The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down.
In the scientific field, I have two or three announcements, the first of which I will read, although the document will be in mimeographed form and you can get it after you leave here. This one has to do with forthcoming tests.
[Reading] In line with what I said to the press on July 3, 1957, the United States will demonstrate the progress our scientists are achieving in reducing radio-active fallout from nuclear explosions.
To this end, for the first time at any test, we are planning to invite the United Nations to select a group of qualified scientific observers to witness at the Pacific Proving Ground this summer a large nuclear explosion in which radio-active fallout will be drastically reduced.
We will also invite--as we have on occasions in the past--a representative group of United States and foreign news media correspondents.
The United States scientists have been making progress in reducing radio-active fallout from nuclear explosions in the hope and belief that basic advances in both the peaceful and military uses of nuclear energy will thus be achieved. The advantages to mankind of continued progress in this field are obvious.
The United States has always publicly announced in advance its nuclear testing programs. We trust that the forthcoming tests will provide valuable information to the world. [Ends reading]
Now, the next statement is about another document. There has been prepared by my Scientific Advisory Committee a paper that is called, "Introduction to Outer Space." 1 This report, in my opinion, is the most interesting and fascinating thing in this field that I have seen, and I want to make it available to the entire public. frankly, I am hopeful that all publicity media will find it so interesting that they will give it the widest possible dissemination.
1 See Item 57
Then, I wanted to make this final statement: I expect to send up shortly recommended legislation providing for civilian control and direction of governmental activities incident to civilian space programs.
As I say, that report will be--is that to be this afternoon or this morning? [Confers with Mr. Hagerty] That one you will get this afternoon.
The first one that I read is the one you will get this morning; the other one will be ready this afternoon. That's all.
Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Mr. President, can you say specifically whether Russia and other Communist nation observers will attend those tests?
THE PRESIDENT. Of course I can't tell what they will accept, but we are hopeful that the United Nations will designate the Scientific Committee for Detection, I believe it is, of Radioactivity--that's about its name. On that committee are U. S. S. R., Czechoslovakia, the United States, U. K., Canada, and a few others. As a matter of fact, Mr. Hagerty can give you also the entire list of nations. [Confers with Mr. Hagerty.]
Mr. Hagerty wants me to read the full--the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, that's the name of the committee.
Q. Peter Lisagor, Chicago Daily News: Mr. President, Mr. Khrushchev has in recent weeks hinted that Russia might unilaterally end its atomic tests and stop production of nuclear weapons. My question is: does the administration have any information that this is a real possibility, and how would you view such a Soviet move?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Of course, anything is a possibility. As we have been reporting from time to time, they have undergone a long series of tests and I don't know what they will do, of course.
So far as we are concerned, we have been perfectly honest in stating exactly what we expect to do. It has been many months ago that we announced our spring tests; and we have always stated that when there was any reliable agreement for stopping tests, and particularly when this can be connected with elimination of manufacture for weapon purposes, that we would be quite ready to go with the thing.
I don't know anything about the possibility of their making a statement.
Q. John R. Gibson, Wall Street Journal: Mr. President, there has been considerable discussion recently of taxes. Could you say just what the administration's policy is on tax cuts now, particularly as to timing?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, sir, I have tried to be very accurate in what I had to say about it. I have never excluded the possibility that there might come a situation where a tax reduction would seem desirable.
At the same time, I think that every thoughtful person, certainly that I have met and this includes leaders from both parties, views this step or possible step with such seriousness that they are not going to be stampeded into doing it. As a matter of fact, I believe the Secretary of the Treasury has conferred with leaders in the Democratic Party, with the result that we have agreed to do nothing except with bipartisan consultation, at least notification of intention.
All sorts of difficulties arise with the possibility of tax reduction. Most of you have been aware of some of the anxiety voiced by our people for larger and larger military appropriations. Those appropriations by '59 will be very considerably greater than they are now.
There have been all sorts of other proposals for expenditures that will swell national budgets if all of them are approved.
So, in any event, there seems to be the prospect of very greatly increased expenditures.
Now, if you recognize that any tax cut is bound to increase the gap between revenues and expenditures, realizing again the seriousness of large and continuing deficits upon our whole fiscal and financial system, then you will see that this is not something to do lightly.
