Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

The President's News Conference

July 29, 1959

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning. Please sit down.

One little announcement has to do with the election in Hawaii.

Now, I don't take the occasion just to express any gratification about those winners in my party, but I do express certain gratification about the people that have been elected--individuals. One of them, I notice, was a Chinese-Hawaiian, another a Japanese-Hawaiian, and I believe others of Hawaiian ancestry.

I think this is a very fine example for democracy at work, in operation. I believe it's a good example for the whole world and I am, for that reason, highly gratified with the results.

Of course, I don't want to say that I'm unhappy that we got a Republican Governor and at least one Senator. I believe all the other races are still undecided, although favoring the other party.

That's my announcement.

Q. Sterling F. Green, Associated Press: I would like to ask a two-part question concerning Vice President Nixon's visit to Russia.

The first is whether you think the Vice President has so acquitted himself as to ease the tensions between this country and Russia, and the second is a request for comment on reports from the Nixon party that the Vice President has discussed with Premier Khrushchev a possible visit to the United States.

THE PRESIDENT. Wall, with the first one, I think that all of us could agree from reports and from the television performance that the Vice President has acquitted himself splendidly and in accordance with what you'd expect from a man in his high office and representing this Government.1

1 On August 1, the Press Secretary to the President announced that the President had sent a personal message to the Vice President expressing his admiration and respect for the manner in which he had conducted himself throughout his tour of the Soviet Union.

Now, as to whether or not that has actually reduced the tensions, I think only time can tell. But this thing is clear: again we have reports of the readiness of Soviet populations to welcome Americans. This has been noticeable since the early days, certainly during the war and since, and it seems to be a continuing manifestation of the people's friendliness toward America.

On the second part, about the reports that come out from associates with and people accompanying the Vice President, I think here you have got a subject that has been bandied back and forth in many countries and here in our own. I saw not long ago a poll that was taken on the advisability of inviting Mr. Khrushchev here. I think it is one of those things that is a perennial question that will be talked about a lot all the time, and not merely because of this visit of the Vice President's.

Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Sir, Congressmen Landrum of Georgia and Griffin of Michigan are co-sponsoring a new labor bill which seems to meet most of your requirements in regard to secondary boycotts and other matters. Is it your hope, sir, that other Republicans and discerning Southern Democrats may combine in the House to pass that bill?

THE PRESIDENT. You are asking now to comment on the specifics of a bill. I have not studied every proviso, or every clause of that bill, but I understand--because I had reports both from the Congress and from the Secretary of Labor--that the bill comes a long ways closer to meeting the request that I made upon the Congress last January than any other that has been seriously studied. It particularly makes progress toward these three areas I thought so important--blackmail picketing, secondary boycotts, and the "no man's area." So in those general areas they have certainly come a long ways and so, without quoting specifically on all of the provisions, I would say the bill is a tremendous improvement and I commend the people that have gotten together to put it on the calendar.

Q. Robert C. Pierpoint, CBS News: In light of the record profits announced by steel yesterday, and in view of the study that Secretary of Labor Mitchell has made on the steel situation and the information that you have received from him, do you feel, sir, that steel might be able now to grant some wage increases without necessarily increasing the price of steel?

THE PRESIDENT. We are talking on a subject now that I have stated repeatedly I'm not going to talk about when the negotiations were still going on. I don't believe that you can take any of these subjects, take it and discuss it, you might say, in a vacuum or by itself in isolation from all other pertinent facts, and be doing anything except to appear to be favoring one side or another. I think that the minute that the Government does that, it is in trouble.

So, as I say, I have constantly argued that we must have a solution that does not create or incite inflation and that it must be by free bargaining and not under pressures.

Q. David Kraslow, Knight Newspapers: Mr. President, a Gallup poll released over the weekend reports the American people believe that Democrats are more interested than Republicans in holding down prices.

Do you feel, sir, that this indicates the Republican Party has failed to convince the American people that the Democratic Party is a party of spenders?

THE PRESIDENT. I think that there has not been as good a job done in telling the story of the last 7 years as should have been done. For example, today, in the headlines in the newspapers you will see the cost of living has gone up to new highs. Well, of course, it was a new high when we started, but the curve of increase has been so much less than what it was in the preceding 7 years; we don't take that fact into consideration. I have forgotten exactly the percentage for the last 7 years just before I came in--I think it was something over 30; here the cost of living has been about 7 percent in the last 7 years. That kind of comparison is just not made because the headline says the cost of living is at a new high; and if you put one-tenth on a past high, why, of course, that's a new high !

