The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. I have some announcements and some appointments to make and then I would be glad, if you desire, to follow up with any questions, to attempt to answer them.
[1.] With the passage of the foreign assistance appropriation bill on July 1, the House of Representatives completed its work on the regular 1965 appropriation bills--all of them. I want to express my appreciation and that of the Nation for the efficiency and the speed with which the House acted upon the 1965 budget. Not in 4 years has the House completed its work on the regular money bills as early as the first day of the new fiscal year.
We owe a special debt of gratitude to the Members of the House Appropriations Committee, who labored long hours to meet a tight schedule, and to the two forceful and effective leaders of the Committee, the late Congressman Cannon, and his distinguished successor, Congressman Mahon.
The scorecard of House action on the regular 1965 money bills shows a total reduction from the budget request of 3 percent, as compared with a reduction of 7.4 percent last year. The size of the House reductions, less than half as deep as last year, is welcome confirmation of our belief back in January that we were submitting a budget that would be hard to cut.
When Congress completes its action on the budget, we are going to look upon the appropriations as a ceiling--not as a mandate to spend. Wherever we can get by with less money than Congress has given us, we are going to do just that. The money we save through our drive to improve management and to cut costs we will return to the Treasury next June.
Within a week or, I hope, at most 10 days, I want to announce the final figures for the fiscal year which ended June 30. Some early and incomplete reports on expenditures, the deficit, and Government employment lead me to hope that I will have some good news for you at that time.
[2.] I have a brief statement on the midyear review of the economy that has been given--gone over with the Council of Economic Advisers yesterday.
At midyear we have all seen many glowing reports on our recent economic advances in employment, sales, profits, and income. In this midyear review, let us look at these advances in human terms. What do they mean to people? You will have a copy of this available to you if you care to use it when you leave.
First, more jobs. Today, 1,200,000 more people have jobs than 6 months ago; 1,600,000 more people are at work than a year ago.
Two, higher wages. Average weekly earnings in manufacturing hit a new high of $103 in May, $3.74 more than a year earlier.
Higher profits. Great gains in profits are being translated into rising investments and new highs in the Dow-Jones average of stock prices. The Dow-Jones average of stock prices were around 700 when we came in on November 22d; they are now 840-plus.
Rising dividends for the country's nearly 20 million stockholders. These dividends are 11 percent higher in May than they were last year, a year earlier.
Bigger incomes. The tax cut and prosperity are boosting incomes to new peaks. The estimated after-tax incomes of the American people in the second quarter of this year, which has just ended, were running at a rate of about $19 billion above the fourth quarter of last year--and $30 billion above a year earlier.
This is a very important fact for all of us, and one that we can take great pleasure in observing. The average American family of four has gained about $500 of annual income after taxes in the past year, a rate of advance matched only once before in America's peacetime history, in 1948. A family of four gained about $500 of annual income after taxes in the past year.
Stable prices. These gains were not eaten away by inflation. The wholesale price level is right where it was a year ago, and 3 years ago, and it is lower than 6 years ago, which is quite a remarkable record. Consumer prices in May were only two-tenths of 1 percent above December and 1 1/2 percent above a year earlier.
A special news note on retail sales in June. The advance report on the whole month, seasonally corrected: Sales maintained the strong May rate, despite a few apparently slower weeks, and were 6.2 percent above last June. Retail sales in the week ending July 4 spurted up 11 percent above the comparative week a year earlier.
Now, looking ahead. We look for continued strong gains in the second half of the year as the benefits of the tax cut flow through the economy. This is partly based on surveys of 1964 business capital spending plans which now show a rise of nearly $5 billion, or 12 percent above 1963. Consumer spending surveys show buying intentions near a record high.
Even more impressive is the calm confidence that we find in the consuming public and in the business community. People know that times are good and that they are getting better, and they are responding by consuming wisely, investing soundly, and showing restraint in price and wage policies. There is a growing response to the challenge of cooperation and respect for the public interest on the part of business in setting prices, and unions in pursuing wage increases, and workers and managers in finding ways to raise efficiency and to cut costs.
In that spirit, the economic horizon will be bright not only in 1964, but I am informed by the Council of Economic Advisers, as far as the trained eye can see, into 1 965.
