Last week Secretary of the Interior Ickes reported to the Senate on his stewardship of $3,300,000,000 which had been given him last July to help put the country back to work. The last of PWA's vast bankroll, said Administrator Ickes, had been allotted in February. Without soliciting another application for loans or gifts Administrator Ickes declared he could distribute a second three billion from the surplus supply of pleas already in his office. Observing the number of jobs made by public works, the Senate was not at all sure that this was the most practical way to fight unemployment.
Of his 3.3 billion, Administrator Ickes had set aside 2.2 for PWA projects. Not more than 251,000 men had been given work directly. As Great Britain could testify, the straight dole had proved less expensive, more effective. With $400,000,000 from PWA funds, 4,000,000 jobless had received CWA chores and a livelihood for three and a half months. Even the CCC provided a better employment buy than PWA. With $323,000,000 from PWA, CCC had kept 300,000 young men busy in the woods since last summer.
PWA might be censored for failing to put more men to work. But the organization could not be catechized for a lack of catholicity in its disbursements. Some items on the Ickes report: for Howard University, $2,294,000; for geological surveys, $4,497,000; for plant industry and quarantine, $6,000,000; for the Alaska Road Commission, $1,596,000; for surveying the U. S.-Mexican border, $4,734,500. In other years, these and such expenditures as PWA made for the lighthouse service, immigration service, public health service, Army and Navy would have gone to swell the regular budget, which President Roosevelt is at great pains to keep within tight bounds.