In many ways, from cutting budget, reducing expenses, keeping down, for example, in every field that I know, we have tried to be on the conservative, middle-of-the-road side. But that has not apparently been publicized sufficiently.

Q. Sarah McClendon, Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader: Sir, back to the labor bill. We are now witnessing some of the greatest lobbying I guess we will ever see in Washington, pro and con on this bill that comes up next week, and I have heard Democratic and Republican Congressmen say the last 2 days that they want to vote for a strong bill but feel that if they do they'll be labeled "antilabor" back home, and they feel that at this time that it would be very helpful if you did come out and make an appeal to the voters to ask Congressmen to vote for a strong bill.

THE PRESIDENT. Mrs. McClendon, if you go back to my State of the Union Message, and even beyond that, last fall I said the first order of business that I was going to present before the Congress in 1959 was a bill, or a program in this field that would meet all of the defects that were uncovered by the McClellan committee. I still believe we should do it and I just, discussing this bill, I said I think it comes a long ways and it sounds to me in their main provisions they are trying to do just that; and of course, therefore, I'm for it.

Q. Edward V. Koterba, United Features Syndicate: Sir, there have been published in the last few weeks two accounts speculating about your personal plans after leaving the White House in 1961. One account stated that you and the First Lady are planning to take an apartment in Washington; and, another states that you have had offered to you the presidency of a Gettysburg college.

Sir, even though you still have 542 days to serve in the White House--[Laughter]--

THE PRESIDENT. Sounds like a plebe at West Point.

Q. Mr. Koterba:--could you at this time give us a hint about what you would like to do, or hope to do after you leave the White House?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, about any apartment in Washington, I should think that would be left, that decision, to the distaff side of the family, and you had better get some of your lady reporter friends to go and talk to her about it.

Now, this is the first I have ever heard about the presidency of Gettysburg College. As a matter of fact, there is a man there now that I respect and who is younger than I am, so I don't know why I should be thinking of that.

I have expressed to numbers of people my desire to do some traveling and particularly in the areas where I have not been before. I have had dozens, and literally hundreds, I think, of invitations from governments and from private people and I would like to go through really a rather good tour of all Latin America and of Africa and of the Far East again. While I have lived a great deal in the Far East, I haven't been in the Indian Ocean area where I'd love to spend a lot of time. Now that is what I'd like to do.

The only thing I promised is, after I am out, that when we go together, I will use some transportation other than an airplane. [Laughter]

Q. Charles L. Bartlett, Chattanooga Times: Mr. President, everyone who is talking about the TVA self-financing bill has come away with the impression that it is your intention to veto it. In that event, I was wondering if it would be your intention also to submit a request for appropriation funds to build the needed generating capacity down there.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, people are talking in impressions.

Now, I am studying this bill I think more earnestly and with more lawyers and that kind of thing than almost any other bill I've seen in a long time.

This bill does three or four things that I think were absolutely necessary, and they are things that I have fought for since 1953.

There is one provision in this thing that seems to me does not conform with the balance of powers between the three branches that must be maintained if this country is to stand in the form that it has in the past. This is so serious that this is the item that causes me my anxiety. I would like to get that bill without this very--I think--unwise proviso. I would like to have the bill come back to me without that on. I don't know whether yet that is sufficiently strong, or whether my views are sufficiently crystallized, because I have still got a little more conversing to do.

Q. J. A. O'Leary, Washington Star: It looks as though the House today will vote to cut about 700 million off your foreign aid. What will that do to our position in the world?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, it will damage it seriously. Of course, I'm not going to take all the specific items, and I am not discussing the details of a bill that is still yet to be passed, but I would be very, very hopeful that the other side would restore a lot of those amounts.

Q. Lambert Brose, Lutheran Layman: Mr. President, on another aspect of our position in the world, Secretary of Defense McElroy testified that Russia now has intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of hitting our country, somewhat less than 10 of them.

On the other hand, Lieutenant General Schriever yesterday said that our first intercontinental missile will be ready for combat use September 1st.

Do you feel that Russia's superiority over us in this one phase of armament at the moment gives her an advantage over us presently in Geneva, at the bargaining table, and that she can practice blackmail diplomacy until we do catch up in the missile field?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't think so at all. After all, we fired last night very successfully an operational that is, a Series C--Atlas; and it fulfilled every single test and was fired at long range. What I would like to get at is this: I must tell you once again, the Russians have been working on long-range ballistic missiles since 1945. We started in 1954. Now, I think that our scientists and our services have done an extraordinary job in catching up as fast as they can. They are going at a very satisfactory and in my opinion about the maximum rate that it is possible to go.

