Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

February 05, 1958

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down.

I have one short announcement. In view of the condition of my vocal cords, it would be very helpful to me if you'd ask very long questions that could be answered "Yes" or "No." [Laughter] Are there any questions?

Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, I will try to make this one long. I don't know whether you can answer it "Yes" or "No." Is any consideration being given to ordering the Air Force into the scientific satellite program, in addition to the Army, in view of the two Vanguard failures under Navy direction?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, as I said in my state of the Union speech, and has been decided by Mr. McElroy, all of the outer space work done within the Defense Department will be under Secretary McElroy himself.

Q. John M. Hightower, Associated Press: Mr. President, you have now had several exchanges with Premier Bulganin bearing on the possibility of a Summit conference. Could you tell us whether you think these exchanges have (1) advanced the prospects of better understanding between the United States and the Soviet Union, and (2) increased the likelihood of a Summit conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think at this moment you would have no real facts on which to reach a truly favorable conclusion on either of these points.

But, I will say this: we are working very hard at this minute. As a matter of fact, I have an appointment with the Secretary of State this afternoon to see whether there is any possible approach that we can make that will be appealing and which might lead, after proper preparation, to some kind of a meeting.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, the freer trade forces in Congress say that they despair of getting a meaningful extension of the tariff cutting reciprocal trade law through Congress unless you, yourself, fight for it. And, they say that while you talk freer trade, your deeds are those of a protectionist. They say, for instance, that you have packed the Tariff Commission with protectionists.

THE PRESIDENT. I have what?

Q. Mr. McGaffin: That you have packed the Tariff Commission with protectionists. Do you intend to fight for it, sir? Have you any comment?

THE PRESIDENT. I never in my life consciously appointed anyone who was a high protectionist.

Now, I have constantly argued with everybody that wants to put additional tariffs on any of the products coming up; mostly, of course, they have been products of very small volume, briar pipes, spring clothespins, tung oil what I am trying to get at, they have been items where very small groups have been very adversely affected.

So, we have tried to find some formula by which they wouldn't be completely destroyed and thrown out, but still would conform as closely as possible to the principles by which we live in this whole field.

Now, not always can anyone agree with everybody else in this thing, because the fellow that is affected wants just protection, nothing else, just protection.

I believe that the economy of the entire country, as well as the free word, demands a freer trade, and the whole question is: what are the moves and the decisions that will make that possible? And sometimes you have to be--you can't be rigid--you have to be more flexible.

Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, do you foresee a prospect, as Dr. von Braun apparently foresaw last night at your White House dinner, a prospect of the United States sending a rocket to the moon and back, within the next 10 years?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, he didn't, himself, tell me that last evening. Now, I have heard a number of these things discussed by my scientific friends, and I would be the last, and I think they would be the last, to predict the time schedule of accomplishment.

This is what I have done: I have gotten a group of fine scientists under the chairmanship of Dr. Killian; actually, I have asked him to do it, and he is getting the scientists to give for the United States a program of outer space achievement, what seems to be in the realm of possibility and, more, what is in the realm of probability in the whole scientific area as distinguished against the defense aspects of this business.

Now, whatever aspects of the defense space business are now involved will be pushed, just as they have been before, but now under the direction of Mr. McElroy's particular assistant.

The others, there will be a program made out largely in terms of objectives, and with a hope that it will be, of course, accomplished.

Now, they may--I think they will--make that general rough time schedule of accomplishment, but they will be also interested in how they will organize in order to do it.

Q. Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, on the Summit meeting, could you clarify for us whether you would require merely an agreement on the agenda issues to be discussed at that Summit meeting, or whether you would require a substantial negotiation on a lower level that gave some promise of an agreement at the Summit?

THE PRESIDENT. Well,- obviously, there has to be some clarification: what are the subjects that we both believe should be discussed, with some hope that there would be an agreement. Manifestly, there is no use of going to a Summit conference with the knowledge that neither will adjust himself to the arguments of the other at all. Frankly, you would just be glaring at each other across the table.

