Harry S. Truman: The Man from Independence

By William F. Levantrosser | Go to book overview

ployment." 80 Despite his observation, Keyserling defended that policy on the basis of a long-range Cold War. The policies of this New Deal maverick became the conventional wisdom. 81 The economy's health was not only a major concern domestically, inherited from the New Deal, but if America were to maintain global leadership, economic growth must ease the international situation, dual legacy from Wilsonian internationalism and the Cold War.

Historians, like contemporaries, have varied in their judgments of the Truman years. 82 Success or failure, Keyserling's policy was not truly Keynesian in essence 83 but a basic continuation of the historic appeal that an expanding economy would solve vital public issues. Keyserling believed that this expansion was no longer automatic; planning and business-government cooperation were necessary to replace effectively the economic stimulations of a vanished frontier. 84

Keyserling's policies were tragic only in the way different audiences perceived them. 85 Various groups used some of Keyserling's policies for their own purposes. Government-business cooperation, therefore, became military control of the economy and planning for international policies of expansion became the real objective, not domestic economic justice for all citizens. While the Council of Economic Advisers did provide "the first institutional mechanism for giving the White House the means to develop a coherent economic policy," 86 the result was irony, a jest of history; Keyserling's idealism and organic conception of the economy provided a liberal 'political economy' for the Cold War. 87 After Truman left the White House conservative business interests used and denounced these policies at the same time. 88

Since World War II, the military-industrial complex has spent $1,500 billion with resulting damage to the American economy. 89 As Chairman of the CEA Keyserling significantly contributed to the economic growth concept. He successfully linked the New Deal legacy to the domestic and foreign policy concerns of the Truman administration. And yet successful policies can contribute to future troubles. By dealing with the fear of a mature economy within a containment foreign policy, the Truman Administration laid claim to New Deal liberalism and created a successful policy for coping with the new and potentially threatening post-World War II world. Can the economy however still provide guns and butter? The debate continues. 90


NOTES

I would like to acknowledge the generous support that the Harry S. Truman Library Institute and the North Texas University Faculty Research Fund have provided for this project.

1.
Since the cold war is part of a vast historiographic controversy, a handy introduction is Lloyd C. Gardner, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and Hans J. Morgenthau. The Origins of the Cold War ( Waltham, Mass., 1970).
2.
Donald K. Pickens, "The Expanding Economy: An Overview of UnitedHistory As An Exercise In Middle Class Utopianism" States

-255-

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