The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. I have a few announcements here.
[1.] Here is one we agreed on at a meeting, that I roughed over.
At a regular bipartisan meeting of the congressional leadership called by the President, Ambassador Taylor gave a detailed report of recent political developments in South Viet-Nam and his assessments of progress toward a more stable government there.
The Ambassador was able to report continued progress in the field in the Vietnamese Army's fight against the Communist Viet Cong, and to answer the leadership's questions about the general situation there. Secretaries Rusk and McNamara and General Wheeler and Mr. McCone also participated in the meeting.
It was a full and frank examination of the whole situation--a discussion of the sort that we have had at least 11 since November and we hope to be able to provide frequently for further meetings of the joint leadership in the future.
You of the press have already received from General Taylor a good account of his report to us. Other meetings were held in November, in December, in January, in February, April, May, and August.
[2.] I am pleased that the Chrysler-United Auto Workers case has been settled peacefully and privately on true good faith and collective bargaining.
I have not seen the actual terms and have no comment on them.
I am gratified, however, by the statements by the parties that this settlement takes full account of both public and private interests, that it will mean more jobs, and that it will be noninflationary.
[3.] On September 16, Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and I will join in ceremonies at the International Peace Arch, on the U.S.-Canadian border between British Columbia and the State of Washington, to commemorate the successful conclusion of the Columbia River Treaty.
Prior to the Peace Arch ceremonies, the Prime Minister and I will make an aerial inspection tour of a considerable part of the upper Columbia River Basin, flying over the proposed sites of the dams to be constructed in British Columbia under the treaty, the location of the Libby (Montana) Dam to be constructed by the United States, and some of the existing downstream United States dams concerned.
While in the Pacific Northwest, the Prime Minister and I will consult with regional leaders in our respective countries regarding cooperative steps to be taken on both sides of the border in implementation of the treaty. The Prime Minister and I will also take advantage of this opportunity to discuss current international problems of mutual concern. I have talked to him by telephone earlier today. We will leave here at 6:30 or 6:45, and George1 will give you the details of the latter, that is on September 16.
1 George E. Reedy, Press Secretary to the President.
[4.] I also talked to three Governors last evening, in regard to the Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia situation and tendered them our assistance and full facilities of the Federal Government in any way we could help. 2
2 The reference was to the widespread damage from Hurricane Dora which had struck the three States. A White House release, dated September 9, stated that the President had that day declared Florida a "major disaster" area because of the earlier hurricane, Cleo, which had caused extensive damage in nine east coast Florida counties. The release further stated that the President had also made available $300,000 in Federal disaster relief funds for use in the State. Later, on October 31, the White House announced that the President had that day made an additional $2 million available for Hurricane Cleo disaster relief in Florida.
[5.] I want to announce the formation of a panel of distinguished citizens who will consult with the President during the coming months on major international problems facing the United States. I reviewed this with the leadership earlier today, and I made the statement to them, but this is the first public announcement made. George will have copies of it.
Members of the panel will be consulted in matters where the advice of highly qualified and experienced men in private life may be helpful in finding effective courses of action in the quest for peace and advancement of the national security. They will not act as a committee nor will they hold regular meetings. Instead, they will be asked for advice as individuals, under flexible and informal arrangements suited to the needs of the problem at hand.
Their regular point of contact will be the Special Assistant for National Security Affairs, and their services will be available not only to the President but to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense. I have conferred with both Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense in some detail about the membership on this panel.
All of these distinguished men have served informally in this fashion in the past, but it seems to me useful and important to reemphasize the role of leading private citizens, without regard to party, as counselors to the President.
The consultants named today have a distinction that is above partisan politics, and their services will be available not only to me this year, but also to the man who is President in 1965. If I am President next year, I expect to use their help.
The members of the panel are: Arthur Dean, John Cowles, Morris Leibman, Gen. Omar Bradley, James Wadsworth, Arthur Larson, James Perkins, Teodoro Moscoso, Robert Lovett, George Kistiakowsky, Roswell Gilpatric, Dean Acheson, Paul Hoffman, Eugene Black, John McCloy, and Mr. Allen W. Dulles.
Q. Who is the chairman?
THE PRESIDENT. They will just have a group, and if they have need of a chairman they will select one, or they will name one.
