Oral History Interview with
|Interview #l: 1 ( October 29, 1985 )|
|Interview #2: ( November 1, 1985 )|
|List of Subjects Discussed (Index)|
In October 1955 Nation's Business reported "Dr. Grover W. Ensley is staff director of what has been called the country's 'most important economic policy group.' This is Congress' over all Joint Economic Committee. The committee, which was formed in 1946, has been a major force in shaping American economic policy not only in Congress but in the Eisenhower Administration and business world as well. Its studies and publications are must reading among economists." The accomplishments of the Joint Economic Committee, in the decade following its creation, confirmed the goals of congressional reformers who had long sought to strengthen the quality and independence of expertise available to members of Congress. The need for coordinated economic planning to meet the challenges facing postwar America placed great opportunities before the joint committee. To address these challenges, the committee drew its mandate and staff resources from two landmark 1946 statutes, the Employment Act and the Legislative Reorganization Act.
In October 1946 newly appointed Senator Ralph Flanders (R VT) offered Grover Ensley a staff position as economics specialist. Ensley was hesitant to work for a minority party senator, even one as well regarded as. Flanders, recalling, "the Democrats had been in control of Congress since the late 1920's and this was the fall of 1946. I wanted to work with someone with power!" After consulting a
pollster who correctly predicted that Republicans would capture Congress in the November mid-term elections, Ensley signed on with Flanders. He thus arrived on Capitol Hill at a time when Congress was seeking to expand its previously minimal professional staff resources. He brought impressive credentials to this environment literally proving to be "the right man in the right place at the right time."
Born on April 13, 1915 on a wheat ranch in eastern Washington, Grover Ensley worked his way through the University of Washington. There he earned a bachelors degree in 1937 and a master’s degree in business administration the following year. In 1940 Ensley earned a second masters, in government management, from the University of Denver. Upon graduation, Ensley moved to New York City and a position as research economist with the Tax Foundation, Inc. Completing his residency requirement for a Ph.D. in economics from New York University, he, resettled in the nation's capital, taking a position as fiscal analyst with the United States Budget Bureau. In 1944 the Pabst Brewing Company sponsored an essay contest directed at finding solutions to the anticipated postwar employment crisis. The judges, sifting through 36,000 entries, awarded prizes to seventeen essayists including economists Herbert Stein, Leon Keyserling, and Grover Ensley.
In 1949 Dr. Ensley, joined the staff of the Joint Economic Committee and quickly advanced to the position of Executive Director.
He held that post until 1957 when he left Congress to become president of the National Association of Mutual Savings Banks. His tenure on Capitol Hill coincided with a period of rapid growth in the size and functions of congressional staff. In the following interviews, with wit, clarity and insight, Grover Ensley provides an outstanding example of the imagination and productivity that senior staff brought to the multiple challenges of the post war era.
About The Interviewer:--Richard Allan Baker has been Director of the United States Senate Historical Office since its establishment in 1975. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, he received master’s degrees from Columbia University and Michigan State University, and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland, College Park. Prior to 1975 he worked as a specialist in American history for the Legislative Reference Service of the Library of Congress, and as Director of Research for the private Government Research Corporation. He is currently president of the Society for History in the Federal Government. His latest book is Conservation Politics: The Senate Career of Clinton P. Anderson (1985).
GROVER W. ENSLEY
Tuesday, October 29, 1985
BAKER: Would you tell me a little bit about your early years--your family, your childhood, and your education?
ENSLEY: My grandfather, Henry Ensley, and his parents, Joseph and Eliza Canutt Ensley, went west to Oregon in an ox drawn covered wagon in 1852 out of Indiana by way of Missouri. When my grandfather was a young man, in 1872, he went to the Palouse country in eastern Washington state. He took out a homestead and went to the Clearwater River up above Lewiston, Idaho and cut logs all one summer and floated them down the Clearwater and then the Snake River. He and his wife, Mary Rice Ensley, built a house on his homestead near Almota, Washington. When Henry died at the early age of 58 he and grandmother gave each of their six children including my father, Dwight, and mother, Mary Rose, 160 acres of land.