[3.] I have a brief statement on the auto negotiations. The auto industry is one of the Nation's largest industries and plays a significant role in our national economy. The importance of the current auto negotiations is obvious. The results of this collective bargaining will have a profound impact upon our future price stability and, therefore, on our economic prospects at home and abroad.
The negotiators in autos on both sides are experienced and responsible men. They do not want governmental intervention in these negotiations--nor do I. We are of one mind, that the collective bargaining process should be conducted and completed in accordance with the pattern of free collective bargaining that we are determined to maintain in this country.
I am confident that the parties to the auto negotiations by free, private collective bargaining will work out a responsible settlement consistent with both their private needs and their public responsibilities, a settlement which will reinforce and extend the excellent noninflationary record which has characterized our vigorous economic expansion.
[4.] Mr. Bertrand Harding is being appointed today as Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.
Q. What is his name again, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. Bertrand Harding is being appointed today as Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Mr. Harding is a 23-year veteran of the Federal service and a recipient in 1962 of the National Civil Service League's award for top career achievement. I am completely confident that Mr. Harding will carry on in an efficient and fair manner the work of the Internal Revenue Service.
[5.] I have today designated Mr. Michael Forrestal to replace Mr. William Sullivan as chairman of the interdepartmental committee which supports the U.S. country team in Viet-Nam. Mr. Forestal, the son of the late Secretary of Defense, Mr. James Forrestal, will work trader the supervision of Secretary Rusk. As you know, Mr. Forrestal has been associated with the staff of the Security Council here in the White House. This is a further step in the series of appointments which have been made in support of Ambassador Taylor. 1
1 Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, Ambassador to Vietnam.
[6.] I intend to appoint Mr. Lucius D. Battle, the Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs and a career Foreign Service officer, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Arab Republic. He will succeed Mr. John S. Badeau, who is assuming a position at Columbia University. The background biographical sketch will be available to you in the press office.
[7.] I am announcing today two additional members of the National Food Marketing Commission: Mr. Albert K. Mitchell, a distinguished businessman, and expert in certain aspects of food marketing; Mr. Mitchell is Republican National Committeeman from New Mexico. I am also appointing to the Commission Mr. William M. Batten, president of the J. C. Penney Company. Mr. Batten has had a broad background in retail trade, and I am sure he will make a valuable contribution to the work of this Commission. Mr. Batten is a Republican. Although the statute does not require membership in either party, we are trying to make appointments from both parties. As of now we have two Democrats, Judge Jones and former Congressman Marshall, who is a dirt farmer in Minnesota, and two Republicans, Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Batten.
[8.] I am also pleased to announce my intention to appoint Mr. Manuel Cohen as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, when Mr. William Cary, the present Chairman, leaves that position late in the summer. Mr. Cary plans to leave as soon as we complete action on certain legislation. Mr. Cohen, who is now a member of the Commission, has an enviable record in the securities field and an outstanding reputation at the bar. I know that he shares completely my own philosophy of regulation, which is to be fair and equitable, applying the law with vigor and commonsense. I look forward to an era of creative leadership in the Securities and Exchange Commission under Mr. Cohen.
I am also appointing to the existing Democratic vacancy on the SEC Mr. Frank Wheat of California. Mr. Wheat is a distinguished member of the California Bar, chairman of the Los Angeles Bar Association's Committee on Corporations, and a member of the American Bar Association's Committee on Federal Regulation of Securities. Mr. Wheat is a cure laude graduate of the Harvard Law School and a graduate of Pomona College. Mr. Wheat is married and has three children, and is currently practicing law in Los Angeles.
I will be glad to answer any questions.
[9.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about Mr. J. Edgar Hoover's mission to Mississippi, what he is down there for ? There has been some speculation that there might be a break in the making on these three missing civil rights workers, or is he down there just to coordinate the overall FBI program?
THE PRESIDENT. The information I have on Mr. Hoover's visit is that he has recently added additional FBI personnel to his force in Mississippi, some additional 50 agents. After a survey of the situation he has decided that he should establish a headquarters office in that State, that he is transferring a director from out of State, an assistant director to take charge of that office, that they have made arrangements for the new office to be opened, and that he will officially open it sometime today.