In addition to that, you must remember that this is a period of transition. You cannot "off with the old" immediately, and go all to the new until you have tried it out. Therefore, our strength that is counterbalancing some of these other strengths--of which I don't have any idea of the exact numbers although the Secretary of Defense, I believe, did say that fewer than 10; in any event, that part I don't argue about--I just say this: we have other means and other methods that are fully counterbalancing during this transition period, in my opinion.

Q. William McGaffin, Chicago Dally News: Mr. President, could you tell us what you talked about at dinner Monday night with another group of correspondents?

THE PRESIDENT. Everything I could think of! [Laughter] At least everything that I was asked, and I think it would be too long to recite the list.

Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Can you tell us what specific point it was in the TVA bill? I didn't get it clear in my own mind.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, there is a specific point that says this, that the budget or the proposed expenditures of this corporation, this governmental corporation, can go to the Congress and in spite of Presidential recommendations, he has no executive power to do anything about the amount of those expenditures. Therefore, since it says Congress can modify this amount in any way it sees fit, it can increase it or decrease it, the President has not the veto and therefore he must accept the will of Congress without the process of saying, "You must do this over my judgment by a two-thirds majority."

And this--an extension of my remarks: no matter how beneficial any bill may be temporarily, in doing the things we want to do now, any time that a bill purports, with the consent of the President, to encroach on one branch of our coequal branches and give an advantage to one or the other, then we have made a very, very serious mistake and one where the long-term effects can be serious indeed.

For my part, this provision couldn't possibly in my period of service affect me, but I must say my successors in this office, whoever they may be, and whatever party, could have a very, very tough time unless this thing is batted down every time it comes up.

Q. Rutherford M. Poats, United Press International: Sir, in view of your understanding of the situation at Geneva today, and of your reports from Vice President Nixon, can you tell us whether there is any point in continuing the Geneva foreign ministers conference?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I wouldn't go to the point of saying there is no point of continuing. I would say this: there is not yet any progress, at least that's been reported since last evening; there has been no progress that would justify the calling of a summit meeting.

Q. Kenneth M. Scheibel, Gannett Newspapers: You have been criticized in the past for not spending enough money on the space program because the Russians were ahead of us, but the other day the House cut $68 million out of your budget for the space program. I wonder what your reaction was to that?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I talked to Dr. Glennan about it. He thinks it's quite serious. The program, of course, that is already set up is, to my mind, a rather--well, indeed it is quite generous. I think it's on about the third year it gets close to a billion dollars just in space.

Now, remember, Glennan and his crowd are supposed to have the peaceful uses; this, therefore, is not involved, except you might say psychologically, in our defending the United States. This seems to me to be quite a splendid program; I mean, a very well supported one.

Now, this $68 million, he gave me the details of what this would do to him, and he thinks it's very detrimental to success.

Q. Mrs. May Craig, Portland (Maine) Press Herald: Mr. President, without taking sides either with the steel industry or the steel workers, can you not take sides with all of us and urge the steel industry, in view of its very large profits, to cut prices?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, of course, this has been suggested for a number of years. Again, you ask me while this thing is going on, by implication, to say their profits are too high.

I don't know whether you or anybody else in this room has taken a complete analysis of all profits, expenses, investments, and all the rest of the things. We just know that there is reported by the U.S. Steel Company-not the other companies, U.S. Steel--a very large profit.

Well, now, they put this thing on the record. I should not comment on it as having any effect whatsoever on these negotiations. When they are done, by that time I should think I may have something to say about the whole arrangement, not just one thing.

Q. Andrew F. Tully, Jr., Scripps-Howard: Sir, without mentioning any names, I wonder if you'd give us your impression of the men so far who are running for President on the Democratic ticket.

THE PRESIDENT. I think they have enough troubles of their own; I'll not try to add to them.

Q. E. W. Kenworthy, New York Times: On Geneva again, sir, a hindsight criticism that was made of the 1945 agreement on Berlin was that it did not make explicit the Western rights in the city. The latest dispatches from Geneva state that our most recent proposal for a 5-year interim agreement again allows our rights to flow implicitly from the proposed arrangements.

Don't you think it would be preferable to have those rights stated explicitly?