That's where I was born in 1915. We got by in the 1920s, but the Depression caught up with us. In the fall of 1933, after I had completed high school, my father said I could take over the near bankrupt farm. But with his and my Swiss-born mother's encouragement I decided instead to go to the University of Washington. I hitch-hiked a ride to Seattle. It took two days to
travel the 300 miles on the back of an open truck. It was snowing in the Cascades. I arrived in Seattle with ninety dollars in my pocket in the fall of 1933 right in the worst of the Depression.
BAKER: That must have been a difficult decision for you, where you had an opportunity to take over the foreclosed farm.
ENSLEY: Yes. My first cousin, Melvin Ensley, who lived near by decided to farm and he did very well. About two years ago, President Reagan appointed him to the Federal Farm Credit Board. He's one of the thirteen directors of this now nearly bankrupt farm credit organization. I'm much happier having gone to the University instead of farming.
BAKER: What stimulated you, in your high school experience, to want to go on for further education?
ENSLEY: I think it was my father. He tried to go to college twice. Both times his health broke down. He always used to tell me as a child: "Grover, I would rather have a college education than the best farm in Whitman County!" That was drilled into me.
BAKER: Were you the eldest child in the family?
ENSLEY: No. I was the third. There were four children in our family. We went to a little one-room school. I rode a horse four miles. There were about eight or ten students. The teacher was
generally a young woman that had finished high school and gone to normal school two years. She'd have six or seven grades to teach; it was a long day for her. Students had to pass state examinations in the seventh or eighth grades in order to be eligible for high school. I went to high school in Colfax some 12 miles away. It seemed like a big town. I batched in a rented room. There were three or four girls that had higher grades than I did when we graduated, but I had the highest grades of any boy in the class. I was senior class president.
The superintendent of schools said, "Grover, you've got to make one of the talks at high school commencement. I want you to talk on 'The High School and the Community'." I worked up a six-minute speech, with the help of my English teacher. It was letter perfect. I memorized it and delivered it. In the fall when I arrived in Seattle, the first thing given me at the University of Washington was an entrance examination. I'm almost certain that I flunked the IQ test and the English test. But, the last item of the examination called on us to write an essay. I could choose from six subjects. One of the subjects listed was "The High School and the Community!" Well, I still remembered the commencement speech and I wrote it letter perfect. The results baffled the psychology department which was handling the examinations. The examiners couldn't understand how such a stupid guy could write such a brilliant essay!
BAKER: So, when you arrived in Seattle, you didn't know for sure whether you would be accepted into the University?
ENSLEY: No, but because of the good essay, I didn't even have to take "dumbbell English."
BAKER: That was quite a gamble.
ENSLEY: It was a gamble. Of course, I had to get jobs. The first two years I was fortunate and lived with my sister and her family, Naomi Krehbiel. I rode a bicycle the three miles to the University. Unfortunately, they moved from Seattle at the end of my sophomore year. At that time things became really tough. I had at least four part-time jobs. During my third year I worked at Schweitzers Beanery two hours a day for a twenty-five cent lunch, which I couldn't eat until 12:30 after the rush, and a thirty-cent dinner that I had to eat before the 6:00 o'clock rush when I put in my two hours waiting on tables. I couldn't afford breakfast, so I'd go from 6:00 o'clock at night until the next day at 12:30 without any food. Fortunately, the Federal government came along and bought the Schweitzers Beanery property and put a post office there. I got a better job working for three modest meals in what was called the "Commons," the cafeteria at the University where students were fed. I took care of the rats and the rabbits used for experimental purposes in the physiology department. It was a National Youth
Administration job, fifteen dollars a month. That was big money. Another job I had was in the calculator machine room in the College of Economics and Business. I showed students how to run the machines and made sure that no one stole one. It wasn't a hard job because I could work on my studies part of the time. I was a watchman on Sundays and holidays at a ladies apparel store in downtown Seattle. The store had lower insurance rates if they had somebody in this five-story building. But I had to do janitor work all day for three dollars and a half. These things all added up and I got by financially. I had to budget my time as skillfully as my money, since I had to make respectable grades.