I do say that we are watching every development as closely as we know how. We try to get advice, information, counsel from every phase of our American life, and we are certainly going to do those things we think should be done; but we are not going into a tax cut or any other what we believe to be unwise program that can hurt us badly in the future. We have got to think of the years to come as well as the immediate month in which we are living.
Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Mr. President, to go back to the nuclear testing for a moment: have you had the report from Dr. Killian on the feasibility of test detection if there were an agreement?
THE PRESIDENT. I didn't understand the question correctly--feasibility?
Q. Mr. Roberts: Have you had a report from Dr. Killian on the feasibility of detecting tests in the Soviet Union if there were an agreement, and do your earlier remarks indicate that there is no truth in the reports that you might consider separating the test ban from the production cutoff?
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Roberts, as I have told you time and again, certainly I believe it would be unwise to take a perfectly rigid position in respect to any of these things where any agreement would seem to be a reliable one, and would seem to be opening the door to wider and better negotiations with the Soviet Union.
Now, I have not only had many conferences with Dr. Killian, but with others in the scientific world about the feasibility of detecting tests.
While I think there is certainly a little field for uncertainty, and some differing opinion, I think that by and large for any sizable test of any kind, if it didn't go way down into the, you might say, fractional kiloton, that the tests ought with proper inspectional facilities, seismic and electronic, and so on, that they ought to be detected.
Q. Robert C. Pierpoint, CBS News: Mr. President, in view of the long exchange of messages that you have had with the Soviet Union, and particularly the most recent message from the U. S. S. R., do you believe that Summit talks are closer or further away?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, that is a very difficult guess to make, you might say.
This is what I am trying to do: I am trying to maintain a position that I think is conciliatory, that will reflect reasonableness and logic and truth as we see it.
Now, we simply, as I see it, must not by going to a Summit meeting appear to accept every contention that the Soviets are now making. In other words, we must not tacitly say "Yes, we approve of everything that they are now saying as possible subjects for conversation." It isn't necessarily true or acceptable to us. As I say again, we must be careful to prepare these meetings properly.
Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, although there is plenty of food in this country, many families, especially children and most especially the unemployed, cannot buy because the prices are so high. Have you ever considered the so-called Brannan plan by which the food stuffs went into the market and at whatever price it would bring and the Government pays the farmer the difference between that and parity?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mrs. Craig, yes, I have read it often, read about it, discussed it, and frankly I do not believe in the Brannan plan.
Now, I do say this: with our surpluses, I believe that we could find better ways at times such as these of using our surpluses better. And we are doing this more generously and more freely at this moment. But I just don't believe that you can get such a program as this, and work it in our country and keep farmers free.
Q. Joseph R. Slevin, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, do you see any sign of the downward movement of the economy as coming to an end?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I think there are many factors that would imply that the bottom is certainly close, or possibly even now reached. But we have gone through these factors, about the strength of consumer buying and many things of that kind. I don't see any need this morning for going through all of them. My own feeling is we are going through the worst of it right now.
Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: Mr. President, getting back to the farm situation, there are reports that you will veto the farm price freeze measure and then in an administrative action, announce some increase in the supports for crops and for dairy products as you did in 1956. Could you tell us anything about that?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I am always intrigued by prophecies of what I shall do and how I shall do it.
Now, the bill that we have now is still under study. I've had many conferences with my people, and action will be taken soon.
Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, back to this food question. There are people out in New Mexico right now who can't even get beans because they can't get them out of surplus food stocks. They are going hungry. There are some unemployed in this country who can't get anything but starches to eat, and that has been going on for months. Can't we do something to give better distribution of surplus foods or to get meat into the surplus pile so that we can give these people a balanced diet?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, right now, if you can take beef at over 30 cents and pork, over 20, and call it surplus, you'll be doing something. I don't see how you can do it. I don't see how meat can be in surplus.
Now, as to methods that there may be for feeding the hungry, after all, one of the things that I am attempting to do by this extension of the benefits of unemployment insurance is to take the burden off the States for what they have to do in assistance within the States and, therefore, give them more opportunity to take care of people that are not taken care of by an extension of this kind. I believe--did I sign that this morning? [Confers with Mr. Hagerty] I believe it is either down today, or on the route.
But I agree with you, something should be done for people that are hungry, but we must not just always say that it has got to be right square here from Washington, that we are going to send this and that. We must do our part, respecting the responsibilities, the rights of the States, and if we do our things in that formula, I think we won't go too badly wrong.
Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: Another domestic matter, Mr. President. Little Rock is still unsolved. There are responsible reports indicating indeed that the basic issues are more embittered and in a worse state of ferment than they have been before.
Your Civil Rights Commission exists but it hasn't really got its work off the ground and hasn't really got a budget of its own.
Do such things indicate an inclination on the part of the administration to follow rather than lead these civil rights problems to a decision; or, on the other hand, do you have in mind some intensification of pressure on the part of the federal Government toward them?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, now, just a minute. Intensification of federal activity can mean many things, and certainly I would have to know exactly what you were proposing before I would believe it to be legal and proper and desirable.
Now I have preached, since the day I came to this office, and long before, that we are going to solve some of these great internal social problems of the United States of America by reason, by education, by tolerance of the other fellow's views.
I do not believe that all of these problems can be solved just by a new law, or something that someone says, with teeth in it. for example, when we got into the Little Rock thing, it was not my province to talk about segregation or desegregation. I had the job of supporting a federal court that had issued a proper order under the Constitution, and where compliance was prevented by action that was unlawful.
I had to do that, and that is an entirely different thing from me starting out new laws for attacking this basic problem, which I again say is not going to be solved finally until it is done by understanding and reason.
Now, on the other hand, with respect to your reference to the Commission, surely it has had a hard time getting off the ground. We had to give it, you might say, a loaned budget, but I have great hopes for what it will do in both these fields, watching and seeing what are the legal difficulties that occur, as well as what can be done in helping to get things done in what you might call the educational and even, indeed, the spiritual field.
Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Sir, Senator McClellan's investigating committee has just come out with their report criticizing the Teamsters' Union and a few others on the grounds of alleged corruption, and proposing several laws to promote union democracy through secret ballots, and so forth. Is it your hope that Congress will pass some legislation along those lines before it goes home this year? I know you recommended--
THE PRESIDENT. I have a very fine answer for you. If you will just read again exactly what I said in my special message, I think it was in late January, on labor, you will find exactly what my views are.
Q. John Scali, Associated Press: Mr. President, recently you told us, sir, that you would be willing to hold a Summit conference in the United States if you thought it would contribute to peace. Since then there have been reports that the administration felt that Geneva might be a better site, particularly in view of the feeling that Mr. Khrushchev might use a visit to the United States for his own propaganda purposes. Could you tell us what your latest view on this is, sir?
THE PRESIDENT. I have no change in the views that I have already expressed, but I will tell you this: by no means do I fear the results on America of a visit by Mr. Khrushchev.
Q. Richard L. Wilson, Cowles Publications: Mr. President, some of your critics claim that you are not doing enough to combat the recession, that to wait until the middle of April is too late. I wonder if you could discuss that point?
THE PRESIDENT. I think I explained it rather thoroughly in connection with my remarks on tax reduction. I think that we have got to be very, very careful of what we are doing to this economy over the years as well as just looking at the immediate difficulties in which we find ourselves; to fail to do so, to my mind, is merely to bring on again a difficulty that could be even worse. We can compound difficulties here. So, I can run through again for you all the things that we have put down on paper, the recommendations I made to the Congress. They are numerous, and I think mostly they are reasonable, but I do believe that if we go frantic on this, like some people wanted to do on Sputnik, we can be doing the wrong thing.
Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Have you and your advisers projected the spending of this Congress so that you can make an estimate on the deficit for the current fiscal year and next year?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'll tell you, we tried a little bit, but you can't do it. for example, the housing bill now before me was first started off at $2.9 billion; and now we have got one item in the housing bill, $1.5 [billion] that means, as far as I can see, just right square out of the Treasury as quick as they come in and recommend that the Government purchase these insured loans. So you just can't tell what is going to happen until we are further along in the session I think, as far as the amounts are concerned. But I do think this: it would be futile to believe we could keep the amounts down to what they are now.
Q. Rod MacLeish, Westinghouse Broadcasting Company: Mr. President, going back to the Summit conference for a moment, sir, Mr. Pierpoint commented on the long exchange of letters between you and Premier Bulganin. The Russians seem prompted by some sense of immediate urgency to have a Summit conference, more than usual. Have you any comment on what might be giving them this sense of urgency?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I really believe it is their hoped for effect upon the world at large. By saying these things, by seeing in the papers what they purport to mean, they believe they are getting the world convinced that Russia really wants peace and negotiated agreements that are sound and practical and fair to both sides and enforceable.