I think it was eight points I had in my last letter; and I cannot recall in this last letter I have been studying, trying to answer it, that there is a single one that they indicated they would study or even believed was a reasonable subject to discuss. For example, the space problem, the division of Germany, things of that kind that we put out, well they just said "Nyet." [Confers with-Mr. Hagerty]

Yes. I should have made the exception of the one I forgot about, the possibility of a zone being established that might have some effect against a surprise attack.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Sir, I wanted to ask you about the idea of a European zone in this connection: whether it is the Germanys, plus Poland, and Czechoslovakia, or from the Rhine to the Vistula--do you see any possibility from our side of such a zone, whether it is denuclearized or troops thinned out in such a zone, is that a reasonable idea?

THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Roberts, free nations, of which we are only one, and though we may be the strongest we are simply another equal among equals, cannot make decisions respecting other free nations unilaterally, or bilaterally with the Soviets.

There has got to be an agreement in which the affected countries must be participants. That is all there is to it. So, for the United States to say that we are going to treat all Western Europe or Central Europe in such and such and such a way is just unthinkable for us.

Now, if you talk about the value of such, admitting that everybody wants this thing, at least you have an arguable question; but the problem is: what do you do about Central Europe which now lies within the range of anything, any weapon that the Soviets want to use?

We are talking about the security of our great friends. We have established the NATO association, realizing that the defense of the free world must work by cooperation when confronted by a monolith of force and power so great as is the strength of the Communist area, that means that each is exposed to the most terrible dangers.

Consequently, for us to do anything that would destroy those associations--they are defensive and security arrangements and no one honestly believes they are for aggressive purposes, no one honestly believes it. Because of that, to my mind, it seems for us to proceed very carefully and take into complete consideration the convictions of the German Government, the low countries and all the rest, Italy and the others. We just must do it; we must not make a unilateral proposal that we go out or that we demilitarize all Central Europe.

Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Last year, Mr. President, you may recall that there was some talk at one of the press conferences here about special tax privileges, particularly the 27 1/2 percent oil depletion allowance, and some others. And, as I recall it, you said at the time that you favored leaving the depletion allowance unchanged as an incentive to the oilmen, but that you were going to look into some of the other loopholes in the tax laws, or Secretary Humphrey had a committee, I believe.

But, what I wanted to ask you was: in several speeches you have recently spoken of sacrifice on the part of the general public in the defense effort. I wondered if you feel the same way about the depletion allowance now as you did then; and also, do you have any recommendations about the special privileges?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am not by my answer going to agree that everything that you say I said that day is actually correct, because, after all, my memory is not quite that good.

I do and have said that a depletion allowance is, from my standpoint, not something to enrich and fatten the pocketbooks of people who already have a lot of money. I am talking about the economic incentive of continuing exploration and keeping our oil reserves up at the peak that they need to be, and speaking of them as reserves.

Now, always from the beginning of the time that I have been here, I have had conference after conference on ways and means of plugging leaks in the tax system so that individuals could not, because of special circumstances, take advantage of the law and violate its spirit and meaning.

But, I have never for an instant that I know of--certainly I wasn't a party--put it this way--to fixing the depletion allowance at 27 1/2 percent. My best advice has been a figure something of that sort is necessary if you are going to have your oil reserves properly kept up.

Q. Robert J. Donovan, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, could you give us a little case history of your cold and vocal cord trouble and tell us how you are feeling?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, funny thing--I got off the plane Sunday evening and felt nothing, and just went over and got to talking like this, and they have been doctoring me ever since; that is all. No, I have nothing that I feel badly about.

Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, I would like to ask you a question about the Presidency. There is nothing new, of course, to the controversy over Presidential aides, plenty of it in history over Colonel House, Harry Hopkins, and now, topically, Governor Adams.

Could you tell us your general concept about the functioning of the White House staff, as you have organized it, and could you tell us specifically a little more about some of Governor Adams' responsibilities?

For instance, do you personally clear his public statements and speeches? Are there decisions which he makes independently of your knowledge at a given time, that sort of thing, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No staff officer of mine, to include Governor Adams, can possibly make a decision without getting my general approval or a decision which is consonant with the general policies that have been laid out by me. And he is responsible, specifically responsible, that those decisions, and they are nearly always some item of administration in the Government, are so stated and promulgated and carried out that the general policy is observed and is not invalidated.