In my third year, I went into a new five-year government service program. I was one of the first students in it. My colleague was Robert Mayo who ended up as President Richard Nixon's first budget director and then president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. The program demanded that you had nothing less than "B" grades, but the professor I worked under insisted that he didn't want any but "A" students. I was under a great deal of pressure. In my senior and graduate years I graded papers and taught economic sections which covered my tuition. I completed my five year program and obtained a masters degree under Professor Hall. He did a lot for me. In 1962 I helped create a "James K: Hall Memorial Fund" at the University of
Washington which is being financed with the help of his widow and former students. It provides financial help to promising graduate economic students.
BAKER: This government service program was established in the middle of the Depression at a time when the federal government was being increasingly more active. Was there a relationship there?
ENSLEY: I think that inspired the faculty committee or whoever creates such programs at a university. It sought to encourage "bright" young people to look forward to public service. We took courses in history, political science, law, economics, public finance, and public utilities, as well as state and local government. Three months of the fifth year was as an intern in the state government in Olympia, Washington. It was a great experience.
BAKER: In your experience in Olympia, were you involved with both the governor's office and the state legislature?
ENSLEY: Basically, I was working with what is now called the Public Service Commission. The commission was responsible for regulating public utilities in the state. I completed the program, including an MBA in the summer of 1938. About that time the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation created a government service program at the University of Denver. It was then a fantastic fellowship. The single fellows received $100 and married students $150 a month. This
was an eighteen-month program. There were three or four thousand applications for these ten fellowships and I was fortunate to get one. It was at the University of Denver that I met my wife, Creta Mabie. She was a senior. We met in the stacks of the library.
Part of our eighteen months was spent in field work, studying government in some area of the Rocky Mountains. I studied government in Albany County, Wyoming, which is the county embracing the University of Wyoming at Laramie. I was there nearly six months studying all levels of government as it affects that geographic area: the federal government, the state government, the county government, the school district government, and the municipalities. There were only two municipalities in the county at that time. We went out in teams of two. My teammate was Walter Durham. He had worked here in Washington. He was about five years older than me. We did our research and took all of our materials after Thanksgiving 1939 to Mexico City where we roomed and boarded for about a month and put our report together. We took it back at Christmas time and were the first team to complete our dissertation. It is a large volume.
BAKER: Did the county receive a copy of your report?
ENSLEY: Oh, yes. We completed the program in March 1940. I would hope somebody fifty years from that time--late in this decade--could make a follow-up study of government in that Wyoming county. I think it would be an interesting contrast.
BAKER: I agree. When you finished at the University of Denver where did your career take you?
ENSLEY: I was invited to join Tax Foundation, Inc. in New York City. In late March of 1940 I got on a train with some borrowed money and arrived in New York City on a Sunday morning and went up to what was to be my office in Rockefeller Plaza. For a kid who had never been east of Denver it was exciting. I lived in International House near Columbia University until getting married in August. And so I worked as a researcher for Tax Foundation during the day and on my PhD at night at New York University.
BAKER: How did you decide that you wanted to go to New York University?
ENSLEY: Frankly, I would have preferred Columbia University. But, Columbia didn't have an evening program at that time. It was convenient to attend NYU. I was getting $175 a month at Tax Foundation, and I received a fellowship in the Graduate School of Business. I completed my residence for the PhD in May of 1941. In June of 1941, I accepted an invitation to come to Washington for an
interview at the Treasury Department. I thought it was a pretty good setup, but I liked the Budget Bureau better. I was interviewed there by Budget Director Harold Smith and several others including J. Weldon Jones, Assistant Director, and Gerhard Colm, Chief Fiscal Analyst. They offered me a job. I took a position in the Fiscal Division, as junior fiscal analyst.
