Franklin D. Roosevelt

Excerpts from the Press Conference

August 03, 1937

Q. Do you believe that you may make an appointment to the Supreme Court to succeed Justice VanDevanter?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, undoubtedly; absolutely.

Q. Is that on the record or off the record?

THE PRESIDENT: That is on the record.

Q. Would you care to indicate, sir, about when that appointment may come?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I will tell you. When it comes you are not going to have any notice of it at all. The first that will be known probably is when it actually goes up to the Senate.

Q. When it goes up to the Senate?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, when it goes up to the Senate, you will know. (Laughter) Don't go of[ the deep end on that, either. There are lots of things. That is probably the first you will know about it.

Q. Is that remark deliberate, that part about when it goes to the Senate?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you can use that.

Q. In all seriousness, does that mean there will be no recess appointment in this case?

THE PRESIDENT: It is just as I told you. I cannot write your story for you, Fred [Essary]. (Laughter)

Q. Will you discuss your Supreme Court reorganization program in your Constitution Day speech?

THE PRESIDENT: The answer is that I have forgotten that I was making a speech on Constitution Day until you reminded me of it.

Q. Now that you do know of it, will you— (Laughter)

THE PRESIDENT: What do you want, just a snap judgment on something I had not thought about at all? No, I cannot give it to you. I have not thought about it at all.

Q. At the last conference you were contemplating a trip up to Hyde Park this coming week. Is that more definite?

THE PRESIDENT: Nothing is definite in this life. If everything is all quiet on the Far Eastern Front and on Capitol Hill, I am leaving on Friday, midnight, and getting there Saturday morning and probably coming back Sunday night and getting here Monday morning. But even that is in the lap of the gods.

Q. Mr. President, there is quite a bit of agitation in the South for the Commodity Credit Corporation to make a twelve cent loan to check the decline in prices of cotton. Have you any comment to make on that?

THE PRESIDENT: If you want me to talk about cotton, for background, I can tell you what I have said before on so many occasions.

We inherited, in spite of—what was it called—the Farm Board in the Hoover Administration, we inherited in 1933, five cent cotton and a thirteen million bale carry-over. Then we adopted a policy in 1933. The first was to curtail crops until we got that carry-over down to a reasonable amount which we figured out, as long ago as that, to be around five billion bales. Also, as a part of that policy, we started in to buy cotton to increase the price and maintain the price.

Obviously if you go ahead and buy—in other words, loan money on cotton, which is the same thing—if you do that without curtailment of surpluses you will break the Treasury and the longer you keep it up the worse the Treasury goes broke. That is obvious.

The two things went hand in hand. We loaned money to take cotton off the market immediately but with the definite idea of the curtailment in crops. In that way you would be able to sell that surplus when the total of the carry-over was reduced to a normal point. The thing culminated this year. The past Spring we got the total carry-over down to about five million bales, and the price was up over twelve cents. Everything "hunky dory," lovely and everybody happy. And the price would have stayed around twelve cents if we had had a continuation of surplus control. That however was eliminated- we know how and when. There has been no surplus control since then. Q.E.D

This year you have one of the biggest crops that ever happened, fourteen and a half million bales of which about four million bales will, in all probability, go into surplus on the basis of the present consumption and export. The result is that we face about a year from now, about the end of this year, about a nine million bale carry-over. Now, I have no intention of asking Congress for the right to lend money on that crop unless at the same time we have legislation restoring surplus control; otherwise you are just selling into a bag or buying out of a bottomless sack, which is a better description.

Q. It was brought out on the Senate floor that you have the thought in mind that the Commodity Credit Corporation would make these loans now without any additional legislation from the Congress.

THE PRESIDENT: I cannot make loans until we have some solution in the future of the surplus problem.

Q. With equivalent figures, can that same thing be applied to other crops?

THE PRESIDENT: It applies absolutely the same way, with different figures of course, to wheat, corn, hogs and a number of other major crops where we used surplus control in the past. When we get it back, as we are bound to, we will be able without any question to resume our efforts to get a decent price with reference to cotton and a reasonable assurance that that price will be maintained year in and year out.

Q. Does that indicate that your soil conservation program is not working out?

THE PRESIDENT: On the contrary, the soil conservation end of it is working out very well, but, as you know, the soil conservation does not go into control over surplus.

Q. I thought it did.

THE PRESIDENT: To a very small degree. . . .

Q. Getting back to agriculture. In addition to this cotton pressure, there is also considerable agitation beginning to come up from the corn country with corn dropping to almost half. Does this indicate that you are going to ask Congress to pass a control bill this Session?

THE PRESIDENT: I just told you that crop control is inevitable unless we are going to wreck the economics of the country because every time that cotton goes down to under ten cents or wheat below eighty cents, the purchasing power of onehalf the country dries up and the wheels of the factories slow up. It is the same old story. There is nothing new in it. We started in the Spring of 1933 with a perfectly good economic program and it is going to go through. The country is going to demand it.

Q. What we would like to know is whether you are going to ask Congress to pass that bill this Session?

THE PRESIDENT: I cannot tell you any spot. I am talking general principles. I cannot give you dates and messages.

Q. Can you tell us if you approve Mr. Green's amendment for the Wages and Hour Bill today?

THE PRESIDENT: I have not read Mr. Green's amendment. I think he made it clear when he went out, that he had told me about three matters of principle. Now, three matters of principle are a very different thing. I don't know what the amendments are. I am in favor of retaining collective bargaining. I am in favor of retaining the provisions of the Walsh-Healey Act and I am in favor of doing nothing to fix wages lower than the going rate in the vicinity. Now, those are matters of principle.

Q. Mr. President, have you asked or do you contemplate asking the various government lending agencies to increase the liquidation of their assets in accordance with your reduced budget message of last April?

THE PRESIDENT; Nothing other than what we have been doing right along. It is coming along very well. You know, it does not rest entirely in their own hands. For instance, if we have loaned money to a bank and it is due on a certain date and the bank does not want to pay it back until that date, it has a perfect right not to pay it back until then. . . .

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

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