The President's News Conference
THE PRESIDENT. Please be seated.
At the insistence of Jim Hagerty, I have one personal announcement to make. The sore on the end of my nose is nothing but the effects of an ultraviolet lamp which they were using on me to see if they could help cure my cold. [Laughter]
Q. Merriman Smith, United Press: Mr. President, your Administration program in Congress is running into some stormy weather among Republicans as well as Democrats. For instance, Senator Goldwater calls your 1958 budget a betrayal of the public trust. You are also running into trouble or slow action on appropriations, foreign aid, and a number of other subjects.
And I wonder, sir, do you think it is possible that this may be due to some diminution of political power on your part because you are automatically precluded from running again?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think that is it.
First of all, of course, these people have the right to their own opinion. And American politics is a history of the clash of ideas and, particularly, methods to be used in promoting ideas even after they are agreed upon as proper for the country.
Now, I happen to believe that in this day and time we cannot use the governmental processes or limit ourselves to the governmental processes that were applicable in 1890. We have got to adapt the great principles of the Constitution to the inescapable industrial and economic conditions of our time, and make certain that our country is secure and our people participate in the progress of our economy.
Now, this kind of a belief poses problems every day of your life, because you are frequently breaking with custom. You are trying to meet problems that are never settled. Every generation has probably felt that, in some form or another, its problems were the most serious the world ever faced. Certainly, this generation has a right to feel that way.
So, it is only natural that there is a clash of opinions and ideas and, sometimes, 'people get probably more heated than is necessary in supporting their ideas.
I believe profoundly in the things that we have proposed as necessary for this country, and in other cases we have programs that have been with us for years. There is no chance of reversing them and, indeed, there are probably only a very few of them that should be dropped.
I do believe one thing: this country should take a much stronger and longer look than we have in the past as to the proper role of the Federal Government in so many of the projects that are essentially local in character, which produce for the locality a greater value than they do for the Nation.
Whether it be disaster relief, drought relief, building some facility for the use of the neighborhood, I think we ought to find better formulas for dividing the cost, the authority, and the responsibility.
Now, if we could do that, we could reduce Federal budgets and, in my opinion, get better efficiency.
Q. Edward P. Morgan, American Broadcasting Company: In a small kind of way, sir, this is an offshoot of Mr. Smith's question.
Historians may or may not decide that you have been less a target of public criticism than many of your predecessors. However, lately you have been criticized or at least scolded on such matters as helicopters and speeding, and the like. Nevertheless, it has been widely reported that your staff has been trying to "protect you" from these things on the ground that they make you mad and, therefore, menace your health.
How do you feel, sir, about the subject of personal criticism of the person of the President and is such a thing bad for you?
THE PRESIDENT. Well--my first reaction to the question is how do such notions get abroad. If I have been protected, I certainly, for one, have not been aware of it, because whenever there is anything appearing in the newspapers or in broadcasts, of which I am unaware, there is certainly always someone in my staff that's quite ready and capable of bringing it around and showing it to me.
I don't believe that criticism that is honest and fair hurts anybody. As a matter of fact, I think I have never been criticized as bitterly as I was once or twice in the World War; and, strangely enough, at that time half of the criticism was that I was too rash and reckless, and the other was that I was getting proud of my reputation and didn't want to risk it and was getting cautious like all the other generals did.
So, criticism of public figures is a good thing.
Now, by no means am I admitting the truth of all you have said. [Laughter] I know of no basis for the kind of thing that you are talking about, because I know of no criticism that has hurt my health.
I think I am old enough and philosophical enough to try to separate the personal attacks from those that are honest differences of opinion and conviction; the latter I respect, and the first I ignore. And that is the way I try to conduct my life, because I have just got one thing to do: to do my duty. That is what I am trying to do.
Q. Herman A. Lowe, Philadelphia Daily News: Mr. President, the News has run a number of editorials pointing out that your proposed budget will be less than 18 percent of the national income, the first time the figure has been so low since before the Second World War. And the paper wonders why you don't point that out.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, as a matter of fact, it has been pointed out once or twice. I think last week I pointed out also that a number of my business friends have said their budgets had gone up through these past years from the average 6 to 8, 10 percent a year. And they were astonished that the Federal Government had gone up only 3 ? percent, in view of the increased costs in the costly things we have to buy, all that sort of thing.
But, explain it as you will, as I said when I first mentioned this budget, $72 billion is still a terrific amount of money to extract from the economy, and put into purposes that are not productive of new machines or of new facilities that make new jobs, and everybody is absolutely correct in trying to find the way that those expenses can be cut. And I repeat: they can be cut to any extent only through the revision or elimination of programs. You cannot do it through this mere idea that duplication and inefficiency are wholly to blame. They are not even principally to blame.