[6.] Confidence in our economic prosperity has been growing as indicators continue to point up:
Steel production rose for the fifth consecutive week last week, reaching 37 percent above a year ago; and
New car sales rose to an 8.1 million unit annual rate in August, matching the previous high for this year scored in February.
The Dow-Jones industrial stock average closed at a new high yesterday--851.91--surpassing previous peak reached on July 17th.
With the aid of the tax cut, consumers have been able to score record advances both in their current living standards and their financial savings for the future.
In the first half of this year consumer spending rose $15 billion, the largest peacetime advance in history for a half year period.
New figures which the SEC will release tomorrow show that net financial savings of individuals in the second quarter was $7.7 billion, the highest quarterly total of the postwar period.
The new advance in savings tops a record that was already excellent: In the past 3½ years the net financial saving of American households has totaled $73 billion, or about $1,300 per family. This 3½ year figure matches the savings of the entire 6 years 1955-60.
As I have stated before, experience in the Department of Defense indicates that every dollar of procurement which can be shifted from sole-source to a competitive basis saves the taxpayer 25 cents. The Department of Defense has steadily raised the rate of its competitive buying since the beginning of this administration. The Secretary of Defense has reported to me that as of the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 1964, the amount of competitive contract awards has risen to a rate of 39.1 percent, the highest level on record.
The fiscal '64 rate represents a conversion of new contract awards totaling some $1 .8 billion to a competitive basis for an estimated saving of $450 million. The fiscal '64 rate of 39. 1 percent compares with 32.9 percent in fiscal year '61; 35.6 percent in fiscal year '62; and 37. 1 percent in fiscal year '63.
Those statements will be made available to you, if I can find someone who will give you copies.
I will be glad to take any questions.
[7.] Q. Mr. President, as a result of your consultations with Ambassador Taylor, can you tell us, will there be any shifts either in emphasis or in magnitude of our effort in Viet-Nam?
THE PRESIDENT. I think General Taylor's briefing with you this morning pretty well outlines our position, and I would stand on that.
[8.] Q. Mr. President, these civilians you have just listed who you are to consult with on foreign affairs, will you consult with them at a time of crisis, or just any old time?
THE PRESIDENT. Anytime, and whenever we think it is appropriate, on any question on which their particular qualifications may suit them.
[9.] I have asked--I am going to another subject that I just happened to think of--I am asking the FBI to give me a compilation of their reports on the various problems that we have encountered in cities and in States that could involve a violation of Federal laws, and that do involve disturbances, such as riots and disturbances of the peace. When I get that compilation of the various reports, I will review those and try to compile them if I find any pattern that is common to all of them, and ask that further study be made.
We are informing all of the mayors and all of the Governors, where these problems arise, that we will make available through appropriate channels of their peace officers full information that we may have. We are available for any supplementary work that may be within our authority under existing law. That is true in Mississippi, and Georgia, New Jersey, and New York, and Maryland, and other States that have it.
But out of this compilation of Federal Bureau of Investigation reports we may find some particular pattern that will need to be pointed up, and that may lead us to make further recommendations.
Q. Are you referring specifically to riots such as in Philadelphia and Harlem and so forth?
THE PRESIDENT. I am referring specifically, not exclusively to those, but including all of them, that is, anything that involves a disturbance of the peace where Federal law might be violated or where our jurisdiction and authority might exist.
Q. Mr. President, in connection with this, about 3 weeks or a month ago in Austin, at a news conference, you told us that you were anticipating some break in the Mississippi thing within a short time.3 Is there any indication?
THE PRESIDENT. No, it is still a short time.
3 See Item 504 [3, 8].
[10.] Q. Senator Goldwater has said that if he is elected he would cut Federal income taxes 25 percent over a 5-year period. I wonder if you can tell us what you think about this, and whether you think that would be feasible without impairing the national security.
THE PRESIDENT. I would say that we made our views on cutting taxes known earlier this year. When we cut the tax rate, that was carefully studied in '63 and '62 by the fiscal agencies of the Government--the Council of Economic Advisers, the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve authorities, and all of the fiscal experts. It was carefully worked out and submitted to Congress in '63, after consultation with Mr. Mills and Senator Byrd. It was acted on in the House in '63, and in the Senate early in '64, as I remember it.