Of course, I am told that while he is there he will confer with the responsible people from his service who have been stationed there for some time, and get a complete report and give any instructions that he may think are indicated to the people under his jurisdiction.
[10.] Q. Mr. President, the Attorney General said recently that the only thing he has going for him in the vice presidential nomination is the fact that the big city bosses in the North, the party bosses in the North, are for him. Do you think this is a factor in his favor in getting the nomination?
THE PRESIDENT. I think that the delegates to the convention, after they nominate the President, will act on the vice presidential nomination, and I plan to make recommendations to them in that connection, as is customary, if I am the nominee. At that time I believe the convention will select the man that is available who has the best qualifications to occupy the office of Vice President and President, if he should be called upon to do that.
Q. Mr. President, do you plan to see Mayor Daley of Chicago when he is in town today?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Would you be discussing this vice presidential question with him?
THE PRESIDENT. I have no plans to.
Q. What was the answer, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. I have no plans to.
[11.] Q. Mr. President, do you plan to reappoint Mr. Ross to the Federal Power Commission?
THE PRESIDENT. I am giving consideration to that now. I have not made a decision on it.
[12.] Q. Mr. President, Mr. Tshombe was sworn in today as Premier of the Congo with the pledge that he would bring peace and unity. What, sir, do you believe the prospects are for that, and what will the United States do to help bring it about?
THE PRESIDENT. Everything that we can. We are very anxious to make a contribution in the direction of peace whenever and wherever possible. Where we are offered that opportunity we will certainly exercise it.
[13.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any comment on Senator Goldwater's charge of fiscal irresponsibility in your administration?
THE PRESIDENT. I don't know what the Senator may have said about this, or all that he may have said about it, but I have been interested in the comments of some of those who are in authoritative positions to determine the fiscal responsibility of this administration without any other motives. For instance, the American Bankers Association said only yesterday that the unusual length of the current upswing could be attributed to the reduction in taxes, the stability of costs and prices, which I have just referred to, and the maintenance of monetary and credit conditions which preserve international confidence in the dollar.
I saw a very interesting column on that that went into some detail yesterday.
Mr. Henry Ford is quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying that "our economy is now healthier than it has been in many years. Part of the credit must go to Government policies which, on the whole, have been well calculated to stimulate economic growth without inflation. Part of the credit must go to the recent tax cut."
The National Research Bureau's report to business executives yesterday said, "Just about any place you look you find evidence of the boom and signposts that point to a continuation of good times."
"The tax cut is still the major factor in the business boom."
Miss Porter2 said yesterday that "the United States dollar is winning new popularity. The comeback of the dollar is an enormous tribute to our economy's inherent power, and to the policies of recent years."
2 Sylvia Porter, financial columnist.
The Morgan Guaranty Trust Company in its latest survey of current economic conditions lists this main reason for continuing optimism: "The excellent business news of the past month indicate that the nourishment of the tax reduction is reaching the muscles of the economy."
And, finally, the New York Times says, "This has been and still is a truly phenomenal epoch in the Nation's economic history. The sustained advance is notable not only for its unusual longevity, but even more for the absence of excesses."
[14.] Q. Mr. President, you have signed a bill for the International Roosevelt Campobello Memorial.3 Will you ask the Governor of Maine to make suggestions for any one of the three American Commissioners?
THE PRESIDENT. I will be looking into that, pursuant to your suggestion.
3 Public Law 88-363 (78 Stat. 299), approved July 7, 1964.
Q. The bill suggests it, but does not direct it, I understand.
THE PRESIDENT. I will be glad to talk to him about it.
[15.] Q. Mr. President, the National Space Administration is apparently going to get considerably less funds than it asked for the space program this year. Do you think that this is going to preclude our landing on the moon in this decade?
THE PRESIDENT. I think the funds that we requested are necessary. I hope the Congress will act on this appropriation soon. The Committee has not acted on the appropriation yet. I don't know how to gauge the exact way it will exercise its judgment. I have every reason to believe that they are sympathetic with our national objectives, and I would hope that they will be as generous in their response to our request as possible.
[16.] Q. Mr. President, can you tell us anything about your meetings, series of meetings, with the Latin American ambassadors last week and this?