Q. Frank van der Linden, Nashville Banner: Several mayors came to see you Monday and asked you to restore the $75 million cut in the urban renewal funds, and also to project this program over, they told us, ten or fifteen years--slum clearance. I wondered if you had given them any pledges about restoring that cut.
THE PRESIDENT. No, I don't make pledges, because I am one part of the Government, and not the whole of it, by any manner of means.
We had a very long and interesting talk. As a matter of fact, I thought they were an extraordinarily well-informed group of individuals.
Now, there is already established a reserve fund in this field that could be used or called on certainly to an extent this year that it would still allow the actual amount called for to be reduced some. The new appropriations authority could be reduced to that degree.
I am very heartily in favor of the urban renewal program, and I was disturbed by some of the reports they made about this. Now, they claim that for every two dollars the Federal Government puts into this there will be a total of ten local dollars spent which, of course, is the kind of thing in which I believe.
The States, though, themselves, the agencies with which the Federal Government is traditionally supposed to deal, have not entered into this field very materially.
Q. Charles E. Shutt, Telenews: Mr. President, can you bring us up to date, sir, on our negotiations with Egypt regarding Suez, and the possibility that it might be referred to the U. N. Security Council?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, we are still conferring with the Egyptians in Cairo. The negotiations continue, and I have no means of knowing how long they will continue. But certainly, I feel this way: we cannot, by any manner of means, assume that we are not going to get satisfactory arrangements. Every time we enter into one of these things, we go into it with the hope these things will be corrected. So we are not yet ready to take a move beyond that.
Q. Chalmers M. Roberts, Washington Post: Mr. President, the British Government has made a very major change in its military setup.
I wonder if you could tell us whether this was thoroughly discussed with you at the Bermuda meeting, and whether you share some of the alarms that this will adversely affect other NATO countries and the Western military posture in general? In other words, are the British going too far, too fist, in your judgment?
THE PRESIDENT. You can discuss this question intelligently only in light of the age-old truth that the security position of a country is not determined wholly by the troops that it keeps. It is determined also by their economic, their spiritual, their intellectual strength, as well as their purely military.
Now, as we know, Britain has had a hard time since the war. It's been exhausted by two world wars; all its foreign investments lost; it has had a really heroic row to hoe in trying to keep its economic nose above water. This has been particularly true in the area of dollar balances.
So what they have been trying to do is to cut their cloth, you might say, according to what they had, and not to what they would like to have. There is no question that their reduction has disturbed some of our NATO partners.
As you remember, you probably recall--I think it was probably published--they did not go through with their first plan. They compromised it very considerably in order to give German forces time to come into being, and for other reasons that were advanced by SACEUR. Now, this was all thoroughly discussed with me at Bermuda, and the plan includes the elimination of many troops that have been carried, like for ceremonial purposes. For example, the regiment in Bermuda was one of them mentioned to me. It has only really a ceremonial value; it is going out. The Bermudians, of course, are very much disappointed.
This is happening all over the world.
But I would like to point out this, too: you will recall in 1953, the first thing that this new Administration undertook was a complete resurvey of our military establishment and our military needs; and it acquired, at least among most of you people, the term "new look." Well, it was merely an effort to bring military establishments more in line with the military facts of today.
Now, Britain is trying to do that. At the same time they are trying to put out the ultimate help they can in the alliances of which they are a part and still keep themselves a viable economy. You will remember it is to our great interest to keep them a viable economy, remembering how broadly the pound sterling is used as a trading medium throughout the world.
These are very complicated and tough questions, and I certainly admire the courage and the nerve with which Britain has undertaken it.
Q. William H. Lawrence, New York Times: There seems to be some confusion abroad, sir, as to whether or not we are going to stop or drastically reduce the allowable number of Hungarian refugees that might be brought into this country.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Mr. Lawrence, if you will recall the history of the thing, we started to allow Hungarians to come in here during, I think, a recess of Congress, and we did it under the parolee clause in the law. And on January 30 or 31 I sent to the Congress a recommendation as to what they should do with our laws in order to give the Government greater flexibility in doing the decent thing by these people. The Congress has not yet acted on those recommendations, and I regard it as important that they do.
Now, in the meantime, the escapee flow into Austria has been diminishing, and we have not stopped these people coming in, but we have about exhausted the possibilities of the parolee method. And without some congressional action, we will certainly be handicapped far below what we have so far; that is where we stand now.
Q. Mr. Lawrence: What do your leaders tell you about the prospects of maybe getting this bill on the road, so to speak, getting some action?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, this particular one didn't come up at the last legislative meeting. They have got quite a bit on their plate right now, but I certainly do hope, and I will try to do the best I can, to see that it does get up in this Congress.
