Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

March 12, 1943

THE PRESIDENT: I want to give you something here that I think will be of great value, if there could be some kind of a story about it. It relates to a statement made by the Generalissimo, Chiang Kai-shek, way back on the twenty-sixth of February, but I suppose that communications out of China are a bit difficult, and I don't believe we have heard about it over here. I haven't seen anything printed about it. It might have been.

In regard to Thailand, which we used to call Siam, the Generalissimo sent this message to the people of Thailand.

In a way it does relate to the general point of view of the United Nations in regard to territory grabbing.

It's addressed to the soldiers and citizens of Thailand, and I will summarize it for you: Chiang expresses his understanding of the difficult situation that Thailand found itself in when Japanese aggression invaded them; but today the situation has become a world-wide struggle, and China's feelings toward Thailand have continued on a basis of peace for more than one thousand years. There are three million Chinese living within the borders of Thailand, and China has always considered Thailand a sister country, and wants to do everything after the war that it can to restore the prosperity and the independence of Thailand. And the message speaks of the United Nations' conference declaration on January 1, 1942, dedicating the United Nations to the liberation of all the Nations in captivity under Japan and Germany and other Axis countries, in order that they might have political independence restored to them.

And I think this probably is your lead: He states that he can, therefore, give his solemn word that China as well as her allies have no territorial ambitions in Thailand, and have no intentions of undermining her sovereignty and independence. The Thais, however, should recognize the fact that the territory and freedom of Thailand can only be restored to her through the victory of China and her allies.

That is a pretty simple, straight declaration of the policy not only of China but also of the United Nations, in regard to Thailand. . . .

Q. Mr. President, do you have a report from Leo Crowley on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's operations?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I have had it for about a week. I have it here on my desk. This is an analysis of the banking developments in the past ten years. I will just give you one or two high points.

It says that from the serious asset impairment that the banks suffered in 1933, they have now recovered to the strongest asset position of record, which I think is worth playing up, because as you all know the more confidence we can establish on the part of people in the banking system of this country in time of war, as well as in time of peace, the better it is. The banking system is so constituted because of these assets that it seems ready to meet any war demands that may be made.

As a part of this, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has saved from loss more than one and a quarter million depositors, that is to say 98.8 percent of the depositors in 390 insured banks that remained closed at the time of the closing of the banks.

Notwithstanding the loss- the assumption by the Corporation of $50,000,000 of losses that would otherwise have fallen on the depositors in these 390 banks, the Corporation itself has accumulated a surplus of $325,000,000. The Corporation could be liquidated today, and could repay all of the insurance assessments paid by the banks, and the entire contribution of the Government, together with a dividend on the contribution of the Government of 7 percent.

Well, that's not a suggestion that we should liquidate the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, but it just shows that if we would liquidate it we would come out in very, very nice shape. This insurance of deposits today is providing full protection for more than—this is a perfectly amazing figure —more than 65,000,000 accounts in the banks in this country. That is a very amazing thing. The bank loans in the prosecution of the war to agriculture and industry are very definitely promoting production of food and essential civilian and war goods. It's rather an interesting report. It's worth a story on.

Q. Mr. President, everybody is thinking about income taxes now. Did you ever —

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) I am, too. (Laughter)

Q. (continuing) I thought so. Did you ever express yourself, or will you, on—I don't like to say the "Ruml Plan," but any plan for getting on a current payment basis —

THE PRESIDENT: (interposing) No, I don't think so. After all it's rather squarely a Congressional function. I know —

Q. (interjecting) Talk about it in principle.

THE PRESIDENT: (continuing) We talked about it in theory a couple of months ago. And the fact, of course, still remains: the individual, especially in the higher brackets, does save a great deal of money in taxes to the Government through the Ruml Plan. In other words, the richer individual taxpayer will pay less money to the Government, under the Ruml Plan—actual drawing of checks out of his bank payable to the Collector of Internal Revenue. Now that seems to be pretty well established. Instead of which, of course, in other countries- England, for instance, where the war is going on —the more people had, the more they contributed to the Government. Period.

And I don't think I need say anything else, except to bring out that simple fact, that in most of the cases the richer the person, the greater the income of the person, the more saving they make out of actual tax payments to the Government in the year 1943. . . .

Q. I would like to ask you if you have any comment to make on this other query from my office the other night, saying that Erika Mann, the daughter of the German novelist, Thomas Mann, was making a lecture tour in which she was saying that Premier Joseph Stalin was present at Casablanca, and that the press was going to be awfully sore about it when they found out.

THE PRESIDENT: (laughing) He must have been under the table. (Loud laughter) We didn't see him. Pretty clever stunt if he was. (More laughter)

Q. Mr. President, when you came back from Casablanca you were asked whether you planned to see Premier Stalin, and you said that "Hope springs eternal."


Q. Is there any more definite news on that?

THE PRESIDENT: No. Not yet. (Laughter)

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Excerpts from the Press Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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