That represented our position on the desirability of tax cuts and the extent that they should be made. It involved a very thorough and careful fiscal evaluation, with the advice of the best experts. We have had continuing on since that bill was enacted a study by the same agencies in the executive branch of the Government with the same thoroughness, as well as the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives.
That is a study on the extent of further cuts that would be desirable and effective. In our message to the Congress we will make known our conclusions that these studies justify.
Q. What message would that be?
THE PRESIDENT. When we make our recommendations to the Congress in January, when the new Congress comes in.
[11.] Q. In connection with the FBI reports that you have asked for, you spoke of the possibility that you might find that further recommendations are needed. Do you mean legislative recommendations?
THE PRESIDENT. I wouldn't limit it to legislative recommendations. I would say further recommendations. It is not limited to, but it could include that.
[12.] Q. Mr. President, how disappointed are you, sir, that a Democratic Governor, Johnson of Mississippi, has endorsed Senator Goldwater?
THE PRESIDENT. I think that every person in this country ought to support the candidate of his choice, and the candidate that he feels will best serve.
[13.] Q. Mr. President, is this request to the FBI predicated on any preliminary information that may already have been gained from the FBI in these terms?
THE PRESIDENT. I think that I understand your question, but I am not sure now. Would you repeat it for me and let me soak it in ?
Q. I wondered if there had been some preliminary investigations made by the FBI.
THE PRESIDENT. A good many of them.
Q. Of these disturbances?
THE PRESIDENT. There have been investigations made, and I read about 40 of them every night.
Q. And on the basis of these reports, you are submitting another request?
THE PRESIDENT. I am trying to accumulate them all and put them in one place, and study them as to their effect or such a pattern as may exist in various areas concerning these disturbances, at which time I would have them carefully evaluated and try to make some further recommendations.
Q. Is there any indication, Mr. President, that in this particular pattern which may emerge, is there any indication it may be outside agitators, or politically inspired?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think it is pretty well known, if you read the newspapers, that considerable agitation is present in these disturbances.
Q. I have read, too, Mr. President, that I think that they have found known Communists have been among the agitators. Did the FBI reports confirm that?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't want to discuss the content of FBI reports.
[14.] Q. Mr. President, in view of Governor Johnson's announcement on Senator Goldwater, are you hopeful that you might carry Mississippi this November?
THE PRESIDENT. I would like to see every person who felt that our program and our leadership for all America was preferred by them, to vote for us. I would hope that a good many people in all of the States would feel that way. I hope that a majority of them would. But I have no way of telling, at this date, just what the final outcome will be.
[15.] Q. Mr. President, do you favor this resolution that Senator Mansfield put in today to have the Rules Committee investigate the latest charge in the Bobby Baker case?
THE PRESIDENT. I have not seen the resolution, but I have favored a thorough investigation and study of every indication that any Federal law may have been violated. The FBI was ordered to make a thorough and exhaustive investigation. As soon as these facts are brought to my attention, I would be glad to see the Senate take any action it feels is justified.
Q. Do you favor the Rules Committee over the McClellan Committee ?
THE PRESIDENT. I think this is a matter for the Senate.
[16.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Kuchel says the President of the United States should make his views known on the apportionment rider that Senator Dirksen is sponsoring. Do you have any comments of the proposal by Senator Dirksen?
THE PRESIDENT. No, sir.
[17.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan any campaign trips this year? If so, when?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, when I do I will tell you. I have one tomorrow that I am going up to Harrisburg on. I am going to make a speech at a dinner. From time to time, when time permits, I will cut you in on them just as soon as I know.
Q. Mr. President, are we going to have the pleasure of another one of those train trips like we had in 1960?
THE PRESIDENT. I think you will have to talk to Mrs. Johnson. I think she has given some consideration to a train trip. I do not have any such plans at the moment. I understand she is giving some consideration to it already. She may have already announced it; I am not sure. If you like to ride the train, get with her; she will be glad to have your company. 4
4 See Item 628.
Ralph Harris, Reuters-Australian Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Johnson's thirtieth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 5:05 p.m. on Wednesday, September 9, 1964.
Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/241653