Q. Lloyd M. Schwartz, Fairchild Publications: Some misapprehension--apprehension is being expressed that the press may be barred in July from the historic launching of the earth satellite.
THE PRESIDENT. The what?
Q. Mr. Schwartz: The launching of the earth satellite in July. There is an apprehension that the press may be barred from this historic event. I wonder if you could give us any reassurance on this.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I will say this: I haven't even heard about it, have you heard about it? [Confers with Mr. Hagerty.]
I am just told that Murray Snyder made an announcement at the Pentagon they are going to work this out. As far as I know, it's done as a part of America's contribution to the Geophysical Year. So I don't know of the secret elements of it that wouldn't allow you there, but there may be something I don't know.
Q. Spencer Davis, Associated Press: Mr. President, would you say how the Administration feels toward trading by our partners, Japan and Britain, with Communist China? I understand we are taking a more relaxed view towards that.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, there has been a great deal of talk about bringing more closely together the forbidden lists for Soviets and for China, many people maintaining that it's ridiculous to allow the Soviets and, you might say, European communistic countries, to buy certain things and to bar those from China. So there has been a constant flow of staff work on that problem. We, as you know, just have an embargo; we don't deal with Communist China.
Now, I would like for you to consider the Japanese problem just a minute. The British problem is somewhat different, but not greatly.
In Japan there are 90 million people that we want to be our friends. They are living on arable ground that is about equal to that of California. They are inventive, they are industrious, they are good workers. Now, we don't believe that there is any prospect of keeping Japan a viable economy merely by giving them some cash each year.
More and more our own industries come to us, come to the Government and insist on either higher tariffs or stiffer quotas, to stop Japanese goods flowing in here; and then we say to Japan, "Now, you mustn't trade with any of the great area right next to you which has been your traditional trading area."
Now, what is Japan going to do? That is what I ask you, how are they going to make a living? How are they going to keep from--how are they going to keep going? I do not say that the sole answer is in any one of the three directions I have just briefly mentioned: in aid or in us taking more of their stuff or in them trading with the neighboring areas. But I do say if we are going to keep Japan our friends, on our side of the Iron Curtain, we can't look at it just in any one of the separated roadways and say, "You mustn't do that and you mustn't do that." Finally, you just block them, and they have no place to go except into the arms of somebody where we don't want them to go.
So we must approach these things with intelligence and with a regard for our own future long-range welfare, as well as some immediate direction or some immediate advantage that we think we see.
Q. Robert G. Spivack, New York Post: Mr. President, can you tell us what factors determined the shift in the U. S. position on the Aswan Dam? I ask this question because of published reports that Secretary Dulles was deliberately abrupt in order to call Russia's bluff on economic aid to the Arab States.
THE PRESIDENT. Well, I must say that I don't believe I want this morning to discuss the thing in too great detail, because I have forgotten how much of it has been made public.
I do not mind going over all of the things when I know they are public, draw them together and show the reasons for them. But if there is something which, by reason of our agreements with other nations, has been kept on the confidential list, then I certainly don't believe in hurting or breaking our confidences with a friendly nation.
Now, as you know, the World Bank, Britain, and ourselves were all in that and, consequently, I would have to look it up before I could answer you in detail.
Q. Marvin L. Arrowsmith, Associated Press: The suicide death of Canadian Ambassador Norman has touched off quite a controversy over whether it was proper for a Senate committee to make public charges linking him with Communists after he had been cleared by his own government. What do you think of the propriety of such publicity?
THE PRESIDENT. Mr. Arrowsmith, I think all of our friends are fairly well acquainted with our form of government.
We know it is a three-branch coordinate form of government. They know what are the privileges and the rights of our legislative branch in conducting investigations, and making public their findings. So I think they do not hold such things too much against the Government when they occur; and, indeed, I have no way of knowing that anybody in Congress deliberately did anything that he thought would damage our relations abroad.
Now, in this particular case, I think it is a great sorrow to all of us that misunderstandings should occur. Canada and ourselves are linked so closely not only geographically but by friendship and philosophy and beliefs and convictions and, indeed, by common facing of common problems of the most serious nature, that I think it is a particularly unfortunate thing when any occurrence tends to break down the closeness of our relations.
The Canadians fought almost the whole of the Second World War under my command. I know of no finer, better soldiers in the world. I met, because of that experience, many of their leaders; I have met them since. I have admired them and liked them. And I sincerely hope that they know how deeply this entire Government wants to retain their respect, their friendship.
I am sure that part of this difficulty came from inadvertence. As usual, I shall not criticize anybody. Indeed, it is my hope that the thing can now be dropped, if possible, even though I know that in Canada it has become a matter of far graver popular and public importance than it probably has in this country.
But I think all of us should do our very best to restore as rapidly as we can the fine, firm character of our relationships with Canada, just as rapidly as we can.