Now, with respect to his speeches, he has exactly the same right. He knows exactly what I believe, what are my convictions, my policy, and he attempts to make his speeches exactly in that line, and I do not, very naturally, take every word of his speeches and go over them in detail. Listen, after all, I tell you, there are only 24 hours in the day, and with an organization as big as this Government, you simply can't. If you are going to concern yourself with every detail--and even indeed to try to assure that, some important detail might be done wrongly sometimes--why then, you are going to do nothing else.

Now, in the war, or any place else, I saw time and again where there were things done not exactly as I would have done them, but I still approved them because you have to do it.

Q. Mr. Morgan: Just one point: there has been so much controversy publicly in recent weeks, do you consider that there was no contradiction between his speech in Minneapolis on defense and your speech in Chicago on the same night regarding defense and national security?

THE PRESIDENT. There was no basic difference, because I read parts of his speech. He said, as I said, that there should be no partisanship in defense. He did undertake to say that he had a rebuttal to make in the case of some individuals that he thought were not observing this bipartisanship spirit.

I didn't make any rebuttal and I never have and I never expect to make it; but he did, and he was honest in the way he did it, and even if you, or anybody else, differs with it, I think he still had a right to say it.

Q. Edward T. Folliard, Washington Post: Mr. President, in your speech last week before the Republican National Committee, you said that you looked for an upturn in business later in the year. Could you tell us on what you base that confident forecast?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think that to go into the whole thing, because it is a mass of conflicting testimony and conflicting considerations are enumerated, you must go to the Economic Report.

Now, I was very careful and didn't want to be unduly optimistic. I believe in the winter months we will have a continuing and seasonal decline of some kind, I think January, February, and March probably will. I think that things ought to stabilize; my own opinion is, as the summer comes along we have freer credit and more money available due to the action of the Reserve Board, under the evidence brought about by our last financing. I think it is reasonable to assume some upturn sometime toward the middle or just after the middle of the year.

Q. Laurence H. Burd, Chicago Tribune: Mr. President, some economists have suggested that if business doesn't turn up as fast as you expect it, a tax ,cut would give it a shot in the arm. Is a tax cut one of your reserve weapons in case it doesn't, even at the expense of a bigger deficit? How do you feel about it?

THE PRESIDENT. It could be, it could be. Yes. I'd say this: if things got to the point where you felt that it was necessary, it would be. One thing, it would have a very real, great stimulus on the economy, no question about that; but on the other hand, this is something you can take hold of and, going too far with trying to fool with our economy, then you get something else started. And you just remember, all of you here a year ago, how we were always talking about inflation and the things we were trying to study.

Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, save your voice and just say "Yes," or "No."

I presume from what you said a while ago that you are looking into the question of the plight of the lead and zinc miners in New Mexico.

THE PRESIDENT. Yes. [Laughter]

Q. Mrs. McClendon: They have asked for a duty. It has been recommended to you, and those people out there who formerly were employed in the mines have recently had to call on the Government for food. They have actually been hungry.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, the answer is, "Yes."

Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, in his latest letter to you, Premier Bulganin opposed a foreign ministers conference because, as he put it, of the biased position of certain possible participants. What do you think of this remark, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I rather thought he must have been talking about Gromyko. [Laughter]

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Was Attorney General Rogers speaking for the administration when he said that he would recommend a veto for legislation on the disability of the President?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think he said it just that way. He might have talked about some specific legislation that he might recommend. He never said I would veto it. And, I know this: that certain features that he has seen in a particular bill, he has said in his opinion, and in the opinion of his whole legal staff, are unconstitutional.

Q. Mr. Brandt: You are still in favor of a constitutional amendment instead of legislation?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll say this: anything that will do it, but do it keeping very carefully separated the powers of the Congress and the President. As a matter of fact, this is a subject I think ought to be handled quickly and promptly and without the slightest bit of partisanship.