BAKER: Can we back up for just a minute? It was clear to you then in 1940 that you wanted to get a PhD? You felt that was necessary for where you wanted to go in life?
EHSLEY: Yes. I was young and I had nothing to do at night. I thought I should make use of that time. My professors at the University of Washington with whom I kept in touch--while they might swallow a bit at New York University as against Harvard or Stanford--thought that "Once you get the Ph.D. it won't make that much difference what the name of the school was." Actually, I had a good program and I am very proud of NYU.
BAKER: Who did you study with at NYU?
ENSLEY: Paul Studenski was my major professor. Public finance was his field. At the time he was also adviser to Governor Thomas Dewey. In New York at that time, and maybe still, the governor had some academic scholar as a part-time adviser. There were other teachers there too. Walter Spahr and Lewis Haney. It was a pretty
conservative school, except for Studenski. I wouldn't say Studenski was a Keynesian, but he was more liberal than most of the other economic and business professors at the University.
BAKER: He was pretty widely regarded at that point, wasn't he?
EK$LEY: Yes indeed. He was a Polish immigrant in the early years after World War I. As a matter of fact, he was a pilot and one of the first persons to solo across the English Channel. On one occasion he had all the graduate students out to his place on Long Island for a Saturday afternoon and evening. This was in the fall of 1940. We discussed our imminent involvement in the war in Europe. There were a couple of students there who thought we shouldn't get involved. These people were clearly--it developed later--Communists. It was a very vigorous debate. These people who were so opposed to our involvement, the day after Hitler invaded Russia the next year, changed their position overnight. One came down here and worked in the predecessor agency of the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services. He was brilliant, but after the war, it became rather embarrassing for them. Historically speaking, the period leading up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a very interesting period. Of course, here in the Senate, you had Arthur Vandenberg and Burton K. Wheeler who were isolationists before Pearl Harbor. And you had your interventionists. It was a difficult time. The recent book by Joseph Lash on Roosevelt and Churchill is very interesting. It is
amazing that we did as well as we did in unifying this country as Winston Churchill did in Great Britain. In retrospect, in World War II, we were about as united as a people as in any war we had ever been in before or since.
BAKER: That raises some questions that we can deal with after the war, because what happens when that unity begins to unravel?
ENSLEY: I will fill you in on some of my personal experiences with Vandenberg, which were interesting to me.
BAKER: So, you got your residency requirement out of the way at NYU . . .
ENSLEY: And came down to the Budget Bureau in May 1941.
BAKER: Why the Budget Bureau?
ENSLEY: The Budget Bureau had just been reorganized a couple of years earlier and moved from the Treasury Department over to the Office of the President, and given greater powers and responsibilities. It had five divisions: the Estimates Division; the Administrative Management Division; the Statistics Division; the Legislative Reference Division; and the Fiscal Division. This was before the days of the Council of Economic Advisers. The Budget Bureau and the Fiscal Division was the coordinating force in bringing together a progressive budget policy that was internally consistent.
I became interested immediately in trying to tie together the economists in the Departments of Treasury, Commerce, Labor and Agriculture, in the Federal Reserve and the emerging defense agencies to make sure that when the president's budget and economic program came to the Hill, to the Congress, it was sound and internally consistent. All these agencies, you know, have to make assumptions as to GNP, national income, and corporate profits and the like in order to put together their budget justifications and legislative requests. We thought it incumbent upon the president to make sure that the programs were internally consistent. The Budget Bureau provided the vehicle to develop such programs.
For example, the defense agencies budget estimates were in terms of obligational authority. But we were concerned, as we got into the war, with the "inflationary gap" as we called it--as a result of rapidly growing war expenditures. It was rather difficult to persuade the defense people--the War and Navy departments--to translate their appropriation requests into dollar figures that would be spent during a particular period. We put these requests together with other government outlays, private investments, and consumer expenditures to see how much inflationary pressure would result.
