are' taking advantage of these situations.
They don't charge true costs. They don't
charge rent. They don't charge taxes.
They don't charge for military employees. They don't charge for insurance. They have to show no profit, and
they're unfair competition. Don't misunderstand me on this: the Hoover
Commission does not want a single soldier denied the PX for his use.
BURT: Mr. Combs, what do you think of
the Hoover Commission's recommendations?
Combs : With much of what our guest
has said I am, of course, in accord.
There are other areas
in which, however, I
would register most
violent dissent. I understand that a task
force of the Hoover
Commission recommended the sale of TVA to private utilities, to private public utilities. But lhal
was later modified to suggest a change
in the accounting methods of TVA to
require' the government to figure in taxes
and other items in TVA costs—items
which, of course, don't appear in actuality in the administrative expense of running TVA. But it is in this area that it
seems to me, in all deference to our
guest of the evening, that the Hoover
Commission has usurped some policymaking functions and is entering a
highly controversial field in which it
mav vitiate much of the good that it is
doing in these other admittedly responsible areas.
M\cNeil: The Hoover Commission,
by the law that set it up, is charged
with the duty of dealing with policy.
And. by the way, it's even got the
authority from Congress to recommend
Combs: I doubt that that's constitutional.
MacNeil: Well, any citizen can recommend constitutional amendments.
Combs: However, this is an agency
MacNeil: That's a side issue. If
you're a student of power you'll find
that the first multiple dam in the 1 nited
States was set up in 1928 hy Mr. Hoover. I might remark that the thing you
dealt with—the task force—is an office
document. It's not a report of the Commission. It's a task paper. It leaked out.
and it leaked out very inaccurately, and
the Commission is not doing what you
are saying it's going to do.
Buckley: Are you saying, Mr. MacNeil, tbat it will not be the recommendation of the Hoover Commission to sell
the TVA to private power?
MacNeil: That's quite right.
BUCKLEY: I regret that very much.
However. I do think that to the extent
that they aim in that direction by exploding such myths as that govern-
ment power is cheaper than private
power, to that extent—
Combs: Oh, well, government power
is cheaper than private power. And
there's no argument about it—
MacNeil: Power from public power
is no cheaper than any other power
when all the costs involved are put in.
It's cheaper because some people don't
pay the true costs.
Combs: Now let me tell you something, Mr. MacNeil: the reason that
you're wrong is a very simple one . . .
I also am experienced in this realm of
public utilities and power. The reason
that government power, even if you include certain accounting costs which
should not enter into the picture', is
cheaper than power manufactured by
our private utilities is very simple.
The private utilities always retain in
their rate base—that is. the evaluation
of their property for rate-making purposes — obsolete equipment, inflated
equipment, and they also operate on
something known as reproduction costs
of those facilities instead of the historical costs to them, and as a result of that,
and complacent public service commissions in the states, they manage to rook
the public royally and consistently all of
Buckley: Pure demagoguery. In the
first place, depletion is fixed by law.
It's an accounting factor that is not left
to the caprice of individual . . .
Combs: I'm talking about rate bases.
It should be an element of cost.
Burt: I'm going to interrupt this because we're getting into an argument
about public vs. private power, and it's
not what we're talking about.
MacNeil: May I say a word about
the Hoover Commission's report on
water resources? . . . It's the first time
in the history of the United States that
a proper study has been made of all
these things, and it's going to be very
illuminating. It's going to give the public the facts for the first time.
BURT: We have a report here which ultimately is going to be three million words
long. It has a million facts in it. Do you
think there will be congressional resistance
to enactment of these reports?
MacNeil: I think some of the reports,
some of the recommendations, are highly controversial. We're not picking our
spots for economies or anything of that
kind. We're not trying to salve up certain people, and we're not trying to get
votes, incidentallv. We're trying to give
the facts to the American public as they
come. The only instruction that we have
had from Mr. Hoover is to get the rails
and give them to the public. In doing
so. certain people didn't like some of the
facts we brought up. We didn't make
the facts. We simply reporl them.
BURT: Mr. MacNeil, how much of the
public is going to read three million words?
MacNeil: None. You don't read a
daily paper through. You read what interests you and what concerns you. And
our report is made to the Congress and
this report goes into the archives and
goes to all the libraries and the students
will read it. The people dealing with the
various functions of government will
read it. The committees of Congress
will read it, the ones that concern them,
and so on.
BURT: Won't you have a situation arising,
Mr. MacNeil. of special interest groups gathering concentrated strength to oppose your
MacNeil: Yes. That's happened already. It even happened before the reports were made, and the most violent
of all those were in the public power
COMBS: Well, naturally, that's where
the public interest is the most deeply
MacNeil: Four national organizations were formed of propagandists to
fight the Hoover reporl on power before the task force was even formed.
Buckley: I can certainly understand
that, for example, the residents of Idaho
would be much more interested in having lhe citizens of New York pay for
their power than paying for it them-
M'his. The question is, who is getting
Combs: That isn't the question at all.
The entire matter of power such as is
represented by the Tennessee Valley Authority is a national rather than a regional matter. It enriches the economy
of the whole country. We deal with
dust bowls—erosion is a national problem. Why not the enrichment of our
BURT: Mr. MacNeil, outside of public
power where else will you encounter resistance—major resistance—to your recommendation?
MacNeil: We have made an effort to
bring out all the hidden subsidies. I notice the REA is crying aloud. I notice
the veterans are crying aloud. We trv
(o stop a lot of chiseling in governmenl.
Combs: The veterans are chiseling?
MacNeil: I didn't say that. But the
chiselers are yelling. They don'l like it.
BURT: Are you going to be very good at
stopping what you call chiseling?
Mai Neil: No. but I think the American public will be. We're just giving
them the facts.
BURT: The question is, can the American
public be interested enough in the whole to
apply enough pressure on their side to
counteract the pressure of special interest
MacNeil: No, I doubt that. The previous Hoover Commission made 273
recommendations. They finished up in
'49, and so far 196 have been carried
into effect. I ihink it's better than 72
FACTS FORUM NEWS, October, 1955