Franklin D. Roosevelt photo

Excerpts from the Press Conference

December 06, 1938

THE PRESIDENT: Glad to see you. How are you all? Well, Dean [Russell Young] the report on the life and works of those who accompanied us to Warm Springs is that they were one hundred per cent. Now, that is going some. They behaved better than they do in Washington. Now, that is my influence.

Q. [Miss Fleeson] I thought it was mine. (Laughter)

Q. [Mr. Storm] Thank you, Mr. President. Such a reputation must be deserved.

Q. [Mr. Godwin] Did you take that picture of Fred?

THE PRESIDENT: It was all right. That was not Fred's fault. You cannot blame him for that. Blame the lady that took it.

Q. [Mr. Godwin] Fred got off at Alexandria this morning. He got off and walked home in disguise.

THE PRESIDENT: He will be explaining that for a year.

Q. [Mr. Godwin] He will have to do a year's explaining in twenty-four hours.

THE PRESIDENT: They tell me I have told them everything down at Warm Springs. (Laughter)

Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about your conversation this afternoon with the Ambassadors? ..

THE PRESIDENT: No; just conducting conversations, no news.

Q. Since you got back have you had time to consider appointments?

THE PRESIDENT: Not one. . . .

Q. Did Secretary Morgenthau report anything today of the work of his new committee on fiscal and monetary problems?

THE PRESIDENT: Just talking things over, that is all. I don't think there will be any particular news from it ever. In other words, it is one of those informal committees that meets from time to time, that is talking it over with people outside of the committee, and then talking it over with me. I don't think there will be any formal report. . . .

Q. There are frequent rumors that you may go down to the Lima Conference at the end, or towards the end. Can you tell us anything about that?

THE PRESIDENT: I guess there is no further news on something on which there has never been any news. (Laughter) . . .

Q. Anything on the estimated cost of this new armaments program?

THE PRESIDENT: No.

Q. When do we start for Lima, Mr. President? (Laughter)

Q. Senator Guffey demands that you run for office again in 1940. Will you accede to his request? (Laughter)

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think there is any news on that either.

Q. Mr. President, do you contemplate making an address to the Lima Conference by radio?

THE PRESIDENT: No.

Q. Mr. President, would you care to comment on the Franco-German peace pact?

THE PRESIDENT: No. (Laughter) You are getting lots of chances today.

Q. Do you care to discuss your plans for receiving Anthony Eden?

THE PRESIDENT: I have no plan for receiving Mr. Eden.

Q. It was stated that the State Department had sent over a request.

THE PRESIDENT: I suppose when he gets here I shall receive him just as I have a great many other foreign parliamentary bodies. I assume he will be brought in by his Minister, and I shall be very glad to see him as I have seen a great many in the past.

Q. Can you tell us on what date Governor Murphy's appointment will be sent to the Senate for Attorney General? (Laughter)

THE PRESIDENT: Gosh, they are getting better and better all the time. I am going to have all these questions framed, because this particular time they are good.

Q. Will it be the same day that you send Bob Jackson's name to the Senate? (Laughter)

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, getting better and better. . . .

Q. In reference to your determination not to name anyone to the Federal Bench who has reached the age of sixty, will you ever take into consideration other factors, and waive that in some cases or is it an inflexible rule?

THE PRESIDENT: The only way I can answer that is on the basis of past performance. I have had a great many requests and a great deal of pressure, as you know, from a great many members of the Senate and House to put on people over sixty. So far, I think that we have only put on—what was it?—two people over sixty-nine. And those, I think, were both promotions from the District Court, and made on the understanding that they would retire when they got to be seventy. . . .

Q. In the matter of national defense, have you fixed in your own mind any proportion or any per cent of the new money needed, which should be raised by taxation on a sort of "pay as we go" basis?

THE PRESIDENT: No.

Q. Do you think we should raise part of it without a fixed percentage?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't know yet, Fred [Essary]; we haven't got to that.

Q. I seem to recall that you remarked here once that you thought some of that money ought to be raised by taxation as in the case of any other expensive project that Congress might provide for.

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly, as a general proposition national defense ought to be paid for on a pay as you go basis, because it is not a self-liquidating project in any way.

You see there are, according to the practice of some countries like, for instance, Sweden- do not imply from that that I am going to do anything like that— but in some other countries they have differentiated among three types of expenditure. The first is the actual cost of running the Government in its current work and they try to raise all of that by taxation. Then they have two other classifications of expenditures. One is the absolutely self-liquidating expenditure, such as—well, for example, Boulder Dam would be—where the dam is completed and the contracts for the sale .of water and power are all signed and we know that over a period of years it is going to pay itself out.

And then they have a third classification—I have forgotten what the technical term is—but it is the type of expenditure which will so increase the national welfare or, putting it the other way around, the national income, that there will be a resulting return of the money through the increase in national income over a period of years. It is not actually self-sustaining in the sense that you have contracts out. But national defense, very clearly in my judgment, falls under the category of something that ought to be paid for from year to year.

Q. That is why I differentiated between the new money necessary to carry on the program and the usual budgetary sums to be set aside, the additional money for the Navy, as an example.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, it ought to be paid for as we go along.

Q. Even if it takes additional taxation?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes; but, of course, that might, on the other hand, as I suggested, leave out of consideration certain expenditures of the Government which are self-liquidating. Therefore, Q.E.D., it may not be necessary to increase the total amount of taxes coming in. However, it is a matter that is being studied; it is a long and difficult study; nothing has been determined upon and it is purely in the study stage.

Q. In connection with the national defense program, one of the War Department reports indicated the other day that we are far behind technically as far as airplane production is concerned. Have you had any reports indicating that that is so?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I have not had that. I don't believe there is anything in that—not technically.

Q. The program of the Civil Aeronautics Authority to promote civil flying, has that any connection with the defense program to train a lot of civilian pilots?

THE PRESIDENT: Of course the training of reserve pilots is all part of any program for an increase in the number of planes that the Government has available to go in the air.

Q. Instead of training them purely in military planes, is there any plan for a Civil Aeronautics program where they will be used as a sort of reserve in this announced plan?

THE PRESIDENT: Not that I know of. Of course you train pilots on the same kind of a plane for civil aviation as you do for military aviation, when you teach them to fly. There is no distinction. . . .

Q. When you make your recommendations on national defense, will they include the use and conservation of natural resources used in national defense, or will they deal strictly in the military aspect?

THE PRESIDENT: What sort of things do you have in mind?

Q. Energy sources and minerals.

THE PRESIDENT: No, I do not think so. No, the only thing that might be a part of any national defense program would be certain resources which we have not got in this country. You know that the Army has made several recommendations saying that the Navy should have certain stock piles of things we have not got, like manganese and nickel and a few other things of that kind, and that does enter into a national defense program. They are things we do not have here. . . .

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/209389

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