In March of 1942, soon after we were into the war, the Secretary of the Treasury came up to the Congress and testified that we needed comprehensive direct controls. He maintained that higher taxes and
fiscal restraint wouldn't really do the job of controlling inflation. The next day, Leon Henderson, who headed the Office of Price Administration came up and testified that we needed more fiscal restraint, and that direct controls wouldn't do the job! Now, here were two major administrative agencies apparently contradicting each other before the Congress. Well, I went home that weekend and drafted a memorandum to the president. The memorandum stated that we needed to develop a comprehensive anti-inflation and mobilization program. We mentioned the various agencies that should participate in formulating such a program. On Monday the Budget Bureau staff perfected the wording and the budget director sent it over to President Roosevelt that night. The next morning about 10:30, the budget director called us down, all excited. He'd gotten the memorandum back and at the top of the page it said, "HDS", meaning Budget Director Harold D. Smith, "O.K. Work Fast. F.D.R."
BAKER: If possible, I'd like to have a copy of that memo for this transcript. (See following page)
ENSLEY: Certainly. On the basis of this mandate the Budget Bureau got things going. We brought in experts from various universities. We brought in business people. We helped the president with a special message to the Congress requesting the necessary mobilization legislation. In October 1942 the president persuaded Justice Jim Byrnes to leave the Supreme Court to head the
new Office of War Mobilization. I feel proud of this memorandum and I had the foresight to have it photostated.
I recently had lunch at the University of Washington with historian Frank Freidel, biographer of President Franklin Roosevelt. He was very interested in this memorandum since he was in the process of studying Budget Director Smith's unpublished diary. He showed me several pages in which Smith records his experience in getting the president's instructions implemented. The Smith diary is kept at the Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, New York.
As I mentioned earlier the Fiscal Division of the Budget Bureau had an opportunity to try to make sure that anything in the economic area the president sent up to Congress for action was sound and internally consistent. That was not easy to do and had never been done systematically before.
Before the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921, when the Budget Bureau was created in the Treasury Department, each agency would bring up their appropriation and legislative requests separately and independently to the Congress. During the 1920s and '30s the Budget Bureau compiled appropriation requests in an annual budget document. But it did not coordinate the overall government fiscal program. But the Executive Reorganization Act of 1939 gave some muscle to the Budget Bureau. The Bureau had for the first time a vision of what a
budget should. look like--much more than just a bunch of tables. It had to be a comprehensive, internally consistent program. And believe me, it was not easy to get the Treasury Department to tell us their assumptions for personal income and corporate profits, which were used to estimate tax revenues. And if you looked deeper you might find that the Department of Agriculture was using different assumptions on their estimates of how much agricultural subsidy you would have to provide in the budget.
BAKER: Was there problems of inconsistent assumptions within those departments, as well as between them?
ENSLEY: I suppose there was, although they didn't have the facilities to have as many competitors there. I don't think there was much inconsistency within a department. It was when these department economists got together that we'd have to thrash out the best consistent assumptions.
During this period I wrote my doctoral dissertation on the subject I called a "nation's economic budget." This embraced the federal government expenditure and revenue programs and those of state and local governments, private investment and, finally the consumer segment. I used the developing national income data. Rather early I published an article on this approach: "A Budget for the Nation" (Social Research, September 1943). I also participated
in a pioneering study for the National Planning Association's National Budgets for Full Employment, planning pamphlet numbers 43/44, April 1945. I designed the presentation of the budget utilized in the analysis. A summary of my thesis completed in 1947 is included as an appendix (see attached).
Later, when I was executive director of the Joint Economic Committee we used the nation's economic budget mechanism to quantify our economic projections and assumptions and to set forth a rationale for the committee's recommendations to the Congress. These budgets were published each year as an attachment to the committee's report to the Congress.
BAKER: It says a lot about the climate in which you were working that you as a young man starting out had the kind of support and the flexibility to come up with a memo that went to the president, and then to see it implemented.
ENSLEY: You know how it is. When you are young, you'll try anything.
BAKER: Sure, but the fact is that you were able to get through, to communicate. And there was something about the environment that stimulated you to go ahead and do that.
