Lyndon B. Johnson photo

The President's News Conference

July 31, 1967


THE PRESIDENT. [1.] Yesterday I talked to Mr. David Ginsburg in Seattle and asked him to become the Executive Director of the group that met with me Saturday--the group that is headed by Governor Kerner.1 He agreed to return and accept that assignment. I will be seeing him later in the day.

1 see Items 326, 327.

As you know, Mr. Ginsburg is in the private practice of law here in Washington. George 2 will give you a biographical sketch concerning his governmental experience.

2 George E. Christian, Special Assistant to the President.

That is all I have to say. I will be glad to answer any questions.


[2.] Q. Mr. President, Governor Romney over the weekend was increasingly critical of the administration for the manner of sending troops into Detroit. The Governor also said that he thought that the riots in Detroit resulted from national conditions rather than local conditions.3

What are your thoughts on it?

3 See Items 321,322,325.

THE PRESIDENT. The group we have asked to study this will take into consideration the requests I made of them the other day. They will be able to shed light on all of the things that entered into the problems in Detroit.

Basically, so far as I am concerned, I do not have knowledge as to the whys, wherefores, and causes.

I was asked to make two basic decisions: The first, under the Constitution and laws, was to act upon the recommendation for troops. I did that at about 11 o'clock Monday morning.

Later, when Mr. Vance and other Federal, State, and local authorities unanimously recommended deployment, I immediately signed the proclamation and the Executive order.

I don't think anything is to be gained by trying to justify or explain.


[3.] Q. Mr. President, the Gallup poll released today indicated that 52 percent of the public does not agree with you in Vietnam.

Do you think that accurately reflects public opinion?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't know.


[4.] Q. Mr. President, Secretary General U Thant made a speech yesterday in which he put forth the claim that the war in Vietnam is due to the desire of the Vietnamese people to have the same kind of freedom that we fought for in 1776. Could you explore for us your feelings?

THE PRESIDENT. J do not agree with him, but I don't care to argue with a representative of the United Nations on his desire to give his viewpoint to our people.


[5.] Q. Mr. President, do you see any merit in the suggestion by Mayor Cavanagh for a 1,000-man Federal riot force?

THE PRESIDENT. I would see a good many problems connected with it. I haven't received his suggestions. All I know is what I saw in the paper. I will be glad to have them evaluated and considered by the executive and legislative branches, but I would not care to embrace that recommendation with the information that I have now.


[6.] Q. Mr. President, 51 former Democratic National Convention delegates are said to be urging you to retire for the good of the party and their criticism seems to be mainly on foreign policy. What is your comment on that?



[7.] Q. Mr. President, the outbreak of riots, do you think this might have a plus effect in Congress in changing its minds on measures you have asked for? I have in mind rat control and things like that?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that the Congress has carefully evaluated the situation in the Nation as it sees it. I think all of us should be concerned with the developments that are taking place in the cities.

What their reaction will be on any specific piece of legislation, I would think the leadership would have better information about that than I have. None of them has talked to me about it since Newark and Detroit from the standpoint of whether there might be a change of opinion in the Congress or not.

So, very frankly, I just don't know what their reaction would be.


[8.] Q. Mr. President, should we still expect a tax increase request and can you give us some idea of the thinking as to when and how much?

THE PRESIDENT. No. As soon as the decision is made on that you will be informed. I think you know that we have a recommendation pending, a 6 percent surcharge recommendation.

As I said at my last press meeting, we have had various people in the administration studying the receipts and expenditures, the action taken on appropriations in the Congress, and that we believe that we should have a tax measure this year.

There will be some adjustments made to our recommendation, but as of the moment, I am not in a position to actively spell those out.

Q. Will they be upward adjustments, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT. I say at the moment I am not in a position to actively spell them out. As soon as we reach a decision, we will communicate it to you. I do not want to speculate in a field like that until the recommendations are in from all the people involved.


[9.] Q. Mr. President, what do you hear from General Taylor and Mr. Clifford about support for the war among our allies, and other matters? 4

THE PRESIDENT. I think they have had very good meetings where they have been. The last I heard from them was following their meeting with Prime Minister Holt and his Cabinet. I read a report earlier this morning that they had spent several hours-I think 7 hours--and that they generally agreed that this meeting was very helpful to both sides.

4 A news briefing following their trip to the Far East was held by Clark Clifford and Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor on August 5, 1967, at 4 p.m. in the Fish Room at the White House. It is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 3, p. 1114).


