Excerpts from the Press Conference
THE PRESIDENT: I have got something rather dry that we had better talk about first.
In accordance with what I did so often for so many years, we are going to give you, as soon as this conference is over, a confidential release for next Sunday morning's papers, which is a summation of the 1944 Budget, and a comparison of the final figures, on the adjournment of Congress, compared with the January 1 original Budget estimates. You know we have done that several times before, so it really brings everybody up to date six months later than the original Budget Message.
And it contains ten pages of words and (to himself) one, two, three, four- five pages of very interesting figures(laughter) in very small type. (More laughter) However, it's in accordance with custom, and I think it's pretty good. I think I had better describe the high spots.
The budgetary estimates for the fiscal year 1944 have been revised in the light of legislative and other developments since January. Total expenditures for the year—that is the fiscal year- excluding debt retirement and trust fund disbursements, are now estimated at 106 billion dollars, and net receipts at 38 billion. The expected deficit of 68 billion will carry the public debt just above 200 billion by a year from now- end of June. This deficit will of course be reduced if the Congress enacts new revenue legislation. . . .
In the latest recasting of the program, the War Department 'is expected to spend less, and the Navy Department and other agencies are expected to spend more for war than was estimated in January. Many factors influenced the revisions. Strategy has been more fully shaped. We now have a more balanced perspective of our military needs and the needs of our allies.
Comparatively few battle casualties thus far have meant correspondingly fewer replacements.
Damage and loss of material have been less than we prepared for.
Production potentialities can now be more accurately measured.
Continued breaking of bottlenecks permits stepping up certain programs.
The hundred-billion-dollar war program is a gigantic national effort for victory. Our efforts to finance it must be equally heroic. We have—that is not meant to be sarcastic, either- we have depended far too heavily on bank credits and otherwise idle funds. This endangers economic stability. To help avoid inflationary consequences and to spread the war costs more equitably, I recommended last January a truly stiff program of additional taxes and savings, and I continue to support that program. The war effort must be backed by revenue measures adequate to protect the home front against economic disruption, and to prepare for an orderly transition to peace. . . .
Q. Mr. President, what is your reaction to the change in the Italian Government [the sudden resignation of Benito Mussolini on July 25]?
THE PRESIDENT: Reaction?
Q. Yes, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I never have reactions. I am much too old.(Laughter)
Q. Mr. President, when you were discussing the bombing of Rome last week, did you have the information that Mussolini would make his exit?
THE PRESIDENT: No. No.
Q. Sir, could you tell us whether there is likely to be any change in our unconditional surrender policy, in respect-
THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) Oh, I think the Secretary of State covered all that pretty well yesterday.
Q. If there should be an unconditional surrender, do you think it likely that we might demand of Marshal Badoglio that Mussolini be delivered to us?
THE PRESIDENT: How did you start that sentence? What word?
Q. Oh; oh.
THE PRESIDENT: I don't think it's useful for me to go into the details of hypothetical questions. I could ask—in fact, I do ask myself a very large number of hypothetical questions, and I am wise enough not to give myself the answers. (Laughter) . . . [The President frequently referred to such questions as "iffy questions," and, for obvious reasons, declined to answer them.]
Q. Mr. President, could you say whether the broadcasts of the O.W.I. which have attacked the King of Italy were authorized by you or by the State Department?
THE PRESIDENT: Neither of us. Nor by Bob Sherwood [O.W.I. Overseas Director]; and I think Bob Sherwood is raising a rumpus about it now. It ought never to have been done.
Q. Mr. President, can you give us any guidance on your speech tomorrow night- the scope of it?
THE PRESIDENT: It is going to be about the war. (Laughter)
Q. Abroad, or at home, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I hoped you would ask that question just that way. This doesn't really apply to you personally, but I am just thinking about the general lines of thought.
There are too many people in this country who go after a slogan, who simplify things down, who are not mature enough to realize that you can't take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle of it and put the war abroad—or the war front—on one side of the line, and put the home front—so called—on another side of the line, because after all it all ties in together.
When we send an expedition into Sicily, where does it begin? Well, it begins at two places, practically; it begins on the farms of this country, and in the mines of this country.
And then the next step in getting that army into Sicily is the processing of the food, and the processing of the raw materials into steel, and then the munitions plants that turn the steel into tanks or planes or the aluminum, whatever it may be. And then, even during that process and a long time afterwards, a great many million people in this country are engaged in transporting it from the plant, or from the field, or the processing plant to the seaboard.
And then it's put on ships that are made in this country, otherwise you couldn't get it over there at all. And it gets on board ships that you have to escort and convoy with a lot of other ships, and a lot of other planes that are based, most of them, in this country. And finally, when they get to the other side, all these men go ashore.
And during the process of getting ready for an attack on Sicily, they are putting into effect a training which they received over here before they started. They have been trained in many kinds of camps over here. They have had maneuvers. Well, that is home-front work, even when they are doing that. And as a result of it, in this particular war, we have got over two million men that are overseas, and no man has gone over there that hasn't had pretty adequate training. Most of them have had training sufficient to enable them to go into action almost at once after they get there.
Well, of course, that did not happen in 1917 and 1918. When the troops went over to France, the first thing they did was to go into a training camp two or three hundred miles behind the lines, before they were sufficiently trained to go up to the front. When an American soldier goes over from here, he is fully equipped, not only his clothing, but also all of the munitions that are assigned to him, which include almost everything- guns, rifles, machine guns and ammunition, artillery small and large, tanks, planes, trucks, and everything else.
When our boys went over in '17 and '18, it's a fact that a very large portion of their equipment was given to us, or—I shouldn't say that, I don't want to raise a question of whether it was given or loaned— it was turned over to us by Britain and France. Even many of the articles of personal apparel were turned over to us by Britain and France. A great number of our rifles came from Britain and France, a great majority of our artillery on the Western Front in those days came from Britain and France. We built no tanks of our own that got over there. Most of the trucks- or lorries, as they call them—came from Britain and France.
And on the airplane end, in order to say that we had flown some of them on the other side, I think there were six or eight planes in France, none of which had been flown against the enemy, which were put into the air during the last few days before the Armistice, to save the record.
Today, of course, we are not only sending our people over completely equipped from the bottom to the top, but we are also supplying a very large portion of munitions in the broad sense of the term, including food, to our allies, in the Sicilian campaign and before that in the African campaign.
But all through this we have to remember that there is just one front, which includes at home as well as abroad. It is all part of the picture of trying to win the war.
Now, of course, I can't do anything about it because the thing has got started, and people will continue to refer to the "home front."
It always reminds me of an example I use about things getting started. I have a little dog who is called Fala—F-a-l-a. But in the beginning, everybody got into their heads that his name was F-a-l-l-a, and you can't break them of the habit. Same thing goes for "home front." (Laughter) . . .
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/210289