ENSLEY: It was a stimulating environment. We had a good staff in that fiscal division. Very good leadership too.
BAKER: You came from New York to Washington in 1941. You were here until 1944, when you joined the Navy?
ENSLEY: Yes, I took a commission and went to the Harvard Naval Supply Corps school for four months. Then I was made the ordnance control group officer in the Supply Depot on Guam. I was still working on my doctoral dissertation at nights, although we were on the job from six to six, seven days a week until the Japanese surrender.
BAKER: Did you have difficulty getting source material?
ENSLEY: Fortunately, I had my materials pretty well in hand before I went overseas.
BAKER: Washington in those years--1941 through 1944--must have been a different kind of town from what you'd been exposed to previously?
ENSLEY: Yes. And of course, if you talked to old timers on the Hill, they would go to great lengths to tell you how different it was then from what it was when they first came here in the early 1930s. And when you go back further there was a great difference between what was here in the thirties from what it was in the twenties. It
must be interesting, from your standpoint, looking back over this century here on the Hill.
BAKER: Well, it raises the question . . . . You mentioned talking to old timers on the Hill . . . . How did you get to learn about the Congress? It is not quite the same as the state legislature in Wyoming or in Washington State.
ENSLEY: It was almost by accident that I got involved with the Congress upon returning from the service in the spring of 1946. When I went into the service in 1944--this isn't bragging--but the Bureau hired three people to take on the rapidly expanding jobs that I had been doing before going into the Navy. When I came back to the Bureau in the spring of 1946 there was no field immediately for me to fall into. It was a different environment there in the Budget Bureau. Fortunately, at that time the Legislative Reorganization Act was proceeding through Congress. Most of the Reorganization Act's provisions did not affect the executive branch of government. It involved reducing the number of committees from fifty or so in the Senate down to thirteen, providing professional staff, and other matters that were purely congressional. But one part of the bill did affect the Executive branch. A Legislative Budget was provided for in the bill. So the Budget Bureau asked me to be liaison with the Hill on the reorganization bill, particularly the budget provision.
BAKER: Now, this was early in 1946?
ENSLEY: Yes. In the spring and summer of '46. It is an interesting story, I think, because the bill's sponsors, Senator La Follette of Wisconsin and Representative Voorhis of California, popular legislators, had been in the Congress quite a few years. Congressional consideration of the legislation drug out through the summer and fall of 1946. These two sponsors were up for reelection--La Follette and Voorhis. Now, I'm not saying they wouldn't have been defeated anyway. It was a Republican landslide, but I've often thought of how history might have been changed. These two dedicated legislators were here struggling to improve the structure of the Congress when they should have been back home campaigning for reelection. La Follette lost, as you know, to one Joseph McCarthy in Wisconsin and Jerry Voorhis lost to one Richard Nixon in California.
BAKER: It must have been a tough act for you in the early part of 1946 to get thrown into a discussion about legislative reorganization that had been going on for quite some time.
ENSLEY: Well, I was really concentrating on the budget aspects of it and I was anxious to see Congress do something in this area. The tax committees didn't have any relationship to the appropriations committees. And there was not too much liaison between the authorizing committees and the appropriations committees. This
legislative budget attempted to tie these three elements together. The Act created a joint budget committee. The purpose was to come forth with one budget bill. We are getting ahead of the story a bit, but they did that one year--the first year--in 1947. And we had a really combined legislative budget bill that went through Congress.
BAKER: Where did the idea come from?
ENSLEY: I think it grew out of frustration in the Congress. I give considerable credit to George Galloway. He had been in universities, but at the time I was working with him on this he was assigned to work with La Follette and Voorhis from what was then called the Legislative Reference Service. A wonderful man--George Galloway.
BAKER: Tell me a little bit about him, his personality and character.
ENSLEY: Well, he sponsored me for membership in the Cosmos Club which (laughing) speaks well for him. He was an academician, I guess you'd say, and a scholar. He wasn't the type of staff man that you would normally expect here. I had high regard for his nonpartisan and objective ability to reason and sell his ideas to members of the Congress. Now, I can't say that the idea of a legislative budget originated with him. I think he was more of a political scientist intent on strengthening the Congress.