[ 10.] Q. Mr. President, did you consider putting any of the advocates of black power on your advisory Commission? Can you tell us why there are no representatives of the more militant Negro point of view on the Commission?

THE PRESIDENT. The President selected the people in the country that he thought could make a study of this matter and make recommendations to him that he thought would encompass the entire problem.

We tried to select men and women of experience, ability, and judgment whom we felt could consider all the evidence and make a judicious finding.

We did not consider them from the standpoint of militancy or antimilitancy. We considered them from the standpoint of their experience and the people from whom the President would want a recommendation.

I am sure that every person in the Nation who has a viewpoint he wants considered will have a chance to present it in writing or orally, or make any recommendations he cares to make. We will be glad to have them.

We appointed the people who we think will be best on the Commission. I did that without regard to any label.


[11.] Q. Mr. President, does the fact that the Gallup poll reports increasing opposition to our troop commitments in Vietnam suggest any change in your course of action?

THE PRESIDENT. No. We do not base our actions on the Gallup poll.


[12.] Q. Mr. President, does the fact that Mr. Clifford and General Taylor are not going to Manila come as a surprise or was this known--President Marcos' position on further troops known--before they went off on their mission? Can you explore that?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it did not come as a surprise. I am not familiar with the President's position on further troops.


[13.] Q. Mr. President, it was reported on Saturday that Marshal Tito received a Personal message from you, sir. I wonder if you would say anything about that.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. We are in communication from time to time with the leaders of other nations. We have communicated with President Tito on occasion.


[14.] Q. Mr. President, Mayor Cavanagh on "Meet the Press" also said that he felt that we were trying to pacify the villages of Vietnam while we should be pacifying American cities and that we were going to send a man to the moon by 1970 when he couldn't walk down Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

I was wondering if there was any possibility that you are considering cuts in either Vietnam spending or space spending to increase this flow of funds to the cities.

THE PRESIDENT. We have submitted our recommendations to the Congress in both of those fields. They are now in the process of debating them. I do not know what action they will take.

We will review the appropriations as soon as Congress has acted and make any decisions that we think are indicated by the requirements of the national interest.


[15.] Q. Mr. President, you had a task force on airports which I think reported to you a couple of months ago. I wonder whether you could say whether you have plans to release the contents of that report and what the administration's plans are for a new national airport plan.5

5 A report to the President on aircraft noise and compatible land use near airports is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 3, p. 527).

THE PRESIDENT. I do not have any comment on that now.


[16.] Q. Can you tell us when you plan to meet with General Taylor and Mr. Clifford?

THE PRESIDENT. Shortly after they come back, when it is convenient for them.


[17.] Q. Mr. President, what do you think about Senator Morton's proposals for giving you the power of transferability to take 10 percent of the long-range urban spending programs and apply it immediately to the problems of the cities, the cities that have the most urgent problem this summer? He estimates that will give you an antiriot war chest of up to $1 billion.

THE PRESIDENT. We have members of the Cabinet concerned with urban problems constantly evaluating the requests of the cities and trying to act upon those requests within the means they have available promptly. If there is any way that we can improve the administration and the expedition of the programs we have, I am sure the Cabinet officers concerned are anxious to do it.

I know they have been trying to minimize the time involved in every application on every program to every possible extent, consistent with sound administration.

I have been meeting with groups of them from time to time in that connection. I do not believe that the bulking together of the programs is either a problem or a requirement.

I do think that it would be helpful if some of the dozen or so programs that are pending could have the approval of the Congress. I have enumerated those programs before.

We have a number of programs for the cities which are now being applied. But we also have some that we would like very much to have fully funded, such as rent supplements, model cities, the rat measure, the poverty bill, and a good many others.


[18.] Q. Mr. President, is there now some doubt that a summit meeting will be held?

The summit meeting of the seven allies. Is there now some doubt? Mr. Clifford said on the wires, I believe it was Saturday, that the decision had not been made, which seemed to differ from what we had been told, that a decision had been made, but the date and place had not been set.

THE PRESIDENT. I have not seen Mr. Clifford's comment. I would like to see it before I comment on what he has said.

I think it is reasonable to assume that we will be meeting with the leaders of South Vietnam and the other allies from time to time, but we have no place and time now.


[19.] Q. Mr. President, back to the summer riots: What can you do or what can the executive branch do, administratively, without legislation, to head off these riots?

I am asking this: Is there anything preventive that you can do?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. I think that we can and have done some of those things. We asked Congress for $75 million for summer employment for unemployed young people. They granted that fund. But we have allocated it.

