By TOM LAWRENCE
The Daily Republic
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a weekly series examining the events of 40 years ago that led to Mitchell native George McGovern’s Democratic presidential nomination.
When the 1972 McGovern campaign is recalled, a few words and phrases stick out.
Peace. End the war. “Come Home America.” Acid, Amnesty and Abortion.
And $1,000 for every American.
McGovern’s “demogrant” concept was a proposal to boost lower-income Americans with a tax credit to largely replace the welfare system. Some, including President Nixon and his supporters, termed it radical and borderline dangerous.
The Daily Republic examined McGovern’s economic proposals in an editorial that was published June 29, 1972.
Titled “McGovern Welfare,” the editorial quoted Gerald F. Sorrensen, a California State University associate professor of economics.
Sorrensen said McGovern proposed $43.1 billion in economic redistribution, including providing an additional $14.1 billion for families living on less than $4,000 a year and $29 billion for families in the $4,000 to $12,000 range.
The professor said he felt McGovern’s idea of ensuring a decent income for all Americans was hardly radical and not at all dangerous to the nation’s economy.
“But it is difficult to attack the McGovern program as not fiscally viable or responsible (when it would run less than the Nixon average deficit),” Sorrensen said. “A leader, whether liberal or conservative, must be out front.
“His welfare views, though perhaps requiring some congressional tampering, do not appear to be radically monstrous. They are a blast of clean, fresh air in a country too long shrouded in political fog.”
Sylvia Porter, a nationally syndicated economics columnist with an audience of 40 million readers, wrote a five-part series on McGovern’s economic proposals.
Porter said McGovern’s plan to provide $1,000 with all Americans would cost the country $200 billion a year.
But she noted with apparent appreciation McGovern’s idea for investing $10 billion to create 2,400,000 new jobs.
The jobs would be aimed at rehabilitating housing, boosting public transportation, building neighborhood health centers and day cares, schools and hospitals.
McGovern proposed ending the Vietnam War and making deep cuts in military and aerospace spending.
Nixon blasted the idea, saying it would cost the country the services of its most able minds.
McGovern dismissed Nixon for his “simple-minded” ideas and said he would create a Department of Science and Technology that would tackle real problems.
But the $1,000 pledge hung over his head as the 1972 Democratic National Convention, set to open July 10 in Miami, loomed.
Porter said the only way to pay for all McGovern’s ideas without cutting the federal budget was higher taxes on wealthy, and maybe on everyone else.