Now, that is what they, it seems to me, are trying to get over. Now, when you take ourselves, and we try to analyze these things--remember, we are handicapped by the attempt at least to observe fact and truth why sometimes our answers may not seem as convincing; and if they think they are getting a propaganda advantage, there it is.
Q. Dayton Moore, United Press: Mr. President, there are reports that many people are holding off from buying automobiles to wait and see whether there is a cut in the excise tax. If there should be such a cut, do you think it should be retroactive?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I'm not going to answer that question directly for the simple reason I don't want yet to discuss the details of any such proposal before you until I believe that necessity is here.
But I will say this: I believe that the American public now should be buying on the basis of the worth of the product that is offered to them. I believe that there is a great field for expansion of business by better salesmanship on the part of business concerns. I believe we have got great savings, I believe that we have got to offer things in a better packaged way, we've got to do better advertising; and above all things let the public buy when they think they are getting a bargain and not worrying about what is going to be some possible future action.
Q. John Herling, Editors Syndicate: Mr. President, this has to do with the reciprocal trade agreement. As you know, sir, many Senators and Congressmen are concerned about the possible adverse effects on their communities of the renewal of the reciprocal trade agreement legislation in general. However, many of them believe they could vote for the renewal of such an important measure if there were less stress and strain and less opposition back home, if an amendment were added in the form of a trade adjustment act, which would aid labor and industry and communities generally which might be adversely affected by the operations of the reciprocal trade agreements legislation.
Is there any prospect that you and the administration would support such an amendment of the reciprocal trade act?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, the only amendment I can think would be more useful was that you could go back to 50 percent above the 1934 tariff levels in order to protect a particular industry when there was clear evidence that it was being threatened.
Now, I don't know of any other amendment that we have thought of, and I don't know what you could be thinking of.
Q. Mr. Herling: Well, sir, aside from the peril point angle, there is legislation introduced which would physically and economically aid communities that might be adversely affected.
THE PRESIDENT. Oh, you mean direct, some kind--
Q. Mr. Herling: Direct subsidy, yes.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, whatever you can--
Q. Mr. Herling: The Randall Commission report, for example.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, there, of course, there have been all sorts of things suggested even to the degree of assisting a small industry that wants to go into something else, and giving it federal help while it gets going on something that's more profitable for it, and all sorts of things. None of them as far as I know have been written into legislation, but there is, of course, all of this concern about the so-called depressed areas by giving greater intensity to your procurement efforts in those areas, wherever you can. Everything of that kind has been done that I know of, but the idea you are now propounding, I don't
Q. Mr. Herling: If specific legislation were laid out, would you consider it?
THE PRESIDENT. I would have to take a look at it.
Q. William V. Shannon, New York Post: Mr. President, I want to clear up something at the last press conference.
You said that you didn't recall that Mr. Dulles had used the word "fraud" in describing the Russian conference proposal. In checking the transcript, it shows that he did definitely use both the words "fraud" and "hoax," and my question is: are you still convinced that there is no difference between yourself and Mr. Dulles in your attitude on this question?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I would say that Secretary Dulles and I confer by telephone or personally at least 5 to 6 hours a week, more than that if you would count both Cabinet and National Security Council.
Before he made his statement yesterday morning, we talked for, starting the afternoon before and for the morning, another considerable period. I wouldn't guess its length
Now, if there are any great differences between Secretary Dulles and myself, I am unaware of them. I have told you time and again I believe he is the most informed and wisest man in the field of international relations that I know, and I certainly have no great differences with him.
Q. Donald H. Shannon, Los Angeles Times: Mr. President, this is an area where you are being accused of doing too much, if you did it.
There are in circulation in Pennsylvania now badges bearing your picture and a ribbon attached to the badge that says: "I like Stassen for Governor."
Did you authorize this, and, if it was not authorized, what do you think of it? [Laughter]
THE PRESIDENT. Did you say you have seen that or did you just--
Q. Mr. Shannon: Yes, sir; I have seen the picture; there is one in this room.
THE PRESIDENT. The only thing I can say is this: I have always refused in advance of any primary or of any selection of Republican candidate for any office to intervene in any way, and I wouldn't want to be used either directly or indirectly in such a campaign.
Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and twenty-ninth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:28 to 10:58 o'clock on Wednesday morning, March 26, 1958. In attendance: 234.
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/234595