BAKER: This feeling for a legislative budget was coming from Congress rather than the Budget Bureau?
EKSLEY: Yes. Not from the Budget Bureau, although we had a real interest in a more constructive vehicle for receiving the budget up here.
In the fall of 1946, you will recall that President Truman appointed Warren Austin, a Republican from Vermont, to be our first ambassador to the United Nations. This left a vacancy in the Senate from Vermont. The Republican governor appointed Ralph Flanders to fill that vacancy in the fall of 1946. Congress was not in session, so he did not appear until January 1947 for the new Congress. Now, he was active in the private Committee for Economic Development and was interested, as all of us were during the war, about the postwar employment situation. He was told by Howard Myers Executive Director of CED that I might be a good man to get in his office. So he contacted me and we had a good visit. I told him that I had never been in the State of Vermont. He said, "Oh, that's all right. We won't bother you with Vermont matters. I'll handle the mail from Vermont." And he did. All the time I was with him, I think he probably received six or eight letters a week from constituents. He knew the people personally and he handled the problems. If it was related to a pension problem, he'd call down to the Veterans Administration and get it straightened out. There was no load
there, so he and I could concentrate on economic and other issues of national importance. That's what attracted me to him. I knew that he was interested in getting on the Joint Economic Committee, on the Banking Committee and on the Civil Service Committee. But, I couldn't make up my mind immediately, when he offered me the job. There was a question . . . . I'm a nonpartisan person. I have always been in all the years I've been with the government. No one could ever tab me as a Republican or a Democrat. So, I was a little hesitant to come here to work for a minority party senator. The Democrats had been in control of Congress since the late 1920s and this was the fall of 1946. I wanted to work for someone with power!
You have probably never heard of him, but on the Budget Bureau staff was a senior economist who had been an original New Dealer over in the Department of Agriculture by the name of Louis Bean. He had as a hobby, predicting the outcome of elections. He had a lot of charts. I don't know what all the input was, but he was one who predicted that Truman would win in 1948. He got a lot of publicity from that. Of course, this was two years later. I went to see Louie in the fall of 1946. I said, "Look, I've been invited to go up and work on the Hill. This very challenging man wants to hire me. He's a Republican and I'm not sure what impact I could have working for a minority freshman senator." Louie got out his charts and he said,
"well, Grover, let me just tell you one thing. I am predicting right now that the Congress, both the Senate and the House are going to go Republican in November." Now, this was early in October. So, on the basis of that prediction (laughing), I signed up with Flanders. I see Louie every once in a while. He also is a member of the Cosmos Club. He must be way up in years. But he's a wonderful person. I've told him this story and he seems to be proud of that prediction.
BAKER: That's wonderful. Now, here's Ralph Flanders whose career before he came to the Senate was pretty much in the machine tool business.
ENSLEY: He was a self made man. Never went to college. He had been, as you say, in the machine tool business. He married the daughter of the owner of the Jones and Laughlin Machine Tool Company in Springfield, Vermont. That helped him. He was always interested, though, in broader subjects than machine tools. He headed the policy committee of the Committee for Economic Development. He ran for the Senate in the early 1940s and was defeated by George Aiken. It's understandable. No one could beat Aiken. And then, nearing retirement--he was in his early sixties--he became president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston for a couple of years, 1944-46, until he was appointed to the Senate. And then he was elected for a full six year term in November 1946.
When we, arrived on the Hill in January of 1947, a very interesting series of events took place. You will recall that we had no vice president to preside over organization of the Senate. Les Biffle, the Secretary of the Senate--a holdover from the Democratic controlled Senate--presided. Well, everyone assumed that it would be a very quick swearing in, and then the Senate would elect a president pro tem, who everyone knew would be Arthur Vandenberg. Vandenberg would then take over and Les would become secretary to the minority. Well, lo and behold, there was a question over seating Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi. An attempt