This is a riff that owes a lot to half a dozen timelines that have been a source of great entertainment and thought for me. I am stealing shamelessly structure, ideas and plot points from The Whale has Wings, Pacific War Redux, April 1942 Alternate Indian Ocean, A True and Better Alamo Redux and several other stories and timelines. I hope I can provide a fraction of the fun to you that those stories have given me.
November 12, 1936 Washington DC
“Congratulations Mr. President, your victory is overwhelming and the American people expect even greater things from you.” Harold Ickes was the President’s trusted advisor and a leader in his Brain Trust. The election had not been close, but the polling was inconsistent as Gallup had thought the President was in trouble.
“I know, we have done so much, but we need to more. The question today and everyday forward is what promises do we break because circumstance have changed?” The President paused to enjoy a puff from his cigar. His eyes had never set on Harold, instead as he sat in his office chair, he looked out the window onto the National Mall.
“Interest rates are still below 1% for short term debt, and the 10 year rates are less than 2.5% so the deficit is not hurting the country’s long term strength. I know we promised to balance the budget but I also know that my popularity and power is only as good as last quarter’s employment report… We may still have to cut back a bit, and Harold, your department will probably bear the brunt of the cuts, but I think we can use the Navy to shore up some of our marginal supporters in the Northeast. The Army and the Air Corps could drive some money to the Great Lakes.”
“Franklin, let me sound out the House and the Senate as they’ll have their own ideas, but we have a short period of time with amazing majorities before normalcy returns and people forget that the Republicans are the ones who created this Depression and their misery.”
January 1, 1937 Great Britain
The Naval building holiday expired. Great Britain cut the first steel for King George V and Prince of Wales, new 35,000 ton battleships. Each would have ten 14 inch guns and a speed of 28 knots.
March 1, 1937
The Federal Reserve maintained interest rates at 1%. Reserve requirements were left unchanged instead of increased as originally planned.
May 1, 1937
The Federal Reserve left short term interest rates at 1%. Reserve requirements were left unchanged instead of increased as originally planned.
July 11, 1937 Washington DC
House Majority Leader William Bankhead (D-AL) hid a sigh of relief as the last hand had been shaken, the last promise made, the last eyebrow raised. The current Emergency Relief Appropriations Act would go through the House in the morning and then through the Senate early the following week. The act would authorize $2.5 billion in emergency relief spending, a significant cut from the $4.8 billion spent in 1935 and 1936 on the Works Project Administration. Only $1.9 billion was appropriated for the WPA.
The Navy was authorized to build one more Yorktown class carrier with work to be started as soon as practicable. Nine cruisers, three repeats of the Wichita heavy cruiser and six slightly modified St. Louis light cruisers would be laid down over the next three years. Twenty four new destroyers of the latest 1500 ton class were authorized in addition to the regular naval appropriation. Sixty older destroyers would be brought in for significant overhauls at smaller, non-federally owned yards. Finally, Senator Milton’s (D-NJ) vote had been secured when the Navy agreed to subsidize sixteen tankers for Standard Oil.
The Army appropriation had been a long and vicious fight. Congress would approve and fund a new square infantry division but the four infantry regiments and associated support battalions would not be concentrated. Current formations would be sent overseas as soon as the new units were raised. One infantry regiment would reinforce the Philippines, another would go to Hawaii, a third would go to Panama and the last regiment was being penciled in for Puerto Rico. The infantry branch also lost sole control over tanks as the cavalry wanted to convert a pair of horse regiments into a tank brigade.