THE PRESIDENT. As I recall what the arrangement is, our rights that we now have will not be changed in any way at the end of any interregnum that may ensue, except by the unanimous consent of all; and if there is no change that comes by such common agreement, then you are right back to where you were just at this moment.

Q. Edward W. O'Brien, St. Louis Globe-Democrat: Mr. President, while the Russians talk peace and friendship, do you detect any slackening in Communist internal subversion within this country.

THE PRESIDENT. Within this country?

Q. Mr. O'Brien: Yes, sir.

THE PRESIDENT. Well, here is something that I get periodic reports on and in detail, from committees properly set up. But I wouldn't at this moment be able to say that I detect any diminution of these efforts. On the other hand, I certainly couldn't say that I detect any increase. But in the matter of it seems to me now it will be the next 2 or 3--months, I will have another very detailed report and an exhaustive investigation of this thing.

Q. Clark R. Mollenhoff, Des Moines Register and Tribune: Yesterday the House passed an amendment by an overwhelming vote which would shut off the funds from the ICA if certain reports and communications, evaluation reports, Inspector General reports, are not made available to Congress and the GAO, and there was some criticism of the administration by those who sponsored this. I wonder if you consider this a personal criticism of the administration's secrecy policies, and if in the light of this you will make available the ICA evaluation reports, Inspector General reports, and other communications as the Congress desires.

THE PRESIDENT. You start your question with an implied fact that is not a fact. You say the administration's secrecy policies. There has been no administration--please sit down--there has been no administration since my memory, and I have been in this city since 1926, who has gone to such lengths to make information available as long as the national security and the national interest of this country is not involved. So, whatever secrecy policies they are, they are policies that are not as severe, certainly no more restrictive than those of the predecessor. Now, with respect to the kind of amendment you were talking about, there was in 1954, I remember, an Attorney General's opinion given to the effect that this kind of a movement or attempt on the part of Government is a direct invasion of Executive responsibility and authority and therefore could not be anything but unconstitutional.

Now, I do not believe that this amendment in this form will ever get to my desk, because I believe that each branch of the Government must be respectful of the authorities and the responsibilities of the others if we are going to make this Government work. It has done so in the past, and I don't believe that any branch is going to be so careless in this direction.

Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: In regard to the Vice President's discussion of a Khrushchev visit, does Mr. Nixon have any authorization from you to proffer such an invitation to Mr. Khrushchev?

THE PRESIDENT. Of course not. But he has got every right to listen and converse and discuss it as you and I might right here, as to whether it has advantages or disadvantages or anything else; but he has no right to proffer an invitation.

Q. Thomas N. Schroth, Congressional Quarterly: Mr. President, Vice President Nixon is reported to have been embarrassed by the timing of the "captive nations" declaration. Do you have any second thoughts as to whether you and Congress should have timed it at this particular time?

THE PRESIDENT. I have no particular feeling about it, for this reason: I have stated this since the very first time that I thought it was proper for me to mention such things in public. I resigned from the Army in 1952, in July. I then became a citizen and during the 1952 campaign I said frequently that the United States would never believe and never accept the idea that a true peace had been established in the world until every single nation had a right to express its own views about its own destiny. I said the United States would always use whatever peaceful methods were available to it to bring about this opportunity.

Q. William J. Eaton, United Press International: Has Secretary of Labor Mitchell given you any indication when the steel strike will be settled?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think he has because I don't think he knows. [Laughter]

Now, what he does, he sees me every day. As I have pointed out frequently, there is a lot of information of course that is possibly important to our labor relations business that is available to everybody. In the meantime, he is keeping in touch with everything he can, assembling every fact; as a matter of fact he is analyzing all of the historical events of past strikes and giving to me that kind of information.

By the way, just before you start--[laughter]--there was one thing here in connection with one question, in connection with the Geneva Conference.

There is a conference called for August 12th in Santiago, Cuba [Chile], and there is a possible conflict with Secretary Herter's schedule because it's one which I have long ago told him I'd expect him to go to because of its importance in trying to settle pan-American affairs and difficulties in the Caribbean. So, that one fact should be remembered in connection with any speculation on what might happen in--[Confers with Mr. Hagerty]

Oh, I mean Santiago, Chile, I am sorry.

Q. Mr. Eaton: Does that put a deadline on it?

THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't put a deadline. They might have to make some arrangements for a few days, but I do want him to go to it, that's all.

Sterling F. Green, Associated Press: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and sixty-sixth news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:31 to 11:01 o'clock on Wednesday morning, July 29, 1959. In attendance: 226.

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/235187

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