Q. Carleton Kent, Chicago Sun-Times: Mr. President, do you believe it is in the public interest for members of regulatory commissions to accept fees and other favors from the industry that they are regulating?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't know much about it, Mr. Kent. I have been reading the paper lately about one. This morning, one of my lawyer group brought in the law which says specifically that members of regulatory commissions may not engage in other businesses, but that they are, in making speeches or addresses or presentations, I believe, before trade associations and other people interested, that they are entitled to take reasonable honorariums.

Now, that is the limit of my thought on that.

Q. William H. Stringer, Christian Science Monitor: Mr. President, a double question on Governor Stassen:

Do you find his usefulness in his present White House job is at an end now; and, if so, would you be pleased to see the former Governor of Minnesota as the next governor of Pennsylvania?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is a double-barreled question, but neither barrel is easy to fire.

Actually, Mr. Stassen and I have had a couple of conferences, and I think I have one scheduled for this week to see exactly what we believe should be done.

Now he, as I understand, expressed some interest in being a governor, and I want to say very frankly that there are many traits of his that I believe to be admirably fitting for such an office. He is a great administrator and he is an indefatigable worker.

Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, do you plan to push statehood legislation for Alaska and Hawaii this session?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll say this: it has been in every message I have put in since 1953. I believe the Republican platform has always said, as I recall, we advocate statehood for Hawaii and statehood for Alaska under proper enabling legislation.

Now, what I personally would like to see--the two bills coming on simultaneously--that is what I'd like to see.

Q. Garnett D. Horner, Washington Star: Mr. President, the American Patent Law Association recently took note of reports that you planned to appoint Jack Martin to a vacancy on the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals; they opposed Mr. Martin's prospective appointment on the ground that he was not a patent lawyer. Do you have anything to say about that, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I asked someone yesterday; I said, "I wish you would look up the records of the people who, over recent years, 10 years, or 6 or whatever, have been appointed to this court and how many of them are patent lawyers." He said the only one that was a patent lawyer, who had been appointed, I had appointed him because we wanted someone on there who was a specialist. But, in general, I mean the average man should be a good lawyer who is known for his honesty, integrity, and his abilities.

Now, Jack Martin is one of the men that I consider a very splendid individual and certainly, unless I knew that he had to have some specialist training of this kind, I wouldn't be at all concerned about it. However, I have not appointed anybody at this moment.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, an easy question: could you tell us whom you are supporting for the Republican nomination for the Senate in New Jersey?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, by no means. The primary isn't held, and I hear there are about seven or eight candidates; I can't pick one out.

Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Mr. President, since you sent your education proposals to the Hill, they have been rather widely criticized as being insufficient to meet the need of the country, and also, once again, education has got tied up with segregation. I wonder if you would comment on those two points?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, let's take the second one first.

One thing in this year's proposals was that I had the great hope that by taking a thing functionally the segregation idea would not come into it at all, we could go ahead with a job and not worry about peoples-the color of their skin or anything else.

I hadn't heard this, and I am distressed to hear it, if it be true.

Now, with respect to the size of this thing, there are a number of things you are trying to do, and one of them is to inspire the people who have normally been responsible for educational process to do better.

The Federal Government gets into this by fellowships and scholarships, and helping work for these summer institutes to give teachers a better education and some more money. You do it in numbers of ways, but I am convinced of this: if you try to take it in such a sweeping way that the whole country is looking merely to the Federal Government to do this now for the coming years, I think we have lost a very great and vital feature of our whole free system. Now, that is exactly what I think.

Q. Mr. Reston: Mr. President, when you went to Oklahoma City, you made an appeal at that time to the people on the boards of education in the communities around the country.

THE PRESIDENT. That's right.

Q. Mr. Reston: Do you plan to carry that on with other speeches to the people of the country?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll say this, Mr. Reston: I certainly will make no effort to keep my views from being known and, on the contrary, I will try to make them known. But when you come to say "making speeches," I am not one that believes that a person's convictions are made very much stronger by just repeating and repeating and repeating speeches. I just don't happen to be built that way.

But, I'll say this: I am for that whole idea of getting these local communities and, as a matter of fact, I've had letters from many of them where they are really doing something about it.

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

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and twenty-sixth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 11:01 o'clock on Wednesday morning, February 5, 1958. In attendance: 242.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234051

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