I think that is one thing that is helpful.

I think that the work with the various mayors and appealing through private employers and to public officials to show deep concern for the needs of the unemployed in these areas is absolutely essential.

We must never let up on that. I think the attempt to provide the encouragement and leadership with the recreation people, the school authorities, the civic leaders is a matter that is receiving all-out support from the administration.

The prompt action upon the requests from the mayors on various programs that we have, from the standpoint of food stamps, from the standpoint of housing, from the standpoint of general urban problems, including poverty and employment, is indispensable and absolutely necessary.

We try to stay on top of that.

We have a group in the Justice Department under Mr. Roger Wilkins, with Community Relations, and Mr. John Doar, the Assistant Attorney General, who counseled with certain minority groups to try to be helpful, who frankly said Washington is not nearly as close to these problems as the local people are, or as the State people are. But we are very concerned with them and very anxious to cooperate with all governmental units in any way we can that would be helpful.

Those are some of the areas in which we are working with them.


[20.] Q. Mr. President, what is the status of the appeal by Detroit for disaster relief? Can the Government grant that?

THE PRESIDENT. We have received several suggestions from the mayor and from the Governor. Mr. Vance is acting upon those. I believe he had a press conference earlier this morning in which he presented the Administrator of the Small Business Administration for the Detroit area, who is opening offices there this morning pursuant to the declaration of a disaster area made in connection with the small business loans last Saturday.

The other agencies, food and health and employment and others, are already busy and have been for several days working with the local authorities.

In connection with the disaster declaration handled by Governor Bryant's office, that concerns itself a great deal with public building damage. There are several types of disaster declarations.

Governor Bryant is concerned with the damage to public facilities. The small business disaster declaration has to do with loans and assistance of that kind.

The other departments, while they do not call it disaster, in an emergency situation move as they have with food and so forth.

Mr. Vance is having presented to him by the local authorities the justifications for each of these areas. He will consider them, make recommendations and submit them to the appropriate departments.

The most necessary ones have already been processed and I am sure there will be others.


[21.] Q. Mr. President, in discussing the tax outlook, you mentioned the waiting for Congress to act on appropriations bills. Were you indicating that a tax increase proposal might not go up to Congress until the appropriations bills are completed?



[22.] Q. Mr. President, do you have any intention of visiting Detroit or Newark in the coming days or weeks?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no plans to go at this time.


[23.] Q. Mr. President, whenever we have a national crisis, such as we have had in the last couple of weeks, there seems to be an outcry that we rethink our national priorities and perhaps spend less in Southeast Asia and more on the home front. Do you think this country can sustain both viewpoints?


Q. Can you give us your thinking on this?

THE PRESIDENT. I have given it a good many times. Our gross national product is big enough. I think we are rich enough. I think it is important enough for us to meet our responsibilities at home without neglecting our responsibilities in the world.

I would hope that not many people would feel that because we have a problem at home is any indication that we would ignore or surrender our interests abroad.

Q. Mr. President, I would like to ask the question in an absolutely different way. If your new Commission should come up with some recommendations which would cost substantially more than you have now asked Congress for in the way of appropriations for the cities and so forth, would the country, in your judgment, presently be able to finance them?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no doubt for a moment but that our country will be able to do whatever is necessary to do.

If we had the same tax rates applied this year to our income as we had when I became President about 3½ years ago, we would be receiving in the Treasury some $23 billion more than we will receive.


[24.] Q. Mr. President, can you bring us up to date on the status of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I think that we have made progress. We are optimistic, but we are not ready to announce that an agreement has been reached and that the matter has been concluded.


[25.] Q. Mr. President, what about ABM? Have discussions started on that yet."

THE PRESIDENT. No. There is not anything to add to what Secretary Rusk said yesterday on the "Face the Nation" program.

We have indicated a desire to exchange viewpoints with the Soviet Union on this subject.

We think that it is very vital, as is the whole disarmament subject.

We have urged upon them that we agree upon a time and place for such discussions.

They have indicated that they would exchange views with us and we could have discussions on the subject, but no time and place have been set.


[26.] Q. Mr. President, do you recognize the problem of accelerating aid to the cities in a manner that does not seem to reward the rioters?


Merriman Smith, United Press International: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: president Johnson's one hundred and sixth news conference was held in his office at the White House at 11:20 a.m. on Monday, July 31, 1967. As printed above, this item follows the text of the Official White House Transcript.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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