THE PRESIDENT. Yes. We have divided up the meetings into small meetings made up of six or seven of the ambassadors from Latin American countries in each meeting. There will be a series of three meetings. We have had two already. In addition to the Latin American ambassadors, we have the presence of the Secretary of State and Mr. Walt Rostow of the State Department, and Mr. Tom Mann, my Special Assistant, Assistant Secretary for Latin America.
We have an hors d'oeuvre, relax, and start around the room in a conversational, informal manner, and ask the ambassador from each country--Panama, Mexico, whatever country it may be--to give us his evaluation of the problems that exist between our two countries, any suggestions that he has regarding hemispheric solidarity, any criticism he may have to make concerning actions of our agencies with whom he is dealing, or delays that may be present; any suggestions that he could offer that should be considered for the hemisphere, with particular reference to the streamlining and the speedup techniques that we have brought into focus in the Alliance for Progress program.
Our people, Mr. Ball, Mr. Rostow, Mr. Mann, and in instances the President himself, have not only made comments on these suggestions but have outlined this Government's views, this Government's hope, and this Government's ideals. We have talked about the foreign aid bill, the Alliance for Progress funds, pending before the Senate; the action of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the possible action of the Appropriations Committee on our foreign aid bill.
We have talked about the visits of the President from Costa Rica. We have welcomed new ambassadors from some of the countries. We spend about an hour and a half to two hours near the close of the working day, 6 to 8 generally, in that area. We will be having meetings of that type from time to time so that the executive branch can keep better informed on the needs of the area and the hemisphere, and the problems of it, and so that the ambassadors themselves can report to their government on our approaches, our procedures, and our attitudes.
I am glad to report that they have been very stimulating meetings and much good has come from them. The reports we have received from not only ambassadors but heads of state in that area express appreciation for some of the steps that we have taken to centralize functions, to combine functions, to eliminate red tape, give a direct line of authority, and be able to make prompt decisions.
[17.] Q. Mr. President, about two months ago your oratorical propensities were officially recognized by the National Forensic Society.4 Will this in any way influence your decision to debate your opponent in the upcoming election?
THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think so.
4 See Item 343.
[18.] Q. Mr. President, on Latin America, again, what do you expect or hope would come out of this meeting of inter-American foreign ministers that is taking place here in July?
THE PRESIDENT. I would think that we would have a very constructive meeting, judging from the expressions of the ambassadors, and the conversations that I have had with OAS officials. I would not want to prejudge the actions or deliberations in advance. I don't know of any particular reward in the offing for so doing. I would just say let's follow the meeting closely and report accurately its deliberations.
[19.] Q. Mr. President, how do you size up the political activity of Governor Wallace of Alabama? Will his candidacy hurt the Democrats more than the Republicans, or the Republicans more than the Democrats, in your opinion?
THE PRESIDENT. I haven't conducted any study of the Governor's activities or evaluated the effect of those activities. I am not in the polling business, but I did, I believe, read this morning a poll on the front page of the Washington paper, and I think there is a copy there in my office if you want to look at it.
[20.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Goldwater has gotten into considerable controversy in the Republican Party in the last couple of days by saying that as of now you could beat any Republican. Do you think he was right or wrong in saying that?
THE PRESIDENT. I think the Republican Party has enough problems already without my adding to them in any way.
[21.] Q. Mr. President, have you any comment on the Baker report which has come out of the Senate Rules Committee now?
THE PRESIDENT. The report has been filed. Undoubtedly it will be read and thoroughly considered and such action as the Senate feels justified will be taken.
[22.] Q. Mr. President, Premier Castro has recently had a long interview in which he is offering to negotiate peace with the United States. What is your attitude or your response to that?
THE PRESIDENT. I have seen newspaper reports purporting to reflect his attitude. I am much more interested in the deeds than the words, and I shall carefully watch for any actions or any deeds that would carry into effect the actions that I think would be in the best interest of the people of Cuba and the people of the world. I am much more interested in deeds than words.
Merriman Smith, United Press International: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Johnson's twenty-first news conference was held in the Cabinet Room at the White House at 11:10 a.m. on July 10, 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/239034