Q. Joseph R. Slevin, New York Herald Tribune: Mr. President, with respect to China trade, sir, is the United States prepared to bring the China trade controls in line with the controls on trade with the Soviet Union or does the United States believe they should remain more severe?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, the United States has never agreed yet that they should be identical, but they are closer together than they were some years back.
Now, the actual thinking of the staffs on this matter-- haven't been into it for the last 60 days, and it changes very rapidly. So just exactly what the latest conclusions of the staffs are, I don't know.
Q. Sarah McClendon, El Paso Times: Mr. President, sir, you recall last year we asked you to get from the Justice Department some reports for us on the Immigration Service about some hunting trips of Commissioner Swing into Mexico, and about a voyage of a Mexican vessel with wetbacks. You said, I believe, that you saw no reason why the public shouldn't have these. They were requested by Congress, and Congress since has cooled to the demands for this information, but the public has never had this report.
I wondered if you would see if anything could be done about it to get it?
THE PRESIDENT. I will look it up. I have forgotten that one, I'm afraid.
Q. James B. Reston, New York Times: Sir, in the last two or three weeks there has been some criticism on the Hill and elsewhere about your ambassadorial appointments since you took office the second term. Would you explain to us, sir, what your theory was, and what is the procedure by which the appointments were made, and what is your philosophy about the appointments in the second term?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, it's fairly simple. Both Secretary Dulles and myself, at the beginning of my first term, said we wanted to put more of the ambassadorial appointments in the hands of career people, and we have tried to progress in that line.
Now, there are certain posts that, as everybody knows, can be held only by people who have got money of their own to spend. That is unfortunate, I think, but it is true. So, of the people available that can afford to take those, Secretary Dulles institutes a survey, and we try to find for each of these places a man best suited for the job.
I would not say by any manner of means we have always been completely successful; of course, we are not. We are human. But every day or every week this engages the attention of the Secretary and me in the effort to find people that will go, be sympathetic, understand, and learn all about another people but still represent the United States to them, and not necessarily become the advocate of that country to us for greater help, assistance, or that kind of thing.
Now, there are many places around the world that there are critical spots. I don't need to name them, because if I omit one, why, that would be criticism by omission. But you know them. Now, in those critical spots we have tried to find the best brains we can. If it takes money to do it, well then we try to apply that.
Now, I do not deny that there are a few cases where you are on the borderline. If a man is careful he can live on the salary and the allowances that he gets. There we sometimes send a man that has got some money, who believes in the philosophy we do, who we think will be acceptable to the country and, of course, you know all the processes of agreements and all, that is the general philosophy.
Q. Raymond P. Brandt, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: How do Henry Taylor and Scott McLeod fit into that formula?
THE PRESIDENT. Well, Henry Taylor, taken first, is a man for whom I have had a considerable admiration for a long time. I met him during the war, had a very satisfactory personal relationship with him, and as far as I know, his views are very greatly like mine in the foreign field. Otherwise, I don't think he would have wanted such a job.
Now, Scott McLeod, I am not so well acquainted with him. He was taken on Secretary Dulles' recommendations, and I assure you again I have the utmost confidence in Secretary Dulles.
Q. Carleton Kent, Chicago Sun-Times: If I understood your answer correctly, to Mr. Smith's earlier question, you said there was no chance of reversing a number of programs which the Government has had--
THE PRESIDENT. Yes.
Q. Mr. Kent:--for a number of years. And I believe you said there were only probably a few that should be.
If I am right, could you go into a little detail and describe the few programs that there might
THE PRESIDENT. There wouldn't be time in what's left of this meeting to go into the thing, because you would have to go into the entire philosophy of, again, the relationship of the Federal Government with the State and the community and the individual.
I call your attention, though, that this Administration has tried to put the farm program on the basis that it becomes-brings it closer and closer to making a living for itself in the free market place and does not depend upon the Government buying up and storing supplies. That kind of a program, there is a gradual reversal taking place in that.
There are things of that character right down through the whole Government. Pollution of water, pollution of air, all sorts of programs of this sort, you have to develop some kind of thinking on why are they there.
Now, last year I opposed putting the Federal Government into the water pollution business. Now, this year I understand the Congress, which passed the bill, is now thinking of taking all the money away for it. Well, that would be a reversal of program, and it's things of that character all the way through, I wouldn't want to enumerate now; and I wouldn't want to try to detail the thing that really must be based upon searching analysis of each one.
Merriman Smith, United Press: Thank you, Mr. President.
Note: President Eisenhower's one hundred and seventh news conference was held in the Executive Office Building from 10:32 to 11:02 o'clock on Wednesday morning, April 10, 1957. In attendance: 229.
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/233228