economy in the Executive departments, and which are but too well calculated to throw upon us an apparent want of that virtue. If it be required of Congress to keep its appropriations within the estimates of the departments, these departments ought, in their estimates, to comprehend all objects which they know, or have reason to believe, Congress must provide for.
Mr. President, I do not know the opinions of other gentlemen, and speak only for myself; but my opinion is, that our existing provisions for revenue are not adequate. I am aware that one branch of expenditure — that of pensions—is rapidly decreasing; but others are quite likely to increase, and we all know what a fall in duties is to take place in no great length of time. Looking to the many useful and important objects, which, I think, ought to engage the attention of Congress, it seems to me to be time that further provisions for income should be made. And we have the means at hand. There are articles of import on which we might, immediately, in my opinion, lay a considerable duty. The first of these is silks. The importation of this article is enormous. In 1839, it exceeded twenty-one millions of dollars. Think of that. An annual consumption of an untaxed imported article, of mere luxury, of twenty-one millions of dollars! Those silks clothe no poor man, nor his wife, nor children. The whole use and consumption is by the affluent. Is there a fairer subject of import duty in the world? Our table is loaded with petitions on this subject, by those who are attempting the making of silk among ourselves. This, itself, is a good reason for taxing the imported article. But, as a subject of revenue, nothing can be fairer or more proper. Good would come every way from a duty on silk. Suppose the importation should be a little lessened by it; that would favor the efforts of our people, and obtain revenue also. Suppose the importation should hardly be diminished at all, as perhaps it might not be; then we should receive the more revenue, and should collect it on an article of the merest luxury. Sir, if such a measure could originate in this House, I would move, this hour, to bring in a bill laying a duty on imported silks.
The next article is wine. Wines were imported last year to an amount exceeding three millions of dollars. Why should not wines
f)ay a duty? I know that, in regard to French wines, we are imited, by the treaty with France, until 1842. But still, within those limits, we might lay a considerable duty on the wines of France. But I should have no desire to lay duties on the red wines, or the cheaper wines of France. Such wines are consumed, extensively, in the South and West, are suited to the habits of the people, and supposed to be suited also to the climate. Until more necessary than at present to tax them, they might be received untaxed. But other and costly wines, such as are regarded as luxuries only, might well be subjected to a reasonable duty.
I would lay no duty on tea or coffee, because they are very generally used, have become, in some degree, necessaries of life, and contribute largely to promote comfort, temperance, and happiness among all classes. I may add that the general use of these articles is one of the most striking things which distinguish the laboring classes of this country from the same classes in other countries.
Such, Sir, would be my resort, if I could have my own way, lor revenues, such as are necessary for the support of Government.
As to the public lands, I have been, and still am, in favor of dividing their proceeds among the States upon fair and equitable principles. Perhaps this should not be done till the census, which is to be taken this year, be finished; as that will be the surest means of making a just and proper division; but, at a proper time, I am for the measure. In addition to other reasons which have been so often urged, it may be said, with force, that the income from this source is too unsteady and fluctuating to be relied on as an essential branch of public revenue. But a few years ago, it amounted to twenty-four millions. For this year, it is estimated but at three and a half. I should, therefore, assign this income to the States, whatever it might be, and rely for our revenue on those other sources which 1 have mentioned. In addition to silks and wines, there are some